The Wilful Revenge
"What's your name?" the pay clerk asked.
"How does it matter now!" said a husky voice .
"If you want your weakly payout, then tell me your name." "Otherwise, you can stand aside and let other coal mine labourers be paid."
"Yes, I did understand," said the husky voice.
The prime aged man with husky voice was tall, well built, tanned, clean shaven with brown hair and thick eyebrows over deep set intelligent eyes.
The clerk felt hard to breathe sitting inside the kiosk. Moreover when the coal dust blew from the torso of the husky voiced man standing in front of him, asphyxiated him.
The pay clerk thought if he could jerk this man 'like a dry cloth' or 'wash' him with water spray and clean the coal dust.
The pay clerk wanted to get rid of him at the earliest, "Don't waste time, tell me your name."
"Brian Lodh" he uttered huskily in single syllable.
All human in the vicinity appeared to be robots. Like robots they followed specific instructions.
The human robots understood the coded languages, like one glass water. The 'lips swish' for a cup of tea, it came. Someone shouted a code 'potatoe chips and fried eggs', was delivered.
The cook just coded to satisfy customers with array of savoury dishes. Each item be delicious and to represent the fineness of the "hut" restaurant.
At workplaces rules and regulations bind us, safety systems are to be adopted, civic discipline to be obeyed, manners to be followed, maintain dressing norms, seems to be some of the codes a human absorbs as per his/ her programme.
Dwindling lanes which you follow homewards are codes of your address to track safe arrival and for delivery of postage, pacels and other commodities.
The clerk master pay roll, counted the cash and asked, "Left thumb impression or signature on your salary sheet, what do you prefer?"
"Left thumb impression, preferred." said Brian. "I have a weak memory. I often forget my encryptions."
"After all I am a labourer, my signature if found in any of your records, may not find your satisfaction while matching with them." "But my left thumb impression, will follow me faithfully and fake your dissidence."
The pay clerk called out crisply, "next man, come forward." His nostalgia smothered around Brian.
This scenario was a commonplace. Only alteration was of the person taking responsibility of labour payment, other than that the pay kiosk and the front forward position of Brian remains unchanged.
Brian collected the cash, counted at the kiosk window and left the space, later to be filled in by the next man in queue. He stood aside, looked blankly ahead, "where to go now."
Along with his deliberations with the pay clerk, he could afford to pass some time.
Now he wondered, where to go.
The dust covered nameplate "BOOTLEGGERS" attracted him. "No not now."he said to himself.
"Home, I don't have one." "Then where to go" he shouted unheard.
He moved some yards near a tree and squatted adjacent to the rock. The sun rays and sweaty stink were exuberant on him.
"Food," he thought. This pay-day of each week he relished his lunch. He entered a foodie joint which was easily available near to the mine site.
Entered the hut and occupied the corner bench with a unpolished table. He rolled a cigarette and lighted. Exhaling the smoke he ordered for fine salted breads, four slices of cheese, fried beans and a roasted chicken with sauce.
Delicacies dissolved and allowed him to belch. His ecstasy after the fine meal.
Brian gazed beyond the horizon where his thoughts had penetrated. Such a big landscape. So many trees, plants, flowers, fruits, birds, animals.
See that butterfly flutter its wings, displaying the Great Artists works of decoration on it. The harmony of its synchronised movement of the pair of wings, to show its significance.
So colourfulness and happiness nested in our good mother earth.
So many human beings but nobody had time for Brian. Nobody had nothing in common to share with him. Also he had no one to speak to.
"Are all speechless or they are from other linguistic museum, where only some syllables are commo!" he exclaimed softly.
The change in shift, was summoned by the sound steam powered siren. Everyone wherever positioned followed the beckon. Brian was not any exception, he moved too.
All humans behaved as programmed robots, charged by their own biologically powered battery system.
Hard coal blocks being cut. Axes clanked on the coal bed. Intermittently the gong sounded to draw attention of miners to be alert from the moving coal trollies, inside the darkness of the mine.
Davy Safety Lamp
The Davy lamp for safety of miners, in the inflammable atmosphere swung in their hands, like fireflies. These lamps consisted of a wick lamp with flame enclosed inside the mesh screen and prevent from igniting the flammable gases and causing explosion. These safety adoptions were statutory for all miners.
"The miners safety lamp invented by Sir Humphry Davy in 1815, still being used without any innovations," thought Brian.
Coal mine shaft driven by rope & pulley arrangement (sketch)
Coal miners ascending up the shaft.
The shift ended. Brian came out of the shaft, brushed past other miners and stood in front of the blackened glass door of Bootleggers. This was his routine round for all five seasons.
Everyone knew that he drank to his brink, to wash his fatigue.
Finishing his drink, he looked up at the bartender, checked the bottle, satisfied himself there were no more drops remaining. Raised himself and started for the door to go outside.
Brian walked aimlessly on the serpentine lane with faltering footfalls. Keeping himself upright for few kilometres, he stumbled over a raised stoned side walk near the portico of a dimly lit house. On his rough stone bed, in a cadaveric posture he slept and snorted deeply.
Coal miners out of the shaft
Walking on serpentine lane
Early morning with rosary in hand the old lady, of the house, called from the garden.
Kate rushed to the garden and found her mother standing in front of a man lying on the stone pavement, leading to their portico.
"Brian," she recognised lay in trance, spurting inaudibly.
Kate was fair, blonde, with blue eyes in her late thirties. She was science teacher at the mining town school.
She was not at all surprised to see Brian, as he lay there, in front of her. Earlier on many other occasions and around the seasons, Brian predominantly occupied the portico of her house.
Kate turned to leave, knowing that just like other day's, he would rise and go to the public bath for a shower.
But circumstances changed in a fraction of a second. She suddenly retracted her step, she seemed puzzled and awe stricken as Brian babbled.
But Kate had heard very clearly heard, what Brian re-uttered "Periodic Table,"
Kate thought, "a labourer like him, what does he know about Periodic Table, Chemistry. "An inebriated miner can never dream the word Periodic Table, lest utter it,"Kate thought. "Who is Brian?" she asked herself.
Periodic table is a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, ordered by their atomic number, electron configuration and recurring chemical properties, whose adopted structure shows periodic trends. This knowledge common to students but for a drunkard like him it's really a big jigsaw puzzle.
Her suspicion grew and now fully focused on to Brian's past life history.
The saying goes, a woman is very sensuous whenever she finds something suspicious. Her sixth sense immediately probed into Brian's history.
She asked him in a cool manner, "Brian is there Inert substance in Periodic Table."
Brian replied in his hangover, spoke in broken syllables, " Krypton, Neon, Xen......." and his voice subsided.
Who is Brian? Why is this 'man of learning' hiding here as a labourer of a coal mine.
"Is he a spy?"
"Is he a jail broken criminal?" many questions aroused her. She was in turmoil.
"What to do?" "Whom to confide?"she lost in soliloquy.
Kate prepared her action, came near to Brian, sprinkled water, made him sit up and comforted him.
Sweetly she called, "Brian."
He understood it wasn't a robot, but someone being more humane. He squinted at the morning sun rays falling on his face. Politely he said, "You a fairy," " Am l in Heaven!" "
No one abusing me, no physical assaults on me." " Where am I?" "Am I in Heaven!" he thought
"Brian this is Kate," "You have come under this portico several times." "Tell me who really you are." she saidaked.
"Where do you hail from," "I know that the portrait you are projecting to us isn't the real you," she said.
"Feel no shame, no fear, I shall protect your dignity." "I promise," she reiterated.
He said, "I am, Dr. Brian Lodh Ph.D,, D.Sc., in Chemistry a Presidential Award Winner of my country."
"The enemies attacked my country where I lived peacefully," he said
"The enemies bombed my city, killed my wife Unisys and two daughters Bosti and Samui in front of me after tying me to the pole lined with hot tar." "See my shoulder and hands where the skin have crumples," his husky voice quivered.
His voice was filled with mixed emotions of love for his family and hate for his country's enemies.
I have lost my family who were my most precious gems. Let me not remember the brutality my family suffered in the hands of the enemies. Those devils have snatched my precious gems away from my heart.
Therefore I drink to the brink to forget my grief and not to wash away my fatigue, as people think.
Without the gems in my crown, I have no identity of being a king.
So a coal mine labourer is my best identity.
Let this be my testimony of self abduction, "The Wilful Revenge," and he walked away.