THE SPIRIT OF KHAD
A young boy studying at St. Angelica's is bullied by a bunch of five others. Depressed of being a pushover, he wanders into the myriad forest lanes of Eastern Maharashtra. A bunch of Agora saints find him lying asleep on a wooden branch. A deep dense magic is performed by which a powerful spirit enters the young boy. Will the spirit help the boy exact his revenge upon the bullies? Track down this short novella to find out what happens to the boy? Will the spirit be content? Will the boy be cured?
The old school lay sprawled at the center of a huge plot of land. Green gardens lay around the ancient building that stood since the ancient British days. The whole campus was surrounded by a huge fenced wall which at one point arched a little high. This point was the entrance to the old school. A neatly graveled road ran underneath the arch straight to the school doors.
The land outside the school gates was a deeply forested area and the road was normally deserted except when students entered and left the school campus. A few shops dotted the road at some places. The school was a few miles from Nagpur, a small town that had recently developed into a city. But people never gave a thought as to the distance between the school and the city. St Angelica's was a reputed school, affiliated to the ICSE Board, known for its teachings and managed by the Catholic nuns of a small town church nearby.
A sixteen year old boy, wearing a neatly ironed school uniform (white shirt, green trousers, navy blue blazer with a dark green white striped tie with a diamond shaped badge bearing the school logo pinned to it), walked amidst a group of similarly clad batch of young students. The boy had his head drooped towards the ground, barely looking towards the front. He stopped when he saw near the steel gate that marked the entrance to his school a group of five burly boys. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, hefted the strap of his bag and walked towards his school feeling the familiar dread creep up.
He hated to go to school, and he needed no introspection as to why he did. The reason was standing right in his field of vision. It had begun last summer, in his ninth grade, when he had first moved into the city. He had always been small for his age, thin and scrawny. Somewhere down the line, he had also developed a stoop. That added with his myopia, made him the ideal punching bag for the bullies in his school, and it took less than a week for him to become one.
The school building loomed like a huge cloud in front of him. He despised the school, he despised the entire city and now he cursed it under his breath. But more than he hated the others, he hated himself. The constant victimization had made himself undermine his self confidence and he more often than not regarded himself a failure. Now stooping low behind a bunch of tall boys his age so as to avoid being seen by those bullies he hated so much, he walked through the gate and disappeared into the medley crowd.
A cool wind blew throwing his short cropped curly hair into frenzy. He had barely moved his hand towards the whirling hair that now seemed to obscure his vision that somebody caught it. He turned around to face his worst nightmare. There they were, the five bullies of his school whom he had almost avoided, standing right in front of him, one of them holding his hand.
"So trying to avoid us, are you, Stoopy Skrooge?" asked the boy holding his hand.
He tried not to look at them. Some girls passing by laughed with their high pitched voices.
In his deep conscience, he felt ashamed of his inability to fight back, ashamed of being a pushover. He felt himself welling up inside but at the same time, he felt anger and hatred. It was start of the school term and he was assaulted on the very first day.
"He looks like Donald Duck today. Quack Quack! See that elongated mouth. Crybaby!" laughed another.
"See you at the classroom, baby boy!" said the boy on the extreme left.
Laughing aloud, without looking back, they rushed off towards the school.
He looked at them; fear in his eyes and also with contempt. He was jealous over the power they seemed to hold. He was breaking down from the inside. Memories welled inside him. Last year, he had been a newbie to the school and these boys had taken every chance to get to him. They had his stuff disappear and later he would find then hanging upon the branches of the forest trees outside. They wrote weird stuff on his notebooks and smote ink on his uniform. They had gotten him punished. He had deemed them cruel and deeply feared complaining against those that bullied him.
He was almost in a trance where memories rushed past his brain like a slideshow; he did not realize the school bell had rung. Another boy rushed past him, slightly rubbing his shoulders. He shuddered a little and raced behind the boy, fearing that he would be late.
He ran fast, his heart thumping aloud, his breath heaving. The road ended giving way to a tiled pavement leading up to a stony stair of steps. He raced up those steps and past the school door. The peon shouted at him as he rushed by. The teachers around him gave him a cold glare but he did not seem to notice that. The only thing in his mind was to get to the class on time.
The school stairs spiraled at the center of the building, dividing it into two equidistant wings. The right wing was dedicated towards the high school, the libraries and the laboratories. The left wing was dedicated for the lower and the middle schools; and also the administrative offices.
He reached the fifth floor, the last of that building. He turned towards the left and entered the second classroom to his right. His classmates were in but the teacher was not. He heaved a sigh of relief.
He entered. A group of girls giggled nearby. His face was sweaty. His breath came in huge gasps. He stooped forward to his knees and looked towards the empty wooden bench just in front of the black board in the middle row. Some of his classmates looked towards him in pity, some sympathized, and some made fun at his appearance.
Then he fell forward, head to the ground. He groaned and looked back. The bullies had struck again. They had kicked him on his butt and now they were laughing loud. It did not help that the whole class also laughed and hooted. The spasm of fear and hatred clamored his thoughts again. He felt hot within and he tried to get up but he was again pushed to the ground.
They heard footsteps in the corridor beside and the five boys rushed to their seats. The young boy moaned and got up on his feet, slowly walking towards the empty bench. It creaked a little when he sat.
A middle aged woman entered. She had her hair tied up in a plate. Her eyes were sharp and her complexion fair. She was tall for her age. She was clad in a red sari, as elegant as her beauty. A silver chain bearing the Christian Cross hung on her neck, the tip of the Cross stretching down to her midriff.
"I am your class teacher for this year. My name is Ms. Caroline Fernandez and I will be teaching you Biology", she spoke with a deep Christian accent.
The rest of the day went smoothly except that the bullies constantly kept throwing small paper rolls at him all along and during the lunch break, they broke open his tiffin and ate all his food. If it had not been for his neighbor, Junaid, the boy who had rubbed past him in the morning, when they had both nearly been late, he would have been left hungry.
The evening bell rang and to his surprise, the bullies left him alone.
He was walking alone in the corridor that led to the stairs when Junaid shouted up to him, "Hey, Kandarp, why are you so alone? Come with me, fast, otherwise the lollypop fellow will go."
Together, they raced down the stairs onto the road outside the gate. A small crowd of children had gathered around a lollypop vendor. They made their way in and managed to get a mango and an orange flavored lollypop. Kandarp got the orange one while Junaid received the other.
Junaid was his only friend that he had made in his stay in the city. Junaid was sweet, he thought, better than the rest of the lot. Kandarp sort of had begun to like him. Junaid has just gotten bald during the vacations in a ceremony. So he wore a red cap to school.
Junaid's mother called him, so Junaid bid Kandarp good bye and then Kandarp was alone, chewing on his candy.
The sky was getting darker as half of the sun was beneath the rim of the western horizon. The orange light sent shafts of it through the branches as the twilight began to sink upon this part of the world. He began to walk forward, his steps faster. He was tired of waiting for his mother. She was always late.
He detested his family too. He always felt snubbed. Add to that, the existence of a younger sister who all loved. The jealousy, the ego, the inferiority complex – all made a dent in him that could not be rectified.
He had only walked a few paces away from the lollypop stand that he suddenly found the lollypop fly from his grip and smash itself into pieces on the road. With an agitated look, he looked behind to see the same five bullies laughing aloud.