I have rented the old blue cycle from Settu’s shop. A damp yellow evening with cool breeze. Husky hum of pigeons from nearby Kutchimemon Masjid floated around like an untamed composition. When dusk fell, this symphony of feathers and throat fill the entire compound. I mounded the cycle, pedaling through the red dirt road, towards west. A cycle rickshaw passed me. Red, yellow and aluminum coloured insect with three big wheels. One of its back wheels zigzagging with age. I peddled the cycle, slow, passing a large Masjid pond filled with blue funnel- shaped flowers of African water lilies.
Straight, I can see the high wall of Armed Reserve Police Camp. Turing right, I reached beside the canal and again turned west to the beach. The canal is quiescent, after centuries of hard labour. In its depth, history lay as mud. From the remnants of the old white washed Victorian buildings around, ancient silence trickled. As if a hollowness so pristine settled in the marrow of the town, it spiraled in to the nether world calmly. I peddled slowly to the pier. These roads are always so serene. Listening to the glorious past, they remain quiet. Even not talking to the thick shrubs beside. This drizzle is bringing back my tonsillitis. The sour taste in the mouth is the sign.
Reaching Muppalam, entered the south bridge of the three, and pedaled straight. Passing the high wall of an old factory in the left, a smell, a whiff of tapioca cooked on steam reached me. I recognized it, when snakes open their mouth this smell will spread around like smog. I have a phobia against snakes and always loathed their oily roundness and wax feel. A shivering came out of the rain and fear possessed me. Looking around with fright, I have seen old Zachariah Hajikkagothi, the magician, sitting on a pile of dried marsh mallows on the canal shore. Hajikkagothi sat like a cluttered fog in his magic attire. I stopped and dismounted with awe. I have seen him with his snakes before, in my dreams. Always near the snake cages, or near the snakes, talking to them to scare me.
As per the legend, Zachariah Hajikkagothi migrated to Vattappally from Lakshadweep. He was the magician of a ship. One day, centuries back, walking through the ancient port town, Hajikkagothi reached Zachariah Bazaar. It was the land he searched for. But an eccentric foreigner to them, he was denied of a space in there. Still, Hajikkagothi left the ship, came to Zachariah Bazaar and turned south to Vattappally. Behind him were processions of cages. Different coloured snakes, cats and birds. Eventually he built his empire around them, alone.
Hajikkagothi was in deep meditation. A meditation only dead can achieve. He was in the ship. The day he had conquered the ship’s main mast. For the first time. From there he had seen the port city. Felt the destiny calling. From the dark horizon in the west, he heard the order. He climbed down to the shouts and cheers of the fellow sailors as a new man. A sorcerer with an impossible mission, but he was confident, for he had seen the future in advance.
Later Zachariah lay in the cabin hearing the outline of the sounds from the deck above. Shoshanna stood by the bed. She came into the cabin naked. There was no sagginess about her. Tall, black and balanced. She smiled and extended the right hand fingers. Zachariah touched them and held them lightly. Aroma of boiling meat from the galley filled the room. The cabin looked like an erotic painting he had seen somewhere. Glossy shapes flowing without curves in the soft yellow light of an oil lamp. She knew his fascination of woman’s breasts. Shoshanna’ breasts were beautiful and firm with big nipples. She touched her nipples with his fingers.
‘Does your back hurt?’ She asked kneeling forward on the rough matt.
‘It’s alright when I am not moving,’ He said looking at her.
She lowered herself towards him, moving like an animal on the matt, her breasts hanging down. She looked like a female wolf. Sparkling eyes. Sharp teeth. A necklet made of unknown stones around the neck. He pushed his hand out like a snake, touching it in the soft channel between her legs. She remained on all fours and he pushed his fingers along the warmth of the crease and held her backside in his hand. He could feel her place pounding like a fish on the shore. Wet and Slippery. The sound of water pounding at the side of the ship reached them, rocking the vessel in a slow rhythm. He removed his hand and with both sets of fingers began tugging her breasts like an apprentice ship bell-ringer, watching the tight dark nipples erect.
‘Put it back, please,’ she said.
‘Your hand, and your fingers, for God’s Sake.’
‘I forget where it was’
‘You are a bastard, Zachariah. She caught my hand and threaded it like a ship through the channel to the port in between her legs again.
She moved on to him now, careful not to press her weight into him. Her tongue went into his forehead and touched it as though in some sort of benediction. She began to run it down towards the centre of his eyebrows. She was doing it like a holy ritual. A slow erotic body rite. Zachariah opened his eyes and a light from the lantern of lighthouse flashed through the porthole.
‘What’s that lighthouse doing in the middle of this port?’
Her tongue stopped at the bridge of my nose.
‘Do you want to know now?’
‘I saw the light in the window and it seemed strange having a building just for showing light to the ships. I could understand it in a secluded island’
She brought her tongue down to his lips. They kissed passionately then, for a long time. Wet. Slippery. Her hand gone down and had hold of him like a sailor holding a stiff rope. He was feeling explosive.
‘Why is it there?’ He asked.
‘Because I chose to put it there.
‘The lighthouse, I meant.’
‘Oh, it was built to…’
‘To guide ships to the pier. Years ago.’
‘Who built it?’
‘You bastard. Crawford. I know because I read it all up. Centuries ago. Turn over and lie on top of me now. Please.’
He did. They were exactly the same size. His eyes were an inch away from hers. He felt like floating in a marsh, before going down. Her eyes were closed. When she opened them again his eyes was still an inch away still looking at her.
‘Who was he?’
‘Zachariah, I feel terrible.’
‘So do I. Thinking of something else. Like the lighthouse. Who was this Crawford?”
‘All right.’ She muttered. ‘Crawford. An Irishman. An engineer. Oh, gently. He built the lighthouse. For the Sailors...
‘It looks like a phallus’
‘Zachariah,’ she pleaded.’…….Zachariah…’
‘Does he have a wife?’
‘Bastard. You really are. I have met some… ah… but you are the biggest. Oh, Zachariah...
‘Who was his wife?’
‘Mauve.’ She said and the pounding of the water at the ship’s flanks increased with the high tide.
‘What’s that? I couldn’t go on much longer. Not the first time’.
Her eyes were screwed up. ‘That’s me.’ She whispered. ‘That’s all I can let you have. I can’t tell you the anatomical name, but it’s me. My very end. You can’t go any further.’