Kalki – The Demon Slayer
“Victory to you, victory to you”
“O the destroyer of the demon Mahishasura victory to you who shine with beautiful locks of hair and who is, the daughter of the mountains.”
Sunil observed the high hills and the clouds covering their tops, he watched the valley below, held up his camera set the lenses and began clicking, he admired the lovely view of the valley below he ran down the hill top suddenly he tripped and fell he couldn’t move his ankle, slowly he rubbed his ankle when he heard a voice “What happened Babu? Have you injured yourself?”
It was a young girl in her early twenties maybe, she had dark and small eyes typical of the people of Meghalaya she seemed like a resident of the hills with her tribal wear and loosened hair. She carried a tea picking basket on her back which she placed aside and bent down to observe Sunil’s injury. Sunil replied “oh! I am fine, just a small sprain I have a spray in my bag I think that will be helpful at the moment.”
Sunil pleased by her friendly approach managed to find out that her name was Kalki and she lived in the valley below with her parents who worked in the valley below with her parents who worked in the tea plantations. She was a girl of the mountains and was very familiar with the different paths and sites in and around the mountains, she understood the different sounds of nature, harmful and pleasant.
Sunil told her that he was a photographer who was a photographer who was working for a magazine called nature’s wonders, his duty was to take landscape pictures for the magazine, so he spent most of his days travelling and visiting different places. Thus engrossed in each other’s company they reached the guest house where Sunil was staying. Kalki bid farewell but promised to return the next day, as Sunil had requested her to guide him to certain scenic spots in the mountains and nearby forests, to which she cheerfully assented.
The next day they were travelling towards the Nohakalikai falls Sunil asked her “Well, kalki tell me about yourself, what do you like?, where do you live? Where do you work? What are your hobbies?” kalki bent her head shyly “what’s there to know about me Babu, I live in the valleys below, I work in the tea plantations sometimes. I love the mountains and nature Babu I feel that they speak to me, they share my darkest secrets.” The look on her face changed to a scared and fixed stare as if lost in thoughts. Sunil shook her “hey! Are you okay, do you have any siblings?” kalki looked at him with a frown “I had a brother, he’s no more” she wiped a crystal tear slipping from her eye “oh! I’m so sorry, was he ill?” asked Sunil comfortingly “let it be Babu, let’s talk about you now” she quickly retorted. Sunil realized that she didn’t want to share her sorrow so he began speaking about himself.
She seemed amused by Sunil’s words and he observed that though short she had a strong and muscular body he guessed it was because of her hard way of life, her skin was quite dark and rough very unlike that of a girl’s, her tanned face spoke of her sojourns in the lap of nature. That night after Sunil had undressed for bed. The caretaker Ram Singh brought in his dinner. Sunil asked him “Ram Singh, do you know Kalki?” Ram Singh was a morbid and reserved man, it was as if he was dumb, spoke as if words were pennies “no Sahib.” Sunil always saw a dread in Ram Singh’s face whenever he looked towards the forest, he wondered why. He took out a whiskey bottle from his back pack and placed it on the table next to him “come on Ram Singh, let’s have a drink together.”
A tempted Ram Singh tried to refuse but Sunil slowly coaxed him into drinking. After two rounds of drink Sunil repeated his question “do you know Kalki?” a doused Ram Singh replied “yes Sahib! I know Kalki, poor child she’s seen hell and back. Her elder brother Nipun, he was murdered, there Sahib in those dark forests, by the estate owner Bhoopal Singh wicked demon he slayed the boy mercilessly Sahib.” Ram Singh wiped his tears “my friend Hari, kalki’s father worked hard in the estate, he took a loan for Nipun’s education in the town. Every month he would repay in installments the loan should have ended in two years but the unjust Bhoopal kept lying to the uneducated Hari.
When Nipun finished his studies and was back, he wanted to take his family away with him to the town, but was surprised when his father told him about the loan and pending installments. An aggravated Nipun rushed to question Bhoopal. He learn’t not only about his father being cheated but also about the smuggling of elephant tusks, tiger skins and Sandle wood being done by Bhoopal in our forests he threatened to expose Bhoopal to the police Ram dayal Bhoopal’s manager convinced Nipun that he would return his father’s money and also convince Bhoopal to surrender to the police.
He called Nipun to the forest for a private meeting, it was raining, Kalki knew her brother was in danger inspite of his warnings she secretly followed him she hid behind some bushes and watched everything Sahib. Bhoopal, Gopal his brother, their accountant Ashok all together attacked Nipun, he tried to fight back but one against four, they stabbed him and chopped his body to parts and threw the blame on wild animals, why will animals harm Sahib they are not like humans merciless, selfish… poor Kalki, Sahib controlling the turmoil in her heart, her tears covered by the down pour,
if they had to find her I don’t know what they would do to her Sahib, merciless demons, womanizers that forest hides the painful screams of so many innocent women, tortured men and slayed animals it hides the dirty crimes of those men Sahib” Ram Singh broke into tears he sobbed for a while and slowly lifted his head wiped his tears and said looking towards the dark forest “Sahib, do you believe in god? In the Bhagvat geeta Lord Krishna says yada, yada hi dharmasya…. You know what it means whenever evil arises to destroy the world. I will take an incarnation and come to establish dharma. It’s been a year since my dear Nipun was killed and every fortnight one of the murderers are mercilessly killed in the same forest, their body parts hung to some tree in the forest is found every month Sahib, the police is investigating these deaths. Now only Bhoopal and his brother Gopal are left, they will also see death Sahib I know it I know it….” Saying this an emotional Ram Singh dozed off in a drunken trance.
A shocked and awe-struck Sunil couldn’t sleep, he kept wondering who this so called demon slayer could be.
The very next day morning there was a lot of commotion in the forests, police jeeps, tribal labours and workers all gathered around the forest. Kalki came to the guest house as usual the curious Sunil asked her “what’s all this confusion Kalki?” she seemed indifferent to the havoc very casually she responded “Gopal Singh has been murdered babu, his hands were found hung to a tree in the forest, the police are searching for his body.”
Ram Singh joined in “yes Sahib some burnt remains of a body have been found, I have heard.” Sunil was taken aback “Gopal is Bhoopal Singh’s brother right? the tea estate owner how did it happen?”
Kalki replied who knows babu, so many crimes he has committed maybe someone just wanted to pay him back I guess, leave it babu today I’ll take you to my guru’s ashram, it’s very pleasant there.”
During their journey to ashram Sunil asked Kalki “guru, what does he teach?” “everything, he recites the Geeta, he teaches us the Vedic scriptures, tells us tales from Ramayan and Mahabharath. We also learn about medicinal herbs and their healing effects, there is so much to learn from guruji” Kalki replied retrospectively.
On reaching the ashram Sunil observed that it was a pleasant place with limited students built in the middle of a valley near a flowing stream, a large space with a lot of greenery, there were separate huts specified for different purposes one like a classroom, one a kitchen, one a sickroom and many more where different crafts and skills were taught, there was a large open ground where the Kalahari art form was being taught. Sunil looked at Kalki and said “do you know Kalahari?” she smiled and said “Babu, it’s a dangerous place out there every girl should know how to protect herself.” Sunil admired her “that’s great, every girl should be like you, independent, self-reliant, by the way from when are you learning this art form?” “it’s been two years babu, my brother joined me here to assist guruji, but he made me his student.”
Sunil looked at Kalki and said sternly “Kalki, do you think it is right for man to punish man, do you believe in revenge, don’t you believe in god’s justice?”
“Babu, sometimes god wants man to fight for his own rights, fight to establish dharma this is god’s will, isn’t it babu?” she stared into Sunil’s eyes with confidence and said. Sunil smiled and said “oh! We are getting very philosophical. Shall we go meet your guru now?”
The guru blessed Sunil and he returned to the guest house. Fifteen days passed and Sunil stay came to an end he was planning to leave to Cherapunji the next day Kalki was preparing for her brother’s first death anniversary and was busy at the ashram, but promised to meet Sunil one day before her left and also requested him to attend the puja at the ashram the next day.
There was a heavy downpour that day so Sunil had to postpone his trip he was happy that he could attend the puja at the ashram the next day it was 7pm in the evening when he observed a large car entering the forest that night. He called Ram Singh and enquired about the car. Ram Singh informed him that it was Bhoopal Singh’s car Sunil was curious as to why Bhoopal Singh was entering the forest when there could be danger dwindling there
Sunil suspected strange he wore his raincoat and sneaked into the forest after walking a distance he observed Bhoopal’s car parked under a tree he held his torch light up walked towards the car he was surprised as he tripped over a body of a body guard lying on the ground he was taken aback he was on a trail of murder, at a distance he saw a cave he observed another guard fallen down near the entrance. His heart skipped a beat. “is this the cave where all the murders took place?”
with a heavy gulp down his throat he creeped in, he could hear the screams of a man pleading for mercy there was a large boulder blocking the path with a narrow passage to enter, he peeped through the narrow passage and what does he see a blood streaked and badly injured Bhoopal Singh with his hands nailed to a wooden stand screaming and pleading for mercy. An individual in black, back turned towards Sunil stood in front of him an axe in hand all ready to slay Bhoopal’s head how could Sunil remain silent in this situation he screamed out and ran through the narrow passage
“leave him you monster!” the individual in black as if deaf to his voice chopped off Bhoopal’s head, which flew in the air, laughing loudly the individual turned around, Sunil was aghast to see Kalki with blood streamed over her face, her eyes blood red and a ferocious smile adorned her face, for a moment she appeared like the goddess Kali with her dark form and blood streaked hands and face. Sunil became unconscious.
When Sunil woke up in the morning he found himself on his bed in the guest room, was it a dream, was he in a trance, he began to wonder when he heard a commotion outside. Ram Singh entered with a cup of coffee. Sunil asked “what happened Ram Singh? What’s all that noise outside?” Ram Singh replied “Bhoopal Singh was murdered Sahib they found his head hanging to a tree, by the way Sahib why were you asleep in the balcony last night Sahib?”
The next day Sunil attended the puja at the ashram, he saw Kalki but didn’t speak to her much. Kalki observed him and walked up to him she looked very content she silently bent towards him and said “babu, if you want you can get me arrested, I am willing to surrender, because my purpose is served even my brother’s soul must be at peace now.”
Sunil looked at her cheerful face and said with a smile “no Kalki as you said god wants man to fight for his own rights and what you did was to establish dharma, when god can do it, why can’t man his own creation, your actions are justified Kalki.”
He left from there but before leaving he bowed his head with folded hands before Kalki she stood in front of the idol of goddess Kali.