THE CHARACTERS


Jacob Hills
THE PLOT : Hilly smuggler cum gangster on the prowl, their prime target is the Queen of the Robbit People....what happens next?

THE LOCALES : Quaint town of Satora, situated in the foothills of lesser known Satora Range.

THE CHARACTERS :
  • Teska ( the villian )
  • Mrs.Sharma ( the mother )
  • Tia ( the protagonist )
  • Jia ( the sister )
  • Robu ( the leader )
  • Cafe's Cook
  • Hobbiti ( the Queen Robbit )
  • Teska Gang Members
  • Robbit People
  • People of Satora

    Any story is incomplete without the ingredients above ( i.e plot, locales and characters ). And adding twists & turns to these above ingredients only becomes an ideal story telling experience. A very good example is Jacob Hills by author Ishmita T. Dhandekar. Below is a story scribbled in just 2 hours using the formula just described, but taking another genre. A story can be told in various ways. I find the first person narration quite interesting as it somehow personalizes the whole experience. Enjoy :-)

    ~~~o~~~

    Heavy knocking pounded our door at midnight. Who could it be, so late at night, we were all alarmed. We lived in the foothills of Satora hills, in the unexplored remote region of Corbett, and of late the area had become notorious for crime and robbery. Ever since the Govt's Archaeological Department took notice of the historical & geographical importance of the region, ( the subsequent neglect that it was facing for so long and its growing potential ), they had seemed to have gotten their act together and started the digging/excavations and had discovered in the process, some rare ancient carvings and precious artefacts in few of the many deep, complex intricate caves of Satora hills. After the news spread, many other hopefuls too were thronging the place to get their pound of flesh. And as the saying goes, where people gather, criminals soon follow. Though, this wasn't the case always.

    Satora has been one of the most pristine, calm and peaceful places where we grew up during our childhood. Our hometown, where we'd dash off to, during our school vacations. After our father's demise, my mother had settled down in the old farmhouse we had, in this quaint little town. And us, i.e me and my sister would drive all the way from the city and visit her every weekend. This was one such weekend. The door was pounded at again.
    "Don't switch on any lights," my mother cautioned, "it must be Teska again."
    "Who Teska?" my sister asked.
    "Shhh.., keep your voice low," my mother was visibly shaken. Though it was dark, it was full moon night outside, hence little light had filtered in through the ventilator. "His gang operates in the Satora hills. Mainly smuggling things from across the border and is into drugs and piracy. He sends his goons to collect hafta from the locals businesses around here, and of late has started harrassing the farming residents too. If we don't comply, his gang comes at midnights and takes off our live stock, farm products or any other valuables they can get their hands on. He already did two times."
    This was news to us. My mother had never spoken about Teska before. As though hearing my thoughts she said, "I didn't want you two getting worried, that's why I didn't tell you earlier."

    Oh, maa...this was just terrible. To keep such an important thing hidden from us. As the pounding grew louder, we all became very tense. We were only 3 women in the house, all alone. Teska could easily break in if he was a smuggler or dacoit. What could we do. We didn't have any options. And we all were very scared. Gathering courage, my mother went near the windows. We followed close too. Making a small gap by parting the layers of the curtains, she peeped out and darted back as quickly.

    "There are many of them," she said, "but they don't look like Teska's people. They are much shorter and dressed differently too."
    I went to the window and tried to peep out through the gap in the curtain. Indeed there were many of them, strange looking short heighted people, wearing some weird period outfits. In the moon-lit night outside, they all looked straight out of a hobbit movie.
    "Mrs Sharma open up, jaldi. Its urgent!" We then heard a voice. It had a gruffy tone and was hushed, not very distinct. Convinced now somewhat, that they were not the Teska group, my mother went to open the door.
    "Are you sure, you should open?" my sister Jia asked. She was the most frightened one of us all. A bundle of delicate nerves.
    "I think its okay," my mother assured her, "they don't look anything like the Teska gang."
    My mother unbolted the front door slowly, while me and my sister stood tensed, not far behind her.
    "Haan ji?" my mother spoke out, "who's this so late in the night?"
    "Let us in Mrs Sharma," the same gruffy voice said, in a low urgent manner, "we need your help."

    My mother opened the door and they all came in, one by one. They were fifteen of them, and all were strangely dressed. They had long untidy hair, bushy beard, thick protruding nose along with long pointed ears that stood erect ( quite similar to rabbit ears ). They were short too, barely four feet or so, all fifteen of them. One of them carried, what looked like a small basket, but it was covered by a thick cloth.

    "Hobbits!" I spoke out. I had seen them in the movie by the same name. My fear was gone instantly, seeing the characters so similar to my favourite movie, straight out of the silver-screen. "The Hobbit People!" I said again, barely believing my eyes. My sister too had now calmed down a bit. She was a big time hobbit fan too.
    "No Tia ji, you are mistaken. We are not hobbit people. We are the Robbit People. We've come down from the caves of Satora hills. Our lives are in grave danger and we need your help urgently to keep our Queen safe, until we find a way out. And please close the door." The leader of the group spoke. I was surprised that he knew my name. My mother quickly shut the door.
    Robbit people? Now this was interesting. I had never heard of them.
    "Why what happened?" I asked.

    "It is Teska, the main problem. He is after Hobbiti - our Queen, and has made our life miserable. We were living peacefully for centuries in deep burrows, dug in the caves of the Satora hills, that have been our main habitat since beyond human race appeared on this planet. We've witnessed the dinosaur getting extinct, so you can imagine how long we've been inhabiting this world. I'm Robbu, by the way." He bent on one knee for a second, in some kinda salute gesture.
    "Please sit...," my sister said, she was now in her best hospitable self. All her earlier fear had vanished and become extinct too, just like the dinosaur. She'd become as intrigued as I was. But the leader took no notice, he continued.
    "We have no time to waste. Some of our people has already contacted your govt's archaeology department representatives, they've understood the situation and are prepared not to disturb certain burrows of ours any further, but its Teska's gang that's being a nuisance and troubling us all, and who we all are in danger from. Even your police is afraid of Teska. They never come to Satora for the fear of Teska. But we have to save our Queen at any cost. Danger has reached our doorstep now."
    "Why is that?" I asked, getting quite engrossed hearing their tale so far.

    "Well our Queen - Hobbiti, she is very unique. She is our mother. Every amavasya/new-moon day she lays a golden egg, and a new robbit is born. The shells are very precious and thats what Teska is after. Our burrows are filled with golden egg shells that've hatched for centuries. Its the same precious gold that you people consider so valuable. And its not just the gold that he wants, Teska now wants to kidnap our Queen as well and keep her as his pet."

    Jacob HillsJacob Hills

    I was just too amazed hearing this story. Many questions popped in my mind, but words wouldn't form. My mother and sister were as dazed too. Seeing our expression, the leader explained further, "We are the only rabbit species that are not like other mammals. We are the most blessed race. We also have certain mystical powers that normal rabbits do not possess. That's why we call ourselves 'Robbits'. But we are also a cursed lot too, because of the same blessings we got."
    "Like what?" I was interested in hearing more.
    "Well..you are seeing us in the human dwarf form right now. We can easily change shape and become rabbits ( which is our original form ) and vice versa, at will. We also have longer life-spans which runs into hundreds of years and some really powerful spiritual weapons to destroy the enemy. But the curses are - we always have to be hidden away from human civilizations and other species. There is always a threat to our lives and we cannot use our weapons at will. Thus, we are very vulnerable. We can attack only during Amavasya-nights, when the enemy is weakened by our jari-buti."

    Oh man this was simply amazing and sad too, I thought. "Where is your Queen? Is she here with you, right now?" I asked, as I tried to scan the other robbits who were standing in a line, near the door.
    "Yes she is," Robu said. "Bring the basket," he ordered to one of his group members who was holding the covered basket.
    He placed the basket on our coffee table and pulled out the cover. Inside sat a milky white rabbit. She was bit larger than the usual rabbits and had golden spotted ears, tail and collar. She was simply beautiful.
    "Aww...!" All three of us gasped.
    "What do you want us to do?" my mother then asked.
    "Well for some time, we want you to keep her," the leader said hinting towards the Queen - Hobbiti. "We have a plan to defeat Teska's group, but we need to keep her safe first. We know Teska has been troubling you too, and hope you'll help us in this mission."


    The Robbit People were gone after some time, before dawn-break. They had kept their Queen - Hobbiti with us and left us with instructions about her daily food habits and other rituals which we were to follow. Robu also gave my mother some jari-buti to take to the Satora cafe that was newly opened for tourists. It was supposed to be one of Teska's hideouts too, which the gang operated from, to give itself a white-cover and stay away from suspicion. The cafe was opened to monitor movements of the Robbit People, and it had become a major irritant for the ancient inhabitants. And though it was dangerous, the plan was to take the jari-buti upto the cafe and somehow manage to mix it in the food that Teska and his Gang members would eat, when they gathered on amavasya-night. The cafe was usually kept closed on that particular night, during which - after eating food they'd go hunting for the robbit's golden egg shells, deep in the caves. The jari-buti in their food would make them drowsy and the Robbit People hiding near by, would then attack them with their special spiritual weapons.

    After few days, Teska had sent another letter to my mother, threatening to clear up the pending money or else. It was then my mother decided to go up to the cafe. It was also the amavasya-night that day. At noon time, my mother walked up to the cafe.
    "Aaiye Mrs Sharma ji," the cafe's cook greeted her. The cafe was closed for tourists. My mother was supposed to hand over the money to the cook as per Teska's instructions.
    "I'll need little more time," my mother pleaded, "can Teska give us some more? Things are not going well in the farm. We had very low production this season. And with the Rupee fluctuating, we hardly get anything in exchange of the goods."
    "That I'll have to inform Teska, but I can't promise anything," the cook said nonchalantly, "Its up to his mood totally. I believe, he has given many warnings, enough times already."

    "Yes I know, that's what I wanted to discuss too. I think I have found a temporary solution to my problem. My relative from Satpura village, has a unique 'jari-buti' farm and been looking for trade contacts. Maybe it'll help me earn more. This jari-buti is very special. It is used in food. It can keep a person strong, healthy and young with longer life span too. With it there'll be no diseases, hence no need for costly medicines ever. I was hoping that I could trade in it, across the border. Its a magical herb, very rare. It also makes the food very delicious."
    The cook looked at my mother, his eyes gleaming with interest. "Oh really?" he asked. "May I see what it is? Do you have it now?"
    "Oh Yes! Only a little though," my mother replied, taking out the little pouch she carried.
    The cook snatched it from her hands as soon as my mother took it out. He obviously got greedy hearing the jari-buti's unique healing qualities. "Its okay, this one will give you little more time," he said.
    "Are you going to use it?" my mother asked, curiously ( hopefully too ).
    "Yes of course," the cook replied, "Today itself I'll try it. I can't recollect where, but I too had heard something like that and I think this is it. If you can bring more, maybe Teska will not bug you for more money anymore."
    "Oh! Yes..yes, my relative has an entire garden growing this rare jari-buti and you are very lucky today, because it works best on amavasya-nights. And today is amavasya." My mother said, smiling.
    "Great, then I'll cook it with the dinner." The cook seemed to have bought the idea that the jari-buti was indeed magical.


    The next morning, we woke up to crowds cheering outside our house. People of the locality, infact whole of Satora town had gathered. All were jubiliant, honking horns, whistling and bursting fire-crackers. Surprised at so much hulla-balloo...we all ran out to see what happened. We had never seen such excitement before in this quiet little sleepy town.
    "Teska is dead...hurray!" they all were screaming and chanting loudly. "Teska gang is dead, all of them.....they were found poisoned and killed with bows and arrows in the hill cafe. No more dread or terror in Satora anymore. Hurrayyy!"

    The news floated and spread quickly like wild fire. All members of the Teska gang were found dead mysteriously. They had eaten poisoned food, but also strange arrow marks were found in their bodies. After a while, when the crowds had dispersed, we came back inside the house. Did the cook really mix the 'jari-buti' in the food? It seems that he had, and the plan worked exactly to the hilt. We hurried to the room where we had safely kept Queen - Hobitti. But the basket was gone. Hobitti wasn't in the room. Instead, in its place, there was an envelope with a letter inside.

    Jia, my sister opened and read it >>
    Dear Mrs.Sharma and family, Thank you so much for all your help. You do not realize what a great favour you did to us yesterday. After you left the jari-buti with the cook, he had hurriedly poured it in their food, ( with greed of course ). And when Teska gang returned, they ate the food and became very weak and unconscious. We could easily overpower and attack them, all at once instantly. They'll never bother you again or anyone else. There is also a special gift for you to show our gratitude. Last night was amavasya and Hobbiti - our Queen, laid a golden egg again. We have some of the gold for you, near your doorstep. Thanks once again. Forever grateful
    - the Robbit People.


    We all rushed out and indeed by the door, a pouch stood. We opened it and there was a big shining lump of pure gold. We all stood awestruck.

    Jacob Hills
    GIFT FROM THE ROBBIT PEOPLE
    ~~~o~~~

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    6 comments:

    1. Very creative post and Hobitti is super cute! :) Loved reading about the adventures of Satora people.
      Waise Hobitti laid one golden egg that later turned into pretty gold bars, is it? :D

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. thanks for reading @Solitary Reaper :-)

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    2. Hobbiti the robbit queen.. xD

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. :-) yup...thanks for reading!

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