Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Monday, November 19, 2007

Through The Godless Hours (2)

Nothing in Anath’s schooling had ever provided answers to the myriad questions in his mind. Refused entry into the famed religious academy in the rural town of his youth, he was fortunate as a result to avoid indoctrination. In consequence, however, he found himself cohabiting with a comparative mental underclass for much of his school life – his teachers included. There was, in fact, not a single villager of sufficient wisdom to detect the prodigy that so obviously stood in their midst. To any trained eye, Anath would have appeared like Venus in the early evening sky. But the villagers shunned him, in part through peer pressure. For as well as sheer ignorance, there was a second reason why they were reluctant to recognise anything special about the boy. Those who were still willing to risk the ire of the elders by maintaining relations with his mother were among a small minority. After the scandal she visited upon the community, only the closest of neighbours had publicly declared their continuing support for her family. Others would covertly offer sympathetic smiles that nevertheless confirmed a groundswell superstition: any forbidden relationship such as she had entered into could only ever produce a misfit. For their part, the village elders never missed an opportunity to affirm their enduring prejudice. No ‘love child’ deserved access to what they considered the purest form of education: the total submersion in His teachings at the expense of all other forms of learning. And so it was that the brightest mind of his generation was passed over for entry into the prestigious academy, and forced instead to take his lessons alongside the illiterate and poor. So much, then, for the benevolence of the God-fearing village elders. But this gifted boy was in any event to prove that he was without need of their charity.

Anath’s mother was a classic rural beauty, a girl with an unforgettable look that cosmetics could do nothing to enhance. On the contrary, it was the unblemished purity of her natural features that formed the essence of her allure. Ramani had a head-turning presence that would have been the envy of catwalks worldwide, had she been born in another time and place. But more than this, she possessed a strength of character that was almost incongruous beside her soft femininity. And any shortcomings that resulted from her lack of academic education were nullified by a powerful set of instincts she commonly used to guide her through moments of doubt, or unease. From her mid-teens onwards, Ramani’s steely determination had made it possible for her to reject the advances of a succession of local suitors, despite the entreaties of her parents. So it was perhaps inevitable that most in the village considered it inauspicious when she did finally fall for the man of whom she had long dreamt. For he was chosen not from among the finest village stock, but from outside. Once exposed, her illicit affair with the stranger sparked a hate campaign of an intensity found only in closed communities, where intolerance finds easy, abundant fuel. Ramani’s spurning of the local male population ensured that her expectant months were a journey through intimidation and curse, spat sometimes from the gaping mouths of the Kampung’s resident hags, or otherwise left outside her door as scribbled hex. But her strength was such that this trial by ordeal could not defeat her inner happiness and – notwithstanding her disgust at the deal that had been struck without her consent – she continued to walk to market each morning, stiffly resolute and inwardly beaming, her simple elegance in spite of the small but visible bump in her midriff parting the throng of fools like waves. And later, in the rainy season, when the child she called Anath emerged from the still slender body of his exhausted, eighteen year-old mother, it was also immediately clear that none of the spells cast had made any impact on his near-perfect infant form.

From the moment her son was born, Ramani showered Anath with the affection she knew she would forever be denied from bestowing upon her lover. Her intoxication with the boy was fuelled as much by the striking resemblance he bore to his father as it was by her maternal nature. Every atom of love in her soul was now devoted to what she saw as the embodiment of the father, as much as the son. During those rare, black moments that would visit her consciousness, one look at this child was enough to snatch her away from those uninvited demons. Whilst she could not have the man, she could still love him through the boy, and this she did with a rare intensity. And as he grew and became ever more like his father, Anath increasingly filled the void in his mother’s heart: not that she could ever forget the man who had been her only lover. How ironic it was, then, that she was made to suffer the taunts of blinkered villagers, obsessed with her rumoured promiscuity. For in truth she had rarely felt love’s physical caress, and when she had it was always with the same man. The same, beautiful man.

posted by Kirk at 6:51 pm  

2 Comments »

  1. OK. This Anath, does he look a bit like Ricky Gervais with 3 days’ growth?

    Comment by Furriskey — November 19, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  2. Like it

    Comment by big willie — November 22, 2007 @ 5:19 am

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