The amber sky turned dull grey through which the setting sun sent out streaks of golden rays piercing the earth with its momentary radiance. The shadows lengthened and the mosquitoes came out in droves buzzing around the heads of the children playing in the fast approaching dusky light.
For a few moments, the sun suddenly sizzled and sent out brighter shafts of light as if reminding the people of its awesome presence before retiring for the night. As it dipped beyond the edges of the dark green forest, the village was bathed in a golden orange glow. Madhavan had heard it being referred to as the auspicious hour by which to see a prospective bride. The golden after glow of the sun was supposed to make even the most plain maiden appear beautiful and ethereal.
Deep within the forest, imprisoned in the dank hole in the bowels of the earth, Madhavan could not see any of the beauty of the sunset. His attacker, now the victim, lay on the floor writhing in agony. Madhavan wondered if he had broken the old man’s ribs. After all, he had kicked him hard enough several times.
A weak groan made Madhavan turn and he saw the man lying on his side clutching his stomach. He knelt down beside the man and peered at his face. He seemed okay. After all the pain he had been made to endure, a little taste of his own medicine wouldn’t do him any harm, surmised Madhavan. Glancing around him, he spotted the dirty rags which he had been tied with and deftly with the agility of a cat, Madhavan tied the hands of the man behind his back. Next he reached for another piece of the rag and stuffed it into his mouth and grinned to himself.
His pangs of hunger returned and Madhavan turned around to look at the nearby shelves. They contained various bottles, but Madhavan could not make out whether the contents inside were edible or not. He took down a bottle and opened it’s lid and sniffed. A wild pungent odour hit his nostrils and he coughed and sputtered. He closed the cap and hurriedly restored the bottle back where it belonged. Taking down the bottle next to it, he gingerly opened the lid. A greenish grey mouldy substance was lodged in the depths of the jar.
Madhavan looked at the array of bottles wondering what to do. Then he glanced down at the man he had tied up and saw that the man was looking at him, following his movements. Madhavan bent down and undid the cloth that was gagging his mouth.
“Arrrgh”, grunted the man and wrestled to sit up. Madhavan yanked him into a sitting position and squatted beside the man.
“I am hungry, very hungry. What is there to eat?”
The man said nothing . He looked at Madhavan for a few mintes then suddenly broke out into a hideous grin. His yellow teeth gleamed at Madhaavn and Madhavan reeled back from the foul odour that emanated from the mouth of the man.
‘ Hungry “, shouted Madhavan again , pointing to his stomach and miming food into his mouth with his hands.
“Aaaaah,” nodded the man. Then he stuck out his thumb and shook it left to write , signifying that there was no food.
“ Why don’t you speak? I know you can talk. I am famished. I want to eat.”
The man gave another leery smile and said between yellowing teeth, “ no food here.”
Disgusted and beyond caring for all else except for something to appease his hunger, Madhavan left the man bound to the floor and decided that he would somehow find a way out of his predicament.