Mr. Salvo Croma (Part 1)
It was a cold winter evening. Mr. Croma got up from his chair, setting aside an empty cup. Walking a few steps toward the door, he put on the furry coat. It didn’t made much difference to him, for the coat was supposed to protect the wearer from cold. But he never felt cold. Even on that late January evening, when mother nature’s fury froze the lake, he felt nothing. But to appear normal among other people, he had to wear clothes like them. After locking the door behind him, he walked toward the sidewalk.
A couple was walking down the street, holding hands. He sharpened his ears, trying to listen to what they were saying. “The show was great, I can’t wait to get home and drink some hot chocolate” the girl said, as little clouds of fog came out of her mouth every time she said a word. The guy smiled and landed a peck on her cheek “I’m glad you liked it, you have no idea the trouble I got into trying to get those tickets”. The girl blushed, “Hehe, you are the best babe” she said slowly, her cheeks now being red. Mr. Croma started walking away from them, as he crossed a well maintained yard, his mind flooded with memories from his younger years. It was not easy to satisfy a girl in his time. You had to kill a guy to prove your worth, sometimes even that was not enough, there would be a line of men waiting. He remembered a king he had helped to gain control over a piece of land, which was deemed unrulable just to win the heart of a princess whose beauty was compared to that of godesses. The land was called ‘Muk’, named after the Mukkah people who had lived on that land for thousands of years long before the hungry king came to power. The warriors of Mukkah clan fought ferociously. Nearly ten kings have tried and failed to rule the land before him. Even though small in numbers, the natives used fighting tactics which was classified as ‘Guerilla Tactics’ centuries later. Mr. Croma thought about the history debate that was going on among the scholars at the time. “How were king’s forces able to break the mukkah people which were presumably impregnable?” was the big question they were fighting on, only if they knew. It seemed like yesterday when the king came to him for help. “Give me the the land which they deem unrulable, and you can have anything you want from your king”. Even though he already knew what the king was there to ask, he was unsure. All he ever needed was to look in the eyes of the people to know what they really wanted, but it was not the case when kings came to him for help. It was forbidden to look at the king directly in the eye. Deemed as a gesture of lack of respect, the act was punished by death. And he was well aware of the fact that people often didn’t spoke what was on their mind, fearing what other people would think. Even though it was a basic human nature, not even the kings with royal blood coursing through their veins were immune to the fear of what other people thought of them. So he reasoned with the king “Your rule over Muk demands extinction of an entire race”. The king looked at the ground a little far from where they were standing. Silence filled the air for the moments in which death of thousands of innocent people was decided. “I am well aware of the consequences, and have deeply thought about all other approaches, I am willing to take that burden” the king said, knowing that Croma won’t be able to resist a wish, which was this much bigger in difference. The king was told that the bigger the wish was, the more effect it would have on Croma. He had laid out his stratagem perfectly, and now he waited for Croma to take the bait. Croma knew exactly what the king was doing, he thought about how alive he would feel after completing the king’s wish. The death of thousands of innocents also clouded his mind, those people were doing nothing but protecting their lands and their families. “Prepare your forces and attack four days from now, you will have your victory” he finally said to the king. As the words left his tongue, the king left with his guards even without saying a word of gratitude. Croma walked toward the river after a few moments, his eyes were glued to the ground. The river was unpleasantly quiet that day, there was no wind, not even a breeze. The leaves of the trees never moved, it was as if the time was frozen. He sat on a stone and thought himself into the dark evening. Four days later the king attacked Muk and won, killing every last of the Mukkah people. Even children and infants. He was so consumed that even the pet animals and livestock was not spared by the king’s wrath. The news of king’s victory spread like wildfire across the lands, specially to the places he wanted it to reach. The princess of the northern kingdom ‘Aisha’ was on king’s mind during his entire journey all the way to the her father’s courtroom door. He was welcomed in by the old emperor himself. The emperor of the northern kingdom was known as ‘Mountain killer’, named from an incident that had happened decades ago. According to the story, the king was out hunting with his chosen warriors when they were attacked by a vicious tiger. It was said that the tiger was over a six feet tall, making the beast look like it had somehow escaped the hell itself. Villagers who often were targeted by this beast named him the ‘Mountain’, befitting to creature’s ungodly size. The king had unknowingly entered the tiger’s territory, who attacked and killed nearly a dozen of his finest warriors in mere moments. Before anybody could make any sense the tiger lunged at emperor, who intinctly pulled out his sword. When the beast landed on him, the sword went through beast’s neck and killed him. The courage and valor of the old emperor was well known. Staying as a royal guest for three days, the young king finally revealed his true intention of coming there. There was a long silence between the royals, the emperor finally spoke in the young king’s favour and beautiful Aisha was finally his to marry.
A siren coming from police car brought Mr. Croma back from the memory lane. He remembered reading somewhere that memories were like a box of chocolates, if you open one, you won’t be able to stop at just one piece. And when you had memory like him, never forgetting or misplacing even the tiniest of details, it was even harder.
TO BE CONTINUED...............