Sehwag Tales - Chapter 7

To start from the first chapter : 

The stark contrast was unmistakable. A ridge of crimson clay, distinct as a scar, separated them from the familiar forest floor. Emerging from the silhouette cast by the dying sun, Sehwag and his crew had set up a campfire. The town, a short distance ahead, twinkled with festive lights, a testament to the approaching celebration. Every year, Rasamapur welcomed summer with a farming festival, but this year held a special significance. The town's youth had retrieved their stolen cattle from the very heart of the forest. The news must have reached them by now.

Sehwag, however, remained unmoved by the joyous celebrations. His mind was consumed by the enigma surrounding the cattle's return. The tribal leader's inexplicable lack of resistance, the veiled secrets held within the mysterious ring adorning his finger - all of it gnawed at him. He had always harbored a yearning for something grander than the life of a merchant's son, but encountering a past shrouded in mystery was a burden he hadn't anticipated. It was an unsettling revelation, too much to process at once.

However, Sehwag was lightened as they sat across the campfire to ease the evening. Everyone was thinking about the incident at the forest. But none wanted to discuss it. They knew that it was for the next day. Things can wait before a casually rested evening.

The campfire crackled, the scent of roasted corn and the gentle murmur of the night easing the group. They had just unearthed a hidden layer to the Padhumuk expedition, and Nandhattan was bursting to share the news with Sehwag. Or at least he wanted to lighten the mood for the evening a little.

"Guess what?" he blurted, "Padhumuk's the hero of the day!"

Padhumuk held a finger to his lips, silencing him. He wanted to talk about it to Sehwag himself. Nandhattan bringing it up was all of a sudden to him.

Sehwag, busy toasting his corn over the flames, turned towards Padhumuk. "What?" he mouthed. He had no idea what the most innocent man of the crew could do.

"The head farmer announced a reward earlier," Padhumuk began, his voice hesitant, his eyes flitting around like the corn kernels popping in the fire. "Whoever retrieved the cattle would wed his daughter."

Sehwag knew Govindai, the farmer's daughter, and her feelings for Padhumuk. Yet, his friend had kept this secret plan to marry her through the expedition under wraps. He wasn't unhappy, just surprised.

"So, that's why you dragged us into this perilous mess?" he shot at Padhumuk, a playful punch on his back accompanied by a burst of laughter from the group.

"I'd marry you if you found my lost anklet," Anaka teased Sehwag, her usual mischievous grin flashing. While her words were playful, her feelings for him were no secret, albeit reciprocated or not remained a mystery.

"Must have slipped off in the palace during the flag hunt," Nandhattan quipped.

"And Kattiyankar if he finds it?" another member of the crew joked, adding to the lighthearted banter. The crew handled the matters of revolution like it was a joke. But that is what they are trained for.

Soon before they realised, sun went really low and the fire was almost out. One by one they began to sleep wherever they found comfortable. “Let’s call it a day”, said Anaka collecting the burned black residue from the fire on a corn leaf, probably to use as kajal later. She was particular about her looks even during battles. She is a dancer. How else could she be? Padhumuk was leant back to a log lost in thought, must be dreaming about his wedding. Little did they know about what stood waiting for them at the back of the tree in the distance. Sehwag's gaze caught a solitary figure standing sentinel behind a tree in the distance.Who is that? It looks like a traveller with a bundle of clothes tied to his back. Are we being followed? Questions started pouring into Sehwag’s mind. He gently turned towards others. Only Nandhattan was alert. He had noticed the figure too.

They crept away from the group, Nandhattan instinctively gripping his hip knife out of his waist. The figure behind the tree, alerted to their approach, melted into the shadows, flitting between trees and pushing deeper into the woods. Sehwag took charge, silently gesturing for Nandhattan to circle around and flank the stranger. Their wordless communication, honed through years of shared experience, was a natural advantage. They were brothers for a reason.

The chase led Sehwag to a curious sight: a small, man-made cave carved into the face of a massive mud cliff. The forest was peppered with such remnants, relics of a bygone era when the Rasamapur served as a border town between Yemangatha and Nandhimada, constantly embroiled in war until its capture two decades ago. Sehwag, familiar with the area from his childhood explorations, entered the cave without hesitation. Memories flooded back as he navigated the familiar tunnel, a bittersweet mix of nostalgia and a specific recollection.

He remembered getting lost in this very cave as a child, a victim of his mischievous brother Nandhattan's prank. Abandoned and terrified, young Sehwag had spent the night surrounded by mongooses, his cries echoing through the darkness. The aftermath involved their father, Kandhukkadan, punishing Nandhattan for his recklessness. For two agonizing weeks, Sehwag watched his brother trudge to the market, accompanying his merchant father, burdened by bags of grain and a sullen expression.

Lost in these nostalgic reveries, Sehwag failed to notice the stranger emerging from the shadows. A rough hand clamped over his mouth, stifling his cry. But Sehwag wasn't one to surrender easily. He lashed out with his legs, initiating an unnecessary struggle. The stranger, with practiced ease, swiftly subdued him, pinning him to the ground. However, before the situation could escalate further, Nandhattan materialised behind the stranger, his knife poised at the man's neck. Trapped and cornered, the stranger had no choice but to reveal himself. It was their master Achanandhi….


Next chapter :

Vigneshwaran, Senior Correspondent of is both a skilled digital content writer and marketer by profession, as well as an avid independent writer driven by his passion. His literary talents extend to crafting beautiful poems and captivating short stories. In addition to these creative pursuits, he has also authored a book titled "Halahala," which can be found on Wattpad.

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