Beyond The Unknown – A Short Story


I felt slowly being lifted out of my physical body. It wasn’t a hallucination. I was very much aware of the separation of my consciousness from the flesh body I was living in for all these years.  I was aware of one of my selves watching the other in moment of life. Fully conscious of what was happening to me I watched my sleeping self for some quiet moments, turned and began to walk.  Nothing unusual.

I walked on a familiar road shaded with the deepening shadows of ancient trees that lined on both sides and remembered what a beautiful shade of green they were during daytime but at night they acquired demonic shapes. There is one thing about the night; it paints everything in its own colour. All forms, colours, and shapes dissolve. It fills them with similar melancholy stillness. There are things one can see only in the darkens of night

The road beneath my bare feet was like a glacier. I was sure I heard earth’s soundless whispering drifting through the trees.  Why wasn’t I scared? Why did it seem familiar? Was it Déjà Vu? Or was I under some spell?

I remembered my physical body lying on plush bed. The slow rise and fall of my breasts and the constant humming of the ceiling fan. And then I saw him. A hound. At least I thought it was a hound. It sure was a larger than life and had deep non luminous eyes. A hell-hound?

I could see his balanced athletic body movement as it advanced towards me, slowly growing like a huge sinister black shadow.  Strange that he did not charge on seeing someone on a road – deserted, charmed, and vacant running through the middle of nowhere. It surprised me that the darkness of the night failed to camouflage him.  There was nothing ferocious or scary about him, not even the demonic red eyes that looked straight into mine… instead I instantly felt a connection, an at ease feeling. I felt his sinews strengthening mine with his growing presence. A strange sensation began to flow through my veins. He seemed friendly, maybe he was a protector, an animal spirit guide or maybe not. Maybe he had some ulterior hidden motives? As far as he did no harm, it did not matter much to me.

I felt a drop in temperature as the distance between the dog and me shortened but kept on walking. I noticed he had stopped midway blocking whatever lay in the darkness. For  fraction of a second as my attention shifted from the dog to the rustling of the leaves he was gone. As if he just melted into the night and slid into some dark hole taking it along with him. Making it all even less visible than invisible.

The scene changed dramatically. I could see the graveyard now, dilapidated, old, forgotten and vandalized. The headstones were barely visible even though the early morning light pierced through the thick foliage like spears making some sort of voodoo motifs on the earth below. Everything was transfixed except the light.

The graves themselves were covered by wild flowers and moss.  I stood there observing the scene that lay in front of me.  For a long time I kept staring at a headstone half covered with gray green moss. It was the only one intact even though it had aged with time and had a dull decaying appearance. I tried to step a little closer to inspect but found myself rooted to the ground. I just could not move.

A bunch of wild daisies fluttered furiously at the base of its left side as if desperately wanting an escape. It was bizarre because the breeze wasn’t that strong.  The flowers held my gaze. A strange feeling of some past connection swept through me. The effort and the feeling of déjà vu were now consuming me.  I felt as if my skull was about to crack open.

Suspended between a strong desire to stay there and a stronger one to return I stood there in the midst of all that sadness that had burst into various shades and textures of green.

Why was I there and whose grave was it? I noticed that most of the other grave stones were buried under wild growth or barely visible. Some seemed ravaged, as if mauled by some animal. I suddenly remembered the hound and instantly felt a presence behind me.

I turned on an impulse and floated into a dream.

The same woman who came in my dreams, my friend, confidante and lover was standing behind me, wearing only a smile. Her left breast seductively half concealed behind the long dark tresses which she had brought forward on one side. Let us call her Luna. The familiar feeling of being at the receiving end of a torrential desire crept up between my legs.

I looked at the sky, the shadow of the moon was slipping away slowly from under the clouds.  Either the time was travelling too fast today or her eyelids had closed upon the day. Day and night seemed to have merged.  Weak with longing and fatigue I sank into her arms.  The touch of Luna’s smooth skin felt like ice on my scorched skin.  I was delirious. I remember whispering strange meaningless words to her. My face resting in the curve of her neck and her strong comforting arms wrapped around me like a blanket. It was uncanny how easily I melted and morphed into her skin and became her. Our relationship was something between friendship and love, something which I had not experienced in real life. It was fluid with no spaces in-between.

Luna had been my dream companion since time’s beginning and even though I am not a lesbian many times I found comfort in her. It wasn’t just erotic sexual relationship we shared but the bond of intimate oneness was stronger than any I had experienced. We were friends. Inseparable. When this world became too much to bear I always turned to Luna or should we say Luna was always there.  I don’t how to explain my relationship with Luna.

It surprised me to find her here in the graveyard and that too naked, why was she roaming around naked? But then I had always seen her like that. No, sometimes she wore mist but today her voluptuous body shone like an August moon in tranquil night sky.

I felt a tingling sensation tickle down my spine. A cross-road demon?

My body seemed chained to the bed and yet it felt strangely relaxed.

It took a lot of effort to open my eyes.

It was then I realized I was nude under a thin sheet carelessly thrown over me.

The kaftan I had worn lay crumpled on the floor.

My throat was parched. Somehow I dragged my body to the cabinet twisted the bottle lid and took a long drink of water. Some of the icy liquid ran down my bare neck and sizzled as it ran in rivulet between my breasts. I was still hot like flaming embers.

I manoeuvred my way through the smokiness  of the room turned the door knob of the bathroom turned the shower on and stood under the cold needle sharp jets of water. Eyes closed. I could hear voices and feel the coarseness of a bathrobe on my skin.  The water had stopped running.  The heat was returning and I was drifting again.

*****

I could not have heard her last words had I not been sitting close to her. I reached out and touched her forehead. The temperature was normal.  She was fast asleep.

I picked up my recorder and stood up. My shoulders and back ached as I tried to stretch myself. It had been a long day.  I walked up to the window and looked out at the lengthening evening shadows.  It had been strangely hot and murky day.  The tarmac on the road steamed and gave out sparks as the vehicles zipped passed on it. Something moved and caught my attention behind the cluster of trees across the road. I thought I saw a large shadow leap and slip away into the forested area.

With a swift movement I turned around. The couch was empty.

 This story is based on a dream I had some months back and which returned two days back

 

Recipes – Two Easy Coconut Chutneys


I love coconut in all forms for its nutritive values. The coconut tree is called”Tree of life”  because of its medicinal qualities. Coconut is used  in traditional as well as modern medicines to treat various ailments. Full of fibers, minerals and vitamins which include B, B2, C, niacin and iron it is called “functional food” and either eaten raw or used in various preparations across India and in many parts of the world.

Chutney is a popular condiment  in India and is now served around the world today with all kind of cuisine. Chutneys are made using fruits, spices, herbs and vegetables and compliment the flavor of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. Here we will learn to make two simple yet delicious chutneys using coconut. Each has a distinct flavor.  Ingredients used to make basic coconut chutney include grated coconut, fresh green chilies, ginger, salt, mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. I have used mint and corriander in one and fenugreek seeds in the other.

Coconut Green Chutney 

Green chutney is made using fresh cilantro (coriander), cumin seeds, fresh green chillies, lemon juice, mint leaves, onions and salt. The vitamin benefits of the fresh mint and lemon juice used to make the green chutney include Vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B6, E, folate and niacin.

To make coconut chutneys first we need to select a fresh mature coconut. Crack it open and remove the water in a glass. Then the next step is to scrape the tender fragrant flesh.

Method of  making Green Chutney :

Ingredients :

Grated Fresh Coconut – 250 grams

I large bunch of Fresh Coriander leaves – cleaned, washed and chopped. (I use tender stalks also as they contain a lot of nutrients)

I large bunch of fresh Mint leaves –  Cleaned, washed and roughly chopped

4-5 green chilies ( number depends on taste and size of the green chilies )

5-6 Garlic pods – crushed

Cumin seeds – I teaspoon

Sugar – I Teaspoon

Salt – according to taste

Juice of one large lime ( according to taste)

To Temper :

Mustard seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

cumin seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Urad dal (white) – 1/4 teaspoon

Curry leaves – A few

Method :

 Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend coarsely until you have a thick paste, adding a little water if necessary.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Take it out in a bowl and add lime juice.

Heat a teaspoon of oil and let he ingredients for tempering splutter. Pour it over the chutney and serve.

You can keep the chutney in the fridge and even freeze it but I prefer to make it fresh every time. I keep the fresh grated coconut in freezer and use it when needed.

 Coconut Fenugreek  Seed Chutney  

This recipe was handed over to me by a relative who perfected it in his kitchen.

 Ingredients: 

1/2 Medium size coconut grated

Raw green mango – medium size

Jaggery – 1/2 cup crushed

Dry Red Chilies – according to taste

Fenugreek (methi) seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Warm water – 1/4 cup

Method : 

Take the grated coconut in a bowl and keep aside.

Peel and slice/ grate  raw mango

pond and break Jaggery in small pieces

In a small seasoning pan take one tablespoon of oil and stir fry red chilies and fenugreek seeds till slightly reddish-brown. Make sure they do not burn or get over roasted.

Coarsely grind these with the salt and keep aside

Place all ingredients in a plate . The heaps of numbers 2,3,4 should be of  equal quantity.

Now, grind all the ingredients in a grinder placing ground fenugreek- chilies, jaggery, mango and coconut in that order.. ( It is always best to use a traditional grinding slab made of stone to bring out the right flavors and consistency but now a days an electric grinder will do. Make use to keep the paste coarse ) .

The order in which ingredients are added to any dish is very important to bring out the right taste.

Add warm water and salt while grinding.

Water is added according to the desired consistency.

Once the chutney is ready , take it out in a ceramic or glass bowl and serve.

          Note : Never use steel or any other metallic utensil for keeping sour things.