Updated: Jun 22
Image → @jaydenyoonzk
Archetype → Hero
Jagath interrupted Alles’ story; He had a better one. Alles was talking about some girl who drowned herself in the lagoon from supposed possession by the demon Kalu Kumāra. “Oh, but you know who Kalu Kumāraya is?,” Jagath asked loudly, thrusting his palm inches from Alles’ face. Jagath looked at the three tipsy men sitting in front of him at the bar, eleven am on a Sunday; each shaking slightly in his view, like frail leaves in the wind. Six bloodshot eyes stared back at him. Jagath knew he had to give them something better. “Did you know that he was a man killed by some very hungry ladies?” Jagath asked, lowering his voice. He savoured his words slowly, tauntingly. He saw eyebrows furrow ever so slightly. They were curious. He was in. Jagath jumped in through that slight crack of opportunity before the doors closed again.
“So this bugger was the King’s top man. His name was Nīla. Tall, strong, blue-black skin—like a rock. Thinks fast and kills faster—like a leopard. No one could touch him. No one ever beat Nīla in a fight,” Jagath quickly weaved the story, using fragments of memory pulled laboriously through the volumes of arrack that his brain was swimming in. “This is no bullshit. This is history. Okay?” he assured.
“The king was Jayabāhu….or was it Vijayabāhu?... anyway, doesn’t matter,” Jagath continued. “When the king went to free six-hundred of our buggers imprisoned in South India, Nīla was the one who delivered the game. He not only brought those six-hundred prisoners back home but also brought back thousand-two-hundred South Indian buggers for the king; two for each of our ones that they took. How’s that? No one doubted Nīla after that. They called him Nīla Mahā Yōdayā—Nīla the great giant. This is where Nīla went wrong,” Jagath shook his head.
“Nīla got too into it. He became a cocky bastard…”, Jagath paused. He saw Vāsu from the next table turn to listen. So did Hilmi from across. Jagath smiled a little corner smile. Arrack swished around his brain in happy little circles.
“Then…,” Jagath said, lifting one eyebrow. “Nīla heard about a strange village. A village full of women, and women only…,” Jagath paused knowing more heads would turn now. He was right. Ranjit, Devro, Lalith and Punchi all turned.
“No man ever dared to visit it because they were no ordinary women—but a bunch of bloodthirsty warriors,” Jagath paused and racked his brain for some more information. He struggled to pull any more memories from that evening a long time ago when he sat by his grandfather’s feet listening to this tale. Everything was lost to time and arrack. So, Jagath decided to add some salt of his own. “The only men who ever made it there were the ones those women captured when the moon was waxing and their ovaries were tingling; When they wanted some poor fool to ravish and finish,” Jagath said with a fluid head-movement that harmonized perfectly with the sweet ebb and flow of alcohol in everyone’s bodies.
“So, of course, Nīla wanted to be the one man who visits this lady village and lives to tell the tale. He went in. But, it was the wrong time of the month. The moon was waxing. The women were hungry. So….,” Jagath paused and watched triumphantly at the puffed faces listening captivated, drinks forgotten on tables and hands. He sipped some arrack slowly, leaving them hanging. He had them.
“All the women wanted Nīla. They wanted him so bad, that they fought over him in a frenzy,” Jagath told the engrossed faces. “And, they tore him apart, alive,” he whispered, looking dead in their red eyes. “To this day he haunts women as Kalu Kumāraya, resenting their desire,” Jagath said. Someone inhaled and exhaled loudly.
“And that, my friends, is why you don’t become a cocky bastard,” said Jagath, leaning back to light a victory smoke. For a quiet second, he waited; eyes on the cigarette but ears pricked for remarks. But, all he heard was Alles clicking his tongue. Jagath looked up to see him turn away with a dismissive wave of a hand. “Ego. It gets the best of us...,” Jagath said quickly, trying to recapture the attention before others followed suit. But, it was too late. Alles had already announced another story; “Do you know how the King discovered his queen’s affair? It involved a birthmark…,” Alles said to a cackle of laughter. Now it was Jagath’s turn to click his tongue and turn away.
Turning his gaze to the door, Jagath saw a dog—that looked suspiciously like his brother’s pesky pomeranian—running past the bar with a slipper in its mouth. Jagath looked back at his former audience as they laughed loudly at something Alles said. “You’re all just dogs looking for another slipper to chew!” said Jagath, flicking his hand at their backs. But, no one was listening.
Jagath got up to leave. The bar’s floor and roof had started doing their dangerous dance again. He decided to stay a little longer until the arrack cleared from his veins. Besides, it’s Sunday.