Pamu - Character Intro

           “Eh, machan!  Eyes on the axe, not on the girl, or you’re going to chop your hand off, and what girl will want you then?”  Pamu cuffed Raj’s shoulder lightly, and the slim young man shamefacedly turned back to the crew boss.

           “How can I help it, Pamu-baba, when we are surrounded by such delightful flowers? The gods themselves would stop working to appreciate their beauty, no?  And for a girl like that, I’d gladly give up a hand…just as long as I got to hold onto my most important member!”

           Suresh quickly said, “You’re the only one holding onto that at night, and everyone knows it!” and the crew dissolved into raucous laughter.

           “All right, all right – enough fun and games, eh!”  Pamu had a hard time keeping his voice strict, because the truth was, all he wanted was to crack open a bottle of arrack, or even just some fermented palm toddy, and enjoy the company of his men.  That’s the way it had been back in Anaradhapura, when he was just the assistant crew boss of the old king’s laborers. There, Pamu had expected to pretty much keep doing the exact same job he’d done the year before, in pretty much the exact same way – everyone knew what they were supposed to do, anyway, and there was plenty of time for laughter and jokes.  

           But then Kasyapa and the general had taken the throne, and in the fighting, the old crew leader had been killed.  He’d had a mouth on him, that one, and had opened it at the wrong moment.

           So Pamu given a promotion he’d never wanted.  He was no longer one of the boys – he was their boss, with the power to hire and fire them, to praise and to punish.  

           That had been bad enough, but everyone had heard the story of what came after.  

           Kasyapa had demanded of his father, “Show me your greatest treasures!”  

           The old king had said he would, had led Kasyapa miles across the country.  Only to bring him, in the end, not to some secret treasure cache, but to the great reservoir.  “This – this is my greatest treasure, my son, the true wealth of our people.”

           Kasyapa had practically frothed with rage, the guards had surreptitiously reported back.  He’d had his own father sealed into a wall of the reservoir, to die of starvation and thirst behind thick layers of brick and mortar.  Parricide and regicide, sure to bring the doom of all the gods down upon him, but Kasyapa didn’t seem to care.

           If King Kasyapa would do that to his own father, what would he do to the crew boss who failed him?   “Get to work, boys, get to work! The king wants his private swimming pool dug out before month’s end.  These flowers are not for your plucking, and if you cast your eye on them where the king can see it, he might just have your eye plucked out instead!”


Megan McAvoy