Ammu, Brown Boy with Green Eyes
A not so short story based on a true incident.
I was on my way back from Europe transiting through Abu Dhabi Airport waiting for my next flight to Mangalore.
I prefer this route because Abu Dhabi is a nice Airport to transit particularly with its nice lounges and the duty-free facilities they offer.
I was viewing the duty-free shops and I found one of my favourite single malt whiskeys on offer. If I bought 4 bottles I could get an accumulator battery for mobile and laptop charger, which I wanted to acquire for some time as it would be very useful at home where there are frequent power failures sometimes even lasting for days together.
But I had to give up the idea of buying the package as the duty-free allowances is only for 2 bottles and the customs officers are strict at Mangalore Airport.
When I was telling this to the salesman who wanted to sell me those 4 bottles a young man behind me who must have overheard our conversation talked to me and said, “Sir, I am flying to Mangalore as well and I don’t’ have any liquor to carry with me so I could carry the additional 2 bottles through the customs for you”.
I was pleasantly surprised at his offer and looked at him. I found his face was familiar to me as he had green eyes, curly hair, and shining dark brown skin.
I opened my mouth and said, Am……. And he completed me by saying “Yes sir, I am Amin, people used to call me Ammu those days”.
I was very curious as I knew him as a child and asked him what he was doing in Abu Dhabi.
Amin said he is employed in a construction company, as an Engineer and now going on his annual leave to visit his uncle Ashraf and to spend the ‘Eid festival with his uncle Ashraf, who lives at Addur, near Polali.
My mind went back in time for 25 years recalling the dramatic events those took place in an around our coffee estate at Sunkasale during those days.
We had a labourer called Kariya, who was a very good worker, coming from below the Ghats from Naravi, belonging to the lower caste called “manser”. They used to be the dominant workforce in the coffee estates those days, being collected and brought to the estates above the Ghats by middlemen called suppliers.
Kariya came to our estate as a teenage boy along with his parents and used to work for us for many years. As he grew up and became a young man, all others of his age were getting married, bringing their wives and settling down as an additional workforce for us. They would take a loan after the annual accounts in the month of May then go down to their villages below the Ghats, get married and come back with their brides in the month of June and start working.
But Kariya was showing no inclination of doing this. I heard when co-workers were teasing him about this many a times and asking him whether he would remain single all his life. Kariya would reply to them and say that he will also get married and bring his wife Korapulu, the most beautiful girl he knows and then the rest will be jealous of them.
Finally, Kariya decided to get married and took a loan from us after the annual accounts and went down to his place Naravi. When he came back he had really brought with him Korapulu, his wife who was a distant relative of him.
Korapulu was a beautiful woman. She was tall and curvaceous like the “Belur Shilabhalika” and had shining dark brown complexion.
The people who were teasing Kariya all the time now fell very silent and in fact jealous of his beautiful wife as he had foretold. Korapulu was a good worker too and together both of them would beat all the other workers in any task and this added to the jealousy of the co-workers.
Nearly one year passed after their marriage and Korapulu didn’t conceive, unlike the other newlyweds would be getting an issue within a year. People started talking about it and teasing Kariya indirectly hinting that he was not capable of producing a child!
This disturbed him very much as in reality he had no urge for sex and would fall asleep the moment he touched the bed after a hard day’s work.
One day he talked about it to Korapulu. She was waiting for this opportunity and said they could go to Boggu-Pandit,at Kalasa who was known to cure various ailments and laborers were going to him for their health related problems than going to the government doctors at Javali or Kalasa as they didn’t trust in the western medicines they prescribed and took lot of money.
So one day Kariya and Korapulu went and met Boggu-Pandit. He listened to them and took in detail their history and suggested that they should go to the Horikhan Jatra, (annual temple festival) taking place in that month and should consult a Malayalee Mantrik who comes for the Jatra and sets up a hut in the forest next to the temple during the week of Jatra and he would request him to treat them as the Mantrik was this pandits guru.
The Jatra day came and Kariya and Korapullu visited the Mantrik in his hut. He advised them to come on the next day with three cocks and he will make a special Puja and offering to the Devi and make Kariya drink the blood of one of them which will bestow enormous powers and strength to him.
Next day they went with the three cocks to the Mantrik. At first, Kariya was a bit reluctant when he heard that he had to drink the blood but Korapulu convinced him by saying that it would make him potent and they could have a child. When they went Kariya had hidden in his bag a bottle of country booze without Korapulu’s knowledge which he had bought from Kittanna of Balige, where he used to go once in a while on weekends to booze with other men without Korapulu’s knowledge.
The whole Poojas and procedures were very dramatic at the Mantrik, during which he cut the neck of the first cock and offered its blood to the stone statue of the Devi he had established in his hut. Then he cut the second one and drank the blood himself directly from its cut neck. As he did this he was looking very ferocious with blood dripping from his mouth as he recited mantras loudly. Then the time came to cut the third cock and Kariya was well prepared for this as he had slipped out of the hut in between with the pretext of answering nature’s call and emptied a large amount of the country booze he had carried which had warmed him up and given enough courage to drink the blood offered to him by the Mantrik in a coconut shell.
After the rituals, they came home bringing with them one of the cocks given to them as Prasad by the Manrik who had retained the other two for himself.
At home, Korapulu cooked the fowl and also made some dumplings to go with it. Kariya was very busy outside their hut, after cleaning the fowl, sipping the remaining booze which he had hidden. When they finished the dinner and went to bed it was past midnight and Korapulu was having high hopes that Kariya would get all the powers which the Devi had given him and she will conceive that night.
But nothing like that had happened as, soon after Kariya touched the bed he fell asleep and started snoring as usual. Kittanns country booze and the nice meal he had was working well and the blood had flown to his stomach and intestines and not to his genitals to do any miracle there! All efforts by Korapulu to arouse him were in vain. After a while, she was fed up and thought about a “B” plan as she wanted to conceive very badly and shut the mouths of other women who were taunting her every day that she is a “GODDU” meaning “woman who could not conceive”.
Korapulu got up from her bed went out behind their hut and brought the sap of some plant and pulled aside Kariya’s lungi and applied the sticky stuff to the inner aspect of his thighs and slept planning her next move.
Kariya woke up the next morning and found Korapulu fast asleep. As he went out for his morning rituals he felt the stickiness around his thighs and thought something must have happened in the night but he could not remember anything.
He made some coffee and took to Korapulu as she used to love a bedside coffee, and waited eagerly for her to wake up. Korapulu woke up after a while and she was full of smiles and acting shy. When Kariya asked her the reason for her joy she replied “don’t you know what all you did last night?” you were more powerful than Mahishasura himself and you nearly tore me apart. The blood you drank must have given you all the strength in the world and I am sure I will conceive after this”!
Kariya was very pleased to hear this.
When Kariya got ready to go to work, Korapulu said she was not feeling very well and would stay at home and would rest for the day. As it was a Friday she had worked out some other plan in her mind.
Sunkasale was a sleepy village those days and had only two shops. One was called “Company Angadi” which belonged to the British East India Company which was the centre for coffee trade and they used to supply fertilisers and other goods to the surrounding estates.
Later after independence, as the British left this shop was given to one Abubakar, who was working as a clerk in that shop for many years. Since he hailed from Addur he named it Addur Stores. After sometime Abubaker brought in his nephew Ashraf who had failed in Matriculation at Gurpur as a helping hand.
Ashraf was a good looking young man with pleasant manners. He was tall, had a fair complexion, curly hair and green eyes. Soon after he arrived at his uncle’s shop at Sunkasale he became very popular with the clients because of his good looks and pleasant manners.
One of his duties was once in a week on a Friday morning to go around surrounding villages and collect the dues to their shop from the clients.
The labourers would buy things from the shop on a temporary loan and Ashraf had to collect the dues once in a week by going to their doorsteps. On his way to far of villages like Armanetalakur, Bilagali etc., he would pass by our estate on the path in front of the labour quarters where Kariya and Korapulu lived.
He knew Korapulu very well as she used to visit the shop sometimes buying her provisions. He was very generous with Korapulu and she could buy things even if she didn’t have money and would give her special discount without the knowledge of his uncle. she too had noticed these special privileges from him but never talked to anyone about it. On a Friday morning during his rounds, Ashraf would pass by their quarters and collect any dues.
So on this Friday when Ashraf arrived Korapulu, having freshly bathed was wearing a nice red saree, some fresh jasmines in her hair and was sitting outside warming in the pleasant morning Sun. After the last night’s episode where Kariya had proved his impotence she had hatched a plan in her mind.
Around 7 am Kariya left for work and at 8 Ashraf appeared in front of their house . There was no one around as all the other labourers had left for work.
Korapulu put up a nice smile on her face and greeted Ashraf . He asked her ,’’hey u seemed to be very happy today ,what happened, heard u went to the Mantrik at Horikhanjatra last night, was it a success?” Ashraf asked .
Korapulu replied, “Yes everything went well, only small thing is left”, she said ‘it’s like securing all materials to build a house and just it remains the foundation to be put, she hinted. But Ashraf didn’t understand the riddle she was telling.
When he was about to leave she asked him whether he would like to come in for a cup of hot coffee.
Though it was not common for higher caste people to come into the house of low-class labourers, Ashraf could not resist her invitation and readily came inside her hut .Korapulu closed the door behind him .
It didn’t take very long for Ashraf to realise what Korapulu wanted ,and was hinting at and instantly they slipped into each other’s embrace.
This was the moment Ashraf was waiting and longing for and it was for Koropulu like in the peak of hot summer lightning, thundering and outburst of stormy rains soaking the scorched earth.
All her desires and longings which she had been suppressing before and after she married Kariya were waiting to be fulfilled and Ashraf gave her that ultimate joy and satisfaction she was longing for .
After a while, Ashraf bade goodbye to Korapulu with the promise of coming back to see her the following Friday.
As he left he lit his favourite gold flake cigarette, took a deep puff and went on his way to Bilagali .
As these things were taking place in his hut Kariya was busy at work telling his coworkers the story of the Mantrik giving him the blessed blood and the powers that had given him and what he had achieved in detail the night before, as per his imagination .
After this incidence Korapulu would abstain from work every Friday on one pretext or other and Ashraf would come punctually like a bee to suck the honey out of the flower.
Exactly after a month Korapulu conveyed the ‘good news’ to Kariya that she had missed her period and praised him for giving her the “Special Prasad” that night after drinking the blood of the blessed cock. Kariya believed that it really happened that night and he was the one impregnated her though he couldn’t remember anything and was cursing Kittannas booze for that.
After nine months Korapulu delivered a beautiful boy at the government hospital at Mudigere.
The boy had curly hair, green eyes but dark brown complexion like Korapulu.
Korapulu named the child AMIN a name suggested by Ashraf, but Kariya would call him AMMU a name common in their cast and the child was known by this name only to everyone.
Slowly other labourers started gossiping about Ammu’s green eyes and curly hair. Kariya, when he heard that told them that his father also had green eyes and it is in his family. The poor fellow didn’t know that his grandmother that time had the “Special Prasad “ from a British writer of the estate where she was working. It was common practice for these foreign men who were far away from their home to spill their seeds when they got an opportunity with labour women. And the women too were willing for the favours they would get from them!
Having fulfilled her dream Korapulu was very happy nowadays and was slowly wearing new sarees often and also a gold chain which she told Kariya was bought on instalment from a goldsmith at Kalasa. Since she was managing money matters Kariya believed her.
However slowly Kariya grew suspicious as to why Korapulu was staying at home every Friday and of late he had regularly found butts of gold flake cigarettes around his house on a Friday and he had collected them in a tin and placed it on the wall outside their bathroom. And he couldn’t miss the smell of the fragrance inside his hut on a Friday when he came back from work.
One Friday Kariya went to work as usual and on some pretext came to the hillock in the estate behind their hut from where he could see their house.
And he saw what he had long suspected!!!
Ashraf arrived wearing a snow white shirt and lungi and stopped by his quarters. He could see Korapulu clad in her beautiful red saree and wearing Jasmines on her head letting him inside their hut and the door closing behind them.
As Kariya waited for the next half an hour he wished the earth could open and swallow him or lightning struck and burnt him alive because he never expected this from his dear wife Korapulu. Though he couldn’t give her the special Prasad she wanted , he dearly loved her and would meet all her needs and do everything to fulfil all her desires. He went into a trance and it was only a wonder that he didn’t react to this in any manner.
Kaiya’s Holy and intact world was desecrated and scattered by the sacrilege he witnessed. He was so shocked and sitting in the same place for many hours completely disconnected from the world and not knowing what he should do. Finally, when the sunset he came down to his house and went to bed straight away without saying a word to his wife nor playing with Ammu, whom he dearly loved, as he used to do every day after work.
Korapulu didn’t understand why he behaved like this but she only thought that he must have had some stress at work or was simply not feeling well.
Kariya changed completely from that day. He became introvert and wouldn’t talk much to anyone, would go to work and come back automatically like a machine, he would not talk to his colleagues at work neither to Korapulu at home. He stopped all contacts with Ammu, he wouldn’t take him or play with him which he used to do before when at home.
Few months passed like this and “ Shrawan” month the rainy season started. One evening as it was raining heavily outside Kariya came home and he seemed to be in a good mood for a change.
He told Korapulu the news that because of incessant rains during the past so many days the dam at Masthikhan across Thannirhalla stream had burst. it will be a good idea to go for fishing that night to Pergundi, where a couple of kilometres downstream Thannirhalla stream joins Kelagur stream and it becomes a small river called Bhagavathy and then flows on its way to join Bhadra river at Balehole. At this point of merger where both streams join the waters churn violently causing a deep depression and it is called “Pergundi” meaning deep waters. It’s a good place for fishing as even at peak of summer there is enough water there for fishes to survive.
And tonight as the dam is burst all the fish escaped from there will find their way to this Pergundi.
Korapulus joy knew no bounds. At last Kariya had become normal and was joyous and talking to her and Ammu. She wasted no time in getting the necessary things together.
As Kariya was getting the angles, worms for the bait etc. ready outside she made some dry fish chutney which Kariya used to love for a snack when he had his booze and also packed few spices, salt etc. to prepare the fish caught on the spot. She dressed Ammu in warm clothes and soon they were ready as night fell. Ammu was very excited because it was after a long time Kariya was taking him out that too for fishing in the night which he was sure he will enjoy.
When three of them reached Pergundi in the light of the torch made out of coconut leaves Kariya found a place for Ammu to sit on a rock bit away from the place they were planning to fish as it was dry like a small cave having another rock serving as a roof overhead. He told him not to move from there till they caught some fish and would come back to him. Then the two of them went down the rock to Pergundi and started fishing.
Kariya had brought with him some country liquor from Kittanna to keep them warm. He poured it into two coconut shells he had brought with him and offered one to Korapulu.She accepted it gladly as she was very happy with the turn of events and the change in his behaviour towards the two of them. It was very cold and windy and the booze was keeping her warm from the chilly weather.
Every time her drink was empty Kariya would refill it and he himself was only acting as if he was drinking but was only sipping small amounts and spilling the most of it as he didn’t want to get drunk today.
After some time when Korapulu was fairly drunk and tipsy he was ready to execute his plan.
Ammu though was very excited at first soon started getting bored because of darkness and the noises of insects and he couldn’t see or do much where he was sitting.Since it had stopped raining now he came out of the cave and to the edge of the rock from where he could see his parents angling in the slight moonlight which had appeared by now.
And he saw it happen. Kariya stopped angling and moved away a small distance and acting as if he was relieving himself. When he came back he had his large and shining sharp sickle in his hand. Ammu saw as he came from behind Korapulu raised the sickle and with one brisk and precise movement aimed at her neck from behind and chopped her head as if he was chopping a Banana tree. Korapulu’s head flew straight into Pergundi and into the stormy water and disappeared. And then as if possessed by devil Kariya started dismembering her body into smaller pieces and throwing into the river as if he was making an offer to the river.
Ammu was shocked at first but he didn’t scream. He knew that after finishing off his mother Kariya would come for him. He started running away from the rock he was standing in the direction to the top of the hillock and then to the other side of it.
Though his little feet were tired God only knows from where he got the strength and courage to run away in the darkness of the night.
Finally, when he couldn’t run anymore he found a huge tree and it had creepers surrounding it. He caught hold of a creeper and started climbing the tree. When he had climbed about 10 feet he found a niche in the tree where he could curl and sit. As it was covered with thick foliage he couldn’t be seen from below nor he could see anything.
After Kariya finished his ghastly act he came to fetch Ammu but didn’t find him where they had left him. Calling him loudly he started searching for him everywhere. He couldn’t understand where and why the little boy had gone. He even came below the tree where Ammu was sitting calling him loud. But Ammu didn’t move a bit and sat as if frozen there even stopping his breath.
After a futile search, Kariya went back to his hut thinking he would find him next morning. There he drank half a bottle of the booze he had left and fell asleep.
It was a Friday morning and Ashraf was going towards Bilagali on his weekly rounds. He passed by Korapulu’s hut but didn’t find her sitting outside there waiting for him as usual.
As there was no sign of her or Ammu there he became suspicious but couldn’t loiter around there as there was a risk of other workers seeing him and went on his way to Bilagali thinking that he would come back on his return and find out why they were not there.
As he was passing below the tree near Pergundi he could hear sobs coming from where Ammu was sitting as the boy was exhausted from crying whole night curling in the small niche of the tree, tired and hungry. Ashraf found Ammu on the tree and helped him to come down. He learnt from the boy what Kariya had done to Korapulu the previous night.
He brought Ammu to their place at Sunkasale, kept him safe inside their house and went to Javali and informed the Police at Bankal station.
When police arrived after few hours first they arrested Kariya from his hut where he was still sleeping and took him to the spot at Pergundi. They could find the blood-stained sickle and some blood there but no trace of Korapulu’s body.
Search parties were sent down the river till Balehole but couldn’t find anything as the severed body parts must have been washed away down the Bhadra river.
Police took Ammu to the spot and when they asked him to climb the tree he was hiding the previous night again the poor boy was not able to do it anymore as only in the extreme panic the night before he had managed it.
Police took Kariya away and Ashraf offered to take custody of Ammu as he had convinced his uncle Abubaker that the boy would be useful for them in their shop when he grows up.
Kariya got a life sentence in due course of time and was sent to Hindalaga prison at Belgaum, where he was to spend his sentence.
Ammu was sent to school by Ashraf and when he finished SSC at Javali, to Mangalore for polytechnic, where he obtained a diploma in civil engineering and was sent to Abu Dhabi later.
Ashraf was happily married and settled in Addur now and one of his sons is now managing the Addur store at Sunkasale.
Now the question must have arisen in the readers mind as to why Kariya tolerated Korapulu cheating him all the time and only planned his ghastly act that night and was it really the dam at Mastikhan had burst and he wanted to go for fishing.
The same question was asked by the judge at Mudigere court before pronouncing the death sentence he had planned for Kariya and for the first time during the proceedings Kariya spoke and mentioned the following.
On the previous Friday that he killed Korapulu he had come near his house when Ashraf and Korapulu were meeting and mating inside.
Through the gap in the window, he could see clearly what they were doing.
When they finished their lovemaking and Korapulu was in the arms of Ashraf, she was telling him that she is pregnant again and expecting a sister for Ammu. She also told Ashraf that she was fed-up with the sort of hide and seek life they were leading and suggesting him to elope with her and they could start their life as a married couple in some faraway place. Ashraf responded positively to her suggestion and said first they had to finish off Kariya, the thorn in their way.
He suggested soon as it would be “ Shrawan “ it would start raining. And one evening when it rains heavily she should take Kariya out to Pergundi in the pretext of fishing, make him drunk and Ashraf would come there and will push him into Pergundi and kill him! And she can tell the people that while he was drunk while fishing he had slipped from the rock and washed away as he did not know swimming and people would believe this.
When Kariya heard this he hatched his own plan to finish Korapulu off before she would finish him.
On hearing this the judge reduced the sentence from gallows to life imprisonment from which he could get freed after about 10 years if he behaved well and reformed.
And Kariya got freed in due course of time during an Independence day celebration as was the custom to free some prisoners who had served most of their sentence for good behaviour.
One day on “ Fakirappa “ appeared at Sunkasale wearing a long saffron robe, he had grey hair and long white beard he was singing Bhajans and people gave him something in kind.
At Sunkasale he went to the shop Addur Stores also and looked around for its owner but he found a new person there.
Same evening when it was about nightfall and was raining heavily he came on the path in front of the quarters where Korapulu lived. The woman Bijilu who was living in that quarters now with her family offered him some food which he first refused but when she forced him ate the rice and dry fish chutney she offered relishing it and she thought he didn’t have a proper meal for many days. He enquired about the previous residents of the quarters and told Bijilu that when he had come there before many years there was a cute boy called Ammu there.
Bijulu told Fakrappa that after the sudden death of his mother and jailing of his father Ammu was adopted by Ashraf the shopkeeper and now he is away in a foreign country and even Ashraf had joined him there.
Hearing this Fakirappa seemed to be very disappointed and wanted to leave though Bijulu offered him shelter for the night as it was raining heavily. But in spite of her offer he left in the direction of Bilagali.
As Bijulu was our maid servant in our Bungalow she mentioned this to me the next morning while serving me “Neer dosas” for my breakfast.
I told her she should have informed me the night before itself and if it was Kariya as I suspected I would have offered him a job and rehabilitated him because he was a nice man but a victim of circumstances.
After breakfast, I went down the path towards Pergundi hoping to meet Kariya if he was there.
But I could only see a “Jolige” a shoulder bag he carried hanging to a bush and the saffron coloured headgear he wore and there was no trace of him.
I guessed that he must have jumped into the river and committed suicide the night before.
As I looked into the bag I found a long sharp knife in it and I could guess his motives of searching for Ashraf at Sunkasale and Ammu in our quarters in which he had failed and hence ended his life.
When all this went in my mind like a movie,as there are no movies screened on a budget flight ,our flight had reached Mangaluru. I was woken up by the thunderous jolt as the undercarriage of the plane hit the runway at which every time I offer a small prayer for the victims of the Flight tragedy taken place there before some years.
When we passed through the customs etc. and met outside the terminal, Amin handed over my 2 bottles of whisky and I invited him to visit me in our estate at Sunkasale with Ashraf sometime for which he gladly agreed.
When they come I want to make a visit to Pergundi to the spot of Korapulus slaughter and Kariya’s suicide and keep some Jasmine flowers, Korapulus favourite there and offer a prayer for them.
About the Author
Dr Ben Rebello
He received his basic education and medical qualification from K.M.C. Mangalore, and his Post Graduation From England & Germany in Anesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine & Pain Management. He has also received special training in Aviation Medicine. He has worked for several years as the Head Of the Department in Germany,a Consultant in American Hospital Dubai & Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi. He is currently pursuing his international medical work as a Consultant in Spain & a Flying Medical Doctor in Germany.