WSPI-2012-03: A False Face – Short Story for Children
This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
A False Face – Short Story for Children
[Its about a girl Aastha who unveils the truth behind ‘A False Face’]
It is summer time and the children absolutely love the holiday season. And they don’t have a hassle of waking up early and rushing to school with encumbrance. The parents cannot be emphatic to children for not doing their homework, it’s a full time amusement for the children. Aastha an 11 year Old girl and an older brother Dhruv who lived in chikamangalur were enjoying their holidays.
One day Aastha and Dhruv where busy playing on the terrace with a kite flown in the wind at one end of a long string. Suddenly a drastic action took place. The air blew strongly and cut the string and detached the kite .The abound wind started blowing towards the south and the kite got stuck on a far neighbor’s flat roof. Unreasonably Aastha started pestering Dhruv to get the kite back. It was not a possible thing & so Dhruv told her that it’s a Monster’s house. Aastha innocently asked why it is a monster house?
Dhruv asked her if she could see the front of that house with a monster mask hanging out on upper part of the building. Aastha saw that fearful mask hanging and asked Dhruv why it is? Dhruv replied since monsters live in that house it’s for the people to know they hang this monster mask. Frightened Aastha believed her brother without absolute proof and said come let’s go down the stairs. As the days passed just the thought of the monster mask and the monster house terrified her and she was under the same notion. And unexpectedly one day early in the morning their father woke them up and astonishingly said that they will be traveling to Bangalore to Nidhi Aunt’s house for summer vacations. Aastha and Dhruv were very excited to see Bangalore and play with Nikesh there cousin..
It was Tuesday quarter to seven in the morning they arrivedBangalore. They hired an auto rickshaw and reached Ulsoor where Nidhi Aunt lived. Walking towards aunt’s house they saw few houses with ancient architectural style. Dhruv was so excited. But, for Aastha a distressing emotion aroused by looking at few houses that had the monster mask hanging out side the houses.the day passed very quickly as kids were actively engaged in games and watching animation programmes on the television. And Aunt Nidhi interrupted and said while I get the milk for all of you. Can you get the biscuits from the grocery store nearby. Aastha, Dhruv and Nikesh started walking towards the narrow way. There was an old house with the monster mask hanging outside. Aastha took a glimpse of that house in a great fear. And abruptly the Old lady with a stick in her right hand came out. Looking at that wrinkled face smiling, Aastha panicked with fear started moving her legs more rapidly Dhruv and Nikesh were left behind with a sudden feeling of wonder. Dhruv ran up to Aastha to see her trembling with fear. Dhruv asked her what’s wrong with you Aastha. She hesitantly replied nothing. We need to hurry Aunty is waiting for us. They quickly bought the biscuits from the store and reached home in little time. Aastha even though she was pretending to be cheerful .but, internally she was bethinking the spooky face of that old lady. At the sametime she also had a question in her mind that how come the surrounded neighbors are not harmed by these monsters. Children passed time watching Television it was darkling they went to sleep.
Next day early morning when aunt Nidhi was devotionally worshiping God Raghavendra Swamy. Aastha heard the bell ringing; she woke up whereas Dhruv and Nikesh came after her in sequence. As the day begins children freshened up and do same thing again playing games, watching TV. Aastha was attentively engaged in watching TV but the other two children fall into light sleep unintentionally and it was 4 pm time for snacks. Aunt Nidhi came in and said Aastha unexpectedly few guests had come home, while preparing tea I utilized all the milk. Can you please get the milk from the store and also get chocolates for yourself.Aastha got instantly frightened going alone and replied can I take Dhruv & Nikesh along. Aunty said I know you can manage why disturb them.
Menacingly Aastha stepped out to walk towards the store. And when she found the Old lady gazing at Aastha from her veranda with the scary smile. She begins running as if both feet were off the ground.Aastha with impending danger forgot to buy chocolates swiftly got the milk and while moving back home came across the old lady again smiling at her. She started to run having the attention sharply focused on old lady and got collided with stone and fell down with lack of support and started to bleed from her knee. While wiping her tears and trying to stop the blood bleed came across a pair of feet that stood before, she looked up to see and she stammered to say “you… you” at the loss of words her heart skipped the beat as it was the old lady with her wrinkled face.
Aastha: Please leave me
Old lady: Come child you are hurt .Let me bind up you wound
Aastha: No you will eat me
Old lady: Yes if you don’t stop crying and don’t come with me right now I will eat you up.
Frightened Aastha with wounded leg walked along with the old lady to her house anticipating someone to rescue her from this distressed situation. As she stepped into the house. Aastha was astonished by looking at those huge collection of pretty colorful toys. Old lady came with ointment and bandage said come let us apply medicine this will heal your wound. Aastha found a relief in affliction and asked the old lady innocently .Do monsters play with toys? With a loud burst of laugh the old lady answered No, but do I look like a monster?Aastha asked than why do you have that monster mask hanging outside your house.
Old lady explained about the Monster Mask in India it is believed that these faces or Kirtimukhas, ‘Visages of Glory’ is the remover of ‘evil eyes’ it is to frighten off unpleasant and evil minded people that is why they hang these outside the house. There was nothing to prove how baseless the beliefs were. They were passed from one generation to another until there were some who put their foot down to disapprove them. Some superstitious beliefs even became social norms. With passing time, some superstitions were rendered false, while others ‘succeeded’ in establishing themselves as truths!
Aastha was amazed to hear that story about the monster mask. She saw a framed photo of a girl hanging on the wall and asked the old lady. Who is she? Old lady shedding tears said she is ‘Dhristi’ my grand daughter who was of your age who died in a bus accident along with her parents. I see Dhristi in every child who passes by this lane as I saw in you. Aastha downheartedly said you can call me Dhristi if that makes you feel happy. The old lady burst into tears and clasped tightly into her arms. Aastha said I must leave now. My aunty must be worried about me. And all of a sudden heard Dhruv, Nikesh and Aunt Nidhi cry out loudly ‘Aastha Aastha’. She came out passing rapidly and said I am here.
The Old lady came out from the house and relieved by explaining the whole situation and removed the anxiety. And Aunt Nidhi expressed her gratitude to the old lady and grasped children to move ahead. Old lady called Aastha by name Dhristi and Aastha turned her eyes towards the old lady. And the old lady rushed into house and came out with two beautiful toys for Aastha.And Aastha happily took them into her hands and thanked with the smile on her face. Old lady kissed on her cheek and they said Good-byes to each other.