Friday, September 3, 2010

Return



This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 14; the fourteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.




The Gulf of Sidra. A small inlet of the Mediterranean Sea, just off northern Libya. It runs across the coastal strip extending from the Libyan capital of Tripoli all the way to the ancient port of Benghazi. Its warm waters, swarming with tuna, make for a bountiful catch for the many fishermen who ply their boats in them. And as with all primeval haunts, there are many mariners’ tales that allure and alarm the fishermen in their lonely hours of seclusion on the waves.

So it was that in 1910, in a thatched hut overlooking the Gulf, was born a little boy to the village headman. The proud father, an able fisherman himself, named the boy Sayyad. Sayyad, he who is a lover of the chase. A name that bore the fond parental hope of patience and passion for the boy’s destined vocation.

Sayyad loved his parents but despite his lithe swimmers build and his thick wavy hair, could never bring himself around to fit the mould of a fisherman. At heart, he remained a hopeless romantic-tender, passionate and pensive. In deference to his parent’s wishes, he learned the trade. But he never learned how to perform it. He would go out farther into the sea than any of his peers dared, but would forget to cast the net. He would be blessed with a particularly copious catch of fish but would stop to gaze upon the crimson hues of the setting sun for so long that the fish would rot before he got to shore. And all his parent’s laments and reproaches elicited no more than a wistful sigh from him.

It was on one such sojourn into the Mediterranean that Sayyad chanced upon an alcove that he had never before seen. Curious at the new panoramas it might bestow upon him, he veered his little boat towards it. But scarce had it turned the bend than he let out a sharp gasp. For in front of him, seated on the rocks, was a mermaid!

Sayyad had heard one tale too many about these mystical creatures of the oceans. And though none could be tested for veracity, they all concurred on one point- that these beings bore with them an ominous foreboding for any hapless traveller unfortunate enough to stumble upon them. So inauspicious were they considered that the locals had even given them a name-“Daayan”.

Terrified as he was, Sayyad’s curiosity got the better of him and he did not turn around while he had the chance. And as the little conkers attached to the net rattled against the bow, the daayan turned in his direction.

They say that love strikes like a thunderbolt. To Sayyad, it came like a dervish wave slapping into the rocks, splaying its own dismembered parts across its wake. For the daayan, part-woman and part-fish, was more enchanting than anything he had ever set eyes upon. The Moslem women in his village were renowned across the continent for their fabled beauty. But even their emerald green eyes were no match for the limpid black pools that now stared back at him.

As the two innocent souls stared spellbound at each other, the waves nudged the boat gently till it lay directly before the rock upon which the mermaid rested. Almost on impulse, Sayyad reached out for the rock to position his little craft. Taken aback at this sudden movement, the mermaid swiftly abandoned her perch and slipped beneath waves.

The moment had passed, but not its allure. Sayyad took a few moments to regain his senses and much longer to convince them of what he had just seen. He did not know what to make of this occurrence nor did he know what he would do next. But he did know that his folks would have to learn to do without fish for the next few days!

Sayyad returned home with a smile on his face and went to bed with the smile intact. But he could not sleep-the twinkling little holes in the inky black sky kept winking at him, reviving the memories of the eyes that had touched his heart, had pierced his soul.

His parents were astonished to see him set sail well before the first light the next morning. But they were in for an even bigger surprise when this new-found enthusiasm became a daily habit. In the days to come, Sayyad would be the first to leave the docks and the last to return-curiously, his nets always came back empty and just as neatly folded as when he had departed!

However, all was not well with Sayyad. The daayan would always be at her perch when he got there and he would anchor at a safe distance so as to not startle her. She would acknowledge his presence with just a shadow of a smile, the faintest nod of her head. And then go back to busying herself with grooming her hair and basking in the warm sun. He had earned the privilege of kissing the air that had only just kissed her, but then lovers are never satisfied with what they have already received. He yearned for more, much more. Alas, this was where the limits of his blessings ended. He tried in vain to speak to her, to elicit the thriftiest of responses. But all he got, always, was a cheery smile that said that the emotions were understood but could probably never be reciprocated. And with each smile, Sayyad sunk deeper into the wretchedness of a love so pure that it was neither reciprocal nor unrequited.

Days turned into months and the months rolled over into seasons. But the rendezvous never failed. Back home, his family had given up hope of their son ever heeding their admonitions. With the newly crowned “Lion of the Desert” Omar Mukhtar intensifying his resistance against the colonising Italians, their only wish was to see their son spared the ordeal of a forced conscription.

Oblivious to the tumultuous events unravelling all around him, Sayyad remained obsessed with his quest towards moving another step closer to the destination he did not yet comprehend. The ardour of his efforts had not dimmed but the futility of it all was slowly starting to sink in. And it was in one such moment of melancholy that the poet within him burst forth...

“Yeh na thi hamari kismat ki visaal-e-yaar hota...”


Sayyad himself knew not from where these words had sprung. And as he struggled to complete the verse, he heard a voice, mellifluous and honeycombed, add...

“...agar aur jeetey rehte, yehi intezaar hota”
The mermaid, his daayan, had spoken! He knew not how, he knew not why. But that was irrelevant-she had spoken and that was what mattered! His ecstasy knew no bounds and as if in reciprocation for his glee, she glided off her perch and swam towards his little craft. As he watched, mesmerized, she swam around him for a while before plunging into the waters and vanishing from his sight.

Sayyad returned home in utter euphoria, his mind swarming with scores of unfinished verses that he hoped she would complete in the days to come. But as with the best of men, Sayyad too was destined to find his fate on the very road he had taken to avoid it. That same night, Omar Mukhtar’s men came to his village to recruit men for their glorious cause. And among the youngsters who left with them the next morning was a very reluctant and immensely dejected Sayyad.

Sayyad had never been able to understand what the logical culmination of his yearning for the daayan would be. And fate spared him the answer. Just two days after he left his village, far away from the sea that had been his benefactor and companion, Sayyad was killed defending a land he had never known enough to love.


And for years thereafter, the locals would tell the tale of a mermaid who cried gently in the sea, her sobs mirroring the waves lapping at her feet...

*******

Seperated in time and space from this un-accommodated tragedy was the world of Sangram Singh. Born into Rajput royalty, he was one of the fortunate few to grow up in the shadow of horses and swords in the twenty-first century.

As was wont in his circles, scarce had he entered upon his ninth year than he was packed away to one of India’s elite public schools, to earn the education that four generations before him had already enjoyed. College followed school and the charm he had honed while living in such close proximity with a bevy of girls was put to good use in the Delhi social circles. He was the life of every party, the cynosure of every eye.

And yet, there was a longing deep within. He loved the stark and desolate beauty of the desert that held within its sands his home and hearth. But often, in the stillness of the night, a fitful sleep would bring with it visions of the oceans. Of forgotten bays littered with rocks, lashed at by unrelenting waves. And the recurrent vision of a forlorn face. A face he tried hard to get a look at but was always deprived of, with his dream breaking just as he was about to get a glimpse.

Brought up on a firm diet of bravado and chauvinism, Sangram was too far gone to ever admit his longing for that face even to himself. And as the years rolled on, it came to the point where he had craftily learned to disguise his sentiments behind an impenetrable veil of insouciance and arrogance.

But as with the best of men, Sangram too was destined to find his fate on the very road he had taken to avoid it. It happened the night he was visiting home and found himself the unwilling host at yet another party thrown in his honour. Jaded stiff with the usual pretences, he hurried outdoors to find refuge in the solace of the night sky.

As he stood pondering the vagaries of life by the poolside, he saw a woman walk across the courtyard, into the living room and on towards him. Screened by the bright lights all around them, her face was still obscured to his sight. But the emotions that had so far been wistful accompaniments to his restive nights became all too palpable.

Unaccustomed to this uncontrollable upheaval within, Sangram averted his gaze and stood contemplating the gentle waves of the pool. And as their rhythmic lapping found a mirror in his heart, he found himself uttering a verse he had never heard before...

“Yeh na thi hamari kismat ki visaal-e-yaar hota...”


And almost as if on cue, a mellifluous and honeycombed voice concluded his reverie...

“...agar aur jeetey rehte, yehi intezaar hota”

Sangram turned. She was standing beside him now. And as she smiled at him, it all came back to him with an unmistakable lucidity.

The daayan of Sidra had returned.






The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

66 comments:

  1. Amazing:D Well-written :3 The ending is beautiful indeed~ Good Luck on BAT14^^

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow Wow Wow... Sangram turned... she was standing beside now.. Returned... I loved the total compilation, though it was bit lengthy, it kept me glued till the end..

    All the best for BAT..

    Someone Is Special

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow BS.. What a tale.. Interesting fantasy plot ;)
    but thr seems to b lil imbalance b/w the lengths of two parts.. Really enjoyd the tale of Sayyad and Sidra mermaid :D
    Al the Best!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Arrey wah! This is a wonderful tale, I simply loved it. What a beautiful use of the prompt word.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful. Love that spans time and space. A very haunting tale.

    ReplyDelete
  6. An enchanting and a mesmerizing tale-though I hope its just a fiction otherwise it is haunting too.A very different and wonderful take on the topic.Love truly is timeless and to express it in your style,
    Meherbaan ho ke bulaa lo mujhe chaaho jis waqt;
    main gayaa waqt nahin hun ki phir aa bhi na sakun


    The names too have been carefully chosen so i must say,
    Vo naam jis ke liye zindagi ganvai gai
    Na jaane kyaa thaa, magar kuch bhala-bhala sa tha

    It goes with the 2nd part too.

    All the best!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautifully written.. Kept me engrossed through out.. U have an excellent hold of the words and the flow.. Keep it up..:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. @riikainfinityy-thanks ! Am glad you liked it. Hope to see more of you around.


    @Someone is Special-writing a post now feels incomplete without your comments ! Thanks for continued support and encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Vipul-thanks Marshall !
    ;)

    I think you have made the same mistake as Sidra Sayeed-the mermaid lives off the Gulf of Sidra but she does not have a name.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Ritu-thanks. As always, ur comment leaves me with a sense of fulfilment, assuring me that i haven’t done all too bad a job.


    @Dreamer-thanks. Jo pyaar dil-o-dimag se guzar kar zehan mein na bas jaaye, wo pyaar hi kya !

    ReplyDelete
  11. @ Jaspreet-thanks. Glad you liked it.

    @ Sushobhan- as always, you are too generous in ur praise. Great to see you back ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. A very nice tale. Twas engrossing. Though a bit lengthy, I stayed on till the end.
    All the Best for BAT - 14.

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Rumya-thanks for ur indulgence.
    N sorry for the verbosity !! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. my o my...you are learning ;)a really interesting take, glad to see the "fantasy" writer in you :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. longest post i ever read so far i gues..!!!

    nice one..!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. owsem post...its long only if you dont read it, once you start reading it you get glued to it... :)


    namit
    i blog at http://i-am-a-man-namit.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Enjoyed the post bro.. ATB for the BAT.. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great concept and a great story. Enjoyed reading it a lot just like all your posts.
    Best of Luck for BAT

    ReplyDelete
  19. Brijender,
    Very well written. It was a sooper read.
    Good luck with BATON brother :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. @Adarsh-aage aage dekhiye,hota hai kya !! But missed having u write a post this time around !

    @ Ms Meduri-am glad u read it despite the length ! :)
    Just hope it did not disappoint u.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @ Namit-thanks ! After all the flak I have drawn for this unusually verbose post, it was really a relief to see ur comment ! Hope u liked it, coz I really wudnt want u to go away after all the effort with a sense of disappointment.

    @ Bedlam-thanks bro !! N ATB to u too ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. @ Maverick-always a pleasure to see u “return” !! :)
    N thanks for the encouragement.

    @ Mudassir-thanks brother ! Really enjoyed ur post too ! ATB !!

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ Sadiya-glad u liked it. Thanks ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Enchanting tale!
    Reminded me of the 1000 Arabian Nights ;)
    Keep goin !
    Cheerz!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Beautifully narrated. It had a real eerie feeling to it. I felt as if I was reading the work of an established author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. @Kevin-thats a very lofty comparison !
    But am thrilled that u liked it !
    Thanks a ton !
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. @The Fool-thanks for ur generous praise !
    Glad that u liked it, n hope to see more of u around !

    ReplyDelete
  28. you know the acco problem I am facing so have just not been able to sit down and write something meaningful till now...but I will surely be back in the next edition....btw, looking forward to aage hota hai kya :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. This is a wonderful story & I so love happy endings .. a really haunting tale indeed..
    all the best for BAT

    ReplyDelete
  30. @Rinaya-thanks,glad u liked it. Hope to see u around more often.

    @Lost In thoughts-thanks for visiting !

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hello Brijender,

    I read your post couple of days back but decided to comment once I'm done reading other posts. So here I'm.

    You're undoubtedly one of the best story-tellers around! You are not at all 'stereotyped' to say the least when it comes to weaving stories around intriguing plots. You have this uncanny ability to keep the readers hooked to the story - the beauty of your narration perhaps :) You've beautifully captured the relationship between Sayyad and his 'Daayan' :) Moving on, the reincarnation bit has been dealt with carefully that makes it an interesting read! As for your way with words, I tend to get a little jealous the way you handle them! Awesome is the word! :)

    It's an honour to be associated with sensible bloggers like you :) Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  32. @Raksha-to say that you have erred on the wrong side of praise by a huge margin would be an understatement.Esp given your own thoughts, creativity, thoughts and forms of expression.
    All i can say is thanks, and hope to bump into you more often !

    ReplyDelete
  33. The concept of the post was marvelous. I thought somewhere in the middle you were losing the grip, but in the end, you captured the essence perfectly. #CommentLikeFarahKhan

    Cheers,
    Sid
    http://sidoscope.co.in
    Funny thing, this blog is funny and is about Life.

    ReplyDelete
  34. @Ravan-thanks for the confidence ! ;)
    Btw,did not understand the "comment like farah khan" bit ??

    ReplyDelete
  35. well it is the longest post i have read so far :) but i am glad i holded it till end , because u made me do so. awsm creation, strong hold on words. mature writing i can say.
    Feels great when blogger like you provide their feedback. Thanks for landing on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  36. @Saket-thanks for reading despite the verbosity!
    And am glad u like it.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey, that's such a wonderful story. So beautiful. Long, but smooth.

    -Great vocab.. I learnt a few new ones (god knows I'll remember nothing of it)

    The story is connected across huge space and time... very wonderfully done.

    I thought Sayyad, as Sangram, would somehow go back or be led to Sidra through a turn of events... buit not to be. THe daayan herself came back.

    On second thought, it was meant for Sayyad to die for them both to be humans and meet later.

    Nice use of shaayari (thought I dont know the meaning... I think I will check our the comments from people - kisi ne toh daala hoga)

    AM her for the first time and you've given me a beautiful story. One of the good ones I read in this BAT. Good luck for it.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oho! Noone mentioned. Please tell me the meaning of the shaayari Brijender. I know I can find it on the Internet but I want to learn it from you.

    And about verbosity - do you ever complain that you had to look at a beautiful girl for a long time? I dont.

    ReplyDelete
  39. @ Kshitij-thanks for the indulgence ! Glad u liked it.

    Sidra isnt the daayan,the daayan merely lives off the coast of Sidra!And the beauty of being a daayan is that she never gives up on her prey,even in the next birth !

    As for the couplet,
    visaal-e-yaar= union with my lover
    So the meaning becomes,
    "To have met my love was not my fate
    A longer life would have entailed a longer wait" !

    Its Ghalib at his poetic best ! Give him a try-i assure u u will like it.

    ReplyDelete
  40. wow.. I love the couplet all the more now. You might have just triggered a new 'interest' in me. That can also be miconstrued, lol.

    Thank you for correcting my understanding. So, she was indeed a daayan as per the folklore. I thought she was just proclaimed to be one. I think the fact that she was probably crying after that contributed to this interpretation of mine.

    Good. A nice start to my day.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Lol, you called me bro.. I accidently addressed you so.. :P

    I am a female.. =))=))

    ReplyDelete
  42. Did I just read poetry or prose?
    Beautifully composed, man. It had been a long time since I read such a tale.
    It flowed marvelously; no hiccups, no distractions. The very last sentence makes the necessary impact. Very well narrated. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  43. @Kshitij-glad u liked it ! And here's hoping you find a new muse in Ghalib and his world of ordered chaos !


    @Bedlam-that was quite stupid on my part !
    So very sorry ! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  44. @Karthik-having just read your post,i will take the compliments with a pinch of salt !
    But am glad u liked it !

    ReplyDelete
  45. Brijender! wow! What a story!

    Gave me goosebumps! Very well written.

    ATB FOR BAT

    RESTLESS

    ReplyDelete
  46. @Restless-thanks ! Am very glad that u liked it.
    And ATB to you too !

    ReplyDelete
  47. nice & amazingly different story, good one..keep writing such unusual ones...

    ReplyDelete
  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This sure is a W.I.N.N.E.R, Brijender.
    It's Wonderful. Impressive. New. Nice. Eclectic and Remarkable.
    All the very best for BAT.
    Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
  50. @Shilpa-thanks ! Am very happy at ur rather effusive praise. Thanks a heap !

    ReplyDelete
  51. beautifully written...liked the ending, and loved the mermaid ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Lovely.

    I loved the play on the names! But my curiosity is about Sangram Singh, who inspired that character?

    ReplyDelete
  53. @Swayambhu-loved the mermaid?? Despite her being a daayan??
    U starting to sound like Sayyad now !
    Thanks for the read :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. @Dee-play on the "names" ?
    I thought there was a play on just one name! ;)
    And as for the inspiration behind Sangram,that is for me to know and you to find out !! :P

    ReplyDelete
  55. Yello Sir =) I don't know if you missed 'ME'.
    The language cannot but fail but the plot?
    O why, O why, O why dost thou entrap thyself in the misery of cliches?
    Let the bells of freedom ring to bring in a tale yet untold and in a voice yet unheard.
    Good Luck =)
    Guten Tag!

    ReplyDelete
  56. @ Brijender: I read the post (1 name), and then the comments (the 2 name), so the "names" :)
    About Sangram, how will I find it out unless the author deigns to bestow upon me some knowledge about the inspiration behind the character?

    ReplyDelete
  57. @Dee-the inspiration for Sangram finds genesis in the same font of idiocy that was the genesis for the other name(s).
    Was.

    But anyway,its been a while since YOU wrote anything new-given up on Bombay finally?

    ReplyDelete
  58. You know what?? this is my first visit to your blog where I really read the story in full. I regret not having gone through this tale before BAT, otherwise you would have got another vote to become the first Gold winner. I must say that you deserve to write short stories in print. You have immense talent and the way you balanced the poetic tale, I am impressed. Your vocabulary is too good and the flow, emotions... just like a true story teller. I salute such innocent love that you imagined. Keep writing and congratulations. You deserve the win.

    ReplyDelete
  59. @ Brijender.. Keep the fount* flowing, it comes up with many gems (except the misplaced Delhi love!).
    About the writing, just moved back to my college town, started school and work on a major project. Short of creativity right now!

    ReplyDelete
  60. @Cherry Blossom-that is one hell of a lot of compliments !
    Thank you so very much,though i really dnt knw if i deserve it.
    Am glad you liked what you read-hope to see more of you around ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  61. what do i say, this is perhaps my second visit to ur blog n am left spellbound, u are a story teller n u can go international.. come up with ur collection in the form of a book man, i will buy for sure..
    i like international plots and this is a surreal world u've painted with love n life but i would love to know why the word "daayan" for the mermaid.. i looked on the net and am unsure if its derived from an arabic word..
    plus a libyan speaking urdu.. well, if it suggests love knows no language.. then hats off to u :) deserving the winning post..

    ReplyDelete
  62. @Easy Vivek-u r way too generous in ur praise !!
    Thank u so very much and really hope u liked it atleast half as much as i am now inclined to believe you have !

    Daayan has an arabic origin,as far as i can recollect.But i might be wrong here. The main intent behind this word was to illustrate that beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder-one man's notion of hideous could be another man's definition of beauty !
    And between the two lies life !

    ReplyDelete
  63. great work! the story itself is awesome, and your narration and the way you've presented it makes it more so.

    ReplyDelete