The lush green cantonment sprawled over huge acres of land. The moment Rhea stepped into the barricades, she was awed by the quaint majesty of the place. There were trees everywhere and in the middle of it stood a palace, almost in shambles but still possessing the ability to intimidate one and all.
Rhea’s father was a Colonel in the army and they had recently moved to this far flung station in the middle of nowhere. She was accustomed to shifting base every now and then and so whenever they were to make a move she would look forward with anticipation as to what the new place would offer.
This time the anticipation and excitement knew no bounds as the place where the cantonment stood was once the abode of kings. The palace had witnessed the pre independence days and the British imperialism at close quarters.
As with every old building which withstood the sands of time, there were anecdotes associated with the palace too. History said that the kings of the Rao dynasty reigned here and it was their stranglehold back in the day. Later, with the British rule the former glory of the Raos died a slow death.
Rhea soon got busy with settling down in the new home. Gradually she began to unravel stories that floated around about the palace. Her friends told her that the palace was haunted and that the King’s spirit still lingered in the palatial gardens. No one ventured near the palace after twilight. It was a sort of unsaid rule that everyone seemed to follow. Rhea came to know that the officers’ wives too dare not venture near the palace when it grew dark.
The palace seemed to fascinate Rhea in more ways than one. She had always been the one who believed in facts. She googled about the entire history of the Rao dynasty and did not find anything unusual. Also, there was no mention of the palace being haunted.
Of late, the ghost stories had gained momentum. Rhea’s neighbour’s maid who was one hell of a gossip monger had supposedly seen shadows near the palace when she was coming towards her house with her husband. As she and her husband walked by the palace they saw large shadows as if a ‘rakshas’ (monster) roamed about making disgruntled noises. She narrated the whole incident with animated gestures and exclamatory remarks which tickled Rhea and she wondered if there was some truth to it.
Curiosity knew the better of her and one fine day, she decided to take a stroll near the palace late in the evening. It was a pleasant September evening. After having dinner, Rhea stepped out on the pretext of going for a small walk. She assured her mother she would not veer towards the palace.
But, she had different intentions. As she walked briskly, her steps unconsciously slowed down and she felt a surge of fear grip her. Was she afraid? Maybe she was. But, she was an army officer’s daughter, she was no weakling. And she was almost there.
As she meandered towards the palatial boundaries she heard something. Her heart was in her mouth. Was it the ‘rakshas’ (monster) as the maid had described so vividly? She was transfixed to where she stood. The noises turned into hushed whispers and just then Rhea’s eyes caught sight of a bike that was parked stealthily near the bushes. This looked familiar. Suddenly it dawned on her that it was Vikram, her classmate’s bike, his most prized possession which he exhibited generously.
What was his bike doing here? She walked further and what she saw stunned her. Vikram sat in the garden and next to him was Chandni, the proclaimed beauty of the campus and Colonel Shah’s daughter. They sat holding hands looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. The lovers were oblivious to their surroundings as all young love struck ones are.
The monster was nowhere to be seen.
I am participating in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. The prompt for today is ‘Monster’.