Short fiction piece with the words 'Certain things had moved in the night'
|It was their first child. After twelve years of barren existence, color flowed back into their lives. Meera and Kunal were transported to a different world. She always wanted a daughter and the name had to be Kiara. There was something about the name that had both theirs intertwined with it.
Kiara came out with a full head of jet-black hair. Even at birth, her eyes were intense, and the parents dissolved in their blackness. A dazzling smile played on her lips as she left the warm confines of her mother’s womb. The veteran doctor exclaimed that she had never seen a baby smile so on its first encounter with the outside world. A good eleven pounds, Kiara was no small child. Her chubby fingers made sinuous movements as the nurse wrapped her in the baby blanket and placed in the hospital bassinet.
Unbeknownst to the ebullient family, a maelstrom developed in another part of the world. Dark forces, hitherto dissonant, conspired in new found camaraderie. Juno was the de facto leader. He was a tall man; all of seven feet. His aquiline nose and cruel eyes reminded one of a vulture hovering over a dying animal. He spoke in bursts of speech as if each word emanating from him was onerous to extricate out of his long muscular frame.
“This child cannot be allowed to grow up,” he barked.
A murmur of consent arose from the throng.
“I have chosen Massar for the task”.
He nodded at the mustachioed giant standing behind his gilded chair. Massar dwarfed even Juno. His hands looked like meat grinders and every aspect of him spoke of his predilection for violence.
The giant grunted.
“The girl will be the end of us all,” Juno continued by means of justifying his first words. “She is an incarnation.”
Again, nods from the heads of the various factions. They hated each other but now had a common enemy.
The redoubtable Juno looked around the vast table. “He will go to India tomorrow. Only I will be in touch with him”.
His eyes darted over the congregation seeking discord. There was none.
In the small city of Mysore, India, Kiara gurgled in joyous abandon. She was a treat to be with as she never cried or complained. Meera and Kunal obsessed over their daughter incessantly.
Meera had an old painting of goddess Durga with her long trident, astride a ferocious lion, piercing the chest of the demon Mahishasura who stood in front of her in defeat. The tale of Mahishasura was a popular mythological tale in these parts. There was even a hill in Mysore with a temple dedicated to Durga and a statue of the demon standing guard outside. The story was that Durga was the only goddess that could kill the demon.
Kiara was fascinated by that painting and kept pointing it to it every time. First, the parents didn’t realize what she was doing but soon realized that the child loved that painting. They brought it to her and Kiara’s face lighted up as she played with the smooth edges of the ancient wooden frame that housed the painting. The parents smiled at this odd fixation but thought nothing of it. They decided to hang it up in Kiara’s room as it seemed to bring her so much joy.
Massar made the long flight to Bangalore where the helicopter stood ready to take him to Mysore. The pilot gasped involuntarily as he laid eyes on the mountain that was Massar.
Juno’s reach extended far and wide and Massar had no trouble getting set up in the decrepit house that called no attention to itself. It was however, a strategic location, right across the family whose child was in imminent danger.
That night, as they slept in blissful awareness, Massar wasted no time. He had the special sickle ready, made of a metal that was not of this world. Juno had insisted that this was the only weapon that would kill the avatar. And, the king cobra that was thrashing violently in his gunny bag.
Massar forced open the window and slid in. The cool summer breeze played on his locks as he looked down upon the sleeping child. His eyes narrowed in inveterate cruelty. He raised his sickle to expunge the life of the defenseless one.
The morning dawned bright as Meera walked in to Kiara’s room, rubbing her eyes after a fitful sleep.
She gasped in horror as her daughter’s favorite painting was transformed.
Certain things had moved in the night.
The demon was no more standing in front of Durga. He was on the ground with a look of terror on his face. The sickle he held in the painting the previous night, now lay at his side. The goddess’ lion stood by, a snarl on its bloody face. A large snake lay lifeless in the far corner of the painting.
More than the terror on his face, what was more horrific, was the head that had been neatly severed from the rest of the body. The goddess’s bare right foot lay square on Mahishashura’s chest. A barely concealed smile played on her peaceful visage.
Meera had almost forgotten her child.
Her head snapped to the cradle, heart pounding.
Kiara looked up with a benevolent smile. Her tiny reddened finger pointed to the painting as she drooled in contentment.
The resemblance was unmistakable.