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Kimbhoot investigations

English Translation of the original - "Kimbhoot Tadanta"



The Storyteller - The Community of the Pond (Pukur Mohalla) lies to the west of Bindupur. A dense co-habitation of hundred odd families spread around an apology for a pond. The pond is covered in weeds and water hyacinth, and is an incubator for zillions of baby mosquitoes.

But things were different in a not-too-remote past. Then the water was clear and inviting. Kingfishers could swoop upon hapless victims, rainbow plumes glinting in the sun. Migratory birds could come to rest in winter, hundreds of sleepy white cranes covering the surface like quivering masses of snow. When the fog laziliy lifted in violet dawns, they would wake up, one after the other, and begin a daily ritual of bickering for extra bits of pond real estate - a merry competition of flapping wings, squawking, and deliberately hopping over each other. Noon would belong to the boys, desperate urchins splashing about for hours. Closer to dusk, low-flying flocks of parrots could be seen scurrying across the pond - from one bank to the other. A sudden monsoon breeze would raise tiny ripples over its olive sheen, encouraging frogs to earnestly serenade against the constant clatter of a densely falling rain. During Pujas, a few clubs would bring idols for immersion, polluting the pond. Puja wasn't a particularly happy time for those who lived in it. Nevertheless, there was a kind of life in those days.

Things are very different now. People still live in Pukur Mohalla, but like zombies, like automatons programmed NOT to respond - whatever the stimulus! People hardly know each other. Here and there, one could perceive barely audible moans of frustration, but absolutely no protest. Arrogant motorbikes swerve and rush down the road that cuts through the center of the community. They rule the place! Rows of monster trucks roar, belch and gurgle by the pond. Piles of brick, sand or stone chips challenge pedestrians at every footstep. The whole community reeks of burnt diesel and urine and looks as peaceful as a torn battlefield. Or the dwelling of the dead!

The Hell-Car

Some 'people' do have business in such abodes of death, and word of this dying community has reached their ears. The Devil himself has assembled a committee - a crack team of scouts who will investigate similar possibilities around the globe. Pukur Mohalla, if necessary will have to be annexed and brought within the folds of His ever-expanding empire. Recently, there have been wars in deserts. People sinning and dying are flourishing by the day. Devil urgently needs space to build prisons to accommodate his sinners. Kimbhoot belongs to this committee of scouts. He is despatched to investigate Pukur Mohalla where he arrives one sweltering midnight, riding The Chariot of the Dead.

The Chariot of the Dead, or the Hell-Car (as it is commonly known) is understandably uncommon in build. Simply designed, it looks like a boat, has a couple of wheels and a pair of vultures' wings. It can fly, float or roll. It chases darkness, which is its fuel, and is blind in sunlight.

Right now, Kimbhoot needs a safe nook to park his Hell-Car. But he is astounded by what he sees. He had expected a dark, silent place. Perhaps like a tomb. But this tremendous cacophony at midnight amazes him.


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