SAMPLE – Excerpt:
Jungadar ran his fingers through his thick dark hair like a comb. The luxuriant black tangle stopping its continued progress at bare the level of the chin away from the point of entry at the crown of his head. The space around him was dank and poorly lit so he did not suffer the embarrassment of being spied upon by those beyond the understanding of his own tight knit clan. The others were stirring now some landed bare footed upon the cold steel deck below the haphazard forest of swinging hammocks. To the best of his recollection, he and his fellows had been cooped up like a can of bully beef within this steel box for almost a week and a half. The complex blend of that comforting curry and daal scent flavored mix of personal body odor barely holding its own against the ever invasive oily fumes of the ship’s engine exhaust and acrid lubricants. The sorties allowed to his company limited to brief visitations to the main deck to refresh the nose with warm salty sea breezes. And of course be demeaned by their Halvidar to the task of picking up the cigarette butts left by their British Subedars. The trip from the docks of that port that the Gora’s had taken the name of a sewage canal, Khal and transforming it into the ground beneath the mother of destruction Kali’s feet.
The trip outward bound from Kalighat to that strange oft heard of land of China. Their Sikhs grandfathers before them had been conscripted to fight for the chutiwa dongana kuduka English in Shanghai to trade opium for their gujjis. Now he and his brothers had been gathered up from the five rivers to sail cross to the strange land of China on behalf of the Goras to fight again. What would come of it was anybody’s guess? The51st Sikhs were still shaking mountain dust of the Khyber from their puttees! What sort of strange place had the English colonials demanded they fight? His grandfather had told him that there was a gurdwara in Shanghai at some place called the Dong Bao Xing road. He had heard that some remnants of military families had settled their after the first of the Gora’s opium wars. At least their was the hope of a bit of the torch of enlightenment of the guru’s of home? Father Kanak only knew where the regiment would end up. Were their mountains like the Kush in China he wondered? Of course, he corrected himself. But were these Boxer types running rampant in the dusty heights chopping off the Christian’s heads? They could be no worse than those Afghani bhindus who threw their spit from rusty rifles and then melted away when the mass of regimental rifles spat back.
A less than delicate tap on the shoulder by Jungadar’s brother Angad pushed his of his muse. “Hey brother if you forgot your Kanga at home then use this!” sputtered Angad between laughs holding out what appeared to be a tiny decorative mother of pearl English lady’s comb. A few chuckles were summoned from the shadows. Jungadar shot back a look like an arrow from Rudra’s bow. “And what gutter did you snatch this from?”, Jungadar replied with a propriety as disdainful as his scrunched up face could muster for the sake of his unseen audience. “Little brother don’t assume that since you wear the clothes of a big strong naim sepoy that my foot cannot any no longer instruct your ass!” The laughter outside the visible boundary of deflated hammocks now rising to a greater pitch. “OK, my lovely kaminae!”, the Halvadar interjected, “Time to wrap your binders and make yourself beautiful for our English overlords!” “The harbor of a thousand temptations awaits us.” “We reach Shanghai at noon!”