The much-anticipated invitation to Ranjit for a meeting with the seer Rajamantran came late in the evening. Ranjit had taken his dinner at the common feast organized at the community kitchen. He was impatiently waiting for the summons

from the pontiff since he had sent a message across that he should wait for his call.

 “You can not leave until the saint orders you to do so. He wants you to have your dinner at the common feast. You must wait for an audience with him” the boy had told him.

Ranjit was led to a room upstairs for the interview. The saint Rajamantran was sitting on the floor with both of his legs spread in front of him. The gun brought by Ranjit was lying on the right of seer. Two boys standing behind the seer looked quite ferocious. They had their fingers on the triggers. Ranjit knew the volley of fire could kill many people if boys put little more pressure on those fingers. He was trembling.  His fear had engulfed all other persons sitting in room. Ranjit touched the feet of Rajamantran. He stood with head bowed and hands folded. Ranjit had been expecting some kind of reprimand and admonishment from him.

Instead the pontiff spoke to him in most endearing tone, “you should relax young man. I know you are the son of this soil. Every son of the  soil has to pay a price for having been born in the toughest of times. You’re taking to drugs smuggling initially. Thereafter you have been betraying the young women around every where. Finally you have been employed in the act of bringing in arms from across borders and beyond seven seas at the cost of your life and freedom. It points to only one fact that the country has not been administered in right manner. The young ones of this country cannot find their bearings.  They do not quite know how to live a pious life.  They do not quite know what is right or what is wrong. They are desperately searching in the dark for all the answers…. The politicians have not been able to ameliorate the masses from the shackles of poverty.   Their filthy greed and hunger for the lucre has brought in them their overwhelming sense of servitude towards the capitalist countries of the west. Even today they want to remain the stooges of foreign powers through the pawning of the agriculturist, the industrialist, the educationist, the banker and so much so the common citizen to the alien powers by the economic policies dictated by big financial muscles of awful domination. I believe the time has now come to turn the tide. Our religion teaches us tolerance but not at the cost of subservience. Our self-respect, our human self-esteem and above all our right to independent thinking must not be subject to any cause. I beseech all rightful thinking people esp., young blood in the countryside to come and join our movement.  That will take our nation to new heights of independent edict. As for you young man we are not sure of your intentions. You are free to go back to the life of making a few dollars cuts from the contrabands. One-day you will fall into the net of the lawmakers.  That will be your sure ultimate end. On the other hand should you desire to join our fight for survival of faith which I believe you are; you have to prove your allegiance to the faith.”

“And how do I do that my lord!” he heard his voice getting hoarse due to excitement. Rajamantran the seer beckoned to one of the boys to bring forward the small urn kept in one corner of the room. The urn was decorated with fresh flowers. Ranjit remembered having seen this pitcher at the shrine where he had gone along with his mother to pay obeisance to the seer on his grandmother’s last rites. “Do not worry your mother has reached home “, he told him.

Ranjit looked at the pot, and wondered if “it contained some one’s ashes and saint wanted him to immerse them some where.  May be he wants him to make some monetary contribution in the decorated vessel for the faith”.  He did not count how much money he had in his wallet, when he left home along with his mother, besides he had to pay for the tickets on the way.  There will hardly be any amount left. But a pontiff of his status, who can bring the entire state machinery to its knees, will hardly be looking forward for an offering from a small time courier. The young boy kept the urn at the feet of the seer.  He addressed one of the elderly gentlemen, “General will you do us this favor please”?  The Gentle man named General Durjan got up from his seat, picked up the pot and brought it to Ranjit “you will take out one slip out of the many slips available in this container pot. The mission wants you to prove your loyalty, pledge your willingness to join the faith by punishing the person whose name appears on the slip, within seven days from today. And in case you fail to do so within stipulated time our boys will take your life. So before you really take one slip out you better make up your mind; because once you have seen the name written on this piece of paper, you either eliminate the man whose name is scribbled or you pay with your life in return”.

“But why should I kill any innocent human being “, Ranjit asked General Durjan and wondered if the pontiff knew about grandmother as well.  “We can assure you their names in this warrant list are added only after we are fully convinced that these people are not innocents. They are the enemies of our faith, the nation and the community. Any one who opposes the system of belief of our society does not have a right to live. Let me tell you further that in case you are successful in this mission the riches will be yours for the asking. We plan assigning you the task of organizing arms procurement for the mission on such a large scale that you could take home sacks full of dollars “.

There was a pin drop silence in the room. Ranjit had put his left hand in the urn and took out a slip that contained death warrants for some one. Ranjit handed over the piece of paper to pontiff. He asked General Durjan, “Let the boy read aloud the name.  Let the august audience gathered here realize that we do not forgive the betrayers of faith, nor do we kill innocents”.

The name announced threw a pall of fear on some present but it also made some of them ecstatic. If this could be achieved, their mission will become a force to reckon with in this country.

General Durjan took Ranjit away,” come young man, let us initiate your baptism and training thereafter”. The initiation took place by sprinkling holy water and tying a new bandana on him. “You can select any of the guns from the lot available and accordingly we will train you in the use of fire arm. Though I feel as a courier you must have had the opportunity to play with a few of these. I will suggest you need to get familiar with these two main weapons initially”. He picked up a long-range rifle with binoculars and the other was a smaller gun similar to the one that had been brought by Ranjit. Ranjit wondered how many couriers were operative in the country. He was looking at the number of arsenal displayed there.

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