Saturday, 25 August 2007


If you were to follow the river Hoogliffey from where it falls into the Oceanbay Sea to the Gotrigan glacier, where it is born, high, very high up in the mighty Mount Ane, somewhere in between, you would come across a big city called Caldub. Caldub is a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis where many thousands of people live and work. It has tall skyscrapers, massive palaces, castles and forts, huge parks, green gardens, numerous schools, theatres, restaurants, museums, cars, buses, trains, trams, people and animals. It has everything you would expect a big, important city to have. In fact, it even has large wooded areas around it. The river Hoogliffey flows past the South-Western edge of the city and across the river, surrounded by lush, green wooded areas and quite detached from the city, lies the great Caldub University. It is renowned all over the known world for the immensity of its grounds and for its history of spawning great minds in just about every field of any importance. The University grounds are indeed vast, containing large wooded areas, numerous playing fields, parks, gardens, big buildings of both Gothic and modern strains, academic blocks, hostels, libraries, galleries, museums, gymnasiums, residential blocks and stadiums. In fact, there is a building of particular importance in the premises and that is called the Mystic Lotus Hall of Assembly.

And here, at this very moment, in fact, there is a huge gathering of young men and women. It is the first day of the academic year and the new batch of students are being welcomed by senior students and teachers alike. Hundreds of students have filled the hall and there is scarcely any place to move. We see a multitude of faces talking to each other, some laughing, smiling, some worried, some scared, some annoyed, angry. It is quite a gathering here. Let us close in on two young men. Though eavesdropping is indeed a bad habit, we shall listen in to what they are saying, simply because if we were to stand around doing nothing, our journey would end right here. So here we see two young men, both of similar height and build. One has dark hair combed back neatly, a pair of sharp and alert eyes, which seem to be looking for something or someone, a sharp nose and thin lips. He walks purposefully, seemingly preoccupied and ostensibly quite hassled. The other has quite a striking shock of white hair, peculiar for his age. He has softer features, is quite fair and has a pair of bright blue eyes and a thin white goatee on his chin. He seems just the opposite of his companion. He walks with a swagger, perhaps hardly aware that he is walking, and has a constant smile stuck on his face. The white-haired boy speaks first:
"An' whar is yer bonny bruthar, Angus meladdy?"
"If I knew where he was, I wouldn't be searching for him, would I? This blasted crowd isn't letting me move and that boy's nowhere to be seen."
"Ye means, ye cannae find yer own bruthar? Ha! Angus, soul o'mine, yer such a loose-buttoned ol' toot, ah tells ye."
"Oh keep quiet, O'Leander. My brother is about average height and has just about no distinguishing features at all. He's not the type who'd stand out in a crowd, you know."
"Well, tell us wha' 'e looks like, then. Ah shall busy me baiby blues to locate yer darlin' li'l cubling."
"I just told you. He's about average height and build. He has fair hair, brownish I'd say. He has deep brown eyes. His nose is like mine. And you'd better keep your eyes open because you almost knocked that poor child over, O'Leander you stupid simian!"
O'Leander turns to the girl in question and makes a gesture of apology.
"Ah'm sorry, luv. Didn't mean tae push ye like tha'. Nae 'arm dun, eh? Nuthin' broken ah 'ope?"
The girl, a little disoriented, manages to smile and shake her head graciously.
"Good gurl. 's okay, she'll live. Let's move on."
"You really ought to look where you're going O'Leander. That girl was scared out of a year's growth back there."
"Fergit aboot tha'. Angus, ol' dear chummy, ah 'ave tae ask ye a qustion."
"Wha' does ye think o' this 'ere new Club summa the guys back in the 'ostel 'ave started, eh?"
"Do you mean the Requiem Club?"
"Yea, ah does mean the requiem club. Wha' does ye think. Ye fancy joinin' it?"
"It sounds interesting, if not a little a morbid."
"Yea, bu' wha' is life, ah says, if i' ain't go' a li'l morbidity, a li'l macabreness, a li'l moroseness, eh?"
"Hmmm... I'll have to think about it."
"Oh cam aun, Angus fella-mehearty! It'll be murderous fun! An' thar'll be loads o' pretty li'l ninotchkas joinin' too."
"Ah! So that's why you want so badly to join, eh? Well, I have my doubts about any 'pretty little ninotchkas' joining, but the club itself sounds like an interesting idea. I'm pretty sure its not going to be too easy for us to join, though. There will be some sort of criteria for membership. They won't just let anyone in, you know? I'm sure there will be interviews or initiations or the like."
"Nae, me pal, heart o' me hearts, there ain't. None fer us, at least. Ye see, yesterday, this boy comes up tae me an' asks me whether ah'm interested in joinin' this 'ere Requiem Club. S' ah says to 'im, ah says 'sounds good bu' ah'll have tae ask Angus, me buddy, an' ye'd bluddy well wait until ah've asked 'im'. S' then, this blighter, 'e asks me, 'oo is this 'ere Angus? An' ah says, 'Ye don't ken Angus? Angus Telum? The luvliest person on this 'ere planet, an' a great pal o' mine, too. You can rest assured, tha' if 'e ain't joinin' then I ain't joinin', either.' S' this fella is just waitin' fer me word, an' ah'm waitin' fer yers, see?"
"A likely story, O'Leander. I bet it was the other way around."
"S' wha'? S' wha' if i' was? Oh, awright! I' wis Stamford 'oo came tae me an' wis askin' fer ye. An' ah says ah don't rightly ken yer whereaboots, bu' ah could readily pass on a message. S' 'e says tae me tha' ah should ask ye whether ye are interested in joinin' the club. An' ah asks 'im if ah could join too. An' he looks hesitant, an' ah says tha' ye wouldn't join if ah couldn't. S' 'e says awright, then. S' wha' does ye say. Shall ah give 'im the nod, eh?"
"Very shrewd, O'Leander."
"Yea or nae. Jus' give me the word."
"Listen O'Leander, don't pester me. I'm a little preoccupied right now. I'm in no postion to make any decisions. Why don't you decide and do what you think is right?"
"Awright, then. Ah decide tha' we shall join. Ye an' ah are goin' tae be members an' when an' if we find yer bruthar, we shall ask 'im too. Jolly good gumdrops, then!"
"Whatever you say, O'Leander."
And saying this, Angus walks away from O'Leander weaving his way through the crowd. O'Leander stays rooted to the spot, not bothering to move and shouts out to Angus: "S' ah'll tell 'im?"
A boy pushes his way through the crowd and comes to O'Leander and says, "Yes?"
O'Leander looks at the boy, puzzledly.
"Ah beg yer pardon?"
"You just called me."
"Nae, ah didnae call ye."
"But, you just called my name."
"Ah, don't even knae yer bally name, child."
"Oh, all right. Sorry then."
And he turns to leave.
"Nae, wait a minnit! Come back."
The boy retraces his steps.
"Wha's yer name, boy?"
"Sol. Sol Telum."
"Well, bustlin' babelfish! Ye is Angus's bruthar, ain't ye? Yer bruthar is scourin' the whole bluddy 'all lookin' fer ye, an' 'ere ye is. Crikey! You two 'ave the same nose! Thar was sumthin' in yer face looked like good ol' Angus. Why ah called ye back. Wha' a bloomin' coincidence! Wha' a luvly twist o' fate, eh? Ah'm so winnied ah'm afraid ah'll bust ou' o' me shirt!"
"Do you know Angus, then?"
"Ken 'im? 'e is practically me bruthar. Tha' makes us bruthars too, righ'? C'm'ere, bruthar mehearty, soul o' mine."
And he crushes Sol in a tight bear hug. For a moment Sol can't breathe. Then when O'Leander let's him go, he takes a deep breath, and the blood that has rushed to his head starts to disperse. O'Leander stretches out a hand to him.
"Me naim's O'Leander. Wight Rhett O'Leander."
Sol shakes the outstretched hand and immediately realises his grave mistake as it closes in on his, in a crunching grasp, so that he can feel each and every bone in his hand breaking simultaneously. After a few seconds of vigorous shaking, O'Leander lets his hand go and says, "Listen, we'd better find yer bruthar. 'e's 'assled as burnin' 'ell tryin' tae locate ye. 'e wen' this way. Follow me."
He proceeds to push everyone out of his way, much to their annoyance, laughing and saying, "Ah get i'! Ah says, 'S' ah'll tell 'im?' an' ye 'eard me say 'Sol Telum'! Ha! Ha! Ha! This is 'ilarious! Ah says, 'S' ah'll tell 'im' an' 'e thinks ah says 'is name! S' ah'll tell 'im an' Sol Telum! S' ah'll tell 'im an' Sol Telum! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
And Sol follows him giving apologetic looks to everyone.
"S' Sol, soul o' mine, does ye fancy joinin' a real secret, mysterious, morbid, macabre, morose club?"

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