Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The Son Who Came In From Cold’

Chapter-5
A Friend in Need

Master Josh riding a donkey through the mountainous region was dispirited and downcast. He was in a bandit country. However much as he wanted to take his mind off ‘evil of the age’ he could not. It stuck to him like a piece of chewing gum.
“Evil was in being born with a golden spoon in my mouth,” he recalled his tutor Bombassino. ‘Oh he hated me and envied also because I had everything I wanted.” Suddenly he said,”So when he speaks of evil he means something else.” “Evil is in the world outside!” he recalled his nurse Katrina. “Perhaps she was afraid of leading her own life. So she sought refuge in Sans-Souci. So much for her idea of evil.” He would have gone on thinking thus but some shadowy figures loomed menacingly in front of him. He looked about and saw there were none to help him in case of need. Suddenly their shrouds were dropped revealing their weapons. They were armed to the teeth and they were for a bite! Master Josh came across bandits whom he had only heard about in stories. Now they stood in his path squarely,- and deadly too!
One figure yelled and our hero merely shuddered,” this must be evil of this age out to cut my throat!” In response three ruffians jumped over him and pinned him to the ground. “We have hit the jackpot,” one screamed. Master Josh could only feel hands groping for his purse strings. They had found what they looked for. Gold pieces clanked about and cheery whistle of one bandit as if in signal to the other two. “Where they laughing?” he asked in fright,”because of gold?” Even as he was trussed up he murmured their laughter was soft.”… but it cuts deep like a scream!” Master Josh cried,”Alas my life ends here.” Before he fainted he heard that the bandits had only that morning got another victim. “Was he loaded Oh boy!” he heard another voice,”like this spring chicken!”
When he opened his eyes he saw he was entombed in a cave. There lay another victim in shadows. He was also chained up and he sighed deeply as he had no hope of ever getting out alive. There stood by his side a plate of food untouched. Josh glanced at the black bread and the jug of wine and his stomach revolted. Hearing that the prisoner looked up. Even in that dim light it was unmistakable. The victim was none other than ‘Blunder’ Buss the banker! He muttered,”the chieftain is new on the job but his knife cuts just the same!”Suddenly he saw whom he spoke to. His eyes showed some life and he said with feeling ,”I owe thanks to you. Those physicians took good care of me. But it was for nothing I suppose.”He fell again into gloom.
Soon the robber baron came in. Master Josh was slumped at the spot he was left by his captors. He sighed as if the presence of the banker merely added to his woes. He had kept his head bowed thinking of sad thoughts. He wondered how it fared with his father and Nimrud. His nostalgia even as it like a spark flew up, the scraping of boots sent a sudden chill. He had company!
Before the young prisoner could shudder the voice boomed,”Cheer up!” He added breezily,”I don’t go on cutting heads if I can help it.”Master Josh shuddered. It was uncanny he recognized the voice! It belonged to Gabriel who was once his dear friend. “This was turning out into a reunion of sorts!” he pinched himself. It wasn’t a bad dream!
Meanwhile the bandit realized whom he had in his power. “Oh Josh, I didn’t think of ever doing harm to you!” He himself loosened his ropes. “As to the other his head shall fall before the night is out.” Poor banker! he just fainted. Master Josh explained how he had been lately discharged from a looney house. “OK I shall cut his head just the same!”he said with a laugh looking askance at the banker. He almost slumped in fright. “Think of that poor man, Gabriel!”
“His case is sad. But I shall cut just the same!”Gabriel said with a wink, ”with tears in my eyes. I shall also keen like a banshee.”
“I will pay to the last kopek!”the hapless banker blubbered without daring to look up, ”I own a Bank or two!”
If the banker expected some sympathy he was greeted in response with an abrasive guffaw! The robber baron said, ”In that case I shall hire some musicians to entertain the crowd. You shall have the most wonderful send-off!”, The banker didn’t hear him since he had fainted. The chief clapped hands and two of his goons came. He ordered them to release the fellow and treat him well.
Gabriel took Master Josh by the hand and led him to his own chambers. They sat down to eat and after refreshing themselves they talked things over. He narrated the circumstances that led him to his life in crime. He could understand. Sans- Souci affected him also; and he faced evil of the age in his way. Gabby explained he held no grudge against his father. “For me you come above everything else.” He sighed,”For your sake I shall suffer any loss if that be unavoidable.” Master Josh asked a favor and before he explained what he had in mind the robber baron expansively assured that it would be done. Josh had wanted him to release the banker. He in so many words explained the circumstance in which he got to know him. The bandit reeled in shock but he somehow managed,”Josh, you don’t know what a sacrifice I am making by sparing him?”
“ Please for my sake.” An uneasy pause. ”I shall make it your worthwhile.” The bandit chief thought over it and laughed it away. “That is alright. I ought not be so greedy I suppose. I have a long career ahead.” Then he shrugged off,”Or a rope rudely knotted but very effective.”
Master Josh could see he was really desperate. Before he could broach on the topic any further he changed the subject. Gabby explained what news he had of Sans-Souci. He continued,” The same economic disaster has hit Sans-Souci. Your father had incurred large debts in order to modernize Sans-Souci. Now he finds it difficult to make payments. Old age hasn’t dealt kindly with him.” Master Josh couldn’t help but cry a little. Partly for causing him sorrow. He expressed his desire to see him directly. “I am at your service,” his friend Gabby said with feeling.
Later in the day Master Josh could talk things over with the banker who was now in a cheerful frame of mind,”Yet again Master Joshua,”he leant over and kissed the hand,”you have saved my life once again.” He pressed him to let him help in whatever way. He said he would see Sans-Souci himself so he might lend whatever help that would be necessary. So Gabriel had already talked things over with the banker. ‘Who else but a friend would walk an extra mile for you?’ A bandit, a cut-throat nevertheless. He mused wryly he owed his life to people of all hues and persuasions.
Next morning Master Josh and the banker were on the road towards Sans-Souci. He mused,”Evil of the age is not a cut-throat or some parasites. If they could be sent by providence, evil must be something else.

Chapter-5
Evil Of The Age

The banker on the way to Sans-Souci talked freely and treated him as though he was one of the family. He told of his family and of the bank that he had inherited from his father. He asked why he wasn’t married. Master Josh truthfully replied he never had thought of it. “You are young and have a good heart.” The banker averred. He was sure the young man was ready for raising a family. In fact he was sure his daughter would make him happy. Master Josh mulled over the idea and said,”We shall discuss over it when we reach Sans-Souci.”
‘Blunder’ Buss was impressed with the stately mansion that stood still as a swan surrounded by so many jackdaws. “Those hovels are an eye sore.” the banker commented casually. Master Josh winced and said,”Those belong to the tenants.” Master Josh knew Gabriel as a bandit chief was a telling commentary on Sans-Souci. He was also equally involved in keeping such conditions longer. His good deeds didn’t change the situation but thought it was a good time as any to address his responsibility as best as possible.
When they arrived travel weary Nimrud came in haste and called him aside,”How dare you insult us? Your leaving made our father a wreck and made me take the whole yoke myself. Now your coming will upset him and incovenience me…”
“We were riding for days and we would like to rest awhile before we talk further. Once again joining up with the banker who quietly asked who he was he replied,”My elder brother. Never mind. It is my father I want you to meet.”’Blunder’Buss nodded.
Master Josh guided his companion into the wing where he had his own apartments. He called his attendants to look after the needs of his companion. Later the banker came and said how impressed he was. The banker had never seen such luxury.
“Unlimited credit,” he chortled,”the bank can offer.” Josh asked him to talk things over with his father. While they waited for Father Adonai they saw Nimrud leave in a huff.
They also saw his father coming towards him. And they could see he was still sore to complain. His father told him in a firm voice to behave himself. Nimrud came back and waited for his father. He stood a little away from them. He looked away as if was still angry with his younger brother. Both noticed how his father was upset. Master Josh saw he was also much older than he imagined.
2.
You see Father Adonai? He is still forbidding and gargantuan in size. His hairs are all white and as soon as he strides into the room he announces as if to no one in particular,” I have cause for annoyances. Some tenants were supposed to meet me. But they stood me up.”
He looks at his firstborn and his annoyance is still visible. “Nimrud I am sorry you feel so beefed up.” Suddenly he freezes. He apologizes and says,”I didn’t know we had company.” He walks to his younger son and hugs him. “My dear son you made an old man happy!” See how he changes his tone, and speaks warmly to the guest? Also note how elated he is to note his younger son is safe and sound? See pride in his eyes?
Shh He has to be polite to his guest. He tells in so many words he is impressed to have him under his roof. They speak in low tones. Heard what the Lord just said?
He says,”It is for my son to worry about. I have since last week stopped racking my head over trifles.”
“Trifles, father?” Nimrud is incensed. Look how he scowls at his brother and blurts out,” He left you in a lurch when you needed him most.” Nimrud was certain if it weren’t for him Sans-Souci would have been in shambles. “I am not ashamed to tell it to the whole world!” he said with ill-concealed temper. He wants to leave the table but his father shouts him to stop. Before such a thundering voice that Nimrud is shaken.
You understand don’t you, why they sit at their places and eat silently? Yes the family has a problem. See Nimrud doesn’t look up from his plate. Doesn’t that speak volumes?
Father Adonai slowly warms up and chats pleasantly.
He even tells his guest why his son stepped out of his care. He laughs low and says,”It was for him to find out. Evil of the age, it has stopped worrying me.”
Master Josh perks up. See how his youthful face brightens up? “It has stopped worrying me also.”His father looks perplexed. His son says in a measured tone,” Evil is in the way we are connected. Even whom we condemn as bad has in him the means to add something to us. Those whom we look up as good have in them meanness, cruelty and so many other vices. Only time and circumstances will tell.”
See how the old Adonai looks pleased. “That’s my boy!” his eyes seem to tell. The banker looks impressed. See how Nimrud receives it? He dares not look up. He still is furious. That makes it difficult for him to eat. Let us leave him with his problems.
Let us leave a happy family to deal with their problems in their own manner.
The End

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Chapter-2
Parting Of Ways

The day Joshua became eighteen his father allowed him to step out of Sans-Souci and see the world himself. “By lunch you ought to be here,” he said. Master Joshua agreed. As the groom brought his favorite horse, an Arabian stallion completely black and with a white crescent on its forehead, he was sure he was going to be bored. So he asked his older brother whether he wanted to come along. Nimrud gave him such a strange look that he was sorry he had asked. Josh didn’t understood why. He knew he and his brother didn’t see eye to eye. Over years it had grown so wide, it took an effort to talk.
Well, he had asked and his brother obviously preferred to stay put. That was that. So he went to the town on an easy trot. He was nevertheless somewhat apprehensive.
Sans-Souci was a world in itself. Everything he had known of life came from within its massive walls. He was dressed as richly as his father or his brother was used to wear. But having never before seen the world at large he wasn’t sure whether his dress was proper or not.
He was dressed in silk: and the silk came from so many millions of silkworms his father had cultivated in a mulberry orchard. Or take his riding boots. These were made of finest leather cut from hides of animals that were reared for the purpose. Wool, milk, butter, meat and what not were aplenty and each article came from the estate. Bevy of swans and cygnets bounded in the streams and the sight always pleased the eye; and their downy feathers lined the couch: so plump and soft no one in the family ever complained of being wide awake at unusual hours. Such a restful place it was. He could take ease and think paradise was where he lived. Leaving it for what? Wondered master Joshua. Naturally letting his reverie canter, he rode on a little dispirited.
After a quarter of an hour he came into the first town. What a shock! What a bedlam of sounds! Screeching matrons, peasants who went by with their nail-studded boots scraping,- ho the cries of the sick and the hungry, so mingled could not have spared such a sensitive young man. He galloped hard. Ahead was a village. He was shocked that there were too many cottages around a square. Those cottages were set cheek by jowl. “Who would live so close with everyone breathing on the other?” He saw clothesline with all sorts of articles left in the sun to drip dry. Filthy rags along some undergarments. A matron went on chattering to another among these unmentionables. He shuddered, ”Have they lost all their sense of dignity?” He never thought any self respecting woman would put her laundry out for all the world to see!” He could see here and there men who lolled about in casual clothes and least mindful of their language. He was disgusted with their crude manner and slovenly appearance. Their conversation was no better. Every sentence was punctuated with swear words that insulted his fastidious mind.
“By Jiminy!” he exploded. He held on to the reins lest he should fall off the horse. His face went white at what confronted him. ”Look at them! Can people take delight in their misfortune?”

Sans-Souci was never like this! His stable boys talked in low voices and they cast their eyes down when spoken to. His servants walked tiptoe in order not to disturb him. His nanny dressed herself primly and washed her person and hands scrupulously clean so as not to offend his senses. But what he saw outside his palace was offensive to him in every way. Why this difference, he wondered.
Further away he saw some people who were idling. He watched from far and they just did nothing. Never had he felt thus. ”Preposterous!” he thundered and tied the horse to a tree. He went to them and his face was a-tingle with outrage. In Sans-Souci all worked from sun up till sunset. His father’s tenants worked to death in a manner of speaking. ‘Work got them out of mischief,” as his father had often said.
“Hey you!”he shouted and they just stood up in alarm. Josh asked, ”Aren’t you ashamed that you waste your time?” He was sure there was nothing more shameful than wasting a beautiful day like that morning. One wizened old man replied with his sad eyes looking elsewhere, ”We cannot find work.”
“Go to Sans-Souci!” Master Josh said, “You shall find work there.” ” Yes we know.” “Do you refuse then?”
“Oh no master,” the old man replied. ”We are free men and we would like to live our own way. What for do we work? If not for giving us some dignity?”
“Does idleness give you dignity? He asked passionately,” I am sure you are not so misguided as to believe that?” “No master,” the old man explained that they wanted work so they could earn enough. “But if we cannot spend it in ways we think it necessary for us what is it?”
“What is the use of my hands if I cannot hold my baby in my leisure?” another asked. ”Or play cards with friends?” another one croaked.
Josh could get the drift. He asked the old man somewhat subdued, ”So you have your own idea of leisure?” He nodded and said he would on his part like to fish in the river. “Fishing clears my head and eases my tensions.”
“Do you fish?”
“How can I,” the old man replied sadly, ”the river belongs to your father.” “May be you can take up hunting or set traps?” The old man shook his head, ”All game, and fowls belong to your father. If we shoot a wild bird without his express order we would be thrown into gaol. For poaching. No doubt on that point.”
They shuffled away not willing to recite any more misery that blighted their lives. Josh stood there as if he were pole-axed. No shock could have come greater in his tender heart than the way Sans-Souci had emptied the their fortunes and happiness.
Master Joshua rode back in order to be present for lunch. His heart was in turmoil. Perhaps his father ought to explain better so he might find peace. He had lost it completely. So shocking was his first foray into the world.

Over lunch Father Adonai furtively watched his younger son. Even while his sons chattered of this and that he knew his younger son gave him ‘the spooks.’ In his eyes he saw ‘evil of the age’ as he would often refer to it. He knew it was the shock of his stepping out into the big bad world, alone and unprotected. “Did I go wrong?” he asked himself. Mercifully Josh said at the end of the meal, ”Papa I have reached the age of maturity.” His father waited for the axe to fall. The boy added,” If you love me, at least let me sort out my problems myself.”
“Problems?” the older boy quizzed, ”We live in Sans-Souci for god’s sake.”
“Yes, problems,” Josh said with a grim face,”I see evil of the age as Papa would often say, in Sans-Souci.”
Swallowing hard he added,”From here I can’t fight it.”
“I knew you were stepping out for disaster,” retorted Nimrud. The boy said quietly,”Allow me to go into the world. I intend to rub shoulders with it. Perhaps I can grind that monster to some manageable size.”
Father Adonai didn’t answer him directly. Instead he turned over to Nimrud to query. “No I stay put. I want to be with my papa. I have put my neck for the yoke and I intend to stay by your side.”
After the plates were cleared, they sat for a while. His father was deep in thought and at time he sent sidelong glances and turned his head away. Nimrud looked angry and chafing at the silence. It was the first time silence had come upon their free chatter. Father Adonai stood up and told his younger son that he was right. He had to face ‘evil of the age’ by himself. He asked if he had thought of his travel plans. The boy said he should know in a week’s time. His father placed his hand over his shoulder and said, ”Fine. Your share to Sans-Souci I shall arrange to pay you wherever you be and whenever you desire for it.” Father Adonai managed to reach his study and slumped onto his divan. He wept. In sorrow and also a little in pride. His younger son had in him the pluck. “He is not a quitter where his heart is concerned,”he mused,”I wish I could say the same for Nimrud.” Of Nimrud he reflected thus,’he knew his mind. A pity it is. Alas!’

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »