The Wall

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[Inspired by  George R R Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” which I just finished]

They were in a small clearing, many miles away from battle. The dense woods hemmed them from all sides like a phalanx of ancient giants, silent sentinels from the time of Early Men. The roars, the battle axes grinding against each other, the fizzle of sparks flying, the cries of anguish, the jeering of the crowds seemed far far away, almost as in another world. The only sound was that of the brook gurgling forward, its waters glistening like diamonds as it caught the last rays of the setting sun.

The Wall sat on a giant black rock by the side of the stream balancing his chin at the edge of his broadsword. His chain armor, heavy with the memories of blood, tears, sweat and time. His face, black and ominous as an approaching storm. His lips pursed into a grimace, as if trying to dam an ocean of wrath.

But the Wall crumbled. It had to.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves, us, the House of Bharat. Hiding in the forest like craven eunuchs, decimated by the House of the Lions. There is no shame in defeat, never. But not like this. Not like this.” The Wall gripped the handle of his sword hard. “How long must we avoid the Emperor’s Road, how long must we hide like exiles?”

The Marauding Knight sat a distance away, the one known as the Daredevil because he fought under the Daredevil banner. He looked up lazily, like a peaceful pigeon fattened by corn from the bountiful granaries of the Middle Plains. “Do not look at me Wall. I never wanted to be in this battle. I have fought too much. I needed rest in my castle. But they sent me here to act as the vanguard for the troops. ”

The Wall’s anger showed no sign of abating. “We know you do not like to fight after the Great Golden League. Every year, your shoulder becomes as frozen as ice, which many call rather fortuitous  since it always happens the Great Golden League.”

Daredevil kept his voice soft, soft as the lard that slides off the carcass of a suckling pig as it turns in fire. ” We are all sell-swords here. The Great Golden League pays more gold than anything else. And I fight for gold. Let he who does not fight or work for gold cast his first stone at me and my ilk. Long five-day battles are not worth it—-they take away too much and give too little. And spare us the lectures of honor and tradition, I have heard such stories at bedtime from old chambermaids. I have no wish to hear them again.” Daredevil wiped away the spittle that drooled from the side of his mouth. “We fight too much. Too much. There is so much that flesh, bone and spirit can take.”

The Wall pointed his sword towards the clump of trees. “For some it is too much fighting. For some it is too less fighting. Look at our master archer Zak the Mighty. He walks onto the battlefield and falls before a feather can strike him, holding his thighs. I wager that even a song-bird is more sturdy than him.”

The Daredevil sneered “Too much meat and mead sire. You seem to have forgotten we are the Conqueror of the World, a crown won by our Great Doctor King, who used his famous whirling sword-move to slay the Enemy From the South. Oh I understand why you do not recall Oh Wall. I forgot, you were not fighting under our banner at that time.” A smile lit up the Daredevil’s face, a smile that had no mirth in it.

“Mind your tongue Daredevil. My blade may be old but it can still cleave through flesh and bone as silently sure as a ghost’s whisper.”

The Little Bird hopped between the two. “Please knights. Let us not behave like childlings on the playground.”

The Wall laughed “Here comes the Little Bird who stands cravenly on his back foot in front of the enemy archers lest they send arrows above his shoulder. You sir are a disgrace to the Banner.”

The stones crunched as the Little Bird paced between around. “Be it the case. I command more gold than you and let that be the last word on the matter.” He knitted his eyes together “Why do you take this so personally sire? As the Daredevil said, no one cares about long battles. The Men of the Seven Kingdoms care only for the shorter jousts. That is where the gold galleons are. This five-day scrap is too trivial to feel shame over. Yes some subjects may be vexed but all we need to do is wait and bide our time. Let the shorter jousts begin and everything will be forgotten.”

“That may be Little Bird. But I will not forget the craven capitulations of  our once proud Banner. Defeat is one thing. This is abject surrender.”

“So what do you want us to do sire? Fall on our swords?” The Doctor King, the standard-holder, asked, his voice steady as a ship through rough seas.

“Considering how well you used your own sword, you would possibly miss if you tried doing that.” snorted Wall dismissively.

The Doctor King was known in the Seven Kingdoms for his patience. He never lost his equanimity. As he had told his newly-wed queen “Whenever anyone insults me, I tell myself—-every breath I take is worth golden galleons. No use wasting them for free.” The Wall’s verbal thrust made no impression on him. He smiled his smile that made maidens liquify like ice when put on flame.

“Sire, we were not prepared for battle. By the time we understood the grounds, the Lion’s Army had overrun us. We bled, we broke and we never recovered. Every time we tried to stand up, our enemies scythed our legs from below us. It was a massacre.”

The Wall’s eyes were hard as flint.” We could have had more time if the Grand Committee gave us time. But no they only care for the golden coins of the Great Golden League. As do you.”

“But everyone cares for the Great Golden League sire. The reason why there is gold in it is because the people watch it. And they want it. If they wanted long five-day battles, there would be more gold here. And the Grand Committee would give us more time for the longer jousts. Why blame us for being human? Why not blame the people for not caring for the five-day battles?”

The Wall fell silent, his anger scarcely constrained.

The Doctor King continued “We were blessed by the Gods to have had the crown in the five-day battles for some time. Very blessed. It was inevitable that sooner or later the Gods would turn their heads away from us. To be truthful, even the Gods cannot save our archers once Zak the Mighty withdrew. Look at them.” He pointed to the Ser Nath Berserker, climbing a tree trying to frighten birds in the branches, a man who it was whispered had half his brain eaten away by crows when he had been born. “Not even the Dragon Kings would be able to defeat a village of dwarves with these jesters on his side.”

The Doctor King raised his sword idly. It glowed gold. “The Gods were against us. Our mighty swordsmen, on whom we have always relied heavily on, failed us. The Daredevil did not bother to lead the vanguard and even when he did, I wished he did not. The Ever-Angry Lord, always reliable, after he joined the Cursed Banner in the Great Golden League has most unfortunately been put under a black hex, unable to see, unable to move. The Victorious Viscount of the South , who has always brought up the rear of our flanks, failed miserably too. The Little Bird, I think we do not seriously expect anything from him unless he puts on the Yellow Armour of the Super Lions and does short jousts. And the less we say about the Prince of Paunch the better, he must be having venison and summer ale as we speak happily surrounded by fair maidens. All these disasters we still could have weathered had the Grandmaster…..”

The Doctor King looked to his side. Beneath an ancient white tree sat the Grandmaster, his white beard flowing down to his knees, his heavy broadsword propped against the trunk. He was using something that looked like a card to work on his helmet, adjusting a bolt that had come loose there. At the mention of his name, he looked upwards where the branches rustled in the evening breeze. And said, to no one in particular “I need the Sapphire Stone that will unleash the Century of Centuries. I must have it. My precious. Else I cannot….concentrate.” Hearing him speak, the Easily Offended Squire, who had been sitting at his feet, asked with hope “But have I made it large?”

The Doctor King shook his head sadly and breathed heavy.

The Wall said “At least you feel grief. It’s a start on the path of redemption.”

The Doctor King breathed heavily once again, this time with greater force. Holding up his shield and twirling it around like a fan, he smiled towards a gap in the foliage and said ” Kone main hawa naheen lagti?”

The Wall looked at him, befuddlement writ large on his face.

The Doctor King smiled seductively: “Orient PSPO. Kone kone main zyada hawa”

The Wall wept.

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84 thoughts on “The Wall

  1. Superb and too funny!!!Loved every bit of it. The sentence “Whenever anyone insults me, I tell myself—-every breath I take is worth golden galleons. No use wasting them for free.” …..couldn’t be better.

  2. Superb 🙂 – “The Little Bird, I think we do not seriously expect anything from him unless he puts on the Yellow Armour of the Super Lions and does short jousts” … lol .

  3. I’m afraid certain Mr. Jhunjhunwala will start a fast unto death demanding that The Prince of Bahruch, the archer with a deceptively disguised faster one, should be included in the narrative.

  4. Great piece. The universe of cricket should conspire and help Sachin get his 100th 100 so that he can think about the path of retirement.

  5. Have been reading the Song of Ice and Fire books since there is no cricket worth watching on TV. This is an absolutely hilarious ‘tribute’ to our warriors. Hope to see more from you on the shorter jousts and inevitable humiliation which will soon follow.

  6. Didn’t you find it difficult to imagine/visualize all the text? That’s probably the point behind epic fantasy novels, but reading after watching on celluloid somehow adds to the experience. Your thoughts?

  7. Vijay, After my bad experience with Harry Potter (I saw the movies, the first three, and was so underwhelmed that I never read the books, till many years later I forced myself to read one and then became addicted to the series), I have vowed to “read first and then watch” any series I am serious about. I know that the HBO mini-series is a much more faithful adaptation of the source than HP movies are but still….

  8. @greatbong: Superb Article with nicley articulated roles for everybody in team…I think there is a small typo…Instead of Sapphire Store shouldn’t it be Sapphire Stone

  9. Yeah, but HP is a known case of movie being less awesome than book [hearsay]. But whenever any celluloid version lives up to its book, it’s a huge dilemma. Tried your ‘read before watching’ formula with LOTR, couldn’t go beyond 200 pages. Anyway, GoT tv series is a safe bet. Straight from the horse’s mouth – GRRM at Google HQ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTTW8M_etko

  10. @greatbong: Not related to the article but it’s a humble request..Why don’t you write one article about famous villain sidekicks of 90’s i.e. Tej Sapru, Mahesh Anand, Dhan Dhanoa etc…It seems they are completely out of current generation’s memory

  11. @greatbong
    You should definitely watch the series. The cast selection has been very good (Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is especially memorable) and the series viewer won’t miss a lot leaving out the book. G.R.R. Martin being co-executive producer, ensured it stayed true to the spirit of the book – Sopranos meets Middle Earth, to borrow from David Benioff.

  12. (Per wikipedia) Game of Thrones is an American medieval fantasy television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss which premiered on HBO from April 17, 2011 to June 19, 2011. The series is based on the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novels by author George R. R. Martin.

  13. lol.. nice. I like these fictional-reality articles (Rahul Gandhi’s article was another gem) Pls keep them coming!

  14. “He pointed to the Ser Nath Berserker, climbing a tree trying to frighten birds in the branches, a man who it was whispered had half his brain eaten away by crows when he had been born.” … Can’t stop laughing!

  15. Opinions on the book? This is a fantasy series of a lifetime and must be read…irrespective of the quality of the tv adaptation. I consider myself a die hard fan…to the extent that I didn’t feel like reading your article above for fear that it might satirize the plot or characters. Hope you enjoy the series.

  16. Good to see you read A Song of Ice and Fire , Dada…been a fan of the series ever since it came out in 1996..do make sure to read the Hedge Knight , the Sworn Sword and the Mystery Knight , related to this series.

  17. Sorry if I am killing this for everyone here, but can someone tell me who’s who.
    Wall – Dravid, Grandmaster-SRT, Doctor King- Dhoni, Zak- Zaheer is all I got. The paunchy guy might be Yuvi.

  18. Tears rolled down of my cheeks as I read this. GB, my GB, the great GB has evolved so much. From those 2005 days to times like these when he can churn out golden prose like this, reading which is as delectable as savoring tenderloin medallions while a sexy girl across the table surreptitiously brushes her hand up your thigh under the table. Lovely piece by India’s erstwhile greatest blogger, and now one of the best authors to have come out of India.

  19. Superb post…
    “Every year, your shoulder becomes as frozen as ice, which many call rather fortuitous since it always happens the Great Golden League.”
    missing an ‘after’??

  20. “after he joined the Cursed Banner in the Great Golden League” – ROTFL
    Shared it on FB, Superb!!! Arnab you should develop this thread into a novel!

  21. Hearing him speak, the Easily Offended Squire, who had been sitting at his feet, asked with hope “But have I made it large?”

    Priceless!!!

  22. @Vanessa: Marauding Knight is Sehwag, Little Bird is Raina, Ever Angry Lord is Gambhir, Ser Nath Berserker is Sreesanth, Victorious Viscount is Laxman and Easily Offended Squire is Harbhajan Singh and yes Prince with a Paunch is Yuvraj Singh 🙂

    @Anon: Please read Vanessa’s comment and my reply above..you will get complete list 🙂

  23. awesome! Godly! This is the greatbong we have been missing since the days of MIHYAP.

    I was practically ROFLMAO after I read about Ser Nath Berserker and the Orient PSPO

  24. I wish wall gets timing of retirement right. Sachin missed great opportunity to retire on WC high. He had the choice to go like Gavaskar or Kapil. The 2nd wind must be used to get the retirement timing right like say Ganguly or Kumble not expect it to give you a prolonged career.
    In my opinion 100th century is not that important when history judges your legacy. While Walsh was holding the record, Akram and Ambrose retired peacefully with 400 odd wickets. History doesnt treat them any less. Even if Murli had ended on 792 or 799, he still wud have been the same.

  25. Arnab Sir,

    After the ‘Rahul-baba-as-a-Prince’ piece, this is one more awesome piece of writing.
    Reading it I was actually able to visualise the conversations and I could see ‘WALL’ in his Roman fighting costume. EPIC!

    Reiterating VIVEK’s and TEJAS’s post – please please do an article on the sidekicks (Tej Sapru, Dan Dhanoa, Mahesh Anand, Harish Patel, Ishrat Ali, Sharat Saxena and many other greats)

  26. Hi; this was one the fabulous piece of literature i ever read; u got talent galore….this writing is as gud as Indian batsmen proving their worth on England seeming pitches hence earning respect…this is at par with that feat achieved by few of the Indian batsmen…now request you to un block me on twitter so taht can follow you back…my twitter handle is nierav…mite have had few arguments with you on cricketing front and commentating front but those comments were just my opinions and nothing personal towards you hope you would appreciate that and un-block me…wud b looking forward to re-tweet more of your tweets…c ya soon on twitter…

  27. Even though I have been reading your blog for over 2 years now, this is the first time I have felt compelled to write a comment. Fabulous article. Simply the best I have come across.

  28. Amazing & Hilarious stuff at the same time. GRRM himself would be proud.The “have i made it large” line just killed me. This should be developed into some sort of a weekly comic strip.

  29. Nicely written, as always. This may be a case of sour grapes but frankly, an India-Australia, India-SA or India-Pakistan (when they had some good players) is much more watchable than India-*. Now with this loss, India-England suddenly becomes a marquee “revenge” series. Don’t you think that, in terms of generating interest for this rivalry, the 4-0 drubbing was a masterstroke? I am already looking forward to England visiting India for Tests next year. As far as India team is concerned, everyone is waiting for winning in Australia later this year.

  30. That’s an unputdownable series you’ve started GB; although the last one (dance with dragons) couldn’t meet my expectations

    PS You should try writing epic fantasy after you’re done with horror

  31. I agree with some of us who have suggested to take this thread forward and build on this as it has genuine promise to be a best-seller.

    And yes, fairly amused at the choice of the protagonist. The Rahuls – be it the real one’s like Gandhi/Mahajan or the reel one’s have always drawn your flak.

  32. What a fine post sir!ever since i stumbled upon your blog searching for some content on the Kanti Shah epic ‘Gunda’ a few days back,i must admit i am hooked.My favourite blogger who stopped posting frequently and ever sparsely for satire and sarcasm and i was desperate>but i must i have found a gem here.Keep up the good work sir!

    PS- I am a north Indian with a lots of Bengali (Sorry Paschim Bonga) friends.I guess thats why i have began to love your blog format so much!!

  33. Funny, amusing, well thought. When venerable writers such as Prem Panicker and Harsha Bhogle tweet/write about any blog post, it certainly has something going for it.

    However for the life of me I could not fathom if there are two greatbongs. One who maintains this blog and over a period of time has become a very fine writer. I have liked your serious posts a lot more for they bring forth an articulate writer who tries to present the alternate view with as much elan.

    But then there is another one who uses the same moniker on twitter but treats 140 character limits very irreverently, posting arbitrary NSFW links or some absolute randomness. Sometimes I wonder when will Mid Day publish a big “thank you” to you for attracting so many eye balls to their website. :-P. Is it really some case of “Karthik calling Karthik”? 😛

  34. Nice post! Thank God you are back to cricket (and hopefully movie reviews) , your last post about Anna was out of your league frankly.

  35. awesome stuff…this is exactly how the indian team has performed. it’s a shame. but the grand committee should be a wee bit lenient next time. about two – three months worth of rest should do the trick. this was the team that won the world cup. they didn’t have anything to prove either to themselves or to the world. now, thanks to a few bad decisions, the whole world doubts that they deserved it.

  36. I went on to read the book just to understand this post better… completed it yesterday! Brilliant work, the book and this post! 🙂

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