Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Radhika's place

Radhika and Rohini became the best of buddies in the 10th standard. They were both uncertain, insecure, a little crack and utterly devoid of common sense. In any case Radhika was a wee bit more mature perhaps owing to the fact that she came from a family of an eminent freedom fighter and a very respected politician who was unfortunately consumed by Tuberculosis. Not that it made any sense but thats the way Rohini liked to think. Radhika would often talk about her family and ancestral home where she lived. And Rohini would listen in awe. She had a strange inclination towards things that belonged to the past and Radhika had a treasure back at home.

After Pre Boards Radhe (as she was called) invited Rohu over for lunch. Nothing could be more delightful. But Rohini's mother was very skeptical. The purohits kept reiterating the same thing. She had a "pret badha yog" and this could itself turn out to be fatal. It had already happened in the family once, or at least everybody said so. Radhika had often mentioned a strange presence in her house. It was more than a hundred years old now and had witnessed a lot. Rohini did not really believe in para-normal. Although she had herself seen too much not to, but then it never really convinced her. She tried to think logically and was almost always successful in finding a valid reasons. This time she was determined to visit Radhika. At any cost. She fought, cried, fought, cried, fought, cried until mother surrendered.

The first look at the house took her breath away. It was gigantic and hauntingly majestic. Though the century had marred the beauty of the building, but there still was an odd charm about it. In a trance, she walked towards the gate, where Radhika was standing with a welcoming warm smile.

Together they went inside. The architecture was typically twentieth century Indian. With rooms built around a central courtyard. Rohini, who was completely hypnotized by now was introduced to the amiable family. Radhika showed her around the house. Rohini then inquired about the room that Radhika had told her about. Her Great grandparent's room and the legendary library. Radhika hesitated. She said she wasnt really comfortable going there, but then she lightened up and agreed. She'll have to take the key to those rooms from the study. After almost half and hour of searching they were found in her father's desk drawer. While Rohini was visibly excited, something troubled Radhika. That drawer was almost invariably always locked. She wondered why her father had left it open.

The library and the room were adjacent to each other. They decided to visit the library first. The doors were intimidatingly huge and at the same time they strangely beckoned one towards them. The rooms was laden with dust. Not typically with spider webs and stuff but still there was a strange eerie feeling. It soon disappeared when she came to realize the treasure that lay in front of her. Books and letters, all of them almost a century old. There was a letter from the English Queen, one from Sardar Patel, some bits of correspondence with Mountbatten and a marvelous collection of books. Rohini was driven mad with joy. Even Radhika was delighted. She took out a very old book and handed it over to Rohini. "This was one of bade dada's favourites.' It was Antony and Cleopatra. "No wonder", Rohini thought. "Its a masterpiece". As she carefully sifted through the pages, she found a picture.
"Is this him?" she asked Radhika.
Radhika was visibly surprised but nodded. "yes, its him. Where did you find it? In the book? Thats funny.I have seen it so many times, how did this skip me. I am seeing it for the first time."

Suddenly, there heard a door open and then a man coughed. Clearly. Both of them heard it.
They stared at each other almost frozen . Rohini looked questioningly at her friend.
Then Radhika tried appearing calm and said, 'It must be Tauji, he must have come to visit Dadi'. But it was more like she was trying to convince herself.

"Lets go" she said after a little while and they left in silence. When they came out, the air was different. Warmer, calmer and easy. Rohini felt a strange throbbing in her temples. There was a slight tremor in her right hand but she ignored it in the excitement. "Can we just once see Bade Dada's room? Bas ek baar?"
Radhika looked at her in surprise. "Moron" she thought. But then she was equally curious. She thought for a moment and then hesitantly agreed.

When the door was opened, Rohini felt as if she had entered another age. It was as if the clock had reversed itself back into a bygone era. She now belonged to a different world and there was an overwhelming sense of Deja vu. The tremor in her hand and the throbbing in her head intensified. For a few moments she was completely oblivious to Radhika's presence in the room.
Her voice jolted her back. "I've come here after years you know.This is Bade dada" she said pointing at his portrait. Rohini felt her breath had been snatched away and her heart had been shut. He was there in the portrait but alive. He looked straight into her with a strange light in his eyes and a ghost of a smile on his lips. She shut her eyes and turned away.

Suddenly she heard Radhika calling her name in what sounded like absolute horror.
"Whats this?!"she said pointing shakily on the floor.

All over the floor which must be having fifty layers of dust, were footprints. Wet footprints. They began from nowhere and ended nowhere.

Nobody could have entered before them. They had the keys and there was only one to each room. By this time Radhika was crying and Rohini felt she was sinking into cold waters. She was barely able to breath. She did not remember how and when Radhika dragged her out of the room. Radhika's father was furious. The desk drawer was locked as it had always been. It had not been touched since years. The sight of the keys made every face sickly and pale.
Tauji had not come, and when they had heard the man while in the library, there was no man in the house.
Bade dada had not died of consumption. He was poisoned by his servant.

22 comments:

  1. OOohh .. this one's real spooky ... did this actually happen ???

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    1. :) except a few minor modifications, yes it did...

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    2. few minor modifications??? :D lol .. ders like heaps of themm :P... hehehehe but its all together veryy well put up

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  2. OMG.. what a story... very gripping.
    Very well written Rohini.

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  3. Reminded me of 'Dada's House' :)

    Riveting.

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  4. OMG..i was shivering while reading your post..what a fantastic story..very very well written Rohini!!

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  5. Thanks a lot! :) thats the best reward.. :)

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  6. The 'Beyond the Grave' community did not particularly appreciate my post. The foul mood caused them to burn my lappy. You shud've seen the fumes! :D so i'l have to wait til i get a replacement. Have read al ur posts since... And loved them.. Bas commenting thru the phone is a nuisance . :D keep writing! Keep scaring!

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  7. or else.. You'll have to appreciate my fertile imagination. :)

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  8. Why do you think I said "I'll buy that"? :P

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  9. Hello...still at 'Radhika's place'?

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  10. Really gripping story, Rohini. You have some serious potential there!

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  11. Thanks a lot Sumitra! Thats a very generous compliment. :)

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  12. very interesting!..i want to visit this place...

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  13. omggg i ws never awar eof thisss???? itss like m reading one of our stury books at schooolll... y did u neva mention about your blogg???? this is sooo beautifull.. m dead nostalgiccc <3

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  14. lol you made it into a suspense thrillerr....

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