A TRIBUTE TO MY FAV AUTHOR: The late Robert Ludlum.
Ever wondered how some of our Mizo folktales would sound like had they been written by the contemporary writers of today? Here is how I feel "Chemtatrawta" would sound like had Robert Ludlum written it.
[The original story in English can be found here]
The shrill sound of a thirsty cricket chirping echoed across the dense forest, followed by the hoarse croak of a lonely river frog trying to attract a mate. The thick woods soon produced a queer symphony of mixed Mammalian musical, which seemed to resonate from every direction across the eerie forest.
Chem Jones walked carefully on the soft grass, ever alert to react to any sound that was not a part of the forest he had grown accustomed to. He had been in the field for more than 5 months now, surviving on roots and venison in order to blend in with his environment.
Your mission in Mizoram won’t take long, the deputy director of the CIA had told him. Yeah right. 5 months in Mizoram and he still could not find the trail that should lead him to Thangkhuma, one of the chief financiers of the Golden Triangle corporation and one of Interpol’s Most wanted.
Now he was starting to doubt whether his ex-KGB informant hiding at a safe-house in frozen Siberia had supplied him with the correct information about Thangkhuma. Even the FSB, the Federal Security Bureau that replaced the KGB, failed to verify the information, yet he decided to follow his instincts like he had done a hundred times in the past. His instincts were usually right.
Suddenly he felt his muscles wrench. His stomach started producing a strange sensation. Oh oh, he thought. And then, he felt it. Excruciating pain generated from his stomach, sending his body into a wild frenzy of spasm. The pain was worse than all the tortures he had ever faced in the hands of rogue Mossad agents, the Black September, the notorious Iraqi Mukhabarat, or even the dreaded Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki.
Thoughts immediately flashed across his mind amidst the agonizing pain. He remembered having breakfast with the locals this morning.
Shouldn’t have eaten the bloody bekang, he cursed.
He saw the small river cutting through the woods. With his last remaining strength he ran towards it. Throwing his mahogany leather pouch that contained six passports all under different names and different nationalities, he jumped into the river. With fists clenched and eyes grimly closed, he pulled down his pants and let go...
Ahhhhh, he felt relieved.
As Chem Jones squatted on the shallow shoal of the sluggish river, one hand held his shirt up, while the other hand firmly gripped a polished 9mm PM Makarov – ineffective at long range but extremely deadly and accurate for close targets.
Suddenly he felt it. It was the result of years and years of intense training and field work at Quantico, Saigon, Aral Sea, Cambodia and places that did not exist on any Government maps.
Something was wrong, terribly wrong.
His instincts triggered a series of alarms within his head. He felt the sudden adrenalin rush. He tightened his grip on the gun.
And then the attack came.
A sharp painful pierce to his body, of flesh tearing and blood spurting out. He screamed.
It felt like the last time when a mole had infiltrated the MI-6 and planned to assassinate the Director of the NSA and the Secretary of Defense together at a highly classified conference in Glochester, UK. Chem Jones had just unraveled the assassination plan, code-named ARIA, and saved the Director and Defense Secretary just in time. However he suffered a bullet wound to his left thigh from the MI-6 mole in his effort to push the Director away from the path of the assassin’s bullet.
That was how it felt like now. A very similar pain.
Except that this pain was coming from a little bit higher than his left thigh. A little bit higher and a little bit to the right. The pain originated from his balls.
Dazed and almost paralyzed from the pain, Chem Jones looked down. There above the river, clutching his red swollen balls with all its might was a giant monstrous Lobster. It continued to hang on to his balls for its dear life.
He flung the lobster aside, casting it back to the muddy river. Then like a hungry cheetah that had just spotted its prey, Chem Jones darted out from the water, overcame by the agonizing pain on his balls. Out of sheer frustration, he pulled out his Russian made machete and chopped off a vine of a nearby tree in one swift strike.
The unfortunate tree was an Acrocarpus fraxinifolius, an evergreen tree of eastern Asia and Philippines having large leathery leaves and equally large inedible fruit. With one of its vine support chopped off, the attached large fruit then plummeted to the ground. It landed on the back of a wild country hen.
Meanwhile, Chem Jones watched what was happening around him. Even though the pain on his private parts was unbearable, he had learnt how to observe his surroundings even under the harshest conditions. That was how he survived Cuba even with a wound from a shrapnel, how he rescued those two ShinBet operatives right under the noses of the IIS, and also how he managed to successfully “deliver his assignment” in Teheran.
He started observing the chain of events that was being triggered right in front of him.
The country hen let out a shrill scream from the pain, and then ran to a nearby ant hill and completely decimated it with its long sharp claws. The ants, Monomorium pharaonis to be precise, scurried everywhere in confusion, and one of them managed to climb up the hind legs of a wild boar and bit the boar with all its little might.
The boar let out a long hollering shriek, as if it was its turn in a slaughter house, and galloped away blindly with its short furious legs. It did not see the tree up ahead and crashed right into it, knocking the boar unconscious, or probably dead. A bat that was hanging on one of the tree’s branches was rudely knocked down upon the hard impact.
The bat, completely shocked and exposed to the sudden bright light, flew desperately in search of darkness until its radar senses informed him of a small cave up ahead. Unfortunately it was not the mouth of a cave, but rather the trunk of an elephant.
As the bat swiftly flew up the long hairy trunk, the large over-weight Pachyderm immediately got spooked and went on a wild stampede, trampling anything or anyone that was on its path. Up ahead was a small hut inhabited by an old wrinkled hag. With a thundering crash, the elephant smashed right into the hut, flattening everything that once made up bits and pieces of the hut.
The angry old woman who fortunately was not hurt, cursed the elephant and stormed towards the village pond in full fury. Since she was weak and could not inflict damage upon anybody, she did the only thing she was capable of doing - Knowing that the pond was the village’s only source of drinking water, she walked right into it and defecated.
From a few feet away, a bemused Chem Jones watched the entire spectacle that had just unfolded in front of his very eyes. He heaved a big sigh of disbelief and bewilderment. This can happen only in Mizoram, he exclaimed.
But just as he was about to walk away, his instinct started to ring again. He dove under a nearby bush immediately and observed the old woman. A few minutes later, a group of men from the nearby village approached her. He could overhear the angry exchange of words between the villagers and the old woman.
These men were no ordinary villagers. Chem Jones counted that four of them had Kalashnikovs strung on their backs, while two people each held an XM8 Light weight assault rifle capable of firing a whopping 800 rounds per minute, and the largest of them all carried a lethal Soviet-made RPG-7 shoulder launcher. Seven heavily armed men quarrelling with an old woman regarding the hygiene seemed peculiar to Chem Jones.
From his clandestine point of surveillance, he noticed that there was something wrong with the whole scenario but couldn’t quite figure out what.
He concentrated more deeply on the group of armed men and finally noticed what was bothering him. One of the men with a Kalashnikov tied to his back seemed very out of place with the others around him. His thoroughly trained observation could make out that the man was trying his best not to walk too fast or too slow. He was trying to remain inconspicuous. Apart from the Kalashnikov, he also carried a .357 Magnum with his right hand.
Now that’s weird, Chem Jones thought.
And then he noticed it. The brief exchange of looks between that man and one of the men carrying the XM8 who seemed to be the commander of the group. That person was definitely not the genuine commander. He was only calling the shots while the real leader was the guy with the .357 Magnum!
Oh, that is smart, really smart, Chem Jones grinned. It was like the ancient Carthaginian warfare when generals would mingle in with the infantry and appoint somebody to sit on top of the war elephants to look as if he was in charge of the army, because the generals were usually the first to be targeted by ambush parties and assassins.
Chem Jones now intensely studied the man with the .357 Magnum. He did not look anything like the picture of Thangkhuma he had memorized. They had the same height and similar structure, but Thangkhuma was bald and clean shaven. This man had a shabby beard and hair. It could be wigs and postiches, he thought. His cheekbones seemed more prominent and higher than that of Thangkhuma, but that could easily be done by attaching a specially designed plastic frame inside the mouth. His nose also looked bigger, but again, that could be prosthetics.
And then the man turned around briefly for a second and Chem Jones caught sight of his eyes. He froze! The eyes! They were the same chilling cold blooded killer eyes as that of Thangkhuma. No amount of plastic surgery can ever change ones eyes. He felt the sweat from his head slowly streaming down his cheeks and trembled a bit. He had finally found Thangkhuma!
He looked at his 9mm PM Makarov and cursed. It was useless against seven heavily armed men, even though he was a crack shot and nobody had broken his record till now at the Langley Arms Institute. He wished he had carried his Beretta semiautomatic pistol with its M9DS Suppressor instead.
He was so engrossed with his discovery that Chem Jones let his guard down for a few seconds.
By the time he heard the sound of a twig snapping right behind him and spun around, it was already too late. Four sturdy young men were aiming their Kalashnikovs and assault rifles directly at his head.
“Zawnga! Tunge i nih a????”
He understood a little bit of what the leader of that group was asking him. He had learnt some of the local dialect in those 5 months he had spent in the jungle. They wanted to know who he was.
Before Chem Jones could answer, he could already see from the corner of his eyes that Thangkhuma and the other men were running towards him.
Oh crappp, Chem Jones closed his eyes.
End of book one Do visit again if you want to know how Chem Jones escaped from the village and eventually completed his mission, with the help of two brothers, known as the Liandote unau.