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Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:20 am 
Time And Realative Dimension In Space
Time And Realative Dimension In Space
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"A warm and welcome greeting to those whose tastes lean towards myth and macabre. Our offering tonight comes in the form of an old photograph rather than our usual canvases of oils and pastels but the management assures me, it meets our bill of fare. Don't be seduced by the warm sepia hues and tranquil background imagery, for its subject, up front and center, is award winning and, I'm told, one of a kind unique. Our exhibit and subject is called, The Jambula, and this is, the Night Gallery."

The Jambula

India: January 29th, 1948

The streets of Bangalore were filled in every direction with merchants, shoppers, urchins, and rogues. For centuries, this scene had been repeated on a near daily basis with an ever-changing cast of players. The pushing and shoving, the clamor of barters and hawkers, and the sounds of craftsmen busily at work echoed from ages past. If not for the presence of the occasional automobile, you would be truly challenged to know it was the twentieth century.

Outside a small roadside cafe, four men positioned themselves around a canopied table as a small boy played within the walled confines of the yard. Two of the men wore traditional white dhotis and sat with their backs to the street. Neither of them bore traces of cast nor sect in any fashion to distinguish themselves, however, only one man was Hindi. Although the second man was fair skinned, and obviously not an Indian, he seemed extremely comfortable with both his attire and surroundings.

The third man, who had remained standing, carried a large black camera. He was a man of medium height and build, both unimposing and unassuming. This was a reflection of his profession rather than his physical demeanor. The sleeves of his Roebucks herringbone jacket fell just shy of his wrists. His grey flannel pants had seen many years of wear and bore various stains from assorted darkroom chemicals. Clearly a wartime photographer that was now delegated to foreign press upon the end of World War II. He calmly circled the yard and took levels with his light-meter. Finding certain spots more favorable than others, he would mark the positions with a big “X” that he would draw in the dirt with the heel of his right shoe.

The last man, sat opposite of the two in dhotis. His chestnut hair and pencil thin mustache was meticulously coiffed. A blue cashmere blazer sat neatly folded next to him on the vacant chair. Upon rolling up the sleeves of his tailored white silk shirt, he scribbled the date on the top right corner of his steno pad. "Once again, I'd like to thank you for granting me this interview, Mr. Rainy." His voice was that of an educated diplomat or a Shakespearian actor. Every word was exact, precise, and aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, it carried no trace of discernible accent. "I understand that you haven't given an interview in ten years. May I inquire why?"

"Quite frankly, Mr. Railsden, it's because I don't choose to give interviews," replied James Rainy candid, yet coldly. Unlike the interviewer, James had a most distinct and compelling accent. Most assuredly Eastern American, but neither southern nor northern seemed to define it. The inflections of one word would be later contrasted by an altogether different inflection.

The photographer moved inward and measured the light levels surrounding James. Making slight adjustments to his camera lens, he carefully brought James into focus. His graying brown hair was cut razor-short along the temples and parted on the right side. His hazel eyes keenly stared from beneath a perpetually furrowed brow. Although only in his forties, James’s face was a portrait of a man who had lived a hard and experienced life.

The iris closed, the shutter clicked, and the film was advanced one frame.

"I have created no great boon to mankind,” continued James. “I’m not a scientist, writer, politician or movie star. My life is ordinary and common, hardly newsworthy. And to clarify the answer to your question, I didn't agree to this interview, Nabbi did." James quaffed the last of his tea and smiled as he sat the cup down.

Nabbi was a strong, barrel chested Hindu in his early forties. He was neither handsome nor homely, but his presence was unmistakable. His tan muscular arm acknowledged itself from under the dhoti that both he and James wore as he reached for the small white and blue tea pot. "In truth, Mista James is much too busy to grant lengthy interviews." Nabbi's sing-song voice lilted in the air like notes of music filled with deep, rich, rhythmic tones. Pouring more tea in James’s cup, he continued undistracted by his duty. “However, being that the war is over, Mista Rainy has decided to teach his young son geography. However, unlike most children, Philip gets to experience the world through his own eyes rather than retold from the viewpoints and prejudices of others. Whether they be in writ or on film”

The camera shutter clicked loudly as the photographer took another of his many pictures.

Railsden scarcely noticed that Nabbi was talking. Retrieving the cigarette case from his blazer, he tapped both ends of the cigarette on the silver cover and reached for the cup before him. Nabbi, however, had returned the teas pot to it’s warmer. Realizing that he would not be offered any tea, Railsden placed his hand over the cup as if to refuse.

"You have spent a good portion of your life traveling, especially here in India, Mr. Rainy.” Railsden paused to light his cigarette. “Tell me, is it the people or the country that lures you back?"

"I think it's both actually." James brought his cup of tea to his lips and inhaled the steam. "I first came here back in the winter of thirty-two. I remember it well, because I had just made my first million-”

“Sorry. In nineteen-thirty-two, well into the great depression, you were able to make one million dollars?” Interjected Railsden with a tone of true inquisitiveness without impertinence.

“I didn't return until the winter of thirty-nine, after Philip's mother died."

The photographer turned to take a picture of the sandy haired boy shooting marbles by the cafe's entrance. Nabbi stepped in front of the camera as the film advanced one frame. "Hey! What ya go and do a fool thing like that fer?"

"You may only take pictures of Mista James and myself. Mista James does not want his child exploited by the press."

"It's okay, Ernest," Railsden announced to the photographer. "The boy's picture is not important to this interview." Smiling politely, he addressed James. "You were saying, Mr. Rainy."

James waited for Railsden to turn the page before continuing. "I came to India to seek my escape. To find relief from the pain I was suffering due to the loss of my wife." James took a drink from his cup and smiled a childish grin. "It was at this time that I met Nabbi. I rescued him from an incensed mob intent on stoning him to death for his indiscretions with the daughter of a Kshatriya family."

"They caught you in the throws of passion, did they? How very interesting." Railsden underlined that part of his notes.

"It was nothing of the kind, I assure you," protested Nabbi. "I was merely holding her hand."

"That's just what I tried to tell my father-in-law," announced Ernest taking another picture of Nabbi. Reaching the end of the roll, he rewound the film.

"I take it you are from the Harijan cast?"

Glaring, Nabbi answered, "Sudras."

"Can we continue?" James asked impatiently.

"Nabbi? Do you spell that K..N..O..B..B..Y or I..E?"

"Nabbi, N..A..B..B..I," he stated matter-of-factually. "I am a Dravidian not a door handle."

"Is that your sir or Christ ... first name?"

"His full name is too long for print," interrupted James impatiently. "He is Rajah Mustapha Jawaharalah Inabbi or Nabbi for short." Railsden began to speak only to be silenced by James. "Why Nabbi and not Rajah, you ask? Because the name Rajah, is as common in India, as Joe or Bill is in the states. Have you ever cried out, 'Hey Joe' in Time Square and watched all the heads turn, Mr. Railsden?" Railsden smiled and nodded. "Then you understand that it's just a nickname I gave him for sake of ease more than anything else. Your next question, please."

An arid wind blew down from the north and on out toward the sea. It carried with it the smells of the nearby bazaar. Teas, flowers, herbs and spices all mixed together yet remained singular in their distinction.

"Strange," announced Railsden placing the cigarette in his mouth only to find it was no longer lit. "They told me that it was winter here. It feels more like autumn."

James tossed a half spent matchbook onto the table. "At the start of spring, it will begin to feel like summer, only in summer the monsoons come. Have you ever been in a monsoon, Mr. Railsden? The fury of the winds and rain merging with all their might. The devastation that they leave in their wake is as beautiful as it is horrid."

"We've yet to discussed the reason why you have decided to return to India." Striking the match, he lit his partially smoked cigarette. "Was it to bring Nabbi back to his homeland or have you come to see the Maha Gandhi?"

"Gandhi is not a Maha! He himself has stated so." Nabbi protested insistently.

"I'll rephrase my question. Have you come to see Gandhi, Mr. Rainy?"

"As I was saying," James cleared his throat. "I haven't been in India since before the war. I was eager to return and see how she fared. For there is a peaceful beauty here that is unlike any other place on Earth. I wanted to see if this feeling of serenity did still exist - but I must admit, the aspect of seeing Gandhi did hasten my plans along."

"Damn it all," proclaimed Ernest as he rummaged through his bag. "This here was the last roll of film I brung."

"Brought, Ernest, brought," corrected Railsden. "Well, did you bring the camera that you used for the Gandhi interview?"

"Course I did, but I left it back in the jalopy."

"Well go get it," Railsden responded in a way that resembled Oliver Hardy. "I'm sorry for the delay, Mr. Rainy. Ernest is one hell of a photographer, but not the brightest soul you would ever want to meet. Confidentially, he never made it past the sixth grade."

"Neither did I, Mr. Railsden, so what's your point?"

Without missing a beat, Railsden replied, "That not all of us are self-made men like yourself. But while we are on the subject, why did you quit school at such an early age?"

"Due to necessity. I had to quit school at the age of nine to work in a Pennsylvania coal mine after my father died." James finished his tea and placed the cup upside down on the table. "In the ten years I worked there, I watched my brother die in a cave in, my sister birth two still born children, and my mother dwindle away with consumption - which is nothing more than a polite way of saying she's dying, but we don't know why.

"No, Mr. Railsden, an education is not found in a school room. It is found in living and the lessons life chooses to teach us." He gestured to the boy playing marbles. "My son, Philip, has never attended school, nor do I think he ever will. It's not that I think an education is a waste of a person's time, so don't misquote me. It's just that teachers are either too restricted in their approach or they just don't care about the children anymore. And quite frankly, I don't believe the later is true. I feel that the American school systems should take on an approach more like that of Gandhi or even Eastern Philosophy in general. If they had a one on one relationship with their students, learning would be more advantageous to both."

"That sounds a little too radical of an approach for the western educational society to accept, at least at this time; wouldn't you say?"

"No, I think you would say that." James green eyes betrayed his calm exterior. "Don't put your words in my mouth again, Railsden. Your opinions and mine are not one in the same. I may have been born in poverty, but don't mistake me as stupid. Ignorance is a disease of the apathetic and I have none of the symptoms. Tell me, can you boast the same?"

Railsden took one last hit from his cigarette before discarding it.

Returning from the car, Ernest was struck squarely in the chest by the glowing remnants of the cigarette. Stepping back to brush the embers from his shirt, he realized that no one had even noticed his presence. "Ernest, do this. Ernest, do that. Poor dump bumpkin' Ernest," he grumbled. Looking past the three men, he could see the boy playing by the cafe's entrance. His mouth formed a tight lipped smile. "Dumb old Ernie wouldn't know his ass from a hole in the ground if ya didn't show him the difference, would he, Mister high and mighty Railsden? Well, lets see who the real fool is after all. Ya'll just keep them two distracted while I take that little fellers picture."

Nabbi was the only member of the trio to hear the shutters report. Quickly, he turned his head towards Ernest.

"Here we go," announced Ernest ignoring Nabbi's accusing stare. "Only got one shot left in it I'm afraid."

"Well, just hold on to it for right now. Don't use it until I tell you...." Railsden voice drifted off as he stared passed Ernest, unsure of what his eyes beheld. "What the hell is that!?!"

James and Nabbi turned to see the pedestrians flee in chaotic despair.

A tall thin man with stark white hair torpidly shuffled down the road. His bleached skin was stretched taut across his skeleton. If not for the sparse piece of cloth that threatened to fall from his waist, he would be completely nude.

"Quick," yelled Railsden emphatically. "Take his picture!"

"No!" screamed Nabbi leaping across the table and blocking the camera lens with his hand.

"Philip, go inside!" yelled James to his son.

Philip looked up from his game of marbles. "But I'm almost done playing, papa."

"Now, Philip! Go Inside!"

Philip stood, exhaled with disgust, and kicked the dirt as he entered the cafe.

"What the hell are ya doin'?" Ernest pulled his camera free from Nabbi's grip. "Get the hell outta my way, Punjab, and let me take his damn picture!"

Ernest brought the camera to his eye and began to focus only to have Nabbi covered the lens again. "No! He is Jambula. You must not take his picture."

"I don't care what his name is, bwoy. I just wanna take his damn picture. Now back off!"

"Jambula is Malayalam slang for Walking Damned," interpreted James as he watched the people disperse around the man-creature. "It is said, amongst the Malayalay, that if his gaze is to fall upon you, you are doomed to poverty and starvation."

"If he speaks to you, you will surely die in anguish," added Nabbi as he turned his back to the street.

"If you paint his picture, the paint will flake from the canvas," continued James studying the Jambula as it approached the cafe.

Rheum flowed from the creatures eyes and nostrils. Pus oozed from the lesions that ravished his inhumanly twisted and warped body. James glanced at Railsden and noted the repulsion in his eyes.

"If you take his picture-" Nabbi's voice was like a cryptic warning from Nirvana. "Everything on the film dies. Men. Women. Children. They all die."

"Why doesn't somebody just put a bullet in him and be done with it?" Ernest asked unable to avert his eyes.

"Because, that is what he wants." James turned his back as the Jambula drew closer. "To kill him is to take his place."

Railsden also turned and stared at the cafe's wall. "Is that what happened to him? Did he kill a Jambula?"

"No one really knows. He may have. Then again, no one has ever asked." James watched the twisted shadow pass on the wall as a cool wind blew across the compound. "I shall venture inside now. Suddenly, it has become most chilly out."

Nabbi followed, three paces behind and one step to the left of James.

Railsden and Ernest stood all alone in the yard. Looking inside the cafe, Railsden could no longer see James or Nabbi. "Now is our chance. Take his picture and be quick about it."

"Ya'll heard what they said. If I take a picture of 'em, everything on this roll of film will die."

"To hell with them. Mr. Hearst is paying us, not James Rainy. William Randolph wants rare shots of India and I plan on delivering him just that. Now take the damn picture, Ernest."

"But, Gandhi's on this roll. What if they're right?"

"Like you just said, Gandhi is on that roll. Do you really think Brahma or Buddha or whoever will let anything bad happen to one of his prophets?" Ernest debated the question in his mind before Railsden continued, "Of course not. Now take the damn picture!"

"But the bwoy. I took his-"

"To hell with the boy too." Railsden grabbed him by his shirt collar. "Either take the damn picture now or I'll kill you and take it myself."

Ernest stared into Railsden eyes and saw the hysterical fanaticism harbored there. Reluctantly, he raised his camera and focused.

"That's right, Ernest, I knew you'd see it my way." Holding his thumb and index fingers up on both hands, he made a rectangle to simulate a picture view. Smiling, he continued, "Take your time and make this picture count. Pulitzer Prize, here we come."

On January 30th, 1948, Mahandas Gandhi, The Great Soul, was assassinated in his native land of India.

Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:12 am 
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Great Story, Thanks ( MERCI Good Doctor).

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:12 pm 
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A short but effecive little story. Nice work doctor. :sparkle:

Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:47 am 
Time And Realative Dimension In Space
Time And Realative Dimension In Space
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Thanks guys - much appreciated.

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