The Last Story

A short Story by  Vasu Gangapalli

Vijay packed his bag and left to a quiet hill station by train. He wanted to spend some time with nature, which was his love. Besides, writing was his hobby since his childhood days. He needed peace and silence to concentrate and think. The pressure at work over last two months was too much. He definitely needed a break. He applied for two weeks leave.

He was reading the book ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ by Preeti Shenoi during the journey. He loved her other book ‘Life is what you make it!’

Finally, It was late in the afternoon when he reached the hotel on the top of the hill station which was surrounded by trees and mountains. The house keeping person, Ram Lal took his luggage to his room and handed him the key.

‘There is one thing I need to tell you.’ Ram Lal said, ‘Do not open the window. If you do, then don’t keep it open after the sunset.’ He said before taking leave.

‘May I know, why?’ Vijay asked. However, he got no response.

The room was nice and spacious. It had a single cot bed, ceiling fan, a writing table with a lamp near the closed window, and an attached bathroom.

Vijay pulled aside the curtains, and opened the window. It seemed as if it wasn’t opened for long time. He was amazed at the spectacular view outside the window. There were pine and oak trees everywhere. There was one huge oak tree among these trees at some distance from the hotel. The sun was about to set, and it turned the sky into orange from blue. The evening breeze was blowing into the room through the window.

Vijay stood there mesmerized at the amazing beauty of nature before him.

Later, he lied down on the bed, closed his eyes to have a short nap. A loud thunder storm with lightening nearby woke him up with a sudden jerk. It had become dark and was pouring down heavily outside. He had a glance at his wrist watch; it showed 12.30 am.

He got up to close the window. His eyes caught the sight of the huge oak tree. Something was swinging to and fro under its branches….He could clearly see that it was a body of a woman hanging from the tree. A rope oscillated in the strong breeze; he couldn’t see her face, as her hair was hanging loose, and it covered her face.

Vijay picked the torch and umbrella from his bag. He ran downstairs towards the huge oak tree. The path through the trees became slippery due to the rain. The huge oak tree stood on the grass land along with other trees. The strong wind blew his umbrella far away from him. Then it just vanished from his sight. He got completely drenched in the rain. He switched the torch on and flashed it on the tree. He was shocked as he saw no body swinging from its branches.

‘How could it be possible?’ He asked himself, scratching his head in disbelief.

‘Maybe, it was my silly imagination.’ He thought and went back to his room.

When he saw through his window once again, he saw the body of the woman swinging from the branch of that tree. This time, she lifted her face up and gave a wicked grin. It almost froze him in fear. Her sightless eyes sent a chill down his spine. Her hands and feet were limp. The body was turning round and round…

He gathered enough courage to close the window and pull the curtains down. He was very much shocked and scared after what he had witnessed just now. He had written ghost stories, but had never ever seen a ghost in his life before. He crawled onto the bed and pulled up the blanket. He started shivering in cold. He tried to sleep closing his eyes.

However, the image of the woman kept playing in his mind.

Something started pulling his blanket. He held it tight with his fingers and pulled it back. Then something started tickling his feet. He woke up with a jerk and found her standing near the cot. She was smiling wickedly, and he could see her white teeth clearly even in the dark. He gave out a cry as she scratched his feet with her long nails.

Suddenly, he woke up with a jerk. He was sweating in this cold weather.

‘Thank God, it’s just a dream’ He said to himself, getting up from the bed. It was dark outside. He glanced at his wrist watch. It showed 12.30 am. He looked outside the window and saw nothing unusual.

He sat down on the chair, switched on the table lamp on the table, and started writing the story which he just had in his dream. He had a smile of satisfaction after he completed it. He was so engrossed in writing that he didn’t notice that it had started raining outside. A sudden lightening made him to get up from his chair and look outside. Now, he saw the body of the woman swinging from the branch of the huge oak tree.

‘This can’t be happening…it’s just my silly imagination…’ He thought.

He wanted to confirm that it was just his imagination. So, he walked towards the oak tree with umbrella and torch in his hands….

Next morning, when Ram Lal knocked on his door, he was surprised to see it open. He came in calling his name, but didn’t find him inside.

‘I told him not to open the window…I told him…’ Ram Lal murmured, closing the window.

He took the papers on which he had scribbled something. Ram Lal didn’t go to school during his childhood days, so he didn’t know how to read and write.

He came downstairs and handed those sheets of papers to the receptionist, Rajeev.

‘I think he wrote a long suicide note and vanished like others…I told him not to open the window…I told him…’ Ram Lal said, and then went away visibly disturbed by what he had seen.

Rajeev went through the story which the writer had written. It had no title. He took a pencil and wrote on the top of the first sheet.

The Last Story by Anonymous.

 

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The Body Shop 2 : ‘Soul Talk’

A Short Story by Vasu Gangapalli

It was one cold December evening, Ashok entered the Café Coffee Day to have a hot cup of Cappuccino as he didn’t smoke or drink, and this was one way to fight chilly winter to some extent. He found all the tables completely occupied, except one in which one woman in her thirties was seated reading some book. As he neared that table, he had a closer look at the book which she was reading; it was ‘Soul Talk’ by Rachna. Rachna was his favorite writer and he had read most of her books including this one.  Rachna never gave any interviews nor shared any of her snaps anywhere. Hence, he didn’t know how she looked like?

‘May I sit here? All the other tables are occupied..’ He said, placing his fingers on the chair.

‘Sure..’ The woman whose face was hidden behind the book replied, without bringing down the book and even having a glance at him.

‘Thank You…’,  Ashok said, pulling the chair and occupying it, ‘I have read this book  twice..’ He added.

‘Nice to know that!’ She said, bringing the book down and keeping it on the table, she wasn’t as attractive as he had anticipated, but had a wonderful smile and beautiful eyes. She lifted her hot cup of Cappuccino and had a sip.

‘What would you like to have, sir?’ asked the waiter coming towards their table.

‘One hot cup of Cappuccino, please!’  Ashok said, looking at him.

‘Sure, sir!’ He said, going to the next table.

‘So what did you like about this book which made you to read it twice?’ She asked, ‘By the way, I’m Ritu..’ She added, retaining that wonderful smile on her face.

‘Oh, I’m Ashok…’ He said, smiling back, ‘Well, I liked the story so much…‘Well, to quote from the book ‘Sometimes, not so attractive body could hide the most wonderful and beautiful soul!’’ He added.

‘But then most of the men prefer woman with beautiful bodies than souls, isn’t it?’ She asked, ‘Then how would a beautiful soul really matter to someone? If given a choice between say that beautiful woman in that table and me, whom would you prefer?’

‘True! I may prefer her!’ He said, having a glance at that woman in the other table, ‘But such beauty doesn’t last forever, isn’t it?’ He asked, turning and looking at her.

‘Come on, even we don’t live forever, do we?’ She asked, turning the pages of the book, ‘So what’s the point in choosing an average looking person like me?’

‘Maybe, you’ve the point! Is that the autograph of Rachna? May I have a look…?’ He asked, trying to have a closer look. Ritu pushed the book towards him and he felt the words written by his favorite writer with his fingers.

‘From your curiosity, I assume that you haven’t met her in person, right?’ Ritu said, having another sip of coffee.

‘No, I wasn’t so lucky…’ Ashok replied. Meantime, his cup of hot Cappuccino arrived to the table. He picked it up and had a sip.
She realized that it was time for her to leave and she stood up.

‘I’ll have to leave now…it was really nice speaking to you, Ashok.’ She said, smiling at him.

‘What about the book?’ He asked.

‘You can keep it! I have her autograph in another book….good night!’  She said, leaving.

‘Good night! Thank You!’ Ashok said, flipping through the pages of the book and he found a Café Coffee Day tissue paper on which something was written and to his surprise the handwriting matched with the author’s writing inside the book. The realization soon dawned upon him that Ritu was his favourite writer who wrote with the pen name Rachna. He rushed outside the Café Coffee Day looking for her, but she was gone!

Sometime later, in her apartment, Ritu was feed up of men rejecting her every time she thought she had found her man. She didn’t want someone to marry her seeing that she was a famous writer. Hence, she distanced her writer self with a pen name. She picked up The Body Shop visiting card which someone close to her had given and dialed the number. Forty-five minutes later, a black car arrived before her apartment and the driver tied a blind fold covering her eyes. The car reached the destination after a long drive and she was taken down in an elevator.  Someone removed the blind fold and she closed her eyes unable to take so much brightness at once.

‘Welcome to the body shop!’ The stranger dressed like a surgeon cried with a warm smile on his face. He took her to a system and ran an application. He asked her to make a note of the body in which she liked to get her soul transferred in. Ritu went through the collection of bodies and chose the one she liked most. He came back, he saw her selection.

‘Good choice! That body belonged to the soul of a famous model,’ He said, handing her some papers to sign and then he said, ‘Please follow me!’

‘Would I get her voice as well?’ Ritu asked curiously.

‘Nope! You’ll retain your voice..Just her body would be yours…nothing more than that! You’ll have your feelings, memories; almost everything that belongs to your soul would be only yours!’ He added, taking her to a place which resembled a huge operation theatre. He strapped her to a chair, smiled at her and said;

‘We are going to start the process now. Are you ready?’

‘Y….es…’ She said.

‘Just relax yourself. Everything would be fine!’ He said smiling, holding her hand and pressing it gently and she smiled back at him nervously.
Few hours later, she was taken in front of a huge mirror and she had a glance at her new look and was pleasantly surprised. She looked stunningly beautiful, ‘Am I dreaming this?’ She asked, smiling at her reflection in the mirror.

‘No, you’re not!’

‘Alright, may I see my old body once, please?’ She asked.

‘Sure, follow me!’ He said and led her to a huge hall which had many bodies kept inside glass cases. Finally, he stopped at the glass case which had her body. She kept starring at her body and she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her hand touched the glass case and a drop of tear rolled down from the corner of her eye…

‘What would happen to my body?’ She asked, wiping her tear drop.

‘If someone comes and chooses your body then they will have it!’ He replied.

‘I may come back for my body, so could you please hold it back for sometime?’ Ritu asked.

‘Well, at the most I can hold it back for two weeks and not more than that!’ He replied.

‘Fine. Please do it!’ She said, having another glance at her body, before taking leave.

***

Next morning, while she was passing by some street someone shouted at her, when she turned, she found a young man running towards her.

‘Alina, where have been? You’ve missed three to four modeling assignments so far…’ He said, trying to catch his breath.

Ritu just smiled at him and replied, ‘I had been on a personal vacation!’

Soon, Ritu started doing the ramp walk wearing new designer clothes. Initially, everything seemed interesting and something different. But soon monotony set in and she started hating her new life as a model. Days went by, then one evening, she saw Ashok enter the Café Coffee Day, while she was having her coffee. He walked up to her and said;

‘I think I have seen you some where..’

‘Maybe, on some cover of magazine as I’m a model,’ She replied.

‘Oh, yes,’ He said, ‘May I sit here?’ He asked. ‘Sure.’ She replied.

‘Your voice reminds me someone…’ Ashok said, taking the seat opposite to her.

‘Really?’ She asked, smiling at him.

‘Yes… I met her sometime back…but I don’t recall whom I met and where?’ He said.

They chatted with each other for sometime. When they were about to part, she asked him;

‘What are you doing this evening? Would you like to go on a date with me?’

‘No, I am looking for someone with whom I have fallen in love with..’ He replied.

‘Is she more beautiful than me?’ She asked.

‘Her soul is most beautiful!’ He replied smiling, ‘Now, I remember…it was my favorite writer Rachna whom I had met sometime back on this same table. You know what? I had met her again few days back and she pretended as if she didn’t remember me at all…’ He added sadly.

‘What? You met her again? Are you sure about it?’ She asked quite shocked.

‘Yes, I’m sure about it…’ He replied.

‘I’ll have to leave now! See you later, bye!’ She said, rushing out.

Sometime later, she reached the body shop. Then:-

‘I told you to hold back my body!’ She cried, rather annoyed at the stranger.

‘Well, I did! I only gave it away after two weeks when an old lady insisted only for your body…I had no choice..’ He said.

‘An old lady?’ She asked, surprised.

‘Yes, follow me…’ He said, leading her to the huge hall, where the body of the old lady was kept in a glass case. Ritu kept staring at the body for a few seconds and then said, ‘I need this body! And her address!’

‘Are you sure?’ he asked.

‘Yes, I’m!’ She replied.

Some hours later, her soul was transferred into the old lady’s body. And he gave her the old lady’s residential address.

‘Just give me call when your body is ready and I shall put your soul back to where it belongs!’ He said, smiling at her, ‘and I hope it happens pretty soon.’

‘Thank You,’ She said, leaving.

It had been tiresome to Rosy who had aged gracefully. She felt her ever youthful soul was now trapped in an old body, which was weak. She wished that she could lead her last days being active like she was before. It was then she came across the body shop and contacted them. Soon, she was there and she ended up selecting Ritu’s body. Somehow, this particular body attracted her more than other bodies.

‘You could’ve far beautiful body than that one,’ The stranger had said.

‘No! I have made my choice!’ She said sternly.

Now, Ritu in the old body reached the given address and rang the door bell. After sometime, her physical self came and opened the door. Both of them were shocked, and kept starring at each other in disbelief for a couple of minutes. There was pin drop silence.

‘Please do come in!’ Rosy said, finally smiling at her old self.

They sat in the living room and Rosy asked her maid to get some coffee and biscuits for them.

‘Now, tell me about yourself? Who are you?’ Rosy asked Ritu.

Ritu told her the complete story. The maid came with a tray filled with two hot cups of coffee and a plat filled with assorted biscuits. She kept the tray on the small table before the two ladies, and went inside.

‘Wow! So you’re the famous writer Rachna…I am really honored that I’m dwelling in your body and wise versa. I have been your fan and read most of your books…’ Rosy said, pointing her finger at the bookshelf in which were her books.

‘Nice to know that..’ Ritu said, picking her cup of coffee, dipping a biscuit in the coffee and having a bite.

‘It would be my pleasure if you agree to stay with me in my last days. You can have back your body once my time comes to leave this materialistic world!’ Rosy said.

‘Thank You for the invitation. I would stay with you…’ Ritu said, ‘Now, I would like to hear your life story..’

‘It would be my honor to narrate my simple story to a great writer like you. I always had a wish though this would be my last wish..’ Rosy said.

‘What is it? Please tell me!’ Ritu asked, coming forward.

‘I wish someone could write my story for others to read about me and to remember me while I’m no more!’ Rosy said.

‘Well, if your story sounds interesting enough then I promise that I would write it for my next book.’ Ritu said.

‘Oh, God, I just can’t believe what I just heard. It is like a dream come true as I am confident that you would like my story when I conclude my narration.’ Rosy said, coming forward in excitement.

They both retired to the bedroom which had a fire chimney. They sat before the warm burning fire, as Rosy started to narrate her life story to Ritu. Who got so much interested in the story that she started taking notes in a note pad. It was just before dawn when Rosy concluded her wonderful life story and Ritu had tears in her eyes.

‘I’m sorry for making you cry, my dear.’ Rosy said, holding Ritu’s hand and pressing it gently.

‘It’s alright!’ Ritu said, wiping her tears away.

‘Now, tell me, did you like my story? Would you write it?’ Rosy asked, with excitement in her eyes.

‘Yes, I liked it a lot! I would start writing it today itself…’ Ritu replied.

‘Thank you very much, my dear. I might not be around to read it though. Anyways, I wish you all the very best!’ She said, resting back on her easy chair ‘Now let us get some sleep…’

‘Alright, good night.’ She said.

‘May I know, what would be the title of this book?’ Rosy asked, yawning in sleep.

‘Soul Talk!’ Ritu said, looking at her peaceful body in sound sleep.

She stood up slowly, walked towards her body, bent down and kissed on her forehead, and whispered, ‘I’m glad that you borrowed my body and I got to meet a beautiful soul like you!’

 

Under The Banyan Tree

A Short Story by Vasu Gangapalli

The fish was swimming blissfully unaware of the threat to its life lurking in the corner. A hungry eagle which had flown towards the river had spotted the fish from quite far away. In one swoop, its claws trapped the fish. It flew away into the blue sky, while the fish struggled to breathe its last few breathes, before it could become food to its hungry predator.

***

A small village in some part of Africa was attacked repeatedly by a ferocious tiger, which had turned into a man-eater as it grew old and helpless to attack animals in the forest. The village had already lost many of its folks, which also included Akoni’s father, who had fought bravely before losing his battle to the tiger.

Everyone were afraid to come out of their huts after dark, it was when they heard the growl of the tiger that roamed the streets of that village looking for its prey. Akoni wanted to avenge his father’s death by killing the tiger. He started making sharp arrows and spears to attack it soon.

‘Son, you can’t fight that beast!’ His mother said, sadly, ‘Even your father couldn’t!’

‘Don’t worry, mother,’ Akoni said, suppressing his rage, ‘I will have my revenge..!’

‘But, why should it be you?’ She cried, ‘You’re the only one I have.’ She added, as her eyes welled up with tears, and started over flowing down her cheeks.

‘If not me, then who, mother?’ He asked, glaring at her with fury in his eyes.

‘Someone surely will..’

‘If that someone doesn’t stand up soon then everyone will be killed! ’ He cried.

The beating of the drums started as the darkness descended upon the village. The drums sound was to keep the tiger away. That night as Akoni’s mother drifted to sleep, he kissed on her forehead, before he collected his weapons and shield, and left the hut in search of the beast.

The village had forest on one side and a mighty river flowed from the mountains on the other side. From some distant hut he heard wailing of a woman, the beast seemed to have picked its prey. He held a fire torch in one hand and his sharp spear in another, as he rushed after the tracks of the beast. The tracks on the path lead him to the edge of the river. He searched for the beast with his torch and saw his ferocious eyes, and heard the faint cry of a little boy near by the beast.

‘Come on, you beast! ’ Akoni cried, keeping the fire torch on the ground, picking up his spear and shield. The tiger walked in his direction bellowing at him. They attacked each other and the battle lasted for a while. Akoni’s sharp spear injured the tiger and Akoni was badly injured too. They lost balance, fell into the flowing river and disappeared.

***

An old man used to come to an old banyan tree which was in centre of the village in the evenings. The children of that village used to gather under that tree to listen to the stories which the old man used to narrate. He took them to magical world of fairies, genies, kings, queens, prince and princesses, etc. Sometimes, the stories took place in Africa. Sometimes, in some part of India.

The kids loved his stories.

‘Grandpa, what do you get by telling us stories?’ asked a kid, one evening.

‘Well, what does the sun or the moon gets in return by spreading their light to us every day and night?’ asked the old man.

‘Maybe, their purpose is to do so?’ the kid said.

‘Yes, you’re right. My very purpose is narrating stories to you every evening. A story teller is nothing if he has no listeners/readers. Just like the very purpose of sun light or moon light would be meaning less without us.’ The old man said, coughing in between.

‘Who will tell us stories when you are gone?’ asked another kid.

‘Story tellers come back as the world needs them…who knows, one of you could take my place as well.’

***

A man was digging with a spade under a banyan tree in the backyard of an old house which seemed to be as old as the banyan tree itself. He was sweating profusely and seemed to be sick. He then buried a locked box in the small pit which he had just dug, covered it with the soil.

He took a key, which shone in the evening light of the sun.

The same man was lying on a bed with a lady who was seated besides him on a chair. Her eyes were moist with tears, and it reflected the pain she was going through at that moment.

‘Don’t you worry, Meenakshi,’ He said between his coughs, ‘I’ll surely come back one day…this I promise to you. He took out something from under his pillow and placed it in her hand. It was same key.

‘Keep it safe for me…I will need it when I return back.’ He said, breathing his last breathe.

The next thing a sign board appeared at the corner which read: ‪

#‎5th Street, M.K.Amman Koil Street, Mylapore, Chennai..

***

Roberto woke up suddenly and realized that he was dreaming. He took his note book and wrote down the name of the lady and address. He switched on his laptop and did google search for the address which appeared in his dream. The search result showed him that this place was in South India. Roberto was the only son of a rich man who owned a hotel in the town, Santilla del Mar. Santilla del Mar is a historic town situated in Cantabria, Spain.

This town has many historic buildings that attract many thousands of travelers every year. Seeing them, Roberto too wanted to be a traveler and travel around the world when he grew up.
Roberto loved reading and whenever he found some time, he used to immerse himself in some book which he used borrow from the local library. He used to read everything and anything that he came across. So, he was aware of many places around the world.

‘What do you want to do when you grow up, Roberto?’ His father asked him one Sunday evening.

‘I would like to travel around the world and capture its places, people of different walks of life with my camera, Padre.’ Roberto replied, with a gleam in his eye and a big smile on his face.

‘Oh…’ His father said, slightly disappointed hearing it, ‘Do you know you need a lot of money for that?’

‘I have already started saving for it, padre.’ He said, taking a piggy bank and showing it to him.
It brought a smile on his father’s face. He took out some currency notes from his wallet, folded them and pushed them into through the hole of the piggy bank.

‘Which country would you like to go and see first, son?’ His mother asked him.

‘I would like to go to India, Madre.’ Roberto replied.

‘India?’ They both asked, ex-changing quizzical looks.

‘I keep getting a repeated dream about a man who had buried something under a banyan tree…I need to know what it is? Also I love India and would like to travel around in this country as it has many cultures..I could end up learning many things over there.’ He replied.

***

Many years had passed by; Roberto grew up into a handsome young man. One day, his father gave him the money. Roberto applied for travel visa to India. He soon reached Delhi and covered many places in North India. He used to keep in touch with his parents through Skype and Whatsapp, even shared the pictures. Some weeks later, he reached Chennai and got into an auto. He read out the address to the auto driver. The auto reached the place.

‘Sir, this is the place you asked for.’ The auto driver said.

Roberto was lost in thoughts as he felt that he had already been to this place sometime back. It looked so much familiar to him. Everything related to that birth started appearing before him like some flash back from some movie.

‘Sir…?’ The auto driver said.

‘Yes, take the money and keep the change..’ Roberto said, handing him the currency note.

‘Thank you, sir.’ The auto driver said, before leaving.

Roberto started walking in the street looking for a particular house. He came to a halt at a house and started knocking on the door.

‘Who is it?’ asked an old lady’s voice.

‘Meenakshi ..I have come! Please open the door!’ Roberto said.

The old lady opened the door and kept looking at him transfixed. She knew that his eyes reminded her of her late husband, Mohan.

‘It’s me! I have come back!’ He said, smiling at her.

‘Please come in!’ She said, with tears filled in her eyes.

‘Is the Banyan tree still there?’ He asked, coming inside the old house.

‘Yes!’ She said, ‘Follow me and I shall take you to the tree..’

Meenakshi took him to the Banyan tree, which had stood there for many years now. Its roots had spread across the backyard. Roberto stood there watching the magnificent tree mesmerized.

‘Meenakshi, do you have the key I had given you?’ He asked, turning and looking at her.

‘Yes, I preserved it safely all these days. Let me go and get it!’ She said, walking inside. She returned with a spade and handed it to him along with the key.

He started digging under the banyan tree and soon found the old box which the man had buried many years back. He unlocked it with the key, found an old book safely preserved in a polythene cover with some preservatives to keep away the worms from destroying the book.

He sat under the banyan tree and started reading the book. The man had written all his previous births in that book, one by one, but in reverse chronological order, i.e, starting with his life first.

Roberto read page by page. He was a fish that was killed by an eagle in one birth, Akoni a villager of South Africa; who attacked the man eater and died with it, An old man who used to tell stories to kids in a village which was in the outskirts of Bangalore.
Roberto kept reading the book while taking short breaks for having food, etc. It took him two weeks to complete the entire book.

Soon, the news about the foreigner spread like a wild fire. A news reporter came looking for him seeking an interview with him. Roberto readily agreed to it.

‘So, Mr.Roberto, you claim that you were Mohan Iyer in previous birth, is that right?’ The reporter asked.

‘Yes.’ Roberto replied, smiling at him.

‘I heard that Mohan Iyer had recorded all his births in one book which was buried under the banyan tree, is that right? Could I see the book please?’

‘Sure…here it is!’ Roberto said, handing him the book.

‘Interesting!’ The reporter said, turning and going through the pages of the book, ‘It is strange that Mohan Iyer had remembered all his previous births!’

‘Yes, you’re right!’

‘So, what do you have to say about life in general and previous births?’

‘Well, the beauty of life is that it is momentary, and that of a soul is everlasting!’

‘Well said, Roberto! So, where is your next journey to after reading this book?’ The reporter said, handing back the book.

‘I would like go and visit the big banyan tree in the outskirts of Bangalore city, where I was an old man in one of my previous birth…though the children to whom I had narrated stories may have gone by now, at least I may get to meet their grand children, if I get lucky!’ Roberto said.

‘How would you recognize them?’

‘Well, I am sure their grand parents would have passed on the stories which I had narrated seated under the tree. People may come and go, but stories are immortal!’

‘Wow! That’s really great to hear. Roberto, I am curious to know what happens next ? So would you pass on what happens in your journey next? I am sure even the readers would be keen to know that as well.’ The reporter said, handing him his visiting card.

‘Sure, I will do that! I would send you some pictures by email as well.’ Roberto said, still smiling, and shaking his hand.

The Painting


A Short Story

Arun was looking for some nice painting which he could hang on his bedroom wall. He had visited many art shops, but couldn’t find a suitable one any where. He had told about this to his friends. 

One Sunday morning, Ritesh called him and told to visit an art gallery in the Church Street, where they sold good paintings at cheaper price. Actually, the paintings were cheaper because they sold the second hand paintings, people used to sell their old paintings at this particular shop. Also they used to exchange with some other paintings or art work as well.

Arun liked the idea and he reached the art shop, after having his break fast. He liked most of the paintings displayed in the shop. However, one painting held his attention for quite some time. He kept staring at it, when he heard someone from his back:

‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’

He turned back and found the shop owner standing behind him, with his hands on his trouser pockets, and a broad smile on his face.

‘Yes..’ Arun said.

‘Well, there is something about this painting which I need to mention,’

‘What is it?’

‘This one though beautiful has come back to this shop five times and you would be the sixth customer, if you decide to buy it,’

‘Oh, I see! May I know the reason for the same?’

‘Not sure! Maybe, it didn’t bring any good luck to previous owners?’

‘Anyways, I don’t believe in luck!’ Arun said, smiling at him, ‘I would like to take it, could you please arrange to pack it?’

‘Sure, with pleasure!’

Arun took home the painting and hung it to a nail that was waiting for this painting for quite some time. That night before going to sleep, he gazed at the painting, and the scene from this painting appeared in his dream. When he woke up, he remembered he dream. He ignored it, but the same dream repeated every night.

‘That’s strange!’ Arun thought to himself. One evening, he covered the painting with a white cloth, so that he doesn’t stare at it before going to sleep. That night though the dream repeated, he found himself being a part of the dream. He was lost in that place of the painting, and he was trying his best to escape from that place, but he didn’t know how to get away from it?

Next morning, his girl friend Ankitha started calling him, but she was getting the answer that ‘the customer you are trying to reach is out of the coverage area. Please try after sometime.’ So, she reached Arun’s place with Ranjith. They knocked on the door, but there was no response. Ranjith called up his office and they informed him that he hasn’t come in today so far.

‘I think something is wrong.’ Ranjith told him.

‘The door seems to be locked from inside. That means he should be inside!’ Akitha said, trying to peep through the key hole, ‘I see the key in the key hole! Find me some paper, please!’ She added.

‘Here you go!’ Ranjith said, returning with the newspaper.

‘This will do, thanks,’ She said, bending down, pushing it below the door gap. Then she removed the hair pin and gently pushed it through the key hole. The key fell down upon the newspaper; she gently pulled out the newspaper, and got the key.

‘Let’s hope he hasn’t bolted the door,’ Ankitha said, turning the key in the lock, and the door opened.

‘Arun!’ They both cried, stepping into the flat, but there was no response. They both searched every room in the flat and found him nowhere. Finally, they both reached his bedroom and he wasn’t there as well.

‘Strange? Is he abducted or something?’ Ranjith asked.

‘I don’t think so. The door is locked from inside and all windows are closed,’ Ankitha replied, starring at the white cloth over the painting on the wall. She dragged a stool and removed the cloth from the painting.

‘And why did he cover that painting?’ Ranjith asked.

‘No idea!’ Ankitha said, starring at that painting, ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’

‘Yes, it is!’ Ranjith replied.

Meantime, Ritesh called her mobile and she answered the call.

‘Did you find him?’

‘No, we didn’t! The door was locked from inside and there is no way he could have gone out as all the windows and even the back door is locked!’ Ankitha replied.

‘That’s strange!’ Ritesh said.

‘Yes, maybe we need Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery! I will speak to you later,’

‘Sure…let me know if you get some clue?’

‘I’ll do that!’ Ankitha said, hanging up, ‘I think I’ll take home this painting,’ She added.

‘Okay!’ Ranjith said.

They both searched for him in all know places, but couldn’t find him. They advertised about him with his picture in the ‘Missing’ column of the newspaper, and also informed about it to the police. Meanwhile, Ankitha hung the painting in her room. She too started getting the same dream every night.

‘Ranjith, I am getting a strange dream every night and it is the scene from the painting!’ She told Ranjith.

‘Let me take home and see!’ Ranjith replied.

‘Sure, be careful with it! Something seems strange about it!’

‘We will get to know it soon!’

Some days went by, Ranjith went missing one morning. The last thing his mother remembered was he going to his room and sleep. Ankitha told everything to Ritesh.

‘Maybe this painting is cursed in someway?’ Ankitha concluded.

‘Could be? Let us return it back to the painting shop before anyone else gets disappeared!’ Ritesh said.

‘That’s a good idea! But how do we bring back Arun and Ranjith?’

‘We need to wait and see!’ Ritesh said.

They both packed the painting with an old newspaper and took it to the painting shop. However, to their surprise they found that the art shop was gone and in its place a fancy shop had come up.

‘Any idea where the art shop got shifted to?’ Ankitha asked the new shop owner.

‘I think the shop owner shifted the items to some godown somewhere, as he was traveling out of the country!’ He replied, ‘Why? What’s up?’

‘Well, we wanted to return this painting to him.’ Ritesh said.

‘Let me have a look at it!’

‘It’s…’ Ranjith wanted to say something, but Anitha interrupted him, ‘Sure, you can have a look at it!’ She removed the newspaper cover and showed him the painting. The shop owner was wonder struck seeing the beautiful painting.

‘And may I know what price are you looking for? Would One thousand rupees do?’

‘I think that is too less.’ Ankitha said

‘How about Two thousand?’

‘No.’

‘Three?’

‘No.’

‘Five thousand and that is the maximum I could give for it!’

‘Okaaay! You can have it!’ Ankitha said, letting go the hold on the painting. The shop owner paid her the money with a big smile on his face.

‘Where are you going to hang it?’ Ritesh asked him, with a worried look.

‘In my bedroom!’ He replied, still smiling.

They both left the place.

‘We shouldn’t have sold him the painting! What if something happens to him?’ Ritesh asked her.

‘That’s not our problem. We had to get rid of the painting and we did it! Also we got the price for it! And that is the end of the story.’ Ankitha said, smiling at him.

Couple of days later, Arun and Ritesh were back from nowhere. All they remembered was the strange place where they both were lost and that place resembled the scene from the painting.

‘Where did the painting go?’ Arun asked, starring at the blank wall.

‘We sold it to a fancy store owner!’ Ankitha said.

‘Oh! My God!’ Ranjith said, reading the newspaper.

‘What?’ They all asked together looking at him.

‘The fancy shop owner to whom that painting had been sold has gone missing mysteriously sometime last night!’ Ranjith said, looking at them with a puzzled expression on his face.

 The End

The Pink Planet

A Short Story 

“We’re approaching planet Pluto.” said the astronaut, Jack Collins.

“Good.” said Angelina Fox

“It looks beautiful from here! ” exclaimed Edward Stallone.

Suddenly, something hit their rocket and it lost it’s balance and started spinning off, very fast and headed in different direction all together.

“What was that?” asked Angelina.

“Maybe a meteorite?” said Edward. ” and where are we now?”

“No idea. Pluto is out of sight!” said Jack.

“What’s that ?” asked Angelina, pointing her finger.

“Maybe another planet?” said Jack.

“The tenth planet? I thought we only have nine planets?” said Edward.

“Even I thought so.” said Jack.

“Let’s check it out!” said Angelina.

***

The rocket landed on the strange planet and they came out of the rocket, and started walking on the ground. They saw plants and trees. But everything was pink in colour. The branches were swaying. It meant that there was oxygen.

“I think this planet has oxygen.” said Edward, removing his helmet.

They too removed their helmets. They walked towards a tree. Jack plucked a fruit from that tree and gave it to Angelina. She had a bite of it. Then :-

“How does it taste like~?”

“Fine. I haven’t tasted anything like this before in my whole life! ” She said, having another bite.

They too plucked and started eating it. They ate more, as they hadn’t tasted anything like that in their lives before. Suddenly, wrinkles appeared on their faces and their hands, and they started growing old. Their hair turned white from black and brown…

“What’s happening to us ~?” asked Jack.

“I think we’re growing old all of a sudden!” said Edward.

“At this rate we will die any moment from now.” said Angelina.

Soon, they fell down on the ground, losing their strength. Some pink coloured people appeared, held them and made them to eat another kind of fruit similar to what they had eaten sometime back and they came back to normal.

“S’ti dlo nam truif !” said one of them, pointing his finger to the tree, from which they had plucked those fruits and ate them before they could come.

“I don’t understand what you are saying ~?” said Jack.

“S’ti dlo nam truif !” He repeated again.

“That should be their language.” said Edward.

“Tahw truif si siht ?” asked Angelina.

“Gnouy nam truif!” He replied, smiling at her.

“What did you say ~?” asked Jack, looking at her stunned. “Have you been to this planet before by any chance ?”

“I asked him, what fruit is it?” she said.

“And what did he say ?” asked Edward.

“Young man fruit!” she said.

“When did you learn their language ?” asked Jack.

“Don’t you get it ? It’s our English in the reverse order !” she explained.

She asked them how the fruit worked ? They told her if they ate one old man fruit, then they will start growing old slowly. In case they ate more, like they did then they will grow old that much faster. Then they need to eat the young man’s fruit within one hour of eating old man’s fruits to grow young again. If not, they will die and go to “Toshg Danl” [ Ghost Land ], where such spirits live. They looked curiously at Angelina.

“Yhw t’nod uoy evah nemow ni rouy tenalp ?” asked Angelina.

“On!” one of them replied.

“This is irritating ! Doesn’t someone on your planet speak English?” cried Jack. “Doesn’t anyone know English?”

“I can!” replied a pink person, stepping forward. “We don’t have any females in our planet. It’s the young man’s fruit that has kept us alive for generations together. Only stupid and crazy people have reached the ghost’s land.”

“Then who does the cooking ~?” asked Angelina.” Don’t you reproduce ~?”

“We eat the fruits in the trees. That’s our food. So we don’t have to cook anything. We can reproduce ourselves. All we have to do is just jump into the well on the top of the mountain. When we emerge out. Another copy of ourselves come out a second later.”

“How come you have young children ~?” asked Angelina.

“Simple, whosoever wants to relive his childhood has to eat three young man’s fruits and they will reach their childhood. If they want to reach back to normal again then they will have to consume three old man’s fruits. That’s it!” He explained.

“They shouldn’t forget to have one young man’s fruit after munching three old man’s fruit, right?” asked Edward.

“Yes, you got it!” said the Pink person, who could speak English.

“Do you have any currency ~ ?” asked Jack.

“No currency!” He said.

“Any religions, caste, culture ~?” asked Angelina.

“No..nothing !” He said.

“Do you believe in God ?” asked Edward.

“Who is God ~ ?” He asked.

“The person who created you…who created us !” said Angelina.

“No one created us !” He said. ” No one created you for that matter !”

“Then don’t you pray ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Yes, we pray to the sun, without whose light our plants and trees would have died and so would have we.” He said.

“Don’t you get sick ? illness ?” asked Jack.

“Yes sometimes we do fall sick. Then we turn dark pink in colour. When we take the medicine plant juice, we get to normal again.” he said.

“Can you show us the plant ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Sure, here it is!” He said, pointing his finger at a small plant.

“Jack, why don’t you try it ~ ? You’ve asthma. Let’s see if it could cure it.” said Edward.

“Fine.” He said, plucking and eating the leaves of that plant. Soon he started feeling better.

“How do you feel ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Fine. It seems to have started working already.” He replied.

“Can it cure any disease ~?” asked Edward.

“Yes, almost anything !” said the Pink person. ” You will become healthy and normal again.”

“Then we should take a few plants to planet earth too.” said Angelina.” Can we ?”

“Sure, you can!” he said.

“Do you work like us ~ ? what do you do ~ ?” she asked.

“Yes, we do work. Our people had travelled to other universes too. Surprisingly, we came to know that there is life on other planets of other universes too. The only thing is that life has different forms, shapes and sizes.” He replied.

“Really? Amazing! Have you visited our planet ‘Earth’ ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“They did try to visit ‘Earth’ a couple of times, but there was big war going on during that time. So they had turned back.”

“You maybe referring to World War -I and II.” said Edward.

“Yes.”

“Would you like to visit ‘Earth’ with us this time ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Sure, I would love too.” He said.

“I don’t see any birds or animals on this planet ~ ?” asked Jack, turning and looking around.

“Well, there are. But few in number. Many had consumed the old man’s fruit and had died.” He explained.

“While only a few survived !”

They enjoyed their stay on the ‘Pink Planet’. When the time came for them to say farewell, they took some medicine plants and left to planet ‘Earth’, along with ‘Yoga’, the pink man, who can speak ‘English’. The aircraft left the ‘Pink Planet’ and finally reached planet ‘Earth’. When they landed on ‘Earth’ ; they saw no sign of human life on earth..

“What could’ve happened ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Maybe, the big meteoroids should’ve hit while we were away, similar to those which wiped out the ‘ Dino ‘ race on Earth long time back.” explained Edward, pointing his finger to the spot, which had become hollow, clearly showing that something had hit that spot.

“I lost my family and fellow beings on Earth !” cried Jack, with tears in his eyes, down on his knees. They both consoled him.

A squirrel hopped towards them. Angelina picked him up in her palm. A parrot flew down and landed and Jack’s head and they broke into laughter seeing this. Then a dog woofed and ran towards them. Similarly a kitten, followed by a chicken.

“I think you should come and live on our planet.” said Yoga, the pink man.

“What about Earth ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“I’m sorry to say this in the next few days to come, many more meteoroids would strike planet earth and whatever life is remaining on Earth will be wiped off forever ! Even the sea and ocean water will get intoxicated killing the sea creatures. Oxygen will vanish later from earth. Then Earth will resemble the other planets in this universe, with traces of past life.” Yoga said.

“Really sad.” said Jack.

They flew back to the Pink planet.

“We can drop this chicken into the well whenever we want to have N.V. But only one of us can marry Angelina.” said Edward.

“Which one let her decide.” said Jack.

“I’ve an idea!” Angelina said. “Follow me !”

They climbed the mountain and reached the well. She plunged into the well with the chicken in her hand. She came out wet with the chicken in her hand. A second later, another copy of Angelina came out, with another chicken in her hand.

“Who am I~ ?” she asked.

“You’re my sister ‘Anitha'” said Angelina.

“Really ? I love you, sister.” She said, hugging her.

“He is Jack, you would be husband.” Said Angelina, introducing him to her.

“Really ? Will you marry me, Jack ?” she asked, looking at him.

“Sure.” He said.

The End

One Man’s Dream

A Short Story 

‘Son, what would you like to do with your life, now that you have completed your studies?’ Aryan’s father asked him.

‘Dad, I don’t want to do the usual 9 to 5 job like everyone else.’ Aryan said, seated opposite to his father in the living room, the old ceiling fan was whirling above them making more noise than giving air in the hot summer afternoon.

‘Then what would you like to do?’ His father asked him, lowering the daily newspaper which he had been reading, and glancing at his son rather annoyed.

‘I would like to do something different from others,’ Aryan replied.

‘And may I know what this something different is?’

‘Well, something that will make me feel happy doing it.’

‘Do you mean to say that what others do for their living isn’t making them feel happy doing it?’ His father asked, with a frown on his face.

‘I guess not! Most of them do it for their living rather than enjoying what they really do and what they really want to do is just a dream to them, which will remain a dream rather than becoming a reality.’

‘And you’re going to live your dream then?’

‘Yes, I’m!’

‘Son, whatever you would like to do it, do it! I’m giving you two months time to get towards your so called dream job. If you’re not able to achieve it then you will have to do what everyone else is doing in their lives…I mean the so called 9 to 5 job.’ His father said, before taking up his daily newspaper, and covering his face with it.

‘Thanks, dad,’ Aryan said, getting up and leaving.

***

Before the two months could end, Aryan placed before his dad, the offer letter from a famous travel channel which had global reach. His job involved traveling around the world; meeting people of different walks of life, knowing their culture and tradition, visiting the unknown places which had the potential to become famous tourist attractions in the days to come, etc. His program would be telecasted on their TV channel around the world everyday.

His father pulled out the offer letter from the envelope and went through it.

‘What do you think, dad?’ Aryan asked, leaning forward curiously.

‘Is this your dream?’ His father asked him.

‘Yes, dad! I would like to travel around the world, see places and meet people, know about their cultures, take pictures, and stuff like that…I would be actually living my dream rather than just making my living…’ Aryan said, smiling with excitement in his eyes.

‘But, son, we would miss you as you would be staying so far away from us…’ Aryan’s mother said, feeling sad hearing all this.

‘Let him live his dream! You can see him online everyday through video chat and also see him every day on the TV show…’ His father said.

‘Don’t worry, Mama, I will speak to you every night…also send you postcards from those countries I would be visiting…’ Aryan said, looking at his mother.

‘Then when will you get married and allow us to play with our grand children?’ His mother asked him.

‘Mom, I am just starting my career…I would surely marry and settle down when I find a suitable girl for me…and you shall play with your grand children, don’t you worry…I just need some time…’ He said.

‘I’m happy for you, son. Go, live your dream!’ His father said.

‘But…’ His mother said.

‘It’s alright, Sumithra…’ Aryan’s father said, pressing his wife’s had gently with his.

‘Thanks, dad and mom’ Aryan said, smiling at them.

‘So when do you have to leave?’ His mother asked him.

‘I would be joining next month…meanwhile; I need to buy things I would need there…’ Aryan said.

***

Aryan’s mother purchased and gave him Sony DSC-HX300 : H series camera before his journey to the first country he was visiting.

‘Thanks a lot, mom! I would always treasure this camera and send you the pictures which I click from it!’ He said, kissing on her cheek.

‘And I would treasure those pictures which you are going to send me, my dear,’ His mother said, kissing on his cheek, ‘Hope I would see you in person soon..’ She added, hugging him and patting on his shoulder, before his departure in the International Airport.

‘I would miss you…hope this isn’t the last time I would be seeing you..’ She said, with a tear drops in her eyes.

‘No, mom, I would be coming back soon!’ Aryan said, hugging her again, ‘I promise you that!’

‘Hope so…son,’ She said, wiping her tears from her eyes.

***

Aryan travelled many countries along with the cameraman, Andhrew Hopkins. His travel episodes become famous day by day. His parents never missed any episode. Aryan posted post cards from various places to his mother as he had promised. Also shared the pictures he shot with the camera she had bought for him.

In Nigeria, during the TV show, he met an old man with whom he became friends and started calling him ‘Granpa’ as he was that age. The old man’s name was Kele and his only son had abandoned him after marrying a girl of a foreign country.

‘Now, I have no one…Aryan,’ Kele said, with moist eyes, ‘I am waiting for death as I have no purpose to live anymore…my dear wife would be waiting for me eagerly in heaven…I should go soon..’

‘No, Granpa,’ Aryan said, being moved by his story, ‘I never knew how my grandparents were as they passed away by the time I was born…I would like to adopt you as my grand father, if you permit me to.’

‘You want to adopt me as your grandfather?’ Kele said, surprised.

‘Yes, I would like to! Would you be my grandpa and come with me?’ Aryan asked.

‘Yes! Yes! I would like too…I am very happy to have you as my grandson, Aryan,’ Kele said, smiling at last.

So, Aryan adopted Kele as his grandpa and legally signed the adoption papers. They both traveled together to other countries. Kele found a new purpose to live his life. He called up his biological son and told him the news.

‘Really, papa?’ His son asked him on phone.

‘Yes, Babatunde!’ Kele said, smiling, ‘You heard it right! Switch on the TV channel ‘Travel Now!’ and you’ll see my grandson, Aryan….goodbye!’ He said, before hanging the phone down.

‘I can’t believe this!’ Babatunde cried, switching on the TV and browsing for the channel his father had told him.

‘What you can’t believe, Babatunde?’ asked his wife, Maria.

‘Someone has adopted my old father!’ Babatunde said, reaching the ‘Travel Now!’ channel, in which Aryan’s program was coming at that time.

‘Who adopted him?’ She asked.

‘Him!’ Babatunde said, pointing his finger at the Aryan on the TV screen.

Maria glared at the television screen and screamed,

‘Look! Your father is with him too!’ She cried, pointing her finger at the old man Kele with Aryan with Pyramids of Eqypt in the background.

‘Yes, I’m not blind! I can see too!’ Babatunde cried back, ‘That old man wanted to visit the God dame Pyramids some day and this fellow has taken him there!’

‘Be happy, papa…’ Babatunde murmured, as a tear drop fell from his left eye, ‘I’m sorry that I couldn’t be a good son to you!’

***

Then Aryan went to France with Kele and his TV cameraman Andhrew Hopkins. There he adopted a boy of eight years named Leon. Leon was an orphan boy, whose parents were killed in a car accident after his birth. Kele and Leon became good friends soon.

‘I have two grandsons now!’ Kele said in joy.

‘What shall I call you?’ Leon asked Aryan.

‘You can call him Papa.’ Kele said.

‘Ok then. Papa where is Mama?’ Leon asked him.

‘We shall find her too soon.’ Aryan said, smiling at them.

Aryan introduced Kele and Leon to his parents on video chat the next day.

‘Nice to meet you Kele and Leon.’ Aryan’s father said, smiling, ‘Wish to see you both in person soon.’

‘Aryan, don’t marry a foreign girl over there. You should come and marry our Indian girl only!’ His mother said, rather sternly.

‘Sure, Mama, anyways, I haven’t found any interesting girl over here!’ He said, smiling at her.

***

The next country they all visited was Spain. They reached the beautiful island called Lanzarote. There Aryan met a beautiful young girl named Alba and fell in love with her. It was love at first sight.

‘Holla! I’m Aryan. I am new to this place. Could you please guide me towards Papagayo beach?’’ He asked her.

‘Holla! I’m Alba. Nice to meet you. Actually, I’m going to the Papagayo beach…you gentlemen can come along with me..’ Alba said, smiling at him.

‘Garcia’s, Alba. It’s very nice meeting you too!’ Aryan said, smiling back at her, and then following her along with Andhrew.

‘Garcia’s, once again, Alba!’ Aryan said, after reaching the beach, ‘It would really nice if you could join us for a drink.’ Aryan said, thanking her and inviting her for a drink.

Alba joined them both for a drink. They all drank Cola.

‘By the way, what is the meaning of your name?’ He asked her.

‘Alba means ‘Dawn’ in Italian as well as Spanish, you see.’ She said, smiling at him, ‘And what is the meaning of your name?’

‘Aryan means ‘Noble’ in Sanskrit!’ Aryan replied, smiling at her.

‘You’re indeed a noble gentleman!’ Alba said, still smiling, while sipping her cola.

Soon, they both fell in love with each other. He proposed to her and she accepted. He told her about Kele and Leon, and introduced them to each other.

‘Aryan, I never thought a person like you could even exist! I am proud to have you as my life partner!’ Alba told him, looking into his eyes, in love.

‘Thank You, Alba.’ Aryan said, smiling at her.

That Sunday Aryan married Alba in a church in presence of Kele, Leon and Andhrew as witness. Alba’s parents were pleased to see their daughter happy with Aryan.

Finally, they all came to India. Aryan introduced them to his parents. Finally, he introduced Alba to his parents. Initially, his mother was reluctant in showing her feelings to Alba. But when Alba said, ‘Namaste, Maaji!’ and fell to her feet to take her blessings, she was touched. Also Alba started speaking to her in Hindi. They bonded with each other like long lost mother and her daughter.

‘Alba, by the way, when did you learn Hindi?’ Aryan asked her, surprised.

‘Well, I had asked you about your mother tongue, when we had met the second time, remember? You told me that you speak Hindi at home. So, when you proposed to me and I accepted. Then I realised that I need to learn it so that I could speak to your family members when I arrive in India!’ She said, with a chuckle.

‘Smart woman!’ Aryan said, smiling at her.

‘Thank You, Aryan.’ She said, still smiling.

‘So, you’ve lived your dream son?’ His father asked him.

‘Yes, dad! Now, I would like to do something staying in my country. I feel I have travelled enough now. Also I have a big family to take care of me now.’ He said.

‘Yes, son, I can spend time with Kele and Leon..’ His father said.

‘Mama, what do you think about your daughter-in-law? I thought you wanted Indian girl…’ Aryan asked his mother teasingly.

‘No, Alba is like my daughter,’ His mother said, ‘I’m fine with her, son.’

When they reached home, his father took him to his room. When he opened the door, he was surprised to see all the pictures which he had sent had been cleanly pasted sequentially to the wall as if a long wallpaper.

‘Wow! That’s amazing!’ Aryan cried, surprised.

‘Your mother did it, son!’ Aryan’s father said proudly.

The Missing Story – Last part

The Missing Story
Part Two
A Short Story 

I am not sure what happened to Varun and Aman after that? I tried calling on their mobiles and haven’t been able to reach them. They haven’t returned back after that night. Now, I would be going in search of them to the deserted bungalow to find out for myself. And I am not sure what would happen to me? I have written so many stories, which includes horror stories as well. Now, I am going to be part of the story which I have written for the first time in my life…that is the reason I had warned you before reading this story…There is a cursed legend about ‘Purani Haveli’ that whosoever gets curious to know about it becomes part of its story. Many people have gone missing so far which includes my best friends, Aman and Varun as well.

The legend of ‘Purani Haveli’ goes back to the era of the British rule in our country. It is said that mayor stayed in this haveli with his family. It is also said that the mayor had a beautiful and young daughter in her twenties named ‘Rachel’. There was a village that was on one side of the stream and on the other side was a village. Rachel used to sit under the banyan tree near by the running stream, and compose poems.

During one such days, a village lad had seen her and was mesmerized by her sheer beauty. He tried to propose his love to her, which she declined. Enraged by her rejection, he abducted her with the help of his friends. The mayor who came to know this torched up the entire village in fury. The villagers attacked the haveli and burnt it down along with its inhabitants, by locking it from outside. Rachel some how managed to escape from her abductors who had taken her to the nearby forest.

She was heart broken and devastated seeing that her entire family was burnt down. So she hanged herself to one of the branches of the banyan tree, under which she used to write her lovely poems. It is also said that the village lad who had abducted her and his friends died under mysterious circumstances in following weeks.

It seems Rachel had her revenge. Also the village was cursed, as people started dying of an epidemic that started and devastated the entire village. The village that had once witnessed prosperity was soon in ruins and became a ghostly village with no survivors.

It is also said that during full moon nights one can see Rachel seated under that banyan tree, with a book on her lap and a pen in her hand, still writing her unfinished book of poems…that brings to an end to the cursed legend of the Purani Haveli…

‘So, there ends the so called “Don’t read this story!” Moksha concluded.

‘That was really good one…but is it true?’ asked Gokul

‘Yes, whatever was mentioned about the so called ‘Purani Haveli’s legend is true…also the road that goes through the middle of the jungle has witnessed many accidents. It is also said that those who were killed in such road accidents have turned in ghosts and haunt this road during nights. So, people travel less especially during evenings and nights in this haunted road,’ Anuj said, browsing in his mobile, ‘Now, comes the question what happened to our writer and his friends?’

‘The only way to find that out is if are able to locate his address…’ Moksha said.

‘And I just got his address too!’ Anuj said.

‘Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go and check it out!’ Sahana cried, excited.

They all went to Vishal Varma’s place in Anuj’s Mahendra XUV 500. Vishal’s servant told them the shocking truth which they seemed to know already:

‘Vishal sahib went in search of his friends after the book got published and hasn’t returned back since then,’ Vishal’s servant Manoj said, with sadness filled in his face.

‘And when did that happen? I mean when did he go looking for them?’ Sahana asked.

‘Sahib went two weeks back on Sunday afternoon,’

‘Did you try calling his mobile number?’ asked Gokul

‘Yes, I did!’ He replied, ‘I was getting the message that the number you are trying to call is either out of coverage area or switched off.’

‘Thank you for the information, Manoj,’ Tarika said.

‘Are you guys going in search of him? Please try to find him and bring him back. We would always be grateful to you, if you could please do that,’ He said, folding his hands in respect, with tears overflowing from his eyes.

‘We are not sure whether we could do that?’ Anuj said, ‘Have you registered missing case with the police?’

‘Yes, but there is no response from them so far..’

‘Okay, then, take care. We will get back to you, if we get to know anything about Vishal,’ Gokul said.

‘Thanks a lot, Shahib,’ Manoj said, folding his hands once again.

They all go back into the XUV and Anuj started driving back towards home.

‘I really felt sad seeing Manoj…’ Anuj started.

‘Me too!’ Sahana said.

‘We should do something…’ Moksha said.

‘What can we possibly do? Go looking for him in the jungle, is it?’ asked Tarika.

‘Maybe, we could do that?’ Sahana said.

‘Yes, I think we should go there and find out for ourselves!’ Gokul said.

‘You mean we should go to that Purani Haveli, is it?’ asked Tarika, ‘I’m too scared about these ghosts and things like that!’

‘Yes, let’s go!’ Sahana said.

Everyone agreed to go except Tarika. Finally, Anuj drove towards the road that took them deep into the jungle. Everything was silent and it was a full moon night as well. They only heard the sound of the crickets occasionally. Everyone remained silent and they could hear their own heart beats in that eerie silence.

‘There!’ Gokul cried, point his finger ahead of the car, at some distance, they saw a lady dressed in white sari standing at some distance with a lantern in her hand.

‘I see her too!’ Anuj said.

‘Oh My God! Is she some ghost or something?’ Tarika cried, with her heart beating fast in fear.

‘Could be!’ Sahana said, holding Tarika’s hand tightly.

As the car started nearing her, she started walking towards the middle of the road.

‘What the hell is she doing?’ Anuj cried, slamming his accelerator.

‘Avoid her! You could kill her if she is still alive!’ Gokul cried, holding the steering and pulling it to his side.

The car missed the mysterious woman in white sari by few inches and went ahead.

Everyone looked back and saw her turning and looking towards them, most of her face was covered in her veil.

The car was moving ahead leaving her far behind them. After they covered distance, they found her once again standing in the middle of the road, ahead of them.

‘She is surely a ghost!’ Gokul said.

‘Yeah, you’re right!’ Moksha said.

‘What do we do now?’ Sahana asked.

‘Just avoid here!’ Tarika said.

The wind pulled her veil off; they were shocked to see a skeleton in place of her face. The skeleton had two scary eyes in the sockets. Then flesh started appearing on the skeleton and soon there was a face.

Anuj started doing dim dip headlights. However, she stood there.

Anuj pressed his feet on the accelerator once again and the car rushed towards her. Suddenly, he missed her by some inches. Finally, they reached the peepul tree and he took the turn into the muddy road. They reached the dead end of that road, found a narrow path that lead them into the jungle. They all stepped out of the car with their torch lights on and guiding them ahead.

They saw a car which was out of shape and it had hit a huge tree that was in the middle of the path and another car was parked in

some distance behind it. They found both the cars empty..

‘That should be Aman and Varun’s car!’ Moksha said, pointing at the first car.

‘Yes! I see those creepy words ‘You’ll die!’ on the rear glass of the car.’ Sahana said.

‘The other car should be Vishal’s!’ Gokul said.

They started walking in the narrow path. It was a full moon night and they heard the cry of the jackals at some distance which was followed by the hooting of the some owl. After walking some distance, they could see the deserted bungalow at some distance. They could see it clearly with the moonlight.

‘Where are you guys and gals going in the middle of the night?’ asked someone, from their behind.

They all turned and found a guy standing behind them at some distance.

‘Vishal?’ Tarika and Sahana cried together.

‘Yes, it’s me!’ he replied, walking forward towards them, ‘It seems like you have read that missing story..’ he added.

‘Yes, we did!’ Moksha said.

‘Alright, follow me…in silence..’ Vishal said, leading them behind the deserted bungalow. He stopped at some distance and pointed his finger at a banyan tree beside a running stream, under the tree sat a beautiful girl writing something in her dairy.

‘There she is…my love…’ He said.

‘But she is..is long dead…’ Gokul said.

‘I know…I know..’ Vishal said, ‘But love is something that never dies…’

‘We have come to take you with us..’ Tarika said, ‘Your servant misses you..’

‘Is it? That poor guy! He took good care of me since my childhood days..’

‘Where are your friends, Vishal?’ asked Anuj.

‘They are dead! And I buried them behind the bungalow!’ Vishal said.

‘Dead? Were they both killed in the accident?’ Sahana asked.

‘Seems to be…I found them dead in their car when I arrived here.’ He replied.

‘I think we should leave now. Come with us, Vishal!’ Gokul said.

‘No…I belong here now. She is waiting for me…You people leave now. Do you have that book?’ Vishal asked them.

‘Yes, It is with me!’ Sahana said, taking it and giving it to him.

He went to the end of the book then, ripped some pages which contained the story “Don’t read this story!” and he gave her back the book.

‘Do one of you have a lighter?’ he asked looking at Anuj and Gokul.

‘Here you go!’ Anuj gave it to him.

Vishal lit those papers with the fire, allowed it to burn and then let it go.

‘I think that should be the last copy of the book having this story and it ends here.’ Vishal said, handing back the lighter, ‘Now, you guys leave, good bye!’ He said.

‘But…’ Gokul said.

Vishal was gone as if he had vanished into the thin air like in magic. Then they all found him seated beside her and she was resting her head on his lap. Both of them seemed to be deep love that transcends generations. 

They all returned back early next day morning.