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Excerpts | Island of Lost Shadows | Waiting and Wondering

Sivan was quite upset when he was told about the new shelter. What does it mean? Hiding away in some forest when the world was boiling over? But in a calmer mood, he felt there was sense in what they were suggesting. The comrades were indeed having a tough time shifting him from shelter to shelter. Work was suffering, what with bringing out even pamphlets becoming impossible. As for the magazine, it had not been published for months. After the Kangazha action, most of the frontliners were in the wanted list. The police had succeeded in rounding up many comrades. Going into hiding was the only way out, it seemed. But this again was turning out to be too risky in the town with each passing day, as the police were able to penetrate even the most secure hideouts. If their suspicious eyes fell on a safe house there would be at least two policemen in mufti observing it. Even permanent residents were being questioned and beaten up. The situation was volatile; anything could happen anytime. Hiding in remote villages or forests seemed to be the only way left. This shelter was the result of a wide search and detailed analysis. Sivan chewed the piece of paper after learning by rote the routes and the code words. Code words have a nauseating taste, he thought. He spat out the chewed pulp into the drain without drawing anyone’s attention. Though there was a direct bus from Avalam to Pullani, he had chosen to break journey at several places for obvious reasons. That he came late to Pullani was, therefore, natural. The comrade who was supposed to meet him there; had he gone away? Sivan waited by the roadside. He saw a tall, lean man approaching him. Yes, it must be him. There was no one else in the vicinity anyway. When he came closer, Sivan blurted out the code words with some trepidation. ‘Achu.’ He did not say a word more, no code words, nothing. He then walked ahead. Sivan began to nurse doubts. Is he the one? He had mentioned his name, but not responded to the code. Sivan stood still, debating what to do. Achu turned and signalled to follow him. It wasvalmost an order. Though he did not like it, he followed Achu like an obedient animal. ‘We’ve to cross the river. Please hurry, comrade,’ Achu urged. Is the shelter across the river? Could be, the students had mentioned an ‘island.’ How is it going to be after crossing the river, he wanted to find out. How far from the river bank? And how long a stay there? He was also curious about the red-hot comrades of Pullani and about the activities of the organisation in the surrounding areas. But Achu was just hurrying along without any show of friendliness. Since there was a standing order about not being too curious, Sivan did not ask him anything. Perhaps Achu’s responsibility was only from Pullani junction to the next stop, wherever it was. Maybe he too had only that much information. And maybe he was walking far ahead of Sivan in order to avoid conversation or discussion.   Grab your copy at  
admin | 12-Nov-2016