Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.

Dibyendu Pal

Children Stories Drama Crime


4  

Dibyendu Pal

Children Stories Drama Crime


Baltu's Adventures

Baltu's Adventures

101 mins 159 101 mins 159

Preface


Baltu Mitter is an entrepreneur by profession. Because of his entrepreneurship, he has to travel to several places in the world. He is in a habit of going around several impassable places in mountains, deep forests, the ocean in search of something strange and unknown subjects during the leisure period of the business. Different cultures, customs and manners, dialects, people of various characters, and their social lives stir up the mind of Baltu. While doing so he faced many difficult situations in his life even a fatal death. But he never bothered about that. He courageously encountered the tough and critical state of life one after the other. During the tenure of his adventurous life, he gathered experiences in different aspects of life. He discovered some mystic objects. Sometimes I also associated him in his adventurous footsteps. I am being a close friend of him, Baltu narrated his several adventures and discoveries to me. Listening to that seemed to be impossible, mysterious and unnatural to me. Though he is keeping all his ventures in his diary, I was permitted to publish some of his adventures. I don’t have any foppery or investigation about the truthfulness or transparency of the anecdotes narrated by Baltu.


                                              I

                                         ACOUSTIC CELL 

      All of a sudden Mr. Baltu Mitter was found absconding. After about fifteen days I received a small letter at my address.

“Dear Sanju

 Listen to me attentively. You board in the Sambaleswari Express the next Sunday. Get down at Badmal station. I shall receive you there. I will reveal everything face to face. Don’t be panicky. Come sharp.

 Your loving friend

 Baltu”

Without wasting time I boarded in Sambaleswari Express on Sunday. I arrived at a tiny platform of Badmal station via Sambalpur in the early morning. There was a few Railway quarters and no sign of any living being. I was in dilemma....standing alone on the platform. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly a bell of a bicycle heard from behind. I turned and found Baltu was standing behind me. He asked me to sit on the carrier of his cycle without any questing. Keeping a ‘Shiva Temple’ aside, he took a narrow path going through the wilderness. After proceeding further came a hillock in front of us. Baltu got down and hiding his bicycle behind a bush asked me to follow him.

It was a thick forest around us. The drone of cricket, hissing sound of wind through the trees created a ghostly environment. I was feeling an uncanny sense of fear. A panicky voice came out from my throat, “Baltoooo!” Baltu said in a grave voice, “Don’t worry, follow me.”

We started climbing up the hillock and descending down to arrive on a plane land surrounded by the thickest woods.


All of a sudden, I felt that no sound of the drone of cricket was heard, not even the sound of our boots. Being struck dumb I called Baltu in a trembling voice. But Baltu advanced further without any reply. After a few steps further, I was unable to hear the sound of my own voice!

After moving around a turning, a tiny temple was located in front of us. A stone smeared with oily vermilion and some dry flowers were lying in front of the temple, by the side of which there was a beautiful red color snail. Being fascinated with that beautiful tiny snail,

I couldn’t resist myself. Evading Baltu I tried to pick up that snail, but Baltu pulled me aside and told inaudibly something in an angry glance.

Being dumbfounded I found Baltu took out a forceps and a glass container from his side bag. On opening the lid of the glass container he picked up the red snail by forceps and placed it within the container. As he closed the lid of the container a miracle happened. I felt as if the sleeping place woke up by the magical touch of a golden stick of a magician! The forest became full of life........chirping of birds........hissing sound of wind through the trees..........drone of cricket. Staring at me Baltu started smiling. I too stood like a log being dumbfounded.

After returning to Titlagarh town, Baltu narrated a strange unbelievable anecdote to me.

“Once I had been to a remote village of Badmal in search of some new species and was spending some days in the village hut. One day at night when I was in a slumberous state, I happened to hear a peculiar sound, ‘Tirr rip...Tirr rip... Tirr rip’ followed by some stentorian voice, ‘Baltu....Baltu...Baltu....Go to a tiny temple behind the hillock.....a red snail in front of it....don’t touch by hand.....pick up with a forceps.....preserve within an airtight glass container..... Don’t go alone....ask for a companion with you.’”

Baltu explained to me that the red snail was not an ordinary snail but an Acoustic Cell, which is capable of sucking all the sounds around it. This accumulated sound energy can be converted into electrical energy.

Since Baltu didn’t possess any suitable instruments for the conversion of Sound into Electricity, he faxed to his close friend Dr. Robin of Kolkata to come to Titlagarh without delay.

Dr. Robin arrived at the residence of Baltu in Titlagarh. On listening to Baltu’s anecdote and observing the red snail in the glass container he too became struck dumb. After several hours of discussion with Dr. Robin with Baltu, thought that it would not be feasible to perform experimentation and conversion of sound into electricity in human habitation. More so for that experimentation, necessary instruments are also to be procured. Both of them decided to perform the experiment in a desert at Puskar of Rajasthan, a lonely and dry place. Dr. Robin thought that in this experimentation active assistance of Professor Solarj, a great scientist of NASA and a friend of him was of utmost necessity.


Accordingly, Dr. Robin contacted Prof. Solarj over the phone. The phone was held by Dr. Hudson, the scientific Assistant of Prof. Solaj. As he handed over the phone to Prof. Solarj, Robin explained to him in detail about the red snail and requested him to come sharp at Titlagarh.

After a few days, a train arrived at Titlagarh from Raipur. Prof. Solarj came down from the First class AC compartment. He was in his favorite brown suit....face covered with beard and mustache.....eyes with black goggles and a necktie tied loosely around his neck.

Dr.Robin, Baltu and I were on the platform for receiving Prof. Solarj. On looking at Professor Dr. Robin soliloquized, ‘Oh! There is a lot of change in the appearance of Prof. Solarj. He started keeping a beard and mustache! Good.’ Dr. Robin and Baltu received him and shook hands with him. Professor was boarded in a special suit of a three-star hotel in Titlagarh. Baltu brought the Glass container to the hotel and explained to him about the red snail and decided to perform the experiment in the desert of Puskar in Rajasthan.

The next day in the morning, when Dr. Robin, Baltu and I came to the hotel for further discussion regarding the experiment, we noticed Prof. Solarj was absconding from the hotel along with the Glass container containing the red snail.


 ‘Oh Gosh! What I’ll do now?’ Baltu started lamenting. Dr. Robin opined that this secret matter can’t be reported to the police station. As decided by him we set out in search of Prof. Solarj. Searching all the nooks and corners of Titlagah Township, we arrived at Titlagarh Railway station. While searching there, an express train arrived at the station from Raipur. We heard a voice from behind, ‘Hallow Dr. Robin!’ Looking back we noticed a person with a deep brown suit, a loosely tied necktie, black goggles on eyes, cleanly shaved face.

‘Hallow Prof. Solarj! We were looking for you only. You are looking fresh after shaving your beard and mustache. Where is the Glass container?’ Dr. Robin overwhelmed with joy. Listening to Dr. Robin, Prof. Solaj became flabbergasted. ‘Beard! Moustache! Glass container! I can’t follow Dr. Robin.’ Dr. Robin narrated the whole episode to him. Prof. Solarj told that presumably, the person with the beard and mustache was Dr. Hudson. If that is so, then it was alarming; because, very recently Dr. Hudson was experimenting with the fabrication of an Acoustic Bomb. Without wasting time, we prepared to go to Puskar immediately.


When we arrived at Puskar from Jaipur airport, it was twelve o'clock noon. Keeping our luggage in a petty hotel in Puskar, we began interrogating several people about the whereabouts of Dr. Hudson. One youth came forward and intimated that a person with a beard and mustache was found in Puskar town and walked towards ‘Sabitri hills’ with a bag on his shoulder.

We arrived at Sabitri hills along with that stranger youth. Exploring the hills minutely and not getting the trace of Dr. Hudson, we noticed the ‘Thar’ desert well behind the Sabitri temple on the hills, stretched endlessly. A few hillocks were noticed at a long distance. Without any more delay, we set out towards those distant hillocks, rubbing the heated-up sands by the scorching sun. After crossing two hillocks, it seemed to me there was an absence of any sounds. Baltu smilingly looked at me. Though we could understand, others stopped astonishingly. Everyone was talking but none of them could hear the voice of others.


All of a sudden the sound of the explosion could be heard from behind a hillock. We started running and turning around the hillock, Baltu screamed loudly. We found Dr. Hudson dropped down in a pit of sand. His eyes were overturned....tongue protruded from his mouth. It seemed as if someone throttled his neck to death. Several parts of the instruments were scattered all around. A bombshell was lying aside. At the edge of the pit, we noticed that the glass container smashed to smithereens. The broken piece of that red snail was lying by his side.


Suddenly, a sound began to come out from somewhere near about, ‘Tirr rip, Tirr rip, Tirr rip.’ I noticed a tiny edition of that red snail, very green in color was lying at the corner of the pit. The sound was emanating from that tiny green snail. Being dumbfounded as we started moving towards it, a clear voice came out from it, ‘Baltu... Baltu... Baltu... I sent a red snail to you for the conversion of sound energy to electrical energy...for benefit of mankind....Hudson stole it for the fabrication of Acoustic Bomb.......he touched the red snail by hand unknowingly.........see the consequence.....The acoustic cell is destroyed.......I’ll come again to you........Goodbye....Goodbye.....Goodbye....Baltu.’

The green snail leaped up a little and broke into pieces.



                                              **********************

                                                      

                                                     II

                                              LIZARDOSAUROUS 


The oval stone was lying for a long on the curve of the streamlet flowing through the forest area. The transparent sole dip silvery ripples used to flow through the woods making her zigzag pathway. Baltu was in a habit of walking along the path of streamlet several times, especially during his holidays. Often he used to notice that a black and white color oval-shaped stone lying by the side of the streamlet. Once or twice he touched the stone by hand. But he never looked at it attentively.


Once while going through the newspaper in the morning he was struck by sensational news... ‘A petrified egg of Dinosaurs found at Taklimakan region of China; the fossilized egg of Tyrannosaurus in the thick forest of Mexico. Scientists are exerting their best endeavor to analyze the DNA of those fossils. On listening to this news Mr. Spielberg created an artificial ‘Jurassic Park’.’

“Is that oval-shaped stone near streamlet fossilized egg of Dinosaur?” Baltu leaped up, rushed towards the streamlet. “Oh! The stone is still there!” He tried to push the stone by hand. The dimension of the oval stone was approximately one and a half feet in diameter. Baltu picked up the stone and felt the weight might be two to three kilograms. The stone was similar to a big egg of a goose.


Baltu soliloquized, “It must be a fossilized egg of a Dinosaurs.” Keeping the stone within his side bag he reached his residence. “But how to prove this stone as a fossilized egg of Dino?” He mumbled. Keeping the stone on the table he was absorbed in thought lying on his easy chair. All of a sudden he recalled the name of his great scientist friend Dr. Robin.

In the meanwhile, I received a telegram from Baltu from Titlagarh.

“Dear Sanju

 I collected a strange oval stone. I want it to be analyzed in the laboratory of my friend Robin. You go straight to his residence and inform him about my intention. Let him be at home. I am coming soon.

 Yours ever Baltu” 

The next day in the early morning somebody knocked on the door of my room. Opening the door I saw Baltu in front of me.

“Did you go to Robin’s residence?” Baltu enquired to me.

“Yes, I had been there and informed him about your coming.”

“That’s good. OK, let us go now.”

“Now! In so early morning! He may be sleeping now.”


“Oh no! He is an early riser from his childhood. Come on let us go.” Without any further dialogue, we set out towards Dr. Robin’s residence. Baltu was carrying a side bag containing the stone.

Baltu rang up the calling bell of Dr. Robin’s residence. On opening the door Dr. Robin astonishingly said, “You! In so early morning! Sanju intimated that you will be coming. But in so early morning!”

 “Yes, my friend. I require expert help from you about an oval stone.”

Entering the room, Baltu narrated the whole episode. Dr. Robin became struck dumb listening to Baltu’s invention and desire. Dr. Robin straightway took us to his laboratory without any further argument. After conducting a Carbon-isotope test, Electrofluorosis, Ultramicroscopy, Phase-contrast microscopy, Dr. Robin confirmed that the oval stone was a fossilized egg of a Dinosaur of 100 million years back. Now Baltu said most importunately to Dr. Robin, “You will have to revive this fossil, my friend.”

“Are you mad? How is it possible? It is nothing but a childish play.” Dr. Robin burst into laughter. Baltu being a tenacious fellow contradicted, “Why not my brother? So many eminent scientists conducted DNA analysis of eggs of Dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus, and Pterodactyls.”

“What’s there? DNA analysis and revival is not the same thing.” Dr. Robin didn’t agree.

But Baltu raised the reasoning, “Why is it not possible brother? The seeds of 10 years old pumpkin when planted in the soil, germinate and grow like plants. Similarly, fossils can also be revived. Of course, for that suitable climate and environment similar to the ancient era are to be created. I hope you have all the instruments in your laboratory for that.”


“Oh, dear! I am unable to digest your words. Now you decide what I am to do?” Dr. Robin replied in jest. Keeping quiet for sometime Baltu repeatedly said, “If in your laboratory an atmosphere of 100 million years can be created and the fossil is kept under it, I feel the fossil can be revived.” 

Robin without going for any further confrontation thought for a while and said, “Wait. Let me see what I can do for you.” Saying so, Dr. Robin left the laboratory room. After a while, he brought some small pebbles, mossy soil, etc, and kept all these substances in an airtight Bell jar, made of ‘Kevlar Glass’. Now he placed the fossilized stone within the Bell jar. He injected water vapor, Hydrogen, Methane and Ammonia gases into the jar through some tubing. A prehistoric semblance of the earth was now created within the jar. Subsequently, a high-power electromagnet was switched on and an electric current was introduced inside the jar.

An artificial atmosphere of the whirlwind was created within the jar. We were observing the jar with our expanded eyes. Dr. Robin was keenly observing the condition in the jar.

All of a sudden, a mysterious blue light filled the jar. An electromagnetic wave began flowing violently.....began electromagnetic tempest. We became spellbound noticing the change within the jar. We noticed some clouds gradually formed within the jar..... a flash of lightning began. ‘But what happened to that oval stone? It is still laying standstill. There is no sign of any revival of it. Is Baltu’s theory of revival wrong? ” I murmured. But Baltu was observing the changes confidently.

Robin now inserted a thermal probe within the jar and connected it with a temperature indicator. The temperature inside the jar was scaling up gradually to 80oC..100oC..150oC..200oC.and more and more. Suddenly Dr. Robin shouted delightfully. We noticed that the color of the fossil inside the jar appeared to be different from its original color. Our faces gloried in excitement. The color of the oval stone now changed to green and slowly it became blackish red in color.

“Is not a concealed roar emanating from the jar?” I soliloquized.


All of a sudden the oval stone was broken into fragments and transformed into a two feet tall tiny Dinosaur, (exactly similar to what we saw in pictures). Dr. Robin embraced Baltu delightfully. Suddenly the glass jar was broken and the cover of the jar flew with a jerk with a cracking sound hitting the switch of Air conditioner. The cooling of the room started abnormally. The temperature of the laboratory started diminishing. Dr. Robin immediately switched off the electromagnet. The hungry newborn Dino sprang towards Baltu, standing near the table. Baltu being panicky while escaping collided with the jar containing Amino Acid. From the tilted jar Amino Acid started oozing out on the floor. The tiny Dino lapped up the entire Amino Acid from the floor. Instantly an awkward incident happened in the room. That hungry tiny Dino stood motionless. Its large round eyes like the marble started shrinking down into small eyes. Its two feet tall large structure shortened into one and a half inches. The large Dino was converted into a small house lizard.

Dr. Robin whispered to Baltu, “It is a genetic degeneration.” The tiny deformed Dino leaped up and creeping on the wall went out of the laboratory. A voice was heard from outside, “Tik...Tik...Tik.” Dr. Robin and Baltu looked at each other dumbfounded. I burst into laughter and commented, “Rubbish! It’s not a Dinosaurous but a Lizardosaurous.”

 

 

                                            ******************************

 

                                                      III

                                                 GOLDEN DEER


      I came across Baltu in the mutton shop in the morning. On seeing me he reproved, “Hallow Sanju Paul, it seems you have become too precocious nowadays. Can you recollect how many days you haven’t come to my residence?”

I falteringly said, “What to do? I don’t have time for even strenuous breathing. due to severe pressure in work at the office during daytime and studies in Management course at night.”

Baltu astonishingly said, “Management!! What management course you are now studying?”

“Personal Management,” I replied.

“Good heavens!” saying so Baltu became busy in purchasing mutton.

While coming out from the mutton shop Baltu said, “Today is Sunday. It’s your off day Keeping the mutton in your residence, come sharply to my house. Today your lunch is in my house.”

Necessarily I have no other go; I will have to obey his order. Baltu is a bachelor. He cooks himself. It’s good; today I can chit-chat with him with enthusiasm. Handing over the mutton bag to my mother, I set out straight to Baltu’s residence.


Just after lunch, when we were gossiping, my mobile started ringing. It was an urgent message from my boss. I would have to go to Mizoram on official duty. I requested the boss to permit me to stay in that place two or three days more after the official job.

So long Baltu was quietly listening to my conversation. Now blinking his eyes said amazed, “MIZORAM! Why should I not accompany you, dear Paul?” Happily, I agreed.

After obtaining the inner line permit from Mizoram House, both of us boarded a mini airplane of Indian Airlines. Our destination was Mizoram.

‘Lengpui’ airport. It’s a small but neat and clean airport in Mizoram with a tabletop runway. Most of the passengers were Mezzos except we two Bengalis. As we tried to hire a taxi at a fare of Rs.500.00, noticed Mr. Srivastav, manager of my office was coming forward. We waited for his arrival. Mr. Srivastav brought a jeep for us.

While on the way Mr. Srivastav was going on describing Mizoram against all the queries put by us.

“Aizawl’ is the capital city of Mizoram, 45 km away from Lengpui airport. Aizawl is at 4000 ft altitude from sea level. The climate of this place is enjoyable. The weather is 20 - 30o in summer and 11 – 21o during winter.

 The population of this place is 8 to 9 lakhs and the colloquial language is English.”

“Why English?” I enquired.


Mr. Srivastav replied ‘As per history some fraction of Mongolian race settled here after arriving via Myanmar some century back. During the nineteenth century, they were attracted to British Missionaries. Thereafter they were baptized to Christianity. Then the onwards Roman script was adopted in the Mizo language. The education among Mizos was speedy spread. Now maximum educated persons are found in Mizoram. That’s why these people speak in English besides their mother tongue.”

  The driver of the jeep stopped the vehicle for a moment to bring a bottle of drinking water for us. On the way, we noticed numerous bamboo trees, of thin and pliant variety.

Mr. Srivastav smilingly said, “You have seen and appreciated Orchids flowers. But have ever noticed bamboo flowers? These are beautiful ones.”

“Bamboo flowers! Can there be the flowers of bamboo trees? I became astonished.  

“Yes. Did you not read in the newspaper?” Baltu keeping silent so far now opened his mouth,

“ Actually the bamboo flowers don’t blossom every day. It blossoms once after many years. The plant dries out after the flower blossoms. The local inhabitants consider this blossom as an inauspicious indication. The pestilence appeared with the blossoming of bamboo flowers. The actual fact is bamboo flowers have abundant proteins. The hilly rats increase procreation by consuming the bamboo flower proteins. These enormous herds of rats eat up the corn in the cornfields and spread diseases. As a result pestilence and famine begin.”


 Our jeep arrived in front of a two-star hotel ‘Hotel Chief” in the Zarkawt area of Aizawl. The manager of the hotel was Mr. Sushanta Das, a very amicable and nice person.

I noticed that Mr. Srivavstav and Mr. Das were well known to each other. We were allotted a double-bedded super deluxe room on the third floor. The dining hall was on the second floor. Mr. Srivastav left to his campus residence leaving us in the hotel.

We came out of the hotel in the afternoon just to have a view of the small township. While walking we arrived at a marketplace known locally as ‘Bara Bazar.’. Here most of the shops were being controlled by Mizo women. One road was towards the new market area and a road on the right side towards the Police station, Civil Hospital, Museum, Zodin Cinema hall and proceeding further towards Office of district controller, Assembly and Governor’s palace.

It was evening. The darkness was invading the area. Baltu said, “Come on Sanju, let us return now.” While purchasing some chocolates as we were started walking towards our hotel, I noticed a suspicious person was following us. I told Baltu about him. As Baltu turned his head back, the person coming in the vicinity of us said in an undertone, “Sugar, Sugar.”

I looked at the person. He was Mizo, a short height, wearing an ash-colored pair of jeans trousers, a black coat over his shirt, snub-nosed, cropped hair, small brown eyes and an ignited cigarette on his mouth. Coming further near us he said in an undertone, “Do you want sugar?”

I asked Baltu whether the person wanted to sell sugar or not. Baltu whispered, “This sugar does not cane sugar. This is brown sugar, a narcotic.”


“Brown Sugar!!” I became surprised. Baltu said, “Do you know, Mizoram is the gateway of drugs.”

Before I say something to Baltu, that person asked in an undertone, “Want sugar? Very cheap”

Being irritated Baltu replied, “No, I don’t want sugar. You can go.”

Being perplexed the Mizo person left the place.

Next day morning. The office jeep arrived at the hotel. Mr. Srivastav came down and said to Baltu, “What you do alone in the hotel. Please come with us. You can see our construction site as well as you will enjoy the scenic beauty of Mizo hills.”While moving in the jeep, I noticed that a mysterious Mizo person was staring at us. On informing, Mr. Srivastav told not to take a deep view of that person.

Our jeep stopped at a remote village ‘Saitual’ at about 85 kilometers from Aizawl. Our construction work was going on here in full swing. There was a spectacular natural lake. Many people were boating in it. There were many cottages by the side of the lake. Some Mizo boys and girls came for a picnic. We enjoyed the beauty of the lake named ‘Tamdil’ in between our works at the construction site. Baltu engaged in chit-chatting with the young boys. We returned in the afternoon to the hotel.

    At the dinner table, Mr. Srivastav said, “Tomorrow I will take you to ‘Champhai’, about a hundred and ninety-kilo miter away from here. I have already booked a ‘tourist cottage’ at Champhai town.”

 The next day morning, we were on the way to Champhai. While moving Mr. Srivastav narrated about the ancient cultural heritage of Champhai. There were many small villages at Champhai. There existed many victory pillars battles. Several natural caves were scattered here and there. It was noon eleven, we arrived at Champhai. Consuming some eatable we rushed to visit ‘Murapuk’ cave.

Baltu and I were climbing on the hill for visiting the cave. ‘Tiyanlui’ river was seen below. All of a sudden Baltu yelled and I noticed a large bird was coming down flying. Baltu suddenly tugged me within a cave. As I enquired astonishingly, Baltu said, “These birds are Eagles. The local villagers used to use this cave to get rescued from the attack of Eagles. At present, the eagle is not found much. This is fresh attack.”

I noticed some young boys and girls sitting cowering being afraid of Eagles in the semi-dark cave. In the meanwhile, we heard the bang of fire. Peeping I found that Lalthanga, the driver of the jeep climbing with a revolver in hand. Two police were also on the way with the rifle in hand. We all came out of the cave and noticed that the Eagles fled away being frightened from the bang of fire. We heaved a sigh of relief. Lalthanga informed that nowadays attack of the Eagles was seldom seen. It is said that Eagles used to attack during the ‘Chapter Cut’ festival of Mizos. ‘Chapter Cut’ festival means festival of clearing of the jungle by Mizos. We spent a night in the Tourist Cottage at night.

      The next day we set out towards Aizawl. On the way, we visited ‘Rihadil’ lake. It became noon 15 hrs while arriving at the hotel. After the late lunch while we were chit-chatting in the drawing-room suddenly Baltu asked Mr. Srivastav, “I heard there is ‘Nengpui wildlife sanctuary’ about two hundred and ninety-six kilometre away from Aizawl. Is it true?”

“Oh yes. The scenic beauty of that place is pleasant and beautiful. A Reserved Rain Forest is located by the bank of River ‘Neng pui’ at south Mizoram.”

“Rain Forest!!” Baltu leaped up from the chair, “Mr. Srivastav, so far my knowledge goes, the only Rain Forest biggest and oldest in the world is located by the side of River Amazon. It is also known as Amazon Rain Forest. Oh! I am very much interested to visit this Rain Forest, Mr. Srivastav.”

“Okey, Okey Mr.Baltu Mittar.” Mr.Srivastav smilingly phoned up and booked a hotel at ‘Langtlai’ town. 

 The next day morning, when we were getting up in the jeep, I noticed that a mysterious person was staring at us standing at a distance. Without giving any importance to him, we set out towards our destination, ‘Lengtlui’ town.

It was afternoon five when we arrived at ‘Lengtlui’ town. Boarding at the hotel we straightway entered the dining hall. The entire day we couldn’t have lunch on the way. Having heavy refreshment we began seeping the tea.

Baltu found his cigarette stock exhausted. Lalthanga and I coming out of the hotel purchased a packet of cigarettes. While returning to the hotel, I again noticed that mysterious Mizo person staring at me from a distance sitting on a motorcycle. I intimated the matter to Lalthanga. He assured me not to be worried.

We already obtained the permit. The next day morning we set out towards the Rain Forest. The woods were becoming thick to thickest. The path was gradually becoming narrow. Our jeep stopped in front of Bungalow of forest department. Keeping the jeep behind, we started walking on foot. We were provided with a guide by the Forest Department. While walking through the woods, we found Barking deer, leopard, Wild elephants, various birds, etc.

Going further interior of the forest became deepest. There were several dense contiguous large trees. The passage of sunrays was obstructed. There was dense darkness even during the daytime. We had to light the torch. Lalthanga intimated, “Sirs, this is the Rain Forest.”

I was looking up dumbfounded. Looking at my astound face Baltu asked me,” Hallow, What are thinking? Why this forest was named as Rain Forest?” I kept silent.

Baltu smilingly continued, “You know, as the forest becomes denser, there will be more profuse rain. That’s why presumably the name of this forest was given as Rain Forest.” 

But this explanation of Baltu couldn’t be accepted by me.

We were penetrating in the deep to the deepest forest. Our Guide interdicted not to penetrate further. In the meanwhile, I noticed that a motorcyclist entered fast in the forest through another path. I curiously looked at Lalthanga. Lalthanga’s explanation about that caused stricken with trembling in my heart. He said, “That Motorist will go to the border of Myanmar. After collecting the drugs, he will sell them at Aizawl or any neighboring town. He has contact with the police. Hence Police keep eyes closed.” 

       Srivastav and the forest guide remained on the watchtower with the forest guard. Traversing through the thicket in front Baltu, Lalthanga and I proceeded further. Imitating Lalthanga, Baltu and I making a stick from the broken branch of the tree, proceeded after clearing the bushes with the stick in hand. After going further, we heard a shrill scream. Paying heed to that scream, it seemed the neighing of a horse. Crossing a large bush we found 4 feet tall a pretty white animal like a horse. I was looking at the animal struck dumb. Baltu whispered to near my ear, “Rare specimen; white deer. In Zoology it is called ‘Odocoileus Virginianus, in short, ‘Ova’.”

Meanwhile sensing our presence, the deer started moving fast. We ran behind it. Occasionally it appeared, again vanished. I don’t know how long we ran behind it. We found that the white deer disappeared behind an old ancient pillar. We were also surprised to observe such a wonderful artistic designed pillar within this thick forest. It was covered with creepers and herbs. Lalthanga became spellbound. He also didn’t know about the presence of such a pillar in the thicket. Proceeding further we saw another pillar broken and fallen right side. Observing minutely we felt that it was a door of a portal during some old age. In its front, there was a flight of steps covered by weeds. Lalthanga now took out his revolver from waist to left hand. Keeping the stick in his right hand he started ascending up. We too started following him. After crossing about 25 to 30 stairs we came within a large hall, filled with weeds and bushes.

Baltu uttered, “It seems to be ruins of Maya civilization.” Though the walls were covered with weeds, yet some variegated colored paintings were recalling the same of Ajanta-Ellora cave. Keeping behind Lalthanga, Baltu and I were proceeding further being dumbfounded. All of a sudden we noticed circuitous steps going down below the hall. Focusing the torch we were descending down. Coming down below the hall, we noticed various large chests covered with creepers and herbs. A large chest was found cleansed from creepers and herbs. As Baltu tried to touch the safe, he was tumbled down on the floor. I too got a heavy thud on my face. I also turned down the floor. As Baltu tried to get up supporting with the stick, I noticed a Mizo sprung upon Baltu with a dagger in hand. Being unable to stand the impact of the Mizo, Baltu fell on the chest. My brain was feeling dizzy. I noticed that the Mizo miscreant was rushing towards Baltu with his raised dragger. I screamed to the best of my ability, “Lalthanga, Lalthanga save us.” That miscreant now sprang on me with his raised dragger. At such a time a loud sound was heard, “Bang, Bang.” The miscreant person tumbled on me lifeless. Once more a loud sound came, “Bang, Bang”. Thrashing the dead body I got up and saw smoke coming out of the nozzle of the revolver of Lalthanga. With laughter Lalthanga said, “Don’t worry. One is dead and others fled away.” Being struck dumb I said, “Oh! Were there more miscreants?”

Lalthanga replied, “When you entered the hall below, listening to the sound of footsteps, I went into hiding behind the pillars. I notice three miscreants descended down. Thereafter when one of them attacked you I fired my revolver to them. One was dead but I noticed two others were fleeing away. I again fired. But those two fled away.”

Coming near the chest as Baltu opened the lid we noticed the chest was full of brown sugars filled in small sacks. Lalthanga said, “Oh! Then this is their storage of drugs.”

Taking out all the sacks of drugs we set fire to these. As we desired to open other chests, Lalthanga said, “Most probably all these chests contain mommies.”

Dragging forcibly the lid of a chest by Baltu, Lalthanga and I, we found a mommy of a dead man kept inside the chest. While closing the chest, we noticed a tiny silver box having an artistic design. Opening that box, Lalthanga became spellbound. The box was full of gold coins. Lalthanga pocketed a few coins. Baltu noticed an emblematic statue of a gold deer. A Golden deer! Baltu taking out the Golden deer in hand said, “Lalthanga, we are keeping this golden deer with us as a memento of this place.”  

 

                                                *************************

                                                        IV

                                                 FURFU-THUMA

      Baltu Mittar was missing. During my excursion to Darjeeling lost trace of him. I searched each and every probable place. No trace of him. I was considering advertising in the newspaper about missing Baltu. Writings draft of the advertisement as I was about to go to the office of the newspaper along with a photograph of Baltu, a postman appeared in my residence handing over me a registered letter. Opening the letter, I found it was from my dear friend Baltu. He has written to me. ‘It’s a confidential letter’ endorsed initially. Hence I couldn’t divulge to anyone about him. The narration of Baltu is ...................

“Dear Sanju,

 I am now in Lhasa. In Lhasa, the Capital of Tibet, I think you are now stuck dumb. There are numerous anecdotes. If I try to write all, it will become an epic. Even then listen to it in nutshell. I went on a tour to Gangtok from Darjeeling. On the way, I was acquainted with a track driver from Bihar. His name was Lakhon Singh. He was a frequent visitor of Gangtok. Showing me all the places of interest in Gangtok he set out towards ‘Enche Gumpha’ along with me. On the way, we found a sick old ‘Lama’ fallen in a shallow ditch. Lakhon and I rescued old Lama and took him to an asylum. Since Lakhon couldn’t stay with him more he had to return with his track. I had to stay with old Lama for serving him. I brought back him to a normal state by proper nursing. In the meanwhile, I could learn the passable Tibetan language. I used to address him as ‘Lama Baba’. He was affectionate to me as his offspring.

 Lama Baba belonged to the ‘Gelug Pa’ sect of Tibetan Buddhism, where Dalai Lama is regarded as an incarnation of Avolokiteswara and is considered as a benevolent ruler and teacher. Coming to know that Lama Baba would go to Tibet, I persistently requested him to take me with him. I didn’t have a passport with me and more so I am an Indian by birth. Since Tibet is subservient to China, it was difficult and hazardous to enjoy the company of Lama Baba. But I being an obstinate person, he was half inclined to take me with him. He took me to Enche Gumpha ( Monastery).

 Thereafter my training began. Initiating me in Buddhism, he accustomed me to the decorum and manners of ‘Trapa’, which means ‘student’ or scholar. He preached to me about Tibetan Buddhism and the history of Tibet. He taught me about Lamaism and the education system. He made me hear the stories of Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. I learned various scriptures about charms and incantations (Tantra Vidya) indicated in four chapters of ‘Viya rgyud’, ‘Pha rgyud’, ‘Ma rgyud’, ‘Gnuis med kyi rgyud’. Lama Baba explained what is ‘Mandala’ and its construction. I learned about the ‘Cham’ festival and dance. After successful completion of the apprenticeship of Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Baba dressed me with the apparel of a Lama and blessed me. Thereafter we the group of Lamas went on pilgrimage towards Tibet. We were ordered not to talk on the way but only to chant ‘OM Mani Padme Hum’.

There is a strange tranquil environment within. An oil lamp was enkindled in the darkness. Within this chiaroscuro, I found many chests in rows containing mummies of ‘Darjee Pamo’s. I was slowly proceeding forward step by step being struck dumb. All of a sudden I fell down on the floor receiving a jolt against something else. I heard a metallic sound ‘Thang’. In the semi-darkness, I could see it is a metallic container wrapped with a green ‘Tankha’. This ‘Tankha’ is inscribed by variegated ‘Mandala’, an image of Lord Buddha, the symbol of life and Crossing the ‘Yangtuk’ town we arrived at ‘Farizang’ town, a principal trade center of Tibet. After this, there was acclivity up to ‘’Chausal huri’ mountain peak twenty-three thousand feet high. Crossing that with strenuous effort, we came down to a plane land. The path goes towards Lhasa from this place. After crossing few small Tibetan suburbs we reached ‘Samada’ town. The frequency of Chinese soldiers came to our notice earlier. Before the entry into the town, all of a sudden I was under surveillance of a Chinese military officer. After the superintendence filing our group of Lamas, the officer coming near me asked me in unequivocal English, “Are you Indian?”

Before I replied to him, Lama Baba quickly said, “Getsol Getsol.” ‘Getsol’ is the primary state of cognizance as a Lama. The Chinese officer released us after observing me with a suspicious look. Crossing the ‘Samada’ town we reached ‘Kiyangsu Gumpha’. By the proximity of which was a sacred lake, named ‘Sharing zong’. Along with others I also took a bath, after long days of interval. My body became refreshed.

 In fear of Chinese soldiers without spending the night here we proceeded towards “Khangkha” village through ‘Niyangschu’ valley. In the night we had dinner with ‘Thukma’, a soup of barley and sheep’s flesh.

 The next day we set out in the early morning. I could see a town, named ‘Giyatse’; the frequency of Chinese soldiers. Keeping me in the center of the Lama group, Lama Baba took us to village ‘Gobsi’. There is a lake here, named ‘Yomdrok’ Our night stay was in a ‘Gumpha’ beside it.

 Am I writing much, Sanju? What am I to do? Still, then it’s in nutshell. It’s not possible to write many occurrences, scenic views and experiences in this letter. I will narrate elaborately if I am able to return any day. Now listen to......

 There are many hamlets on the way to ‘Samding Gumpha’ from Gobsi village. A place is known as ‘Balung’ situated about fourteen feet high. ‘Sang po’,’ is flowing below it, which is known as the River Brahmaputra entered in India via Assam state. I became a little unmindful. I came to senses by the call of Lama Baba.

 We stationed at ‘Samding Gumpha’. This Gumpha is divided into two parts, one for male Lamas and the other for Female Lamas. Omnipotent ‘Guru’ of female Lamas is known as ‘Dorje Pamo’. There is an odd-looking hundred-armed idol of Lord Buddha in the main temple. The meaning of ‘Samding’ is the mountain of meditation. Really it’s a tranquil environment. Everyone is performing ones’ duty silently. There is a Lake behind the temple, where there are no Chinese soldiers. Hence obtaining the consent of Lama Baba I strolled near the lake. A stinky smell of dried fish, kept on the bank of the lake for drying in sun was emanating. I felt nauseating from the smell. While returning forthwith from the lake, I unmindfully entered within a concealed chamber behind the temple death and senility. I don’t know when I unconsciously kept the container in the bag of my girdle. Getting a sound of a footstep, coming out of the chamber, I found Lal Baba standing in front. Scolding mildly, he took me to the room of ‘Gumpha’. 

The next morning we were going ahead towards Lhasa through the ‘Sang Po’ valley. Near ‘Chaksam Gumpha’ we crossed a river in a boat. There were Chinese soldiers, but they didn’t suspect us. Lhasa, a large town full of temples was visible from a distance. There is a cautiousness of Chinese soldiers. There are several travelers, mostly Americans and Brazilians, and a few Indians. Chinese soldiers are busy checking their passports. Our group of Lamas entered Lhasa undisturbed. Our destination is ‘Drepung Gumpha’. It is the largest monastery in the world. The main temple is surrounded by four universities. It is surprising that such an ancient but good management. The main temple is known as ‘Zokhang’. The palace of ‘Dalai Lama’ named ‘Potala’ situated on a hillock.

 Dear Sanju, I think you feeling boredom reading this description of my journey in the letter. But I must tell you it is not a travelogue. This is the prologue to my actual anecdote. Please continue reading.

 I arrived at the ‘Potala’ palace along with Lama Baba. There are thirty-five tiny temples within the main palace. A ‘Gumpha’ is visible through the window below the palace. Lama Baba told the name of this ‘Gumpha’ as ‘Chakpuri’. It’s an ‘Ayurvedic’ and pharmaceutical university. The Indian ‘Ayurved’ was translated into Tibetan script during the ancient era. The students are taught here. Our group of Lamas was descending down when I was observing ‘Chakpuri’ with keen interest. All of a sudden I heard a voice in Hindi, “Very fine! Very beautiful place.” I looked at the person beside me, praising his own. I enquired in Hindi, “Are you Indian?” The person astonishingly was looking at me. I said, “I am an Indian too.” I requested him to meet me at ‘Drepung Gumpha’ in the evening secretly without informing anybody. I wanted to send a letter secretly to you through him.

 I got down to the group of Lamas. In the meanwhile I noticed that a Nigerian or American person was looking at me with a fixed eye, sitting on the stairs of the ‘Potala’ palace. Once or twice looking back I turned my face feeling uneasiness. Lama Baba took us to visit the library of ‘Drepung Gumpha’.

 I became spellbound observing such a large library here. I presume there are more or less thirty-six thousand of books are kept here. Lama Baba said, “There are a thousand copies of ‘Zang Giur’ and ‘Kang Giur’ are preserved here.’ Asking Lama Baba I came to know ‘Zang Giur’ in Buddhist scripture of ethics and morals and ‘Kang Giur’ is its simple explanation. While moving around I found a huge collection of precious scriptures and ‘Vedantas’ of various sagacious great persons of ancient India.

 Suddenly a tiny book came to my notice. The book title was ‘Idam’ means a mysterious word. Mischievous tendencies grew in my mind. Looking this side and that, quickly pulling that book from the rack I hid it under my gabardine.

 After visiting the ‘Chakpuri’ Lama Baba went with the Lamas towards the bank of the ‘Kichu’ river. I along with two Lamas stayed away from them. Sitting secretly behind a rock I eyed cursorily on the pages of the book. 

 Do you know Sanju what is the secret in this book? It was the secret mystical formula to preserve youth eternally. That mystical formula is nothing but a substance made by the complete amalgamation of decoction of some herbs and chemical substances, name ‘FURFU THUMA’.

 Now it’s evening. The Indian, whom I asked to come to me in the evening, is found loitering near ‘Drepung Gumpha’. Presumably, I have seen that Nigerian too. I am finishing the letter writing. I will have to hand over the letter to that Indian. I have already written your address on the envelope.  If I am able to return, I will strike the world with my new invention. That book is still with me under my gabardine.

With love and affection

 Yours ever

Baltu”

 About two to three months passed after receiving the letter from Baltu. There is no trace of Baltu. I am anxious about him. I am in a dilemma about what to do. During this anxious state of mine, one day suddenly my doorbell goes in the noon. Opening the door I became startled. A Lama was standing in front, wearing torn and ragged red gabardine. Face full of beard and mustache, shaven head, sunken reddish eyes. I was unable to decide what I should do. That Lama uttered in unequivocal Bengali dialect, “What’s matter Sanju. Can’t you recognize me?” Looking at him minutely I embraced him screaming, “ Oh! Baltu! You are!”

       After taking bath, wearing a fresh dress from me, taking some eatable, what episodes narrated by him was a shocking affair. Let me describe as per dialect of Baltu:-

“After paying homage to the temple of Lhasa, Lama Baba proceeded with us to the pilgrimage of Kailas and Manasarovar. Moving for ten days from Lhasa we came to ‘Shigatse’ town, headquarter of Chinese soldiers. It’s a big town. As such the foreigners are being searched off and on. Avoiding ‘Shigatse’ town Lama Baba heaved a great sigh after crossing the ‘Lhasazong’ ferry ghat. The main highway towards Kailas-Manasarovar was in front. After walking about ten days, taking shelter in various ‘Gumphas’, we arrived at the plane land. There were two lakes in our front, on the left ‘’Yumtso Mapam’ or ‘Manas Lake and on the right ‘Lhanag Tso’ or Rakshas Tal. Towards the southern side, there was snow-white ‘Gurla Mandhata’ Mountain. And towards the Northern side snow-covered peak in between two mountains was the magnanimous Mount Kailas. Circumambulating around Mount Kailas from ‘Tarchen’ we returned to ‘Tarchen’. I felt that I have seen that Nigerian amongst the band of travelers. From the very beginning, I couldn’t like that fellow. It seemed that particular person was following me. Is it for seizing that secret book? Else could he recognize my identity? I intimated that to Lama Baba. Lama Baba became afraid. Lama Baba set out at dawn along with me. A road was towards Gangtok, Ladak and Kashmir. Showing me the way towards Gangtok Lama Baba embraced me with tearful eyes. 

Walking for about two days, I felt someone was following me. Turning around a bend I found that the Nigerian person is standing in front. He came straight to me and demanded that secret book. To avoid him I started running. The Nigerian miscreant clasping me snatching that book from me pushed me in the flowing river below.

 When came to my senses I found myself lying in the bed of a military hospital in India. The doctor was a Bengal person. I came to know from him that floating in the river I was struck upon a large boulder. Some soldiers finding me there brought me to their hospital. They served me a lot considering me as a Lama. I could return here with the assistance of that Bengali Military doctor. 

 But it’s a pity Sanju, that precious book has gone in the hand of that Nigerian. I couldn’t do the epoch-making invention.”

I said, “But dear Baltu that epoch-making invention has already done in the USA.”

“Done?” Baltu surprisingly enquired, “What’s that invention?” 

I replied, “Viagra. The symbol of eternal youth.”

Baltu with a deep sigh kept silent for a while. All of a sudden recalling a subject, I enquired, “Baltu you wrote in your letter about a metallic container. What it contained?”

Baltu startling rushed into the bathroom. Taking out the metallic container from the pocket of his ragged gabardine, wrapped with ‘Tangkha’. It was a silver container. Opening that container we got five transparent greenish small globules and a paper inscribed with Tibetan script. Taking the paper in hand, going through it Baltu shouted, “FURFU THUMA, FURFU THUMA.”


                                                       ****************


                                                            V

                                                 AERONAUTICS IN CAVERN 

      Baltu was after me for a few days. “Sanju, come on let us go on tour to Ooty. It’s a nice popular hill station located at Nilgiri Hills. It’s also known as Udhagamandalam. Ooty is known as the Queen of hill stations.”

As much as I said, “I won’t get leave now from my office”; that much lucrative description of Ooty came from him. “Do you know Sanju from the middle of the month of April up to the month of May is entirely season time? Ooty or Ootacamund is beautified with variegated colourful flowers. It’s a picturesque hilly town. During season time several tourists come here to enjoy the scenic beauty. There are so many places of interest, Botanical garden, Ooty Lake, Rose garden, Racecourse, Lady Canning’s seat, Catherin falls, Dolphin’s nose, etc. You can observe boat race, enjoy horse races, beauty contests so many enjoyable events. Come on get ready. Let’s book railway tickets for us.”

 I tried to comprehend him about my inability to go on tour at present. Ultimately Baltu being irritated said, “Leave it. You need not go. I will go alone. If you would have come we could enjoy the trip together.”

      Next Sunday Baltu set out to Chennai by Coromondal Express. From Chennai, he will have to go to Mettupalayam by Nilgiri Express and from Mettupalayam to Ooty by Nilgiri Mountain Express, the meter gauge rail. This travel route was told to me by Baltu.

Just after arriving at Ooty Baltu wrote a letter to me:-

 “Dear Sanju,

 You didn’t accompany me. You don’t know what you have missed. Traveling from Mettupalayam to Ooty by miter gauge what a pleasant experience, I can’t express verbally. So many scenic beauties throughout the journey by meter gauge rail. Today is the third day I have come to Ooty. I put up in Lake View Hotel. I visited several places of interest here. Yesterday I had been to the racecourse, enjoyed the horse race. This is an enchanting experience. I will elaborately describe my experiences to you on my return. 

With love and affection

Baltu”

After receiving the letter I was saddened thinking that if I could have gone with him, I could have enjoyed it much. I learned that Botanical garden and Ooty Lake is famous as a shooting spot for films. The lake itself has also had scenic beauty. Thereafter 3 days passed. Once in the noon a postman came and handed over me a telegram. The message is short.

“Dear Sanju,

 I am OK. I have visited most of the tourist spots near about. In the meanwhile, I have got a trace of something intense matter. You may call it a quarry of gems or more than that a precious something. It can’t be divulged in a short letter. If I can return the sound of the body I will describe it in detail.

 With love and affection

 Baltu” 

Receiving the telegram, I was delighted. But the last line made me anxious. What type of quarry of gems? Again he mentioned that it is more precious than gems. Baltu is alone. Is there any adversity? Oh! I should have gone with him. Baltu won’t care about anybody. Whatever he thinks, he does. Don’t know what I should do. Baltu only mentioned the name of his hotel. The address or phone number of the hotel has not been given. No other go! I will have to wait for his letter if any.

After two days once more a telegram came in short.

 “Dear Sanju,

 Your presence required. Come sharp to Lake View hotel of Ooty. On your arrival, I will divulge the matter.

 With love and affection

 Baltu”

My mind was grumbling madly. My traveling kits were already arranged properly for travel. As such making an emergency reservation, I set out towards Ooty. After about three days of the train journey, I reached Ooty. Hiring a taxi arrived at the Lake View Hotel. Since that was season time, getting accommodation in any hotel was difficult. But by the grace of God, I got a room in that hotel. While signing in the hotel register I noticed the name of Baltu Mittar in room No.15 on the ground floor. Keeping my luggage in my room, coming down to the ground floor I pushed the doorbell of room no.15 once, twice, and repeatedly. No response from inside. On enquiring at the reception counter, the service boy told that the ‘sahib’ of room no. 15 has gone out for about two days depositing the room key to the manager of the hotel. Necessarily, what I should do. ‘Where Baltu has gone? Is he in search of the quarry of gems? Where is that quarry?’ while thinking so, coming to Ooty lake I sat for a while.

       The next day morning, when I didn’t get any trace of Baltu, I decided to inform the matter local police station. As I was getting ready to go to the police station, the doorbell of my room starts ringing. Opening the door, I found the service boy standing in front. He informed that the Sahib of room no.15 has come. The load on my heart became lightened. I rushed towards room no. 15. There was a crowd in front of room no 15. My heart started palpitating. Any uncanny happened to Baltu! Entering the room I found Baltu lying on the bed. His head, feet and hands were bandaged. Some unknown peoples were standing near his bed. On enquiring, they replied in South Indian Hindi, “Sahab has met with an accident.”

Those peoples handing over some medicines to me left the room. I noticed that Baltu was lying closing his eyes. He was breathing in and out unconsciously.

After about an hour, Baltu came to his senses and opened his eyes. Observing me he tried to get up. But holding him I made him sit in a recumbent position. Baltu asked, “Have they gone away?” 

“Yes. But who are they? Where have you met with an accident?” I said.

Baltu replied, “They are ‘Badagas’, tribes of Nilgiri Hills. Please don’t ask me anymore here Sanju. I will let you know in detail afterward. Now pack up.”

“Pack up!! What do you mean? How can you move with such a condition of your health? Where do you want to go?”

“Back to Kolkata and today itself, by bus to Coimbatore, from there by plane to Chennai and from Chennai to Kolkata by next flight.”

Without enquiring more, we had to get ready. As suggested by Baltu we traveled by bus, flights to arrive at Kolkata. Throughout the journey, Baltu didn’t utter a single word. He was sitting in a recumbent position keeping his eyes closed.

Returning at home, what episode narrated by Baltu it was a horripilate anecdote. Let me describe in his own words:-

“Do you know Sanju before proceeding to Ooty I read a book named “Nilkanta Nilgiri’ by one renowned author Mr. Chiro Ranjan Roy.  Studying that book I came to know that there are about 25 to 26 types of aboriginal tribes in Nilgiri Hills. Their main livelihood is agriculture. In general, the women folks are engaged in cultivation. It is said during the reign of Tipu Sultan, most of the Hindu habitants of Mysore fled away to Nilgiri Hill due to the oppression of Tipu. These peoples are known as the ‘Badaga’ tribe. Another tribe resides in Nilgiris. They are the ‘Toda’ tribe. There are a few Toda huts on the hills above the Botanical Garden, where Todas still dwell. There are other Toda settlements in the area, notably Kandal Mund near Old Ooty. Although many Toda has abandoned their traditional distinctive huts for concrete houses, a movement is now afoot to build traditional barrel-vaulted huts, and during the last decade forty new huts have been built and many Toda sacred dairies renovated.

 You may know Sanju, it is said that Todas are the descendants of Greeks. After the return of Alexander the Great from India, some of the Greeks settled down in Nilgiris, who occupied and ruled Nilgiris. But they couldn’t adapt to the local culture. As such, they remained as an isolated race at Ooty. The name Udhakamandala is derived from the TODA word "othakal-mund" which means "house in mountains". Udhaka Mandala also means "Water Abode" in Sanskrit.  You know, since going through that book ‘Nilkanta Nilgiri’, I became very much eager to know about Toda tribes. While traveling at Ooty, asking several local peoples I set out towards the village of Todas above Botanical Garden. I found them very much conservative in nature. Generally, they don’t entertain anybody, especially unknown faces. Of course, a few young boys and girls being educated joined in the services. In that village, I came across an educated youth. Observing my curiosity to learn about their culture, he proudly told me that the Greek blood is flowing through their blood vessels. The youth made me hear their history of the race heard hereditarily. I too praised their glory of linage in such a way, the youth divulged many of their esoteric.  I came to know there is a tourist spot named ‘Doddabetta. It is the highest mountain in the Nilgiri Mountains at about 8,652 ft. There is a reserved forest area around the peak. The area surrounding Doddabetta is mostly forested, slightly stunted, full of rhododendron

trees, in the midst of thick coarse grass, flowing sub-alpine shrubs and herbs. It is about 9 km from Ooty. The youth told that this place was originally a dwelling place of the aboriginal tribe Todas or rather roaming the land. When the Nilgiris came into possession of the British East India Company, Todas came and settled above the present botanical garden.  The youth revealed to me about a mysterious cavern in the outskirts of Doddabetta, within which some ancient testimonies are preserved. Incidentally, during the conversation, the youth told in a slip of his tongue that there is one Sanskrit scripture, “Vaimanic Shastram’ translated in Grecian language in the cave.

 Do you know Sanju what is Vainamic Shastra? Its scripture was written during the ancient era on the technology of manufacture of Airplane, the alloys required, etc.  However, listening to ‘Vaimanic Shastram’ I became excited. I tried to extract more information from the youth poking him. The youth staring at me in suspicion kept mum. Before I left the place he warned me in pure English, “Don’t show more interest in these seared places, else you will be imprecated. Be careful.”

 The next day morning without hiring a taxi, I boarded a bus and got down at the bus stand near Doddabetta. While walking on foot I reached a peak of Doddabetta. I noticed several tourists were gathered there. Some groups are celebrating a picnic party. I took snaps of the scenic beauty from the top of the hill. While snapping more scenery, a narrow pathway towards the jungle came to my notice. Evading the sight of tourists, turning this way and that I caught that narrow boorish way. Getting down through the jungle for some time there was an acclivity. The path was such a narrow one so that I had to trample the weeds. All of a sudden it seemed to me that there was a cavern on the left side. The entrance of the cavern was covered by rock, creepers and shrubs. Stopped for a while, looked this way and that. Noh! ‘Nobody is there. Cautiously removing the rock and weeds from the entrance, I entered the cavern. Initially, it seemed to be dark. After a while, my eyes became acclimatized. I was going ahead within the chiaroscuro. Now I happened to come specious roomy place. Some narrow slit of the beam was entering the room through some tiny hole. All of a sudden it came to my notice something scribbled on the wall. Going near the wall I became startled. That was not anything scribbling. Something was written in Grecian script along with some sketches side by side. I tried to observe that minutely.

 You remember Sanju, I wrote to you about my getting g some trace of the quarry of gems. At that time I didn’t know it was more precious than the gems. 

You might have read in the newspaper about the weapons used in the warfare of Iraq, Iran, etc. i.e. Cruise missile, tomahawk missile, directed energy missile, etc. When I was observing the sketches, diagrams inscribed on the wall of the cavern, it was amazing to look at the Air Defence system, Artillery system as well as the Rocket system what not!! While observing as I was going to the deepest part, I noticed some designs of the manufacture of spacecraft. I thought that only observing these precious objects won’t help. These objects should be preserved in my camera.

 Removing the camera from my shoulder I came back to the initial place of the hall. Now I was going on slapping photos by flash gun. Hurriedly I was going ahead further interior of the cavern. While snapping photos of the Vaimanic Shastram, I felt the presence of someone in the cavern. 

Turning back I noticed a person standing erect. Dazzling white was his countenance, height about eight feet, wearing the ancient armament, a sharp spear in hand. He was staring at me with his red burning eyes. I felt that as if he would inflame me with his red eyes.

 That mysterious person yelled in some abstruse dialect. Being afraid I was retreating back step by step. All of a sudden that person screamed in anger. That sound started echoing on the walls. I was fleeing from the spot. The person threw his spear aiming at me howling. Instantly I lay down on the floor. Missing the mark the spear hit on a disc-like a practice target hanging on the wall. In an instant, an explosion happened inside the cavern. The entire walls and roof were being crumbled down. I started running like insane. As I came out of the entrance of the cavern entire cavern tumbled down with a fierce noise. I was flown off with a jerk. I was going on rolling down colliding against the surface of the hills. While thinking about my ensuing death I became senseless.  When I came to my senses, I found myself lying down on a choired cot in a courtyard of the village. There were peoples of various ages around me. They nursed me for two days with their rural herbal medicines. I came to know from one of them that they are the Badaga tribe. They only brought me to hotel Lake view getting direction from me.”

So long I was listening to the heart-rending episode catching my breath. Now I happened to ask him, “What’s about your precious camera?”

Baltu replied with a deep sigh, “That camera along with accurst pictures was broken into smithereens within the accursed cavern.”

Heaving a deep sigh I uttered, “An inauspicious Vaimanic Shastra.” 

 

                                            ***********************

                                                   VI      

                                            PIRATE’S ISLAND

    The alarm on my mobile phone was going on ringing. The pleasant nightly drowsiness of winter was spoiled. Stopping the ring tone I looked at my wristwatch. It was morning five. I was thinking about whether I should get up or not so early. Meanwhile, the doorbell started ringing.

“How is it? Who has come to disturb me in such an early hour?” I became upset.

Throwing the woolen wrapper over my body I opened the door. Oh! Baltu was standing in front, devastated topsy-turvy countenance, face full of beard and mustache, wearing torn and soiled clothes.

“Baltu, you are!” I became struck dumb. “What’s the matter? Why this type of countenance? What happened to you?”

“I will let you know everything. I will narrate all. Let me enter first in the room.” Baltu replied

“Well, well. Please come in. Sit comfortably on the sofa. Take rest for a while. Then, I will listen to your episodes.”

“Before that, get me a cup of hot tea, along with some biscuits or cake what is available.”

“Exactly. Please be sited. I will bring it now itself.” I went to the kitchen.

Preparing two cups of tea and bread-butter, offered to Baltu. Baltu in an instant relaxingly finishing the tea started biting the slices of bread. Finishing my breakfast I said to him, “Dear brother, you must change your ragged dress now itself.”

“You are right. I will change the cloth but before that, I will have to save the beard and take bath first. Keep some ‘pajama and Panjabi’ and saving set in the privy.”

After a while, Baltu came out of the bathroom being freshened. Observing freshen Baltu I said, “Baltu, it seems from your face that for a long period you didn’t eat food precisely. Shall I tell my cook to make mutton curry for you?”

“No, no. mutton is not required. You may tell her to cook egg curry. That’s enough. Now let me sleep for a while.”As Baltu went to the bedroom, my cook came in. I told her the menu to be cooked. Looking at Baltu snaring I soliloquized “Poor fellow. It appears he might not have sound sleep for long. Let him take a rest. I will listen to his episodes afterward.”

Receiving the morning News Paper, I applied my mind earnestly to the news of the day. There was news on the third page, the headline of which attracted my attention. ‘Rescue of a discouraged person from an abandoned desolate island

 20th January –The crews of the speed boat of the coast guard while patrolling in the sea, heard the screams, “Save me, save me” from an abandoned desolate island. They found an imperiled youth. He was unable to speak properly. After he was first aided in the boat, he talked irrelevantly. The crews understood that the person belonged to the Kolkata area. Asking about his name, he inarticulately uttered, “Mittar, Mittar”. The crews handed over him to the local police station for interrogation.’ 

‘Is it that Mittar our Baltu mittar? Was that rescued person Baltu? It seems there is a similarity between the devastated Baltu and the devastated rescued person of the newspaper. Let him get up from slumberous state, I will have to ask him.’

At noon twelve coming out from the bathroom I noticed Baltu was sitting on the sofa. I said to him, “Baltu, I presume you had a good sleep. Come on, let us have lunch now.”

While eating I noticed that Baltu was gobbling the eatables. After eating with gratification Baltu said, “Sanju, you know, how long I didn’t get full belly meals like this.” 

 Sitting on the sofa after lunch, I asked Baltu, “Have you gone through current news on the third page of the newspaper?”

Smiling for a while, his smile faded away. Nodding his head he replied, “Yes brother that rescued person is me.”

“If you don’t feel distressed, will you tell me how did you reach that desolate island?”

Baltu heaving a deep sigh looked at the roof of the room for a while. Then he said, “I will let you know everything about my bitter experience. Get me a glass of cold drinking water.”

 Gulping water quickly he happened to say, “Ah! What sweet water! Few days I vomited drinking salty water of the sea.”

“Why? Why you had to drink salty water?”

“You know, occasionally I used to get a dream during my slumberous state. While rowing a boat in a river of Sundarbon I reached a deserted island. I never felt that dream of mine became a reality in my life.

 I had been on tour at Sundarbon along with some tourist groups. We were moving in a boat through the Matla River. There was a deep forest of ‘Garan’ trees. We were proceeding ahead enjoying the excellent picturesque beauty. All of a sudden it came to our notice; a Royal Bengal Tiger coming swimming in the river. The boat operator was instantly trying to bring the boat to the mid-river. It was too late. The Royal Bengal Tiger taking a leap on the boat, seizing the neck of one of the tourists jumped in the river. Everyone started raising an uproar. The forest guard of the boat was going on firing on the tiger but in vain. In an unguarded moment being misbalanced, I fell down in the ‘Matla’ River. Since everyone’s mind was diverted towards the tiger, they couldn’t notice my falling.

I tried to keep myself floating but due to the ebb ward direction of the stream, I was being drifted away towards the sea. While floating I happened to catch hold of floating wood. How long I was floated have no idea. When I came to my senses, I found myself lying on the seashore of a desolate island. With great difficulty, I could stand up. It was an island full of thickets, without any single person. I was frightened. I never feared so much in my life. I didn’t know what to do. I became too thirsty. But there was no freshwater pond. I drank salty water from the sea and vomited. I lost my mobile phone in the water of the sea, hence unable to send any message to anyone. Instead of entering the jungle, I started walking through the seashore. While walking along the sea coast, it came to my notice some crumbled down remains of brickwork. Momentarily my previous dream became flashed in my mind. Going ahead I entered the ruined house. As I was ascending through the staircase, a large snake came out hissing. Being terribly afraid of trying to hide I jumped back. Being collided with some hard object I fell down on the dusty floor. Feeling dizzy, somehow I got up holding that hard object. While standing I felt that hard material seemed to be an iron chest, covered by creepers and weeds. Wiping out the weeds I found it was really a chest. Pulling the rusted lid of the chest it came out. Looking within the chest I became spellbound. The chest was full of diamond, pearls and gems, gold ‘Mohars’ Gold ornaments. I could comprehend that this island belonged to some Dutch pirates, who abandoned it, the reason not known.

       Taking out a few gold coins I pocketed them. I was going on laughing, thinking, ‘The person who has no hope of survival, what he will do with this wealth?’ Taking out the coins from my pocket I kept in the chest.

 In the meanwhile, I was feeling dam hungry. In search of food, I started roaming about. By the side of the jungle, I found some guava trees. Climbing on the tree I brought down some guavas and started eating for appeasing the hunger. Those fruits only kept me alive for three days. ‘But how is to satiate my thirst?’ While searching, searching and searching around the island I could locate a springlet. Though the spring water was turbid yet it could satiate my thirst. I was spending nights lying on the iron chest for fear of snakes and wild animals. During the daytime, I was keeping my eyes on the sea in order to find out any ships passing through the area.

 Thinking, thinking and thinking about perishing my life, I became insane. At last, due to the grace of God, A patrolling speed boat came to my notice. Taking off my shirt, waving it I started yelling “Save me, save me, save me.”

 Fortunately, the crews of the speed boat could hear my yelling. Noticing me waving the shirt, they anchored the boat on the island. Observing them on the seashore, I was not in a position to talk with them. Just to attract their attention towards the iron chest, I started screaming, “Pirates’ chest, Pirates’ chest.” I rushed towards the chest, opening the lid; picking up some gold coins threw them on the ground. Coming near me they asked my name. Due to exhaustion and mental fatigue, I was unable to answer them. I could only see they became engaged to carry the chest in the boat. Before being fainted I picked up a few coins from the ground and pocketed them.

 When I regained my consciousness I found myself on the moving speed boat. They nursed me giving me some medicines and brandy. On their asking my name, I could only utter, “Mittar, Mittar.” The crews handed over me to the local police station. Spending one night in the police station and with their hospitality, I could become somewhat better. I told the police officer about your address in Kolkata. He dropped me here in your residence.”

 While listening to that breath-chocking story, I asked Baltu being struck dumb, “What happened to those Moguls’ coins?”

       Baltu replied simpering, “Go and check my torn pant kept in Bathroom. You may get one or two of those.”

 

                                           ********************

                                                 VII

                                             UNICORN 

      This is a peculiar habit of Baltu. Every now and then he disappears infatuating against any new discovery. He becomes entangled in some awkward event sometimes going for expansion of his own business or occasionally for the purpose of traveling at any place. Either he intimates the events through a letter or narrating in person about his discovery to me after returning from the tour.

The same thing repeated this time also. Baltu was absconding for a month. To relieve my anxiety he sent a small telex message to me, “Sanju don’t be anxious for me. I got a new invention. I will reveal it to you on my return. I am OK.” 

After about a month he returned from a tour. This time also I have listened to his strange discovery from Baltu. The travelogue as narrated by Baltu as follows:-

 “My itinerant mind was time and again attracting me towards the Himalayan route. I started my journey along with my colleague. On the way, I came across some more travel associates. Arriving at Hardwar, taking a dip in the Ganges my entire fatigue was removed. Our hilly journey began from there by bus to Rishikesh. ‘Lakshman Jhula’ is a suspension bridge across the river Ganges, located 5 kilometers north-east of the city of Rishikesh. Crossing the ‘Lakshman Jhula’ we visiting ‘Geeta’ Temple, Hanuman Temple, etc. we set out by bus going to ‘Badrinarayan Dham’. No not Badrinarayan Dham, but our destination was towards ‘Nandan Kanan’ (Garden of Gods), the valley of flowers. On the way, getting down at Joshimath, visiting the temple of Shankacharjiya, we started moving by bus. Joshimath is 1890 meters high. From here the declivity began. At Govinda ghat is about 1824 meters high. The bus stopped here. We travelers for ‘Nandan Kanan’ came down from the bus. Besides we two there were ten more passengers for Nandan Kanan. Among these ten, six persons were Europeans and four people were Sikhs. A Gurdwara of Sikhs located nearby. We got shelter in the Gurdwara for a night's stay. We were fed with chapattis and ‘Halwa’ prepared by pure Ghee.

 I noticed that everyone got up from bed at dawn. We got acquainted with other travelers. Paying our homage to Gurdwara, we started moving on foot sounding our voice, “Wahe Guru Ji ki Jai’. So long we were descending down through the laborious path. Though laborious the natural beauty draws our mind. On the way, there was a village named ‘Bhusinda’, where there is a facility for a night stay.

 During ascending up through the rugged route, I was becoming out of breath. Flowing by the sideway Laksman Ganga River, which originated at Hem Kundu Glacier. We arrived at Ghangria village at 3048 miter high after ascending 14 kilometers from Govinda Ghat. We would have to spend a night here. We two along with other travelers got accommodation in the rest house. There was a good arrangement for bed and food. In the morning journey on foot began.

Valley of Flowers - 10 kilometers away from here at an altitude of 3600 meters. Visiting the place we would have to return on the same day.

 It was the month of May. Mountain range – extending up to the horizon, Almighty God decorated with variegated flowers, Flower beds. On the first day, we were sauntering in-band over the flower carpets. Nature was welcoming us with her floral ornaments of thousands of years. Some of us could recognize some flowers e.g. ‘Brahma Kamal’, Blue Poppy, Cobra Lily, so on and so forth. What’s their ostentatious display of colors, what’s their vastness! The air and firmaments are full of excellent fragrance. Before sunset, we would have to return to ‘Ghangria’. One more night at ‘Gangria’ rest house. 

On the second day, we departed in the early morning after having a heavy breakfast. Yesterday while viewing the mountain surface embellished by colorful flowerbeds we became so much infatuated so that we didn’t notice the snow-capped mountain ranges surrounding the Valley of flowers. Everyone captured these charming sceneries within their cameras. And I captivated the picturesque sceneries within my heart. Loitering the whole day at the nooks and corners of the mountain, we had our lunch sitting on the flower-decked meadow. 

On the third day proceeded towards God’s Garden carrying the breakfast with us.

Yes, at one time the outer world didn’t know about this garden. But the local peoples knew. During the 18th century, a botanist cum expeditionist first discovered this Valley of Flowers, while traveling around the Himalayas. Thereafter the whole world came to know about this fascinating Garden of Gods. Thereby began the frequenting of traveling lovers.

‘Whatever it may be, I am doing the poetic utterances. Is it not?

 Now let me come to the original story. 

On the third day, we were moving around in a band. While enjoying the heavenly sceneries some of us became detached from the group. Besides we two friends, there were Ms. Camellia, Mr. Rudolf, Mrs. Rudolf and Mr. Gorge. We were going ahead being attracted infallibly by some heavenly fragrance emanating in the air. All of a sudden we recollected that we are detached from the group. Though we two became anxious, it seemed that the European associates were utterly expressionless. Observing our anxious face, Mr. Gorge consoled, ‘Please don’t get nervous. We will go back in time and meet with our friends.’ 

Being courageous we were going ahead further. It seemed to us that a temple covered by creepers and herbs located at the foot of a mountain. We reached near the temple walking fast. The inner part of the temple was clean and tidy. There was an idol of Lord Shiva phallus. ‘Who had cleaned this impassable temple?’ it came to our mind. There was a small wall behind the temple. While we were busy observing the temple, Mrs. Rudolf suddenly shouted, ‘look, what a beautiful white horse.’ 

We all being startled noticed that not only one, but there were also four milky white horses engaged in eating grass. As a white horse raised its head, I noticed a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead. 

I enthusiastically shouted, ‘Unicorn, Unicorn!’

As everyone started snapping their photos, four unicorns fled away behind the bush. The bigger one came chasing for attacking us bending its head down. We retreated back with heavy and hurried footstep. Ms. Camellia yelling in fear fell down receiving a jolt with a large stone. Oh! What we noticed! The Unicorn coming near Camellia lay down on her lap. Camellia being flabbergasted lay down shriveled in fear. Mr. Gorge and Mr. Rudolf about to endeavor with their walking sticks, I prevented them from saying, ‘Please, please you don’t do this. I know Unicorn never attacks or hurts any virgin; on the other hand, they like to lie on the lap of any virgin. This is their natural habit.’ Mr. George asked in anxiety, ‘How do you know that?’ 

In reply, I said, ‘I came to know this studying the mythological scripture that animal resembling white horse with a single horn on forehead never hurt any virgin. I hope you might have seen the idol of the Virgin Mary with a Unicorn on the lap, preserved in the National Museum of Warsaw.’

 Listening to this attentively everyone stood keeping silent. After some time the Unicorn getting up from the lap of Camellia, staring at us, galloping fast vanished in the thicket on the mountain. Getting up Camellia came near us with tearful eyes.

We could return to Gangria in time with a pleasant experience.”

Listening to Baltu’s interesting experience I enquired, “It is known that Unicorn is a mythological animal. How can it be true at present?”

Baltu replied, “Sanju, there are several pictures of unicorns at different places. There is a portrait of a wild woman with a Unicorn in the Basel Historical Museum. There is a portrait of a maiden with a Unicorn drawn in the 15th century preserved at The Musee-de-Cluny of Paris. Besides this there is a statue of a Unicorn at the Council House of Bristol, on the floor of the Church of Ravenna portrait of a Unicorn was engraved. More so in our India at Indus Valley Civilization a seal was discovered, where engraved a picture of Unicorn. It is now understood that before the 15th century or more The Unicorn existed. Fortunately, some of us could behold that Unicorn. It is preserved in my camera.”

 Bringing his camera Baltu showed me the snapped photograph of a milky white animal with a horn on its forehead, a Unicorn.

  

                                    ***************************

                                             VIII

                                 LAND OF GREEN DEMIGODS

 As usual, Baltu was absconding. In an instant about a month passed. I became anxious. I came to know that he would go to four holy places of pilgrimage. He didn’t intimate me when he would go on pilgrimage. I was thinking of reporting it to the police station. But before I set out to the police station, a postman came and delivered a registered letter to me. I was struck with bewilderment while going through the letter. What’s there in the letter?

“Dear Sanju,

First of all, I beg my apology for not informing you about my pilgrimage. I had to go on pilgrimage to four holy places along with a group of pilgrims. In hurry-scurry, I couldn’t inform you. However, I acquired some peculiar experiences during this journey period. I have also become sick. Now I am under treatment in a hospital at Hardwar. Don’t worry, it’s a trifling wound. Returning home, I will let you know everything.

With love

Yours

Baltu”

 Going through the letter I was relieved of anxiety that Baltu is somewhat well. He is under treatment in the hospital of Hardwar for a trifling wound. It might be a snow bite. I would have to wait for his arrival.

One week passed while waiting. No trace of Baltu. Why so late? Has he recovered or not? Again I became anxious.

After about 10 days, just at noon, my doorbell ranged. Opening the door I found Baltu standing with a walking stick in hand.

“Oh, Baltu! Come in, come in.”

Baltu entered the room limping. Holding him I made him sit on the sofa.

“Just wait. I will bring a cup of hot coffee for you.”

“Yes, yes. Same thing I was expecting.”

Bringing a cup of coffee as I offered him. While sipping he said, “Hallow Sanju, I will have lunch here with you today.”

“Oh yes. Don’t worry. I am asking my cook for that. Now you say what piety you acquired in these four holy places of pilgrimage?”

“That was the laborious journey. I couldn’t complete four places of pilgrimage.”

“Why? What had happened to you?”

“Four holy places are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath Dhams. But I could visit Yamunotri and Gangotri only. After that, I became sick and was shifted to Hardwar hospital for treatment.”

“What’s about your co-passengers? Did they complete their four pilgrimages?”

“Most probably they did. I don’t know about them since I had to come down to Hardwar for treatment.”

“What made you sick brother? Just tell me in detail.”

Keeping silent for a while Baltu narrated his strange experience during that pilgrimage.

“It was 5 days package. Baltu and other pilgrims traveled by railway to Hardwar. From Hardwar Railway station they were picked up by the tour operator. By tourist bus, they went to Barkot via Dehradun and Mussoorie and halted for a night stay in a hotel. On the 2nd day from Barkot bus drove to Hanuman Chatty. Here they had to take jeeps for going to Junky Chatty. From here they had to trek to Yamunotri. Some people hired horses or aged people hired Doli at their own cost. Arriving at Yamunotri, pilgrims cooked rice by packing it in a cloth and dipping it in the hot water of the hot kund. Pilgrims take this cooked rice home as "Prasad". Here near the temple "Pooja" was offered to Divya Shila, after taking bath in Jamunabai Kund's warn water and having "Darshan" of pious "Yamunaji" and then returned to Hanuman Chatty. Later driving back to Barkot, they had an overnight stay in a Hotel.

On the 3rd day, they started from Barkot to Uttarkashi. After visiting Vishwanath Temple and other temples they stayed here for a night halt.

    On the 4th day, Baltu and others proceeded to Gangotri. Baltu enjoyed the picturesque sceneries of the place. Baltu along with other pilgrims visited the Gangotri temple on the bank of Bhagirathi.

  Here Baltu and two of the pilgrims desired to go further to Gomukh. Tour operators and other pilgrims tried to discourage Baltu saying about the impassability of the path as well as cold weather, snowfall and non-availability of shelter. But nothing could prevent Baltu from his urge to visit Gomukh. The helpless tour operator was compelled to agree to Baltu’s decision. A local porter cum guide was arranged to accompany Baltu. The other two pilgrims too arranged local porters for their assistance. The porter named Jivanram bought food materials as well as drinking water bottles. Baltu had to bring a snow-shoe.

All the three pilgrims along with their porters started moving towards the path leading to Gomukh. Crossing the temple they came to a narrow circular path. While moving somewhere acclamation and somewhere declamation Baltu noticed several caves on the mountains.

Walking on foot through the path full of pebbles and stones they arrived near a stream of Ganges, narrow but having a strong current. Somehow crossing the stream Baltu noticed the thicket of birch trees. Spending the night in a cave they started moving in the morning towards Bhujbasa. Still, Gomukh was about four miles from here.

Arriving near Gomukh Baltu found Lalbaba’s hermitage. They halted there and took rest in the hermitage. Food and water was provided by the Lalbaba hermitage.

In the early morning, they started moving towards Gomukh. All of a sudden the porter Jivanram shouted, ‘Look in front of you.’ Baltu and others viewed two snow-capped mountains. From their base, the origin of the Ganges exists. Sprinkling the holy water on their head Baltu made obeisance to Goddess Ganges. Two pilgrims too took bath in holy water. One of them opined that the original Gomukh was on the glacier above the present Gomukh.

‘Oh! This is not the original Gomukh! Then we must also visit the original one.’ Baltu exclaimed. But none of them agreed to go further. But Baltu preserved doggedly. He wanted to go alone if required. The other two pilgrims left the place. Baltu’s porter cum guide Jivanram tried to prevent him but in vain. Jivanram decided to stay at Lalbaba’s hermitage till Baltu would return.

Baltu alone started climbing on the glacier. Baltu was going on climbing up and up while panting. Feeling hungry, he sat on the snowy floor and had some dry food and water. Getting some strength he was further encouraged to move towards the North-East way. All of a sudden a blizzard began. Baltu fell down on the snowy ground. Baltu perceived that he would be buried dead beneath the snow. Baltu started losing his mental strength. Before losing senses Baltu noticed a saint having matted hair and a trident in hand was coming towards him. Baltu became senseless. During his subconscious state, Baltu felt that the saint poured an extract of herbs in Baltu’s mouth. When Baltu came to a half-conscious state, he found himself flying with the saint holding his arm. Baltu was surprised to see that he was brought by the saint to a region full of green trees. It was a vast land surrounded by snow-capped mountains. A woman wearing a peculiar ancient green garment and precious ornaments of green stones (Emeralds?) came forward and asked the saint about Baltu. The saint told her something in some dialect most probably ancient Sanskrit. Handing over Baltu to that divine woman, the saint went to a temple located at a furlong away. The divine woman took Baltu to a green cottage to take a rest.

After a while, the woman brought some fruits and a green-colored drink. She asked Baltu to take the food and left.

Baltu eating those divine food and drinks recovered more strength in mind and body. He felt sleepy. It was evening when he got up from his slumberous state, heard some sweet songs emanating from the temple side. As he came out of the cottage, that divine woman came and took Baltu to that temple. While offering obeisance to the deity Baltu found that was the deity of Lord Shiva. He was astonished to see that the entire area was lighted like daylight. There was no electricity or lamps, then wherefrom this dazzling light was coming. The woman could read the mental query of Baltu, Holding his hand she took him near a green pillar from where the dazzling green light enveloped the area. Baltu keenly observed and found that there was a huge prism, the source of divine light. Baltu stood for a while. But that woman dragged him to an open auditorium, where so many musicians were playing some ancient musical instruments. Some beautiful girls wearing green costumes, green flower garlands and flower ornaments dancing with rhythmic musical instruments. It seemed to Baltu that he was in heaven and the dancing girls were ‘Apsaris’ (Celestial nymph).

The divine woman could read his mind. She said in pure ancient Sanskrit that the musicians and the dancing girls were ‘Kinnar, Kinnaris (Heavenly Musicians and Celestial female choristers). Spellbound Baltu looked at the divine woman amazingly. She revealed to Baltu that he arrived in the perpetual green land. That was the abode of Gandharvas. (Celestial musicians and warriors).

There was eternal peace of mind and tranquillity in that green land. Baltu didn’t want to leave that place. Baltu appealed saint for his permission of his residing permanently in this eternal peaceful land. But the saint didn’t give his consent in this.

At night Baltu was served some delicious food materials and drinks. Baltu never ate such tasteful delicious food in his life. After eating and drinking he was not able to keep his eye open. He fell asleep in a deep slumberous state.

It was dawn. Jivanram, the porter cum guide coming out of the hermitage of Lalbaba noticed a senseless body was lying on the outside of the hermitage. Coming near he discovered that the senseless person was no other than Baltu. He screamed and some of the inmates of the hermitage came out. Baltu was taken in the hermitage. He was locally treated with herbs.

Baltu was then shifted to the hospital at Hardwar by the tour operator. Baltu’s snow-bitten leg was being treated.”

After completion of Baltu’s strange experience, I opined “Baltu what you narrated now, might be an illusion. Somehow or rather you might have managed to come to Lalbaba’s hermitage and fell down senseless. Observing you lying outside, the inmates of the hermitage might have shifted you to the hospital at Hardwar.”

“Dear Sanju, I know nobody will believe this. But I clearly remember that I visited that land of perpetual green. As a token of my lovely visit I kept a green coin in my pocket.”

Saying so, Baltu took out a green coin from his pocket.


                                              ***********************************

                                                        IX

                                              MYSTERY OF SANRI-LA


Really, Baltu has become rara avis nowadays. Once I came across him in the market. He said in short, “Sanju, I am planning to travel to China via Tibet. Do you like to come with me?”

 “I always like to travel and feel pleasure in it. Unfortunately, it may not be possible for me now, because I will have to go to South India on an official tour.”

It seemed to me Baltu being disappointed said, “What else to? Let me go alone.”

And that was the last word from him. For about a month he was absconding. I tried to phone him several times but every time it showed ‘not reachable’.

Just after one month all of a sudden Baltu appeared with a withered face, sickly countenance. Looking at me he said simpering, “Come on Sanju, let us go inside.”

Along with Baltu entering the drawing-room, I said, “Like to have a cup of coffee Baltu?”

“Oh yes. But along with coffee bring some biscuits too.”

 While drinking coffee I enquired Baltu, “What’s the matter Baltu? For about a month you were absconding. I phoned you but no reply from your side. Where did you go?”

“Yes. I had been to Lhasa. What beautiful roads made by the Chinese Government in Tibet! Not only that. They have decorated the entire towns in a spectacular way.”

“I heard there is a train service from Lhasa to Beijing of China? Did you see that?”

“What an interesting journey in that train! I can’t explain in words. Any international Airport will acknowledge defeat from the Lhasa Railway platform. It is so much modernized, so much decorated, so much well equipped, you can’t imagine. It was so much alluring that purchasing a ticket for Beijing I boarded in the luxurious compartment. Thereafter the train started running through the Mountain ranges, piercing the hilly rocks through the tunnels. There is every facility of supply of Oxygen to facilitate the comfort of the passengers. Hence we didn’t feel any inconvenience in respiration. It’s commendable their modern technology.”

“However you have nice experience viewing an unprecedented object.”

“Yes, that’s right. But while traveling, one thought was repeatedly whirling in my mind. How the opium-eater Chinese country being flourished became the superpower of the world?”

“Why? The USA, European countries have also advanced so much in Science.”

“Yes. I agree with that. But they prospered due to continued perseverance for a long. Their prosperity can’t be compared with that of China.”

“Is there any secret behind the advancement of China?” I became enthused to know the secret.

“Yes. For knowing that secret, I tilled the mountains, caverns, valleys of Tibet, China, Japan and Mongolia for the last one month. I could perceive one thing after going through their fables; fairy tales and ancient scriptures that, Science and Technology remained latent within their brains. After getting a suitable environment they flourished so much.”

“I can’t get it. What do you mean by inherent Science and Technology?”

“Then, listen to me attentively about my troublesome journey in search of their secret of development.”

 Baltu started narrating his adventures in Tibet, China, Japan and Mongolia, etc.

“Baltu was permitted to visit a great library of China. There he came to know that in between 100,000 and 500,000 years ago, according to recent estimates, a pre-human species called the hominid appeared in Northern China. Homo sapiens from Asia seem to have evolved slowly from the pre-human type to which is commonly called the Mongoloid race.

Baltu came to know about the Mountain Bayan-Kara Ula after going through the following excerpts:- That high in the mountains of Bayan-Kara-Ula, on the borders of China and Tibet - a team of archaeologists discovered of a series of interlinked caves, by the discovery of lines of neatly arranged graves which contained the skeletons of what must have been a strange race of human beings; strange because they had unnaturally spindly bodies and large, overdeveloped heads. It was while studying the skeletons that one of the team stumbled on a large, round stone disk, half-buried in the dust on the floor of the cave. The team gathered around the discovery, turning it this way and that. It looked, absurdly, like a kind of "Stone Age Gramophone record". There was a hole in the center and a fine, spiral groove radiated to the rim. Closer inspection, however, showed that the groove was, in fact, a continuous spiraling line of closely written characters. It appeared under the long-winded but intriguing title, "The Grooved Script concerning Space-ships which, as recorded on the Discs, landed on Earth 12,000 years ago". 716 of the grooved discs were later uncovered in the same caves - told an astonishing story of a 'space probe' by the inhabitants of another planet which came to grief in the Bayan-Kara-Ula mountain range. The strange, spiral script told how the peaceful intentions of the 'aliens' had been misunderstood and how many of them were hunted down and killed by members of the Ham tribe, who lived in the neighboring caves.

Oh! So interesting! Baltu exclaimed. He decided that at first he would visit the caves of Bayan Kara-Ula and observe any discs that exist in the caves then he would visit the Tibetan tribe known as ‘Dropa’. Baltu noted down one of the lines of the hieroglyphs on discs as translated by one scientist of China as:

"The Dropas came down from the clouds in their aircraft. Our men, women, and children hid in the caves ten times before sunrise. When at last they understood the sign language of the Dropas, they realized that the newcomers had peaceful intentions...".

Another group of scientists expressed 'regret' by the Ham tribe that the aliens' spaceship had crash-landed in such a remote and inaccessible mountain and that there had been no way to building a new one to enable Dropas to return to their own planet.

As he decided, Baltu traveled to Tibet village of Dropas to know further about them. It came to Baltu’s mind, why these people are called Mongoloid? Why the inhabitants of Mongolia are called Mongols? One funny thing came to his mind. The planet Mars is called Mongol in Sanskrit. Most probably the inhabitants of the planet Mars (Mongol) were trying to find out some suitable region in other planets for their habitation, since the gravitation of Mars became low, scarcity of water and extensive change in atmospheric condition. The scientists of the planet Mars could discover the planet earth suitable for their habitation. As such entire race descended on earth with their highest Science and Technology within their heart. Since they came from Mongol (Mars) they were designated as Mongols by our ancient ascetics. These Mongols were assisted by some supernatural being, known as God Shen by the Chinese. Baltu came across several fables, several hearsays and many legends.

While searching and searching Baltu arrived at Yuanmou Country, Yunnan Province, where he found the fossils of Yuanmou Man in the museum, who lived 1.7 million years ago. Tilling the mountains after mountains alone Baltu in search of the caves at Bayan-Kara-Ula he arrived at a place on the borderline of China and Tibet. While walking unmindfully he entered an area that seemed to be the earliest stages of the world. As he was viewing the place with astonished eyes, his body felt a burning sensation. All of a sudden a blast of hot air blew. A peculiar strong fragrance spread throughout the mountain range. Baltu was unable to endure the fragrance and he fell down unconscious. How long he was in an unconscious state not known to him. His wristwatch was also stopped.

Fortunately, when he recovered from the unconscious state he found himself lying on the lap of a sage, dilapidated and decayed. The sage talked with him in Sanskrit, “The region you have entered is known as Shangri-La. This is the dwelling place of the immortals positioned at the isolated valley of the Himalayas. No mortals are permitted to enter this area. In this region, innumerable sages from the ancient era are absorbed in meditation inside some different caves. Only the ascetics with pure and pious minds are permitted to enter for meditation only. Here the age and body remains constant.”

On asking about Mongoloid race, the sage told that more than a million years ago residents of Mongol Graha (Mars planet) of various regions came down on earth in the spacecraft known as Dragon. Since those races came from different parts of the Mongol planet (Mars) they were termed Mongols. The word Mongoloid was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Mongol’.

Due to that extensive travel, Baltu was exhausted. The sage assisted him to go to the Tibetan valley. From there he arrived at India.”

I was astonished to know about the existence of Shangri-La, a dwelling place of immortal sages absorbed in meditation. But I couldn’t believe that easily. I asked Baltu, “Did you really see that dwelling place of immortals? Else, being senseless due to extensive travel you dreamt a strange region?”

Baltu burst into laughter and said, “Dear friend, you better search Google and go there for investigation. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.”


                                                 ***************

                                                       X

                                           TREASURE OF CLEOPATRA

It was morning six. I had been to the International Airport of Kolkata to see off Baltu. Kolkata to Cairo flight. Baltu Mittar was going to attend an Industrial Conference in Cairo as an Indian delegate. But it’s a matter of Baltu. He is not the person to sit idle like a gentle and polite person. Every time he becomes entangled in the discovery of some unknown things. This is the peculiar nature of Baltu. Ten days after his departure a registered letter came to my address. That was a letter from Baltu.

“Dear Sanju,

 I have arrived in Cairo safely. The organizers of the Industrial conference arranged to board the delegates in a five-star hotel J.M.Marriot hotel. What a beautiful and gorgeous hotel it was. What a spectacular view of the River Nile from the hotel. A marvelous adjoining garden, having an antique fountain, nicely trimmed plants, a fountain with a statue of a blonde woman, grand swimming pool all these exterior views of the hotel.

 In the scheduled date and time the Industrial conference was conducted. I delivered a moderate speech on my project. I had to do a presentation on my project. The assembled delegates from other countries praised my speech. The delegates of some countries became interested in my project too. These are all about my business. Besides this, there is some interesting news. It can’t be divulged in detail in this letter. Returning home I will narrate all.

 The organizers of the conference arranged for site seeing for the honorable delegates. I will tell you about that site seeing in short. The organizers arranged the best Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan (takes 5 days) and back Aswan to Luxor for 4 days. During the tour on board we had a program to visit on the East bank in Luxor, the Temple of Karnak, Luxor Temple, and in West Bank to visit Valley of Kings, Valley of Queens and Hatshepsut Temple. Thereafter the cruise will sail to Edfu and Kom Ombo for visiting the Temple of Kom Ombo and the Temple of Horus. Thereafter on the return journey to Aswan, we are to visit Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk, and the Temple of Philae.

Besides sightseeing on Nile Cruise, we were taken to visit three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex, and the highest one is called the Pyramid of Giza. These pyramids are believed to be constructed in 2580 - 2560 BC which was the 4th Dynasty. The great pyramid of Giza is made up of Limestone and granite and is about 481 feet long. We visited Saqqara Necropolis. It is a huge ancient burial ground in Egypt. It serves as the necropolis for the former capital of Ancient Egypt. We have visited the ancient ruins, monuments, statues at different places. Now let me describe in short the places we visited. Valley of the Kings, Temple of Philae, Temple of Karnak, Luxor Temple, Abu Simbel Temple Complex, Luxor Museum, Nubian Museum, Temple of Hatshepsut, Tomb of Kind Tutankhamen, Tomb of Queen Nefertiti, Tomb of Ramses VI, Temple of Horus, and Tomb of Ramses III.

You may know my favorite place in Egypt in Alexandria.  It is a laid back, eclectic city with a much more Mediterranean feel than Egyptian, and a cosmopolitan facade that rests over a legendary heritage and the best thing is, it is extremely easy to get to from Cairo. I will tell you all in detail once I come back home.

With love

Yours ever

Baltu”

Since I received Baltu’s letter one more week passed. No more information from him. He should have come by this time. But he hasn’t. Any problem? I became anxious. Some more days passed. At the end of the 10th day, Baltu suddenly appeared at my house. I was startled to see him in such a condition. His head was tied with a bandage. Did he meet with an accident? I enquired him, “What happened to your head. How it got hurt? Did you meet any accident at Cairo?”

Observing my anxiety Baltu started laughing. “Oh, dear! Nothing serious. This is a trifling injury.”

“But how it happened?”

“Brother, why you have become so excited? Let me narrate the entire episode then only you will know how it happened.”

“OK, OK. Please tell me the truth behind it.”

Baltu paused for a while and asked for a glass of cold water. After drinking the water he narrated a strange and interesting episode during his tour in Egypt.

“You know my favorite place in Egypt in Alexandria. It is a laid back, eclectic city with a much more Mediterranean feel than Egyptian, and a cosmopolitan facade that rests over a legendary heritage, and the best thing is, it is extremely easy to get to from Cairo.

I intimated to organizers of the Industrial conference that I was willing to visit Alexandria for one or two days. They gladly accepted and arranged my trip by Railway from Cairo to Alexandria. Three delegates also accompanied me. The organizers purchasing the first-class AC tickets to Alexandria for four of us booked Hotel in Tolip Hotel Alexandria. We started from Cairo’s Ramses train station.  It is now an absolutely stunning building with beautiful art decor in the main terminal.

The journey itself lasted a few hours. What a comfortable journey by train! Facilities are pretty good on the train. Food was served on the train regularly by a rather well-dressed attendant who came around with a trolley full of drinks and different snacks and food-dependent on the time of day just like Air flight. However, we arrived at Alexandria station at mid-noon. We were escorted to the hotel by some security staff. We were taken to visit the Pharaoh's City, Palace of Cleopatra all submerged under the meditation sea. The next day morning we were escorted to visit Pharaoh Wrecks at Qaietbay I, Qaietbay II and Qaietbay III.

But my concealed intention was to find out the long-lost tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Their burial remained unknown, the reason not known. There is hearsay that both Cleopatra and Anthony, the great lovers of 30 BCE desired their tomb to be near the Osiris Temple at Taposiris Magna, located West of Alexandria, where excavations carried out and discovered 10 Mummies in 27 tombs as well as coins bearing images of Cleopatra. Still, no tomb of them found there. A theory said that Cleopatra, a prestigious Pharaoh desired that her tomb be erected in a more sacred location.

Listening to different theories about the undiscovered tomb of Cleopatra, I became more interested to visit the place Abu Sir i.e. ancient city of Taposiris Magna, 28 miles away at West of Alexandria. We four delegates along with a local guide hired a tourist vehicle and set out towards Abu Sir. As suggested by our organizer of the Industrial conference local police station was informed about our tour. We arrived at Taposiris by about noon. Visiting different wreckages of 27 tombs it became afternoon. We came near an excavated graveyard but without anybody or mummies of Cleopatra and Anthony found there. The graveyard was located near a ruined decrepit temple, known as the Temple of Osiris. We, visitors, were standing near the graveyard. All of a sudden it stroke in my mind, the hidden tomb might be within that decrepit temple. As I started moving towards the temple, the local guide asked me not to go near the temple. But I was adamant to go. All the delegates and the guide remained near the graveyard and I went to the temple. The ruin of the temple was so impassable that I searched the entrance gate of the temple. After a while, I found a narrow passage. Considering that as the entrance gate I peeped through that and then entered through the narrow passage. Coming in I found a staircase in dilapidated condition was going downwards. Though I was a bit afraid mentally, yet I dared to step down through the broken staircase. I heard a hissing sound of a snake from within. However, I reached on a semi-dark floor, mostly in dilapidated. Again I heard a hissing sound of a snake. A black cat leaped on a large chest. I tried to open the chest. With strenuous effort, I could open the lid. I was spellbound to look at the contents of the chest. It was full of precious ornaments of gold and jewels, full of gold and silver coins. Most probably these were the treasure of Cleopatra. As I tried to handle the coins, a heavy blow came on my head. I lost my consciousness and fell down on the floor. 

 When I came back to my senses, I found myself lying on a hospital bed in Cairo. On asking, I came to know that as instructed by the organizers of the Industrial Conference, the local police team followed behind me as I walked towards the Temple of Osiris. Police noticed that four miscreants too entered the temple behind me. When I opened the lid of the chest and handling the coins, these miscreants hit on my head from behind. Instantly police team entered and arrested those miscreants and I was shifted to a local hospital. After first aid, I was shifted to a hospital at Cairo.”

“But what happened to that treasure of Cleopatra?” I became inquisitive.

Baltu replied, “Yes that chest was shifted to the museum at Cairo. The museum authority presented me a silver coin as a memoir of my discovery of Cleopatra’s treasure.”

“Did you bring that coin with you?” I became more curious.

“Yes, it is here with me.” Baltu took out a silver coin from his pocket inscribed on it the image of the last pharaoh Cleopatra.  

 

                                       **********************

                                                XI

                                      BLUE WHALE CASTLE MYSTERY


      Baltu was in Mexico on some business summit. He was very much interested and enthusiastic to know more about this prehistorical land.

Mexico --- that Mexico, whose fame spreads over throughout the world. The remnants of Maya civilization were discovered here on this soil. Aztec civilization was discovered later on. Two large Pyramids were discovered, Sun Pyramid and Moon Pyramid. Also, it was discovered a very strange yearly calendar. More and more ancient artifacts were found after the excavation of the soil.

But, no, it’s not my intention to toy with the ancient history of this place. I would like to tell you about some mysterious anecdote of Baltu faced which if you listen to, you will be thrilled, and you will be in horrification. When listened to, you will be swinging in between fear, belief and non-belief.

Yucatan region of Uxmal of Mexico; a region of Rain Forest –Deep Forest. During the day sun rays cannot enter rather sunrays are not permitted to enter by the branches of the trees. There is beckoning of various dangers at every nooks and corner of the forest. Besides the fear of ferocious wild animals, there is the presence of some incorporeal. There is the dread of death at every step between the game of hide and seek of light and shade.

Even then, disregarding all these fears, some adolescent boys occasionally penetrate within this forest. No, not for playing, not for going for exertion, but they enter the forest for the sake of mere subsistence for collecting the firewood.

In this way, once three Bayard youths Avellino, Boynton and Esteban decided to enter within the forest. They came to know about an Indian, Baltu Mittar, who was also very much interested to join them on that adventure. They requested Baltu to join with them. They entered not for collecting firewood but with intention of some adventure. Avellino was carrying a weapon like axe and some rope with him. Boynton had a sword and a torch with him. Esteban was carrying a large iron rod and a knife. Baltu too carried a revolver and dry food materials, and water with him. All the other three were carrying some slices of bread and drinking water within their rucksacks. With all these preparations for an adventurous journey, they penetrated into the forest. Since there was no particular pathway within the forest, they were making some groove mark on the trees with their axe on their way, so that they would not lose their way of return.

Those fearless youths and Baltu were proceeding to thrash and beating the bushes to make the way. Avellino suddenly noticed that a large leech grasped tightly on the leg of Esteban over his socks. Knowing that Esteban became puzzled. Being nervous, he was in dilemma about what to do and whatnot. Avellino took out a small stick and tried to drive the insect out from his leg but could not. That leech began to suck blood from the leg of Esteban. It came to the notice of Baltu. He also tried to remove the leech from Esteban’s leg. Boynton had so far been watching that leech. All of a sudden an idea flashed in his mind. Leech cannot tolerate salt at all. He recalled that luckily he brought some salt along with his bread and other foods in his rucksack. He immediately took out salt from his bag and spread it on the leech. The insect could not endure the action of salt and fell down bleeding severally. Boynton smiled and told Esteban not to be worry anymore. The leech was dead. Esteban got relieved from agony and began stepping forward along with Baltu, Avellino and Boynton, thrashing, beating the bushes making the way.

After walking long-distance, they arrived at a nearly open area. The sky was somewhat visible from this place. They found a tiny pond in that open area. Meanwhile, the darkness of evening was descending down. They decided to spend a night in that open area. Accordingly taking down their rucksack on the ground they sat in a relaxing mood spreading their legs. Taking out loaves of bread and other eatables from the rucksack they began eating to fill their hungry stomachs. While drinking water Avellino smelt some foul smell coming from a distant place. As he told about this, Baltu, Boynton and Esteban began smelling deep and admitted that. That foul smell might be of wild leopard or bear or of some wild animal. At night these wild animals used to come to that pond for drinking water. Because of that, this place was not safe for them to spend a night by the side of the pond. They decided to climb up on the nearby tree. They climbed up on the top strong branches of the tree and tied themselves on the branches with the rope so that they would not fall down during a slumberous state.

It was about mid-night, the rays of moon pouring down partially on the surrounding area of the pond. They heard some hissing sound emanating from a tree behind them. Avellino focused the torch towards the source of hissing sound and noticed a large python snake engulfing a deer. The poor deer tried hard to come out of the jaw of the snake but in vain. Gradually the entire deer went within the stomach of the python. Watching this dreadful scene, they became panicky. The whole night they could not close their eyelids. After a while, some more foul smell started floating in the air. They saw one leopard was drinking water from the pond. Likewise, several wild animals came and drank water from the pond. In the late of night, they felt tired and slept away on the branches of the tree.

In the early morning, when a trace of sunrays entered the open area, they got up from their slumberous state. They came down cautiously from the tree, washed their face with the water of the pond, and had some breakfast. After relaxing for a while they lifted their rucksack and started walking through the woods. They decided not to spend the night in the woods anymore. Accordingly, they were moving in fast strides thrashing and beating the bushes making their way. Walking nonstop they halted for a while just to take some food and drink. Without taking rest they proceeded fast.

It was afternoon; all the three youths and Baltu could come out of the rain forest. It was a plateau area. They noticed a large pyramid at some distance. Avellino recalled that that pyramid might be the well-known Pyramid of Magician. All of them walked fast to be near the Pyramid. When they arrived at the place, the darkness of evening started enveloping the area. They decided that the area might be safe to take a rest and spend the night. Accordingly, they took out the rucksack and kept it on the ground. They were dam tired and desired to take a rest. After having some food materials and drink, they spread the mats on the ground and slept away.

In the early morning, their slumberous state was broken by a hoarse sound. Avellino got up hurriedly and looked around and noticed a fierce-looking person was standing near them. The person was wearing a red gabardine with a face full of beard and red eyes. The fierce person asked them in a hoarse voice, “Who are you all? Where from you are coming?” Boynton and Esteban stood up being frightened. Boynton replied in low voice, 

“Sir, we came out of home for an adventure. We are coming from Mexico. We have no other intention except to have some adventure.”

Baltu courageously asked the person, “Sir, we heard about some ancient castle situated on some hill. Will you please let us know the way leading towards that castle?’

The person replied in a stentorian voice, “You mean Blue Whale Castle? Do you want to go there? Do you want to die so early?” That very word of death stunned all the four adventurists. They kept mum for a while. After a while, Boynton said, “Sir, we are adventurists. We don’t know when and how death will come to us. We all dare to go to that castle. Will you kindly show us the way towards the castle?” That fierce person came forward, offering them a magic stick said, “You boys, you don’t know that castle is a jaw of death. There is a mystery behind that Blue Whale Castle. Several persons visited earlier to that castle but nobody returned so far. However, I take pity on you adventurists. Take this magic stick, which will save you from any calamities. You go straight and then bend left way. But try to keep yourself hiding during nighttime. Be careful and use this magic stick whenever you are in a problem. Good luck boys.” Esteban took the stick from that mysterious person and thanked him. As soon as Esteban took the stick in his hand, a mysterious fragrance came out from the stick and his body started shivering. Avellino and Boynton came forward to help Esteban. Avellino started chanting a verse from Bible and touched the body of Esteban. He noticed that chanting a verse from Bible relieved Esteban from shivering. Meanwhile, as they turned back to express gratitude to that fierce person, they noticed that the person vanished from the place. They were surprised and spellbound. Baltu suggested them to keep that magic stick safely in hand. Esteban just to test the action of the stick on others, touched the stick on Baltu. Again some mysterious fragrance emanated from the stick and Baltu started shivering. Avellino started chanting a verse from the Bible and touched the body of Baltu. Shivering of Baltu stopped and Baltu came to normality.

Baltu said, “Come on brothers. Let us proceed on the way as directed by that strange ascetic. But also remember we must hide ourselves during night time and enter the castle during the day taking all the precautionary measures.” 

There was no straight path at all. Narrow foot-steps were visible going upwards through the pebbles and stones. These four adventurers started ascending through those foot-steps. After ascending up they came to a flat area. While panting they decided to take a rest for a while. It was mid-noon. They decided to proceed as indicated by that strange mendicant. But to arrive at that mysterious castle during the daytime might not be possible for them since they were extremely tired and exhausted. When they got up gradually it was the closing of the day. Walking, walking and walking on the left side of the way they could notice a blue-colored castle at a far distance. The darkness of the evening was descending down. When they arrived at the vicinity of that ancient castle, it was evening. The darkness enveloped the entire hilly area. Baltu told them not to proceed further and take a rest near a streamlet flowing near the area.

All of them sat on the open area of the hill, being extremely tired and exhausted. All of them were feeling pinching sensations in the stomach due to extreme hunger. Taking out all the eatables and water from their rucksack they became engaged in eating. In the meanwhile, the deep darkness of evening was being thickened. Avellino and Boynton taking out two candles from their rucksack got it lighted. The deep darkness was somewhat eliminated. Baltu looking at that indistinct castle it seemed to be a haunted house in the deep darkness. While the other three adventurers lay down after diner, Baltu was going on staring at that ghostly castle without lying down. It was far advanced night. All of a sudden howls of some wolf were heard. A screech-owl hooted from a distant tree, Hu-hu-hu. An uncanny environment was created all around them. The other three adventurers began snaring. But Baltu was sleepless. Baltu taking out the revolver from his waist belt kept in hand. Suddenly a powerful blue light was enkindled and extinguished. In the next moment, a powerful red light enkindled. The red light was going on enkindling and extinguishing. Is that a signal for anything? Baltu became anxious. In the meanwhile few jackals began howling, huk-huk-hukka-hua. Baltu felt some incorporeal insatiate souls were moving in the nooks and eaves of hills. The spell of the weeping of some of the souls was floating in the air from that ghostly castle.

Baltu couldn’t close his eyelids throughout the night. At dawn, he slept away. Avellino and Boynton called him from his slumberous state. Baltu made them hear about the incidents he observed and heard at night. Esteban being frightened said, “We will have to more careful. The incident what we heard from Baltu my body is shivering. I am sure that insatiate incorporeal souls are residing within that castle. We will have to keep the magic stick readily in hand. Every one of us must wear the cross-chain on the neck.” Avellino, Esteban and Boynton taking the chain from the rucksack put it on the neck. But Baltu didn’t have any cross-chain with him. However, he was having an arm plate engraved with a trident. Baltu touching the arm plate on his forehead made obeisance to Lord Shiva.

That castle was somewhat far off. It might take three hours to reach the castle. But they should not enter the castle during day time. At night they would have to peep and pry to ascertain the activities inside the castle. Thereafter they might enter the castle. Deciding their mode of action they enjoy the breakfast taking the rucksack on their shoulder started walking. In the meanwhile Avellino phone up to somebody with his mobile phone. As Baltu enquired whom he phoned, Avellino replied that he phoned up to his home.

They would have to go to a far distance. There was no macadamized road. A narrow path full of cobbled stone gradually ascended up. While ascending up they were becoming tired. From time to time they were taking a breath. Again were proceeding further. While walking like that they arrived at the vicinity of that ‘Blue Whale Castle’ in the afternoon. Still, the daylight was flooding the area. That’s they hid behind a thick bush. They were waiting for the evening when the darkness would envelop the area. At last the area was cover by deep darkness. Avellino and Boynton instructed others to be hiding behind the bush proceeded towards the castle creeping. Both of them found that the castle was enclosed by a rampart. They climbed on the rampart creeping. From the top of the rampart, a courtyard was visibly pervaded with a mysterious blue light! They noticed a few male and female youths, wearing white apparel coming slowly sat on some scheduled seats. Meanwhile, a woman wearing deep blue gabardine coming in front of those youths sat on a specific seat. She sat in a posture of meditation. Thereafter she started chanting some mystical hymn. A woman with blue apparel appearing before the youths handed over some drinks to the youths. The youths after drinking the drinks closed their eyes in a meditative posture. After a while, a person wearing a blue-colored long loose garment bringing an incense burner enkindled some incense in the courtyard. The entire area of the courtyard was covered with deep smoke. Looking through the indistinct smoky area, Avellino and Boynton suspected and felt that the male and female youths were taken out from the place by some people. Both of them felt, “were those youths become senseless after drinking the drinks? Where they were shifted?” 

Without waiting time both of them coming down from the rampart rushed towards Baltu and Esteban. Avellino and Boynton narrated whatever episode they saw. Baltu said, “It’s high time to enter the castle being fully equipped.” Esteban said, “If those mysterious people enquired us about our purpose of visiting this place. In that case, we will have to reply that knowing about your good reputation we became interested. That’s why we have come to learn meditation from you.”

All of them hiding their weapons inside the rucksacks started moving towards the entrance gate of the castle. Esteban inserting the magic stick in his waist started advancing. Now their last stage of adventure arrived.

As they tried to enter the castle, a security guard prevented their entry. He inquired about their purpose of visit to that castle. Esteban made him known that they came here to be acquainted with the meditation. They desired to meet with the preceptor of this castle. Holding them near the entrance gate the security guard swiftly left the place to get permission from the preceptor. In the meanwhile, Avellino phoned up somebody through his mobile phone. After a while, that security guard came and took them to their preceptor. The preceptor was a woman and not a man. She was sitting in the chiaroscuro with her eyes closed in a meditative posture. She was wearing a deep blue gabardine. As the security guard intimated her about the presence of four unknown persons, she opened her eyes enquired in a very hoarse and loud voice, “Where from you have come? From where you have heard about us? Have you come here to learn meditation or with any other intention? “

Listening to those queries Baltu replied, “No madam, we didn’t come here with any bad intention. Really we want to learn meditation from you. Kindly initiate us as your disciples.”

Now the woman sharply staring at Baltu asked, “It seems you are not a citizen of this country. Did you come here from India? Are you Indian?”

“Yes madam, I am an Indian. Coming to Mexico I came to know about your reputation. That’s why I joined with these persons to come here.”

“That’s alright. You just wait for a while. At midnight I will initiate you, people, and preach to you the mode of meditation. Now go to our guest room and wait for your turn.”

They were not able to see her face distinctly in the chiaroscuro. But Baltu guessed her face as black and tough. Her eyes seemed to be as if the cannonballs. Her very appearance seemed to be flabby but lax. However, as ordered by the lady one black person took them to a room known as a guest room. Looking at the bulky lady and other peoples Boynton assumed they were probably Nigerians.

It was midnight twelve-thirty. A monstrous-faced person took all the four adventurers to the open courtyard and asked them to take a seat on some blue-colored seats. As they sat on the seats, the dreadful-faced bulky preceptor woman came and sat on her ascertained seat. Again a hoarse voice emanated from her throat, “Boys, are ready to take lesion on meditation?”

“Yes madam we are ready,” Baltu replied.

She then directed, “Boys. Now closer eyes. Contemplate a Sun in between your two brows.” Stay like this till somebody instructs you to open your eyes. At dawn, I will initiate you as my disciples. Jesus will absolve you from sins. Sooner you will be achieving salvation.”

 Avellino kept his one eye half-open just to observe the activities of the dwellers of the castle. After a while, a slim woman with blue apparel appeared and asked them to open their eyes. As they opened their eyes, the woman gave each of them a glass of blue-colored drinks. Asking them to drink the liquid she left the place. Baltu being too thirty immediately lost his consciousness. Esteban taking out the magic stick just touched all the glasses full of that blue-colored liquid. The colored liquid turned red. Suspecting some poison within the liquid they poured all the liquids into the gutter and laid down pretending they were senseless.

Meanwhile, Avellino secretly sent a message to somebody stating the present status of their adventure.

It was early dawn. The bulky woman entered the room and ordered somebody to take those senseless bodies to the crematorium. Baltu other three friends could feel the awkward situation. They heard that a hoarse female voice giving the order to suck blood from the senseless bodies of the four and then take out kidney, lungs and heart from these four boys.

As the bodies of the four were taken to the crematorium by monstrous persons, Avellino could conceive the actual situation and secretly sent a message to somebody to come sharp. After that, the awesome black-faced woman appeared with some syringes in her hand. She gave a syringe to a dreadful person with large red eyes to suck the blood. As that dreadful person approached Baltu all other three leaped up and shouted, “Is this the way you are teaching meditation for salvation, bloody bitch?”

The startled woman being flabbergasted started shouting calling other peoples to come with weapons. Avellino, Boynton and Esteban also took out their weapons secretly kept under their pants. Baltu was still lying unconscious. Esteban cunningly took out the revolver from the pocket of Baltu and fired it in the air.

All the miscreants began attacking the trio with their weapons like trident and swords. All of a sudden the thundering sound of numbers of helicopters was heard, flying over the courtyard of the Blue Whale Castle. Being struck dumb entire dwellers of the castle were looking upwards in fear. Many commandos came down with the parachutes and aiming AK-47 at the miscreants rushed towards the spot. The miscreants started fleeing this way and that. But the entire castle was surrounded by the commando police. That flabby bear-faced black woman along with her 12 associates was arrested by police. Avellino, Boynton and Esteban was rescued along with another half a dozen youths in half-consciousness. Unconscious Baltu was shifted to Mexico hospital in a helicopter.

After two days lying in an unconscious state, when Baltu recovered to his senses, he found Avellino, Boynton and Esteban by his side in the hospital bed. Baltu came to know that these trios belonged to the police department of Mexico. That’s why Avellino off and on phoned up to Police department about their position. It was revealed that flabby women Ms. Margaret and her associates were trading on human body parts and blood for a long time in that ancient castle, which they named Blue Whale Castle.

Being fully recovered from illness Batu returned home. He narrated that awful episode to me.


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