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Book Review: The Werewolf by C.A. Kincaid

There have been many stories on werewolf ever since the literature has been spawned. Well, most of the stories are either placed in Europe or Africa or some other country, it is hardly seen that a story of werewolf originating from the land of India or then Hindu Kush.

Well, The Werewolf by C.A. Kincaid is from the British Colony India. The story is of Upper Sind region, of a place called Sehwan. Sehwan is a beautiful place in winter, but rest of the year hot winds roar and drive the mercury up to 120 Fahrenheit even in the shade, and there is no relief at night. Above it, the sandflies and mosquitoes buzz all night and moonbeams, like powerful headlight, pour down on sleeper’s face making slumbering exceedingly difficult.

A train passing through the hot landscapes of Upper Sind region reaches at Sehwan station. The last coach of the train is a beautiful saloon coach with all amenities, but still it is not a cool place, where people can sleep or rest in coolness. The route to Karachi or seacoast passes through Sehwan over the Indus River. In the saloon coach are traveling the Traffic Superintendent Bollinger and Major Sinclair.

At the station, the station master, Isarmal, who has known Bollinger in earlier days, comes running up to pay his respect. While they both talk about old days and railways, Major strolls on the platform. Isarmal informs that the Indus River water has breached the railway line ahead. Due to this, the train will chug out next day. This angers Bollinger. Upon knowing that they have to spend the night in hot inferno, Major shouts at Bollinger angrily. But nothing can be done, except waiting. Soon, a Khansama, powerfully built Punjabi Muslim, comes to Major’s rescue. He offers Major to come to his rest house, situated at the hill top. He promises to give him food and wine and a bed in the lawn till 6 a.m. Major finds the offer captivating. Khansama has strange aura around him, he is more like a canine animal, and his eyes are yellow. He requests Bollinger to join with Major, but the former refuses bluntly.

Major and his butler move up to the rest house. Soon, Isarmal begins narrating the story of the Khansama to Bollinger. According to Isarmal, Khansama is a reincarnation of Anu Kasai – a famous butcher in Sehwan. When he went broke, he began selling the meat of humans. He would kill strangers. One day he chose a wrong person to kill and soon after he was arrested and walled up in the battlements of the fort that stood on the hill. Isarmal further states that Khansama after midnight turns into a dreadful hyena and hunts down the humans. People of Sehwan are aware, thus they always sleep indoors no matter how hot it is.

That fort is now Khansama’s rest house. Bollinger does not believe his story, but the way Khansama looked and smelled at him and Major, Bollinger suspects that something untoward is imminent. Also, it has happened that two British officers once went to the rest house and they never returned. Bollinger decides to go there to check the veracity of the story as well as to save Major. But he does not have a gun, so he takes up a long knife with him. In the evening, he goes there alone. He joins Major at dinner. Khansama gladdens to see have Bollinger come to his trap. After dinner, Bollinger refuses to sleep outside and also forces Major to sleep inside with open windows. The night is beaming with moonlight. Next, Bollinger insists on playing cards till the night cools down. Bollinger does not narrate the tale of Isarmal to Major Sinclair. Bollinger deliberately keep losing the game to keep Major interested and awake for as long as possible. They bolt the door from inside. Around midnight, there is a soft knocking at the door. Khansama appears from the netted window and says that he has brought lemonade drink for them. Before Major can open the full door, Bollinger jumps and assaults the claw and the snout of the man just turned hyena. They close the door. Injured werewolf returns in the darkness. Soon they go out to find a servant boy who came with Major. They find the boy dead on the back stairs of the fort. His neck had a big hole. As they are planning to return to the room, the howling werewolf chases them. They manage to get inside the room. Major goes for sleeping on the cot and Bollinger sits up for vigilance. After sometime, post a short nap, Bollinger wakes up to find baleful animal in the beaming moonlight and it comes to the window for attack. This time Bollinger uses the knife point to send it back. After that both don’t sleep and wait for the morning. Around 5 a.m. Isarmal with some men come to their rescue. Khansama and hyena are nowhere in the vicinity.

Bollinger and Major board the train and leave for Karachi. However, villagers go to Khansama’s house and find him dying of a severe illness, also he has a deep wound on his throat. People find the belongings of two subordinates in his house and confirm that he killed them. Khansama dies and people wall him up in the battlements of the same fort where Anu Kasai was walled up.

In Karachi, the police commissioner suspects Bollinger of killing Khansama with the help of villagers. When Bollinger and Major narrate the story, the commissioner refuses to take their story. Well, soon high-rank officers suppress the case, since they don’t want any stains on their career.


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