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Sujata Dash



Sujata Dash


A strange Premonition

A strange Premonition

8 mins 202 8 mins 202

SM Interactive Novel Writing Contest PROMPT 1

Q -2.Does she know about this photograph?

Evening was approaching.She was engulfed in her thoughts.The book,the photograph,the map and the crazy bug -all had positioned themselves in her mind's arena.The tall coconut trees around the house were swaying to the tunes of breeze.The chirps were slowly fading keeping pace with twilight.The beautiful transition could not engross her completely as she was reminded of her mom.Each evening they had a ritual of praying to God and wishing happiness for all.

Nostalgia had sneaked into her eyes opening floodgates of tears.

The nurse touched her back.She shrieked as she was in another world.The nurse started smiling at her reaction.

"You know Charu! Your grandma has opened her eyes twice in this half an hour.She gave a blank look first followed by one if she is missing somebody.I am pretty sure,she could sense your presence.Don't you think so?"

Charu was not prepared to handle such excitement. She gave a calm composed look that was quite demotivating for Lucy -the nurse.However,Charu dragged her wretched soul to her grandma's room.She had no intention to verify the veracity.As she entered the room,she was enamored by the fragrance of flowers wafting through the partially opened window.She could notice her grandma wink a bit as she touched her finger.

Ah!some sign there, that she is alive.Her long travel was fruitful and she was relieved.

She smiled at the nurse and wished goodnight.

Charu had no appetite for dinner.The maid served anyhow.Her father shared the table.When her mom was alive,this was the time they could chit chat and have food.Rest of the time he was busy making money.Charu wanted to ask him something in general,but could not.She had lost touch of speaking to his father in these six months and struggled to begin but could not.Yet she wished him a goodnight sleep.As their eyes met,she could see his affection for her.She gave him a hug, that invoked the oozing process of love.

"Good night Charu.Thanks for taking the emergency call and coming.I don't know whether your grandma will be normal again.If she recovers fully,the credit will certainly be yours.If she does not….i will be all alone in this house guarding it till my end.I had vowed to my father,I cannot act otherwise".He almost wept as he spoke the last sentence.

"I have been very selfish, Charu.I was against your going for higher studies for the fact that,I cannot stand loneliness.I need someone by my side."

"It is and take rest.Tomorrow you have to leave early for your work."

 Back in her room, she flung herself on the couch for sometime before she cuddled her teddies on the bed.One pink, the other pristine white.Her birthday present from mom.How much she was into her heart and soul !She always found and brought stuff of her choice.

"Why are you so unkind God!"

 Her melancholic eyes could not hold to dew drops…

 She sobbed for a while then came to terms.

 Charu missed her pals in NYC.She could visualize the pressure that she has to handle once she is back .

"A few more sleepless nights again!"-Before i completely catch up.Sighs.

 Dimmed bed lights did not dim prospects of her staying awake.Her mind chuckled without halt.The riddle has spread tentacles to seize her mental frame.

She got up and sat on the bed.Cushioned her lazy self on one teddy and opened slowly the book that mesmerized her.

Page no 67 was an instant find,since bookmarked.The photo that intrigued her soul was in her palm.She took a close look to derive further details of the villa.As she touched the word "Home"inscribed on the backside of the photo-she was completely caught in a web of nostalgia and sense of belonging both.

"No home without mom-per se."

A strong desire to explore the villa for which the route map was drawn stared at her from the closet of her palms.Fort Kochi has many abandoned houses.A few were nearby.She was advised by her father time and again not to take those lanes where such structures remained silent spectator to exodus of gen next.

"Charu, avoid going by those lanes.I have seen ghosts there moving freely while I come home late."

She was a school going child then.

Her phobia was not built in a day.These stories and acting prowess of her father spelt it in bold letters.She entered the house before street lights were on. Many times she visited the sea-shore, but never alone.The big fishing nets were fascinating.Century old trees and the big church -all became quiet at the dusk.Fishermen too left the area just before evening.Eerie silence prevailed thereafter.In a flashback she recollected how she was reprimanded once for being late having gone to sea shore with friends.

"Does this picture give any cryptic clue about the abandoned places she had been admonished not to visit?"

Some uncanny feeling was swirling in the room.She switched on lights to fight those phantoms.

Sitting straight on the bed,she examined the cover of the book again.This time minutely.No eyes only ears…

"What does it connote?"

"Does it mean-seeing is believing? Or, does it suggest-Keep your ears wide open and don't just believe what your naked eyes capture?"

A tough "to be or not to be."- her lips were laced with a mischievous smile.

She took the photograph again from the book and tried to decode the cue and the mystery ...this time using her heart, not mind.

"Yes,there lies the clue. I can crack it."Saying this she jumped from bed.Her curiosity got a breakthrough and she clenched her fist in excitement.

It was past midnight then.Sleep had eluded her completely.She stared at the faded map and the villa again and again."Home"perhaps is the key word -she muttered.The quietness of the night dwelled in her eyes.Her calmed self had started dissecting the plot and weaving a tapestry of plans to reach there.

"Could it be mom's parental house?-A remote possibility?"

She faintly recollected then,her mother telling once -how she was orphaned at an early age having lost her parents in an accident.She had to live with her maternal uncle.He usurped the property and married off her quite early.She had not disclosed much though.One faint reference was -Charu's grandpa had a job in the East India Company and earned a lot.He chose this quiet,tranquil place -Fort Kochi and settled.He got married at a very late age and was fond of driving.Charu's grandma was younger to him by fifteen years.He saw her once coming out of a book shop and was floored by her ethnicity at the very first sight.

After regular morning chores,she sat for a while with her grandma.The nurse was cleaning her body,changing bed cover.She hoped for a wink even,but her grandma was having peaceful sleep.Her father had left.She asked the maid to cook something simple and left for the adventure.The map she had drawn in a bigger sheet for the sake of convenience was handy.She took an auto to Fort Kochi beach.That was the first step.The Sun was unkind that day.She could barely find people .To beat the scorching heat,she took lemon soda.That helped level her thinking aperture.She slowly walked down the narrow lanes ,by lanes without taking her eyes off from the abandoned places.A few local persons she referred too, when she lost direction.A small coffee shop,not very crowded she found at the end of an alley.The seller,an old man, was warm in his dealings.She mustered up courage to show the map to him, when no one was looking.The old man gave an intense look and his eyes remained wide open for a few seconds.

"Who gave you this map amma?"

"I found a photo inside a book that I purchased from a second hand book stall.The map was drawn on the back.Do you have any idea, where it should be.Must be somewhere around.I could not find the hotel "Ab*** " -that has been mentioned in the pic.How would you...when the hotel is no more."

"What has happened? Could you please elaborate?"

'Wait under the shade and let me serve all the customers.I shall revert once I am free."

 He finished off and closed the cabin, walked towards her with intrigue in his eyes.

"Are you from this place chinnamma?-meaning small girl."

"Yes I am.My house is two kilometers away."

 "Please help me find the hotel and the villa.I have been searching in the lanes since morning.I went near a few dilapidated and abandoned houses.None matched up to the description or the clues. My heart says I have some connection with the place.Please look at the map and the photo anna!(meaning big brother).The three clues therein are" -

1.The map leading to the villa,"home' inscribed on it.

2.Hotel reading-AB***

3.A secret code-MV02FK09

"I think you have almost reached the place.May be half a kilometer from here and you meet the dead end.There are big bushes concealing the ruins of the hotel.The villa once was talk of the place.It was very aesthetically made."Home"- it was to a person who served the East India Company and had lavish life.He built the hotel "Abode", but gave away profit in charity.This place was inhabited by poor fishermen earlier.

He had a car.He bought it after getting married.He lead a blissful life till a fatal car accident took its toll and the family was ruined.His only daughter survived and relatives pawed upon the wealth without giving a penny to the rightful owner-the daughter.The daughter was married off forcefully to a small time businessman."

"Thank you anna! For the help and the time."

"Did you see all these with your own eyes or is this a story?"

"My hair has turned white but i am not that old.My father used to recount his youthful days and this episode formed a part of it."

Saying this he got up and walked down the street.

"It is lunch time chennamma. My wife will be waiting.If you are that curious,please go there.One small piece of advice-do not go alone.They say -ghosts live there.One more thing I forgot to say-The number you mentioned could be his car number.I can't distinctly remember, if my father had referred to this anytime.I am very surprised to find a young woman like you going so deep into the past of the ruined place.Take care."

Tears of gratitude started rolling down as Charu took small steps to reach the main road and rent an auto back home.She could not muster up courage after listening to the sad end of the episode.

The genuine inquiry of the coffee vendor regarding her curiosity,rang in her ear.

She mustered up to murmur-"Perhaps the villa belonged to my mom's father and she kept mum till she lived, regarding the gruelling times that she had after her parents' demise.Now that she has this strong hunch,should she discuss with her dad about the possibility of retrieving the fortune, or she will keep mum like her mother did???"

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