|Creative Writing Competition 2012 India|
|SETTING||Old Palace OR Bungalow|
|OBJECT||Any Jewellery – Necklace, Ring…|
|THEME||A Strange Day/Night|
Aaditya sensed a presence in the overgrown thicket surrounding the palace and inside the compound. He turned sharply and spotted something red. Soon the red materialised into a five and a half feet damsel, dressed in red, face half covered by dense dark hair, which was a striking contrast to her marble face. Her dark eyes flashed with mirth and mischief, as she adjusted her yellow shawl on her head with one hand, while with the other cuddled a goat which started bleating on seeing him.
“Saab, you look shocked, I am no ghost,” she laughed a metallic laughter that seemed to reverberate across the surrounding hills.
“My goat had strayed inside , you see, and I had to enter the forbidden place, the garden inside the compoud of this palace. Not that I am afraid of ghosts. I’m Swarna! The ghosts would rather fear me,” again peals of bell metal reverberated.
“Saab, you are following me! I am going to my place and my suspicious mother and brute of a brother will think you are my lover. They don’t like me talking to men, and I do talk a lot, with everyone.”
“Not a problem for me,” replied Aaditya. “But tell me,why on earth you thought I would take you for a ghost?”
“Have you not heard of the history of that palace? It has been there for a long long time, even before the time of my great grandmother. The king Nilkat Deva Bhupathi, who ruled over this place had a concubine and he had housed her here, in this palace. She had a son and a daughter. The king had a son, the crown prince, through his queen. Are you listening?”
“Yes,” said Aaditya,”Continue.”
“The queen’s son, the crown prince was not popular among the people.”
“Who told you all this stuff?” Aaditya questioned.
“Why, my grandmother, of course.” She sat on a flat huge marble stone that might have been part of the building material used for that palace. She patted beside her and said,
“Sit down, if you have nothing to do now and I will tell you a fabulous story. I hope you are not afraid of ghosts?” Eyes twinkling, she said with a smile.
“Me! Afraid of ghosts? No, not at all,” he assured her.
“The people loved the son of the king’s mistress, though. He was handsome, very brave, fought even tigers to save the people of the village, and was generous and kind to them. People wanted him to be the next king. The crown prince was jealous. When his father was in deathbed, he bribed the cook of this palace and poisoned his step mother and her children. He ascended the throne after his father’s death.
But none of the king’s progeny could enter the palace as a sorcerer could see the presence of evil inside the palace. Many of the king’s relatives died unnatural deaths and they attributed it all to the concubine of the senior king, their daughter and son who stay in the form of ghosts in this palace. The king and his people tried to sell this palace, but no one would buy it. So it remains even now, creating fear silently. City people who come here, like you take a look at it from far away. To tell you the truth, my goat has strayed into the compound once too often and I have had the pleasure of looking for him here, time and again.” She laughed again and walked away with a spring in her steps.
“Who’s that girl?” someone asked Aaditya. It was a man with a big mustache.
“I ‘ve heard that palace is haunted by three ghosts, a young girl, a boy and their mother,” he said.
“I ‘m a writer and I write thrillers,” he added.
“Does she look like a ghost to you?” Aaditya asked pointing in the direction Swarna was going.
“Can’t say for sure,” the man replied.
“And who are you?” the man asked Aaditya. Aaditya replied,”Can’t say for sure,”and left the place
Aaditya came there at dusk every day and she was there as if they had arranged that meeting. It was the tenth day they were seated on the marble stone talking, when he held her featherlike body in his hands and confessed his love for her. She seemed shocked for a moment but soon accepted his love coyly. He said,
“I want to give you a gift. I want give it in the palace garden which brought us together.”
In the moonlight, inside the palace compound, he looked so handsome and stately. She could see the ripples of his muscles inside the sleeves of his pure white kurta. He took out a huge diamond ring and slid her slender finger into it. The single diamond, embeded in the ring shone like fire.
“Saab, this seems a costly one,” she muttered.
“Don’t call me saab, call me Aaditya and you are more precious to me than this,” he said.
“Yes,” she whispered,”Aaditya Aaditya.”
He said,”You want to know who I am?”
Her eyes had an unearthly shine when she replied, “I can guess it, my lord. You are the hansome prince who haunts this palace. I found that out soon and I do not fear you.”
Aaditya was stunned but felt elated. In their excitment they had not noticed the passage of time, till wails and shouts erupted in close proximity.
“Your brother will kill you if he sees you here. He had warned you enough.”
“You crazy donkey. Who are you talking to?”
The one who seemed to be her mother shouted. Some elderly men and women were there.
“She is possessed, talking to herself! She has been going into that compound at least a dozen times this month. Look at her. We shall take her to the sorcerer.” said an elderly man in the group.
“Who will marry my daughter?” wailed her mother.
“Ma, the prince surely will!” Swarna replied, laughing.
“The way she laughs,- possessed, possessed!” They dragged her along as she turned to bid him goodbye. She was hiding her ringed finger in her shawl.
“She will come again and again and give me company till her death, as the other girls of the previous generations had been doing these five hundred odd years. No doubt, they all will be called mad and possessed. I can’t help it. Now it is going to be daybreak and I need my day’s rest,” said Aaditya Deva Bhupathi and turned towards the doors of his palace. The heavy wooden doors of the palace opened on their own for their handsome prince of darkness.