Wanderers in Eternity – Chapter 6


Table of Contents: Preface | Life Cycle | Chapter 01 | Chapter 02 | Chapter 03 | Chapter 04 | Chapter 05 | Chapter 06 | Chapter 07 | Chapter 08 | Chapter 09





Until the opportune time arrived, Vasantharaja was hiding in the darkness of the jungle. His whole body was bathed in a fine sweat. Constantly, he had to suffer the annoyance of the mosquitoes. He could not slap a single annoying insect. Even a simple noise like that could have given a clue of his presence to the enemy.

This was the forested land adjacent to the village of Bodhipura which was north of the Yan Oya reservoir. Twelve men including Vasantharaja had gathered here this night as previously planned. They all did not arrive here on the same hour. Under an order from Murugan in Velvetithurai they had come here at different intervals, one or two at a time. By then the ammunition and arms they were to use were already hidden in places in the jungle.

Crouching in his original spot, Vasanthajaja was waiting for the attack. The green camouflage outfit he was wearing blended well into the darkness of the jungle. His black face was also a part of the surrounding gloom. He felt the gold plated vial attached to the chain hanging from his neck. This was very different from the charm that his mother put around his neck when he was a little boy. This provided a different kind of protection. It carried a cyanide capsule. It was while in the Velvetithurai camp that Vasantharaja learned about this cyanide which he could swallow anytime to end his life before getting caught by the enemy and tortured.

All the others who came with him were wearing a vial enclosing a cyanide capsule around their necks. But their goal was not committing suicide, but destroying the village of Bodhipura. Their intention was to kill every single person in the village including all the women and children and burning down all the huts.

Twice before this Vasantharaja had taken part in raids putting his life on the line for the sake of his race. Vasantharaja felt that he had become a real man after the first guerrilla attack which he took part in when he was a mere sixteen. At that time the group that went with him attacked a bus on the road to Vavuniya. The first shot, he aimed at the breast of a young woman. After this his hands quickened in a fury. While the death throes were rising all around, the terrorists’ actions also took on an urgency. While the helpless unarmed innocent passengers were shivering with the fear of death, Vasantharaja stabbed several of them with his dagger. As the flesh was cut by that sharp blade, the smell of the blood and the way the dagger cut into the meat, a certain cannibalistic animalistic thrill was born within his heart. He felt a beastly desire that had been hiding within him so far unknown to him coming out of his guts to envelop his heart and shaking and shivering his limbs uncontrollably. When everything was over, there was congealing blood all over his torso and his arms. As he washed it all with the water from a pond, he felt an awakening within himself. Did not he act like God Shiva? He thought perhaps that Shiva burned and destroyed everything the same way. After this destruction everything will be renewed. After being bathed in blood a new world will be born.

After this Vasantharaja took part in the attack of a Buddhist temple near Thanthirimale. He helped in the killing of several Buddhist monks by hacking and cutting them up with a machete. This instance, just like the last time,when the innocent monks were cut up and their yellow robes were soaked in blood, the same cannibalistic sadistic feelings arose within Vasantharaja. That night after completing his viscious act, he got together with the other terrorists and gulped down some palm toddy. But for a long while he could not sleep. In the end he fell asleep under the starlight after satisfying himself by masturbation. That night he felt he had become part of this immense earth.

Vasantharaja was fighting for this same earth. This endless struggle was to gain the part of this earth which he believed should belong to his race.

He thought what a long journey he had come in his short life of sixteen years. Till ten he lived in his father’s house in Niveli. After his father disappeared, he came with his mother to his grandmother Thangamani’s house. Grandmother lived in puttur with grandfather Mahes. The yard surrounded by dried palm leaves became Vasantharaja’s playground. But within his was an indescribable fear towards grandfather Mahes. His voice was deep. His huge black body reminded one of a large shark. Grandmother was a small shriveled, quiet woman who always wore a white sari. There was an eternal wistfulness about her. Though grandmother loved him very much, Vasantharaja felt the remoteness within her.

Mother of course, protected Vasantharaja more then needed. But in the end he turned his back on this love and attachment and ran away to Velvetithurai. Mother blamed Uncle Ranganadan for seducing the boy and taking him away. Uncle Ranga was mother’s younger brother. He had gone to Velvetithurai at the age of sixteen after a big argument with grandmother. Vasantharaja learned in intermittent conversations that Uncle Ranga had run away from home after falling in love with a Catholic girl who belonged to a fishing family.

Ranganadan started coming back to the house in Puttur once in a while at times when Grandpa Mahes was absent. During these visits, Uncle Ranga brought sweets for Vasantharaja. In the beginning he was allowed to taste these sweets, but later on mother threw it all in the trash.

“We don’t know what kind of charms he is putting in those sweets,” Grandma also added. “He is bound to draw this little boy into his snare.”

Already Vasantharaja felt that he was entangled in a net drawn by Uncle Ranga. He wanted to roam free like Uncle Ranga. When terrorist acts and murders were increasing around Jaffna, mother did not allow Vasantharaja to leave the compound.

“Can’t go to Colombo, either,” Grandmother lamented. “It is dangerous to go there too. We’d better stay where we are.” Quite often, Vasantharaja had heard about Tamil people being massacred in Jaffna and in the capital of Colombo.

“Wherever we are, we will have to die when the time comes,” Grandmother said. “All we can do is pray to the gods and ask them to protect us. The rest, the gods will take care of.”

Grandmother resented Uncle Ranga because he had done something against the gods’ will. Though Uncle Ranga went in search of a Catholic girl, her family did not agree to their union.

After living with the fisher folk in the village where the girl was from and not being able to win her hand in marriage, frustrated, Ranganadan hopped on a boat and went to South India.

After a year he returned with his heart full of secrets. He did not have the pain of losing his sweetheart Arunakshi any longer. Now his hope was to gain something greater than Arunakshi.

Whenever Ranganadan visited his mother’s house in Puttur, his sister Janaki made an effort to hide her son Vasantharaja from his view. Even now Vasantharaja could remember how one time she hid him under the bed when Uncle Ranga was on his way to the house.

Most of the things that Uncle Ranga said in a high voice, little Vasantharaja did not understand. But every so often he heard his mother saying that the boy was not home.

In the beginning Vasantharja did not understand why his mother hid him every time that Uncle Ranga came over to visit. If mother knew ahead of time that his uncle was coming, Vasantharaja was not allowed to even stay under the same roof. At these instances, mother sent him to a neighbor’s house. But mother could not play her game forever. Just like someone wanting to taste the forbidden fruit, Vasantharaja became more and more keen on meeting his uncle under these restrictions.

One evening, when Uncle Ranga showed up beyond the palm leaf fence without any warning, mother hastened Vasantharaja to leave the compound from the back way. Every time prior to this, Vasantharaja had run on to Sivamma’s house without any questions. But today, he hid outside the palm leaf fence and listened.

Uncle ranga and mother talked loud for a long time. Grandmother also interjected words once in a while. After this, Uncle Ranga walked out of the house while cursing everyone at home. As he walked on to the road, Vasantharaja moved out from behind the fence and walked upto him.

Their eyes met. In Uncle Ranga’s eyes was a fierce look and on his lips was a cunning smile.

“Hey, podian, come here.” Hearing his Uncle’s beckoning, Vasantharaja was drawn to him like a needle to a magnet. “Would you like to go with me Vasantharaja? You have no hope living with these women. How old are you now?”

“I had my thirteenth birthday, uncle.”

“That’s the age when milk flows from the stem. Aye, ada, we will give you whatever you want, man. You don’t have to suffer by hanging around here.”

“Where can I go, Uncle?”

“If you want to you can go to India even. Hey, podian, do you like guns?”

Vasantharaja nodded his head like a puppet.

“Do you know why we are all trapped here? The ones who live below us have surrounded us, that’s why. Hey, do you like to fight, like M.G.R.?”

Vasantharaja nodded his head once more. He could smell the sweat on Uncle Ranga’s body when he got closer.

“Adey, you come with us. I will come tomorrow night with the motorcycle. You will have to stay up till I get here.”

“What time, Uncle?”

“Do you know how to read the time?”

“Not in the dark.”

“Do you sleep inside the house?”

“When it’s real hot, I sleep on the porch.”

“Then tomorrow you will have to say you feel hot and then sleep on the porch. I will come here without the motor running on the bike. Do you understand? You come with me for a ride. I will whistle. Then you come out, right? If you don’t come, I will kill your mother and grandmother and everyone else, right?”

Hearing the last few words, a shudder ran through Vasantharaja’s body. Uncle Ranga said all that without any emotions. But there was a harsh tone in his voice. As fear gathered in Vasantharaja’s eyes, Uncle Ranga laughed and squeezed one of the nipples of the boy. In that touch was a pain and a pleasure. “Here,” Uncle Ranga gave a candy to Vasantharaja. “Eat!”

Squeezing the candy in his hand, Vasantharaja watched his uncle walking away happily. The candy was wrapped in a multicolored shiny paper. As he unwrapped that fancy paper to eat the hardened drop of sugar, Vasantharaja remembered the advice given to him by his mother and grandmother. Had Uncle Ranga put a charm into this candy? If he ate this lozenge would he fall for Uncle Ranga? Then he felt that he was already drawn to Uncle Ranga even without eating a charmed candy.

How great it would be to go to Velvetithurai with Uncle Ranga and then get on a boat from there to go on to India? How much longer could he be imprisoned behind this palm leaf fence? Unwrapping the candy, he put it in his mouth. He felt that it had a very unusual sweetness. He could feel a certain electricity rushing through his whole body. Was this candy a charm? Sitting by the palm leaf fence, Vasantharaja felt an awakening within his body. The afternoon sunlight warmed his entire being. Without thinking he caressed his nipples. There was an unusual pleasure in it. He squeezed one nipple very slowly. It was as if he could still feel Uncle Ranga’s rough fingers on his chest.

“What are you doing there?” Mother’s voice jolted Vasantharaja to reality. “I thought you went to Shivamma’s house.”

“I went there and came back. Did Uncle Ranga leave?”

“Yes, Yes, he did go. You come into the house. Don’t stay out there. There’s rumor that some very evil people are taking away boys like you. Oh, I don’t know.”

Heeding to his mother, Vasantharaja came into the compound. But till nightfall he was restless. That night he did not eat, but just played with his rice.

“What’s wrong with you?” Grandpa Mahes who sat on the same mat with him to have his dinner inquired from him.

“My stomach hurts.” Vasantharaja lied.

“What did you eat? Did you eat unripened mangoes? Did anyone give you anything?”

“No, no.”

“My younger brother came,” Janaki revealed. “When he came I sent my son to Shivamma’s”

“Did Ranganadan give you anything to eat?”

“No. I did not even see him.”

“Be careful, podian.” Grandpa Mahes said emphatically.

“I heard that Ranga has joined them. Today they have killed some more people.”

None of this was news to Vasantharaja. There was gunfire blasting now and then. He could smell the smoke from nearby fires. There was a fear enveloping everything. But Vasantharaja never felt any fear. He had decided to somehow runway with Uncle Ranga this evening.

That night he slept on the porch.

“You sleep inside the house,” mother urged.

“No it’s too warm for me. My stomach is bothering me. If I have to relieve myself at night it’s easier if I sleep on the porch.” Mother’s approval came in the from of silence.

The night was dark. Though there were stars shining in the sky there was no moon in sight. Vasantharaja kept on listening. There was a continuous croaking of the frogs. Since it had rained a few days earlier, all around were puddles of mud. He guessed that the frogs were breeding in the muddy water. Inside the house, the clock struck ten. Then he heard eleven. Vasantharaja tried to stay awake by squeezing his nipples. Everyone was asleep. The world was quiet. The palm leaf fence was only a silhouette. When his eyelids were drooping, Vasantharaja rubbed spit upon his eyes.

Vaguely he could hear the wheels of a motorcycle scraping against the earth. Vasantharaja got up at once and hurried to the fence. When he opened the gate and came to the road he could see Uncle Ranga holding the bike.

“Get on. get on, we are not going very far.”

Vasantharaja hopped onto the back seat. Ranganadan who kept on pushing the bike for some distance, started the engine only after he had passed by several houses in the neighborhood. Just like he promised he did not go too far. Vasantharaja spent that night in a house in Puttur itself.

In a large room in this old dilapidated house. there were several other young men and teenagers. Since his uncle was there, Vasantharaja did not feel any fear. Three older men were holding on to their guns. In the middle of the room was a small kerosene lamp. In its red glow the men’s eyes also appeared red. Once in a while a boy could be heard sobbing. No one uttered a word.

Vasantharaja fell asleep while hugging Uncle Ranga. When he woke up in the middle of the night, he could still see those three men holding their guns. Vasantharaja moved away from his uncle’s hold. The man holding the gun nearest to him extended a bottle towards him.

“Kudi” (Drink) That is all that the man said. Vasantharaja placed the bottle to his lips. The man was still holding the bottle. He angled the bottle to Vasantharaja’s mouth. The liquid tasted sweet. Vasantharaja drank without any trepidation. After this he fell into a deep sleep.

He woke up in a boat in the middle of the ocean. It was night time. By next morning he had arrived in India. After this Vasantharaja spent some time holding a wooden rifle.

He had to undergo various training. He listened to various lectures. He learned to wear the cyanide capsule around his neck at this camp. He listened to speeches which explained how the Sinhala race had destroyed his own cultural heritage which made his blood to boil in his veins. Feelings of hatred to destroy his enemy and to die in the process were well established within him.

He forgot everyone including his mother, grandmother and Grandpa Mahes. In this new surrounding he made new friends. He learned to chew on tobacco leaves while eating rice with gravy.

This night while waiting for his moment in the jungle near Bodhipura, he chewed on a tobacco leaf. He was kept awake by the nicotine in the leaf. He could even hear the heavy breathing of Neelan who was a little distance away from him.

Neelan had also received his training in India with Vasantharaja. But in the beginning Neelan had not gone there by force. In the first few days, Neelan kept on crying without eating or drinking. But before long, he learned to carry the rifle and fight. Now he was known as a killing machine. “Maranam Motor..”….. That title was like a medal that Neelan had won.

Bodhipura village was about a mile away. This night there was not a single hum from that direction as if everyone had gone to sleep. Neelan who had spied earlier in the evening had come back to report that there were still people in the village. As if by some animal instinct, Vasantharaja knew exactly where he had go when the time came.

Suddenly a shrill noise like a bird call echoed through the jungle. Neelan and Vasantharaja stood up immediately. In the camp they had stood up at once for such commands many many times. Now they stood at attention out of habit.

Before starting his run in the darkness, Vasantharaja felt his cyanide capsule. How close he was to death? In that thought was a desire almost to run into the hand of death.

Holding his rifle with both hands, Vasantharaja ran forward. Now there was no turning back. all of a sudden there were loud maddening screams. The huts were burning lightning up the surroundings.

In some huts were half cooked rice in pots . In another place was flour ready to make roti. Vasantharaja thought that after killing the people he could have a meal here as well. An older man in his view was shot and killed by him.

In the light of the burning fires a hot scene from hell was visible. The black plumes of smoke that rose to the sky above the jungle covered the twinkling stars. To the death throes of the village mingled the wild furious yelling of the guardians from hell.

In the firelight Vasantharaja saw Neelan pulling a young girl from her hair and carrying her to the darkness of the jungle. There could be more enemy among the bushes.

Aiming his gun, he ran into the jungle where more fires were erupting. He could see a man and a little boy crouching behind some Mana reeds. Seeing the crazed face of Vasantharaja, the man clutched the little boy to his breast and tried to cover his face.

Vasantharaja’s gun exploded with a loud bang. Squirting blood from his head, the man fell down while still pressing the boy’s body to his chest. Vasantharaja pushed aside the man and pulled out the kid and hit him on the head with the butt of the gun. Unconscious, the child fell near his father. Vasantharaja who was in a rage shot the boy.

From amidst the reeds came the scream of a woman. At the same time another sound was heard. Turning in the direction of the noises, Vasantharaja saw a girl and a young woman. The two faces were glimmering red in the firelight. Both faces held a likeness. As if they were poured from the same mold. Though Vasantharaja drew the gun and aimed he had no heart to pull the trigger. He who had been trained to kill and be killed now felt a magnetic attraction in these faces. Before this he had not seen the beauty of a woman’s face. Though he had slept with prostitutes every so often, he had no attachment towards any of them. But these two faces held a strange attraction and a fascination. His head started to reel. He felt as if everything was frozen for a moment.

Who were they? Why were these faces so familiar to him?

At the same instance a gun shot was heard. He could feel one side of his chest going cold. Then only he felt the pain.

The shot came from the direction of the burning huts. Vasantharaga realized that everything was over. His gun was thrown from his hands.

He must swallow the cyanide capsule before getting caught by the enemy. When he felt around his neck for it, he realized that the life ending poison was not with him any longer.

This was when he started to run towards the dark jungle. He ran like crazy. He could feel on his palm, the cold blood running down his torso. He tripped and fell and hearing the death throes of the others he shut his eyes.

But everything did not end there. In his mind he could see those two female faces becoming one.

The same face….the same face. Who was she? Those eyes that enticed him-who was she?

Now he could remember seeing that face somewhere so long ago. But the memory was dim and faded. Floating in a never before experienced affectionate feeling he fell into oblivion.


Click here to Go to Chapter 07 Now.



Table of Contents: Preface | Life Cycle | Chapter 01 | Chapter 02 | Chapter 03 | Chapter 04 | Chapter 05 | Chapter 06 | Chapter 07 | Chapter 08 | Chapter 09