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An excerpt from my upcoming novel, THE COMING DAYS

Kabir walked on foot because he needed to guide Zima alongside, while he held the reins of his horse with the other hand. Many times a chirp or a flutter caught Zima’s attention, and she wanted to explore. But Kabir would cuff her by the neck and put her back in stride. They walked around shrubs and over rocks and twigs for more than a mile, and finally Kabir tied the horse to a tree and he patted Zima down to sit against a nearby tree that stood behind a cluster of bushes. Zima was now breathing animatedly and with her head raised was listening and looking expectantly for action. She could sense something was brewing. Frequently, she would glance at Kabir for a cue or a command.

Zima didn’t have to wait long. For now, she could hear Zorro’s intermittent barks. She wanted to get up for a better view, but Kabir, who had his arm around her neck, kept her down. Though Zima was now a full-grown tigress, she had spent a lifetime with pet dogs that included a foster mother. So her temperament and attitude were that of a trained canine. Her master was waiting for Abdul and Zorro to draw close and then to check what they had brought in the beat. Soon he could hear Zorro’s barks in repetition, and the hustle of dried leaves showed animals on the run. He got up, and so did Zima. Some distance away, he could see a group of sambhars scampering across a row of trees. Kabir pointed them out to Zima and then ran to get astride his horse. He jumped on it and then turned to know Zima’s whereabouts.

He had to pull back. For the beat had brought not only the mob of sambhars, a huge sloth bear too. The fearsome animals had seen each other; so the hairy, harried, and angry bugger had stood up on its hinds and the domesticated, striped feline was tensed and crouching. Both were on the verge of war, and to make matters more volatile, the German Shepherd’s barks sounded next grove. Kabir took out his holstered Colt as he didn’t want Zima to get scratched, and he was also worried Zorro would get entangled in a ferocious scrap.

At the war front, both the animals had displayed their fangs and furs, and in that electrifying moment, entered an animated Zorro on fire. The taut scene startled him, as it had done to Kabir. However, the rampaging dog didn’t think twice and in a flash, it jumped over the back of the bear to grab its neck. Taken by surprise, the hairy animal let out a shriek and dropped on its hunches with Zorro still astride its back. But the sloth, like all other endangered bears, put into action the immense strength of its powerful muscles to shrug off the dog.

 Abdul Karim was next to enter the arena on horseback. But he could only gaze wide-eyed at Zima, who was charging towards the beast that had dared to hurt Zorro. In two mighty leaps, Zima was on the bear to slap the offender on both sides of the jaw. The volley of clawed paws was too much for the cornered creature, and it rolled on its back to defend with its bigger claws. Zorro, by this time, recovered to attack from behind and caught the beast’s teensy tail.

A cacophony of growls, shrieks, snarls, and neighs created a commotion that carried for miles in the jungle. These were the sounds that make monkeys leak excreta from treetops, and some men pee in their pants, which was the case with Abdul Karim, ex-paramour of the late Queen. 

From the start, Kabir wanted to scuttle the scrap and was looking for an opportunity to scare-fire the sloth. Zima well understood that Zorro had done a marvellous job by attacking from the rear, so she too moved to the bear’s rear-end. That was when Kabir fired at the bear’s raised leg. He followed that with two more stinging shots to instil more fear in the rugged beast.

The deafening sounds produced the desired effect. For now, the bear rolled back on its feet and dashed. Zorro presumed he had won, so he went for the chase to claim the prize. But then Kabir called out, “No, Zorro, stay!”

The dog slowed down and Kabir galloped to overtake it. Then he got off the horse and caught hold of Zorro’s collar. Zima and Abdul also reached there, and so Kabir patted and hugged both pets to calm them down.

“So Mr. Abdul Karim, did you ever go for a hunt like this in your Bartania?”

“Nay, Sir!”

Kabir looked down at his pyjamas and teased, “I can see that. But you tell no one what happened today, and I’ll tell no one about your pyjamas.”

A Bachelor in Goa

Towards the end of our wanderings, the soul’s yearning is to record the lyrics of the song that was the joie de vivre of life. Here in this delightful memoir, a number of extraordinary incidents have been recalled in a manner which make them more scintillating in retrospect.

Two years may not be a long time, but in Goa the days are so stretched out that supplementary phaenomena can find room, and, as such, the basket may fill up faster.

What was a soliloquy has now become a dialogue between the writer and the reader.

An Introduction

Whoever said you can’t start or end a sentence with and?

And so?

So is also one of those words. Whoever said that.

And so, that’s all.                  

https://store.pothi.com/book/syed-rizwan-heavily-indicted-man/

An excerpt from the book:

Speak or Be

A Slave of the Dumb

Not so long ago, a merchant named Jimmy was returning to his home after selling his quick-fire Ponzi scheme in the metropolis. In his compartment on the train was a cagey man who was immersed in a book. After a couple of hours, the man put aside the book and took off the tiffin box dangling from the hook provided by the railways. There were kebabs and rotis in the tiffin. Then the man said to Jimmy who had eyes on the grub, “Please join in.”

That startled Jimmy, and he blurted, “No, thank you. My lunch would be coming from the pantry.”

Then he asked, “What’s your name, Sir?”

The man replied, “Marhaba.”

“That’s a nice name. What does it mean?”

“It’s a combination of two words. Hello and Wow.”

Jimmy smiled and then asked, “What do you do, Marhaba Sahib?”

“I teach,” he replied.

“What subject do you teach?”

“Speech.”

“Where did you study?”

He continued with his brevity, “St. Martin High School.”

“Hey, that’s a renowned school. My father used to teach there,” Jimmy exclaimed.

“What’s his name?”

“Mr Dickson.” This time, it was Jimmy’s monosyllabic answer.

“He was my class teacher,” Marhaba divulged his first complete sentence.

“What did he teach you?”

“Nothing.”

“Why? What went wrong?”

“He shouted all the time, and I always wondered if the son is so noisy what the father would be like.”

They spent the rest of the journey in silence.

Politics is a noble profession. It needs constant attention, selfless devotion, and an abiding concern for the welfare of the people and the State. This takes sparing long hours to address the demands of the public, as well as the machinery. And that does not leave room for pursuing any other vocation in earnest. Till a politician is not elected to represent a segment, he or she has to feed the needed exigencies from his/her sources, and that could be a taxing but handsome amount. Therefore, the remuneration of an elected representative is well worth his/her hard labour.

But Marhaba was not impressed. He was upset because he was angry, for why was he angry?

He was angry because he learnt that Jimmy’s grandfather had sent his son, Dickson, to the best school in town, and he became a teacher, of all the things. And all this while the old man remained well-enshrined in a robust political party that for years was unruly, hence never understood the basics of the ruling. Faced with the uphill task of climbing over a tall order, the think tanks filled up to devise an unthinkable plan. Here the conclave cannily resolved to attach resurgence of communal supremacy with the party’s political fortune. This strategy was implemented with gusto and it worked to scale the wall for the first time, and then there was no looking back. The impressive show struck the political acumen of other nations and they adopted the same method, but with a slight difference. For their people, religion was not an emotive issue, so they attached either racial supremacy or an induced nationalistic fervour to political endeavours. Those who stood against such plotters automatically became racial outcasts or anti-nationals.

 Jimmy’s grandfather, Dick, had proven to be a great asset for the party, as he had the inborn talent to shout. At the drop of a hat, he shouted down all challenges, probes, inquiries, in fact, everything under the sun that opposed him.

An excerpt from a composition in the making.

The Grave Rhymes

Oh God, I need to know why was I born.

Why was I sent to that world so torn?

            Torn was the house, so were the bodies under its debris;

            One was my mother, the other was my brother, Idris.

They took my father to a prison not known to me;

Shrapnel had hit the bulls-eye, so could hardly see.

            My school did open until sirens blared,

            Staying further proved fatal for who dared.

Pens and lil friends I lost many, so I lost count.

Surely You would know, so give me the account.

            Been hungry for days and sleepless without bed

            Was searching for crumbs when a thing hit my head.

When this resting place is so serene, so blissful, and so

God, why I was born? I need to know.

Lord, I know you would know why was I shot.

Unknown to them, ‘twas not crossfire that I caught.

            In retrospect, I compose posthumous rhymes

            Of untold prose that they should know ought.

Virals behind me, Reuter assigned a greater riot.

Armed lenses and flew in the cauldron on the trot.

            For my safety, the family were the worried lot;

            So, refuge of peacekeeping forces I sought.

In those barren lands, my lenses soon caught,

It was the rightest and the leftist who fought.

             Commies got the dollars, Wahabis sold pot.

            Viciously they fought, forsaking civil thought.

On Friday, it was a quirk of fate or who brought

Right on left and left on right; how ironic was the plot?

            To carry hereon, it wasn’t crossfire that I caught,

            Crossed were the reasons impossible to jot.

Crossed were the aged who had lived in fraught

Crossed were the kids whose future was a blot.

            Who is the Taliban; the talisman knows not,

            Faces, factions, and frictions distinguish them not.

All got sautéed in the hot frying pot of onslaught

No, it wasn’t the crossfire that Danish caught.

A PAT ON THE BACK

I assume I deserve a pat on the back for today I successfully released my latest novel, Survivors of a Mutiny Book II, on Amazon.com, as well as Pothi.com (for readers of paperback in India). Needless to mention, besides writing, I did the formatting and designing the cover. Here’s the link to go directly to the page https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095GFBZ9V,

https://store.pothi.com/book/syed-survivors-mutiny-book-ii-coming-days/

An excerpt from the novel:

 It was one of those frosty, foggy mornings when the sun looks like the moon and the misty clouds are in no hurry. Kabir and Ashraf, with haversacks on backs, were trudging up Kumaon Hill along with Zorro and Zima. Zorro was acting as the pilot for the other three as they clambered over moss and rocks that lay on the track beaten by the sturdy local folks. Ashraf could not contain his smile when he imagined Zainab’s reaction to the ongoing expedition. And Angela’s radiant image was perennially energising Kabir. While the excursion was right up the legs of Zorro and Zima.

 Raeesa had packed roasted hind of a spotted deer and parathas as tiffin for the boys’ journey. Ashraf’s tummy tweeted when he got a whiff of the roast as they were negotiating a steep bend, so he said, “Shall we stop and eat something.”

“I was about to say that,” Kabir said, and he called out, “Zorro, stop!”

Both sat down on the rock overlooking a cliff and unsaddled their sacks. Zorro, too, smelt venison and couldn’t believe this was not a fairy tale. Then Zima came close and nestled beside Kabir. He patted her and removed the colourful gloves that his sister and mother had taken turns to knit for him.

“My hands are so numb that I can’t even feel my nose,” he said as he struggled to open the lid of the tiffin box.

Ashraf rubbed his palms. “We could have lit a fire, but that will take time and we have to reach before sunset.”

“So let’s get busy,” replied Kabir.

A tribesman and his family, along with their Bhutia mountain dog, had been coming down the same track and that instant, they reached the makeshift picnic spot and then abruptly stopped in bewilderment. Zorro, too, stood up, and both dogs assessed each other’s strength and character. Kabir stepped in front of Zorro and signalled to the headman to divert their footfalls and move ahead. The headman got the message, and with eyes fixed on the tigress, he and his family staggered down.

 Then the bunch from Neoria broke bread, leaving nothing for supper.

Before the sun could disappear down, the two local alumni, each holding the rein of a carnivore, were steadily moving forward on Mall Road. Clad in familiar blazers, they were heading to Nainital Sailing Club, nonchalant to the bewildered looks of passers-by. As they approached the port of call, Kabir said to Ashraf, “You go ahead with Zorro; the guard will stop you again. Then I’ll come with Zima.”

As expected, the turbaned durban blocked the urban, “Were you not told the club has banned your entry?”

 “I know, but try stopping us this time,” dared Ashraf.

 “Who are us?”

“Here they come,” and he whistled.
Kabir was waiting at the corner for that signal, so he smiled and patted Zima, “Chal, beta.”

In ten seconds, he was climbing up the steps with Zima frowning behind the mist gushing forth from her nostrils. The durban saw what he was eager to know, and his mouth split open. Then, as Zima took the third step, he turned and bolted inside towards the open to air deck overlooking the lovely lake. Zorro wanted to give him a chase, but as he was on the leash, he unleashed a volley of barks. The path was now clear, so the foursome sauntered in to explore what was so great about the club.

All this while, the doorman had been hollering to whoever came across, “Sher has come, sher has come!”
Soon, everybody rushed out from their respective stations to collect at the deck. Among the staff were Daniel and Major Carey, who now took over command. “Where did you see the tiger,” he asked the doorman?

“Sahib, they were at the entrance.”

“Do you mean there’s more than one tiger?”

“No Sahib, there is one tiger, one dog, and two men.”

Then Daniel spoke out, “Are they the same people who came the other day”?

“Yes, Sir, but this time they have come with a tiger.”

Major Carey then realized the doorman had not been hallucinating, so he instructed the remaining staff, “Everybody look around. Find the buggers.” But, except for Daniel, everybody was now looking for an opportunity to slip out.

The book cover

Petrichor Publications

Petrichor Publications is the newly launched books publishing company that is promoted by Syed Rizwan, the go-to man of this website. Henceforth, all books of Syed, as well as others will be published by earthy Petrichor Publications. In this context, two contemporary novels are in the finishing room. Some excerpts would be shared here pretty soon. Cheers!

This is in the making

Prologue

It was a mid-October night; the chill in the air had penetrated the kurta the hakim had worn, to freeze one of those dreams he often had of his friend who was no more. He loved to cling to those dreams where the pygmy witch-doctor played the lead character. But even in that exalted state, he realised he had to wrap himself in a bedspread, else the unfriendly weather would take its toll. He stirred himself and, as was the norm, smelt leftover of burnt paraffin wax that lingered, not until the sunrays had vaporised it out of the window.

Munawwar Husain alias Munna Hakim gripped the handle to lift the heavy lid of the rosewood hutch cabinet with his left hand and with the other groped for the bedspread. While his subconscious mind guided the right hand, the conscious one reminded him he had to visit Dr. Barton in the morning. Kabir, his friend, Iskandar’s son, needed backup support to make good his desire to marry the doctor’s daughter. He could not procrastinate that strategic meeting, for he did not want Kabir to return in disappointment to his farm.

 ‘This should be it,’ he said to himself as his fingers blindly examined the softness of the handloom spread the vendor from Burhanpur brought. He pulled that out, diligently rested the cover, and returned to bed as he had to salvage the sleeping hours to undertake the precarious job in the morning.

Kabir Shah’s three sisters and his other family friends had got married one after the other, but he was still a bachelor because a few things complicated his matrimonial configuration. His elders had not attended to this obligatory duty because they knew the nucleus of his ardour was a white, Christian girl whose family had arrived from England not so long ago.

 The hakim had sensed this was not exactly a love story, but he owed to his long-time friend to perk the spirit of his love-struck son and also to convince the doctor that this would prove to be a satisfactory match. The first part posed no problems, but the latter had many hurdles, for there were racial, religious, and cultural impediments, and, to heighten the bar, the nation was also heading straight into a confrontation that would test those man-raised barriers.

Munna Hakim was among the few who knew the freedom struggle was not yet over and the coming days would witness a long drawn combat between a bare-handed mass and an armoured contingent hungry for retribution. It was not clear what lay in the future, but he believed another bradawl was looming large.