She was wet...
her feet were bleeding as dry twigs and thorns ripped through them.... 
she cannot go back as she was strictly told by the AGHORA not to and...

she couldn't go forward either as it meant sure death. the distance the turrets of Kaadambari faded no longer visible but for a scary grey haze in the twilight.

"what do i do now! Why do i go back in circles and come back to square one- the dead end always?"

             She mentally cursed herself. There was a twitter followed by rustling leaves.... leaves so dry that they were rustling in-spite of the down pour! 

     A bat swooped over her head scaring her but she pressed her palm to her mouth to stifle her own scream.

    Her hands had red marks that were the result of running dimensionlessly in the wilderness...she just closed her eyes and felt herself falling....falling deep and fast into a dark tunnel and then suddenly ....


When the stars spread their magic on the sun,
In highest of the heavens:Where the doors are decorated with strings of lusture...
On the day of the moon,
the true jowhari (jeweller) fails to notice the gem;
the vine shall seek its stalk ...from the fires of hell
the one who drank venom to save the world shall be saved ...
only to be lost in the depths of the impending doom! 
But the deed done the fate's seal shall haunt destiny...

SHAALU !!!!SHAALU!!! Oh my god Shaalu get up are you ok? Shaalu?

From the depths of darkness she tried to pry her eyes open but they would not open. Her eyelids fluttered then opened and she saw a blur! VAISHALI! Now the male voice was concerned in earnest! please kuch bolo! Please! You Ok? hey!

"TE<>>J!!! I...Uh am ok." She mumbled." Its ok!" The man called Tejas just hugged her tight. "Oh my god here i was thinking that... well just leave it. What happened! Where were you? What the hell is this? "waving his habd ta her.

Vaishali remembered that she had scratches all over her arms, feet... her sari was torn oh god!!! she groaned and looked down and blinked. She was absolutely fine. Not a scratch. She had twigs all over her long hair which was just secured at her nape by a band. That's all! THAT'S ALL? Now she was running away... Wait!!!!...she saw that AGHORA -Did she? or was she imagining things?strange!" ...and you happened to vanish so....Vaishali?" Tejas was continuing and stopped realising she was staring at herself him and around without any focus!

"What happened Teju?" she asked him.
"What ?" he exclaimed.
"Just tell me.Please!" she pleaded.
The look in her eyes made him stop anything that he was going to say. He said simply..."You were there with all of us one minute and the next I saw you going down the valley. Since i could see you and since i thought you wanted to be" ... he paused "to be alone, I just kept an eye on you and i turned for a minute to see the rest and you were gone. I came down and started walking down towards the woods and found you running towards me and fall! "
"Now tell me ma'am where were you. You scared the hell out of me." Tejas  said sternly.
"I am sorry!" Vaishali stuttered.
" You better be! I was about to raise an alarm! Don't you ever be irresponsible again!"
"Ok baba"
"You are hiding something from me is it not? when you are ok, let me know what that is!"
Vaishali made an O with her mouth as Tejas helped her to her feet and led her up the valley!
As Vaishali trailed him, SHE HAD A STRONG URGE TO LOOK BACK!!! BUT THE VOICE OF THE AGHORA ECHOED ...DO NOT LOOK BACK IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE! What rubbish! for all that she knew she might have wandered and got hurt on her head and imagined all that ... she should check her head for bumps as now everything called head hurt!She still wanted to turn back!!!but a pricking sensation on her neck made her uneasy. She trotted to Tejas and took his arm and he casually draped his arm around her and walked towards the gardens.

It was good that Vishali never turned back!!! Cause if she did she would have seen a dark shilhoute against the dipping cliff on the far side which was of a man slender as a reed holding a staff that was nothing but a twisted branch of a tree finely chisseled.

You just read a work of ...


Vaishali climbed the last few steps to the chabuthara and she immediately looked towards her right where the back waters of the lake pinakini reflected the mid-afternoon sun's rays!! There was a puja going on there! 

A pandit was chanting mantraas and a young man 25 years of age shirtless and just clad in white dhoti was offering prayers to the departed!  He was tall... All Shivgothris were! Broad shouldered and had a healthy tan on his fair skin which showed he was an outdoor person! Her eyes met another similar pair of eyes wide and beautiful! Vaishali's eyes pricked slightly with tears as she looked at her elder brother Rishi....popular to the world as the Ace Photographer Rishikesh Shivgothri! A look of understanding and pain passed through them exactly twnty years back they lost their parents and their world came crashing down!Her reverie ended with her brother blinking in assurance at her which she mirrored through her big beautiful eyes!

"Shaalu! where were you?" Rajeshwari  Shivgothri came towards Vaishali and hugged her!
"Don't worry mom i am there na?"Tejas Shivgothri assured her!

Rajeshwari shot a worried look at her neice! Vaishali was hardly three years old and Rishi six when Vishwanath and Lalitha Shivgothri died in an incident! Incident not accident for her although the rest of the family and the world believed on the contrary! Vishwanath was the younger brother of her husband Amarnath Shivgothri and ever since their parents death the kids were taken under the wing of Rajeshwari who tried her best to fill the void. She did not know whether she did or not but she was determined for them to live normal and happy lives like her own son Tejas shivgothri and two daughters Manasa and Suparna Shivgothri.

"Amma! I just wandered into the valley thats all!" "... And she got lost and fai... ""Tejas don't add masaala!" she cut him before he finished what he was saying, pleading with her eyes for him to stop!! she did'nt want to trouble amma! As such the poor soul dedicated herself to their cause and this would set her off onto the panic mode! 

"And?" Amarnath Shivgothri 's voice boomed from behind them!
"Bapa I just went towards the valley and then ... "she paused she really did not know after that!

Actually she saw a mandir and its high dome and walked to that place when...."

"Did you go towards south?" Amarnath's voice which was very soft when speaking to his favourite child Vaishali was now pure steel.
"No! Yes! oh.... I dunno i just.... "Vaishali just mumbled looking down.

"I told you not to wander in the grounds rani!", a female voice made her turn to her left. An old widow of about sixty five stood there! She was wearing gold coloured silk saree and collared blouse that made her look etherial in the afternoon sun. she even at that age would pass as a very beautiful lady with a beautiful chiseled face with sharp features,big beautiful eyes again same as Vaishali and her brother, sandalwood teeka on her radiant forehead made her look indomitable yet serene. Hair combed into a neat chignon at her nape and the pallu over her head cause of the ocassion. Gaayathri devi Shivgothri  mother of Vishwanaath and Amarnath chided her grand daughter and added further... "you are naughtier than your father and as stubborn as he was."

"Look beta i know how you feel especially on this day but... "Rajeshwari just hugged her without finishing. Vaishali ducked into her embrace to avoid her uncle's and granny's wrath. The Shivgothris were known for two things...Their fury and their devotion to the lord shiva!

Ok! Lets move it Tejas eased the situation and all of them went towards the place where puja was being performed and sat down on the gaddees spread there. Soon the rituals were done with and Rishikesh and Vaishali took the blessings of the pandit and the elders and they all sat down for a lunch there on the grounds with staff and a few invitees from the near by farms and village!

One of the invitees was a retired professor in Symbology and occult in ancient India Dr. Jagannath Ranjan who happened to be Vishwanath's childhood buddy and who was also their neighbour as his farm Aseeth was next only to the Shivgothri's property.

Vaishali and Rishi chatted with him while they ate as he turned to Amarnath and said, " this girl is an exact replica of her father Amar! Same way of talking...." "same stubborness" Amarnath added while Vaishali made a face as Rishi and tejas grinned!

I really hope she does not get into trouble like her father though!...Ranjan stopped abruptly as he realised his slip of tongue as a deathly silence resounded on the gathering there! He immediately tried to mend the situation by saying." He was an archeologist and he never backed down even to fight with the locals to pursue anything that he found interesting!"

Vaishali looked at her Baba who became pale and granny who was stiff and her Amma who was weary! Ever since, the topic of her parents invariably led to this kind of reaction from them. Why? One of these days she needs to find out. Its high time she does!

"I shall just go for a little shoot before we leave in an hour or two" Rishi announced getting up!

"No" four voices shouted in unision at him.

"Oh common" Rishi said in exasperation! I will be safe!

Amarnath cleared his throat and said "NO"

"But why? I go round the world hunting for good shots and here we have a veritable wild life sanctuary in the name of our ancestral property. So why can't I Bapa?"

" Our kids have grown up Rajeshwari! They are not biding by us anymore!" saying this Amar walked away towards the backwaters!

There was silence absolute pin-drop silence as even the valley's birds were quiet sensing something sinister!

Dr. Ranjan's voice echoed through it! Take the advice of your Bade Papa Rishi! I am telling you. Go round the world but never explore this place beyond the Swarna Bhairava mandir down south... "JAGGU!!!!" this time Gayathri Devi bellowed!

"Amma the kids need to know believe me and ... "he tried to pacify her but she wouldn't let him say anything more. "Nah!! they don't! They neither deserved what happened then and not now!" When the time comes I shall disclose it. Till then let them be!"

"Will anyone tell us what we are going round and round about?" It was Tejas's turn to demand now!

"Tejas will you stop it?" Rajeshwari pitched in.
"No maa! We are all grown up now. I understand your concern as family but let us know from what you all are protecting us atleast?" Tejas clarified.

"Nothing! Gayathri Devi clarified! We are telling you that this property is huge and un cared for but for this building and gardens which spread over some 15 acres! The rest is wilderness which none fathomed till now and so we don't want you city slickers to go missing there." She exchanged a glance with her daughter in law and Vaishali didn't miss that! So much for Daadi trying to cover everything up!

"The issue is closed! "Amarnath decreed walking back to the group and Rishi thought better of it and said," guys lets at least enjoy the nature! lets visit the gardens and the lake. Can we atleast do that?" he sarcastically asked his daadi.

Dr. Ranjan stepped in and said,"go ahead and enjoy! Rishi you get to see a lot of birds here may be you can have a good shoot after all!"

Tejas and Vaishali picked a blanket and Rishi grabbed his kit while Shambu the caretaker who was treated almost as a son by Dadi packed a picnic basket as they went towards Pinakini.

"Remember stay on to the north and within the fence!" Rajeshwari's reminder made all three of them nod in exasperation!!!

"Seriously bro our chaps need a reality check....Tadaang! Your kids are grown up!!!" Tejas spit his words out vexed.
"Can't blame them Teja! They have a valid reason! The sudden mysterious death of my parents!"Rishi said.
"So much for his loyalty and discipline!" Vaishali thought.
"Yeah cant !!! Tejas spat out! Look at their agent Shambu...they sent him to keep on eye on us kids" he taunted for which Rishi and Vaishali nodded their heads in exasperation. 

Actually it ran in the family!!!All the Shivgothris had a thing for togetherness family values and solidarity and especially loyalty. Including Manasa and Suparna! All of them were in their twenties but they were very disciplined each accomplished in their own area. Rishi-A world famous Photographer, Tejas just returned from Harward and about to join one of the best business houses in the country as their communication's man to be groomed as their communication's head... Manasa a doctor doing her house sergeancy in pediatrics and Suparna a Fashion Designer already out with her third collection! Infact they could not come for the reason that Manasa had her schedule and could not adjust and Suparna had to stay back for an interview by an international Fashion Magazine!

Vaishali thought about herself. She could say that she is an accomplished artist in traditional Indian dance and art forms with more than two hundred performances in the country and abroad and  her Ph.D is in the same area. Having lost her parents she turned to dance and music for solace and twenty odd years of training starting with Bharata natyam led her to explore Odissi, Kathak Manipuri and recently Kuchipudi Mohini Attam , Khatakali and now Tribal dance forms! She was a postgraduate in music

 as well as fine arts but her passion was dance and music.

   All five of them were normal! They enjoyed life as any other youngster but there was an invisible line of conduct which they never crossed. Her Bapa and Amma were so proud of that! She heard them gloating about it so often when they thought the kids weren't around.

 All three of them and Shambu moved towards the lake and the gardens but the setting sun fascinated them and unknowingly they started walking towards it, It was only five in the evening but the winter sun was slowly going down the hills on the far side.
"Rishi baba no yonder than the fence!" Shambu's voce shrill yet strong echoed through the din of sparrows that were busy feeding on the leftovers of their picnic.
"Relax chaacha" all three of them said and walked towards the water.


aquariuslp said...

Now you have done it again... got me addicted to one more creation of ur's. I am already burning with curiosity. App ke liye yeh bhaari padega Di... coz now I'll be asking for an update for Vaishali too.. :D Lakshmi

GoldenHaze said...

Hey Lakshmi I love you man! I shall always remember this comment.... And I know,.. I am a fool

Lakshmi said...

Anu, I'm here too. ...

GoldenHaze said...

wow! Thank u I feel better now... with all my people here too..

Mithila said...

Wow!!!!!!!Awesome story
Loved it
Very interesting concept

Parramjit said...

enchanting !!! love such mystery stories... HAPPY WRITING dear...

Lakshmi said...

Loved this one, Anu. Very mysterious...very good and a gripping start. Will look forward...keep going dear....

GoldenHaze said...

Mithila, Param and Sandhya Thanks a million dears! Hope to sustain your interest.

Disha said...

What the !!!! Seriously after reading Mirage , i think you will out do yourself with this one.
Its really mysterious and after reading mirage i think isme i will need much more patience to pull thru !!!
Great Start !

GoldenHaze said...

Hey Disha! I just got te idea and started writing one day and well... just wait and watch....he he

Lakshmi said...

Omg u 've updated Vaishali....I'll check all ur updates...I 'veto catch up after 4th chapter...thanks for ur invitation. ....always love to read ur works..keep doing..

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

i only read two chap of vishali it's so good i love everything mysterious. I can't stop reading i was completely captured into her world but now i must return to reality :'(.

GoldenHaze said...

Thanks... do read the rest and lemme know! A lot of effort and research went into this...
Thanks Saira

BhanuKiran Vella said...

Madam,the way of explaining their family relationships while depicting their respective roles and carefulness about their next generation is simply superb.Especially, the way you keep the readers in suspense in the last of every episode..I like it very much.

lg said...

specialist near you, doctors at DrPrachiJain will be a preferred choice Delhi’s Leading Eye Doctors. If you are looking for the best eye.