Excerpt from the novel 'The Raavan Returns (Drumatulya Trilogy Book 2)'
Excerpt from the novel 'The Raavan Returns (Drumatulya Trilogy Book 2)'
Archaeology trip, Forty-Six Years, One Haunting Secret…
2019, Delhi - The detective in search of the missing NRI businessman meets the old lady. She reveals the blood-curdling story of deceit, betrayal, and violence.
5135 BCE, Panchavati - Raavan, the mighty demon king, abducts Sita.
2018, Bareilly - A newly-engaged couple visits Bankhandi Nath temple on a cold winter evening. The girl dies under mysterious circumstances.
1300 AD, Jaisalmer - Alauddin Khilji, the barbaric sultan of Delhi, hatches a vicious plan to capture the Suryagarh fort.
2019, Ancient City of Drumatulya - The demonic crime lord fails in his sinister plan and finds that nothing is what it seems. Unknown to him, a master puppeteer is playing a grand game.
What happens to the missing NRI businessman? What was the haunting mystery of the archaeology trip? What is the spine-chilling secret behind the mysterious death of the newly-engaged girl? Read on to witness the epic war between light and darkness, good and evil, Gods and demons.
27th January 2019, Bareilly
Kartik, a rich NRI businessman, arrived in Bareilly, India from the USA along with his wife and children. He had come to attend the wedding of his niece Indu, the daughter of his cousin, Harish bhaisaab. Everything went fine for the first two days. On the day of the wedding, he went to visit the Pashupati Nath temple in the morning but didn’t return. He went missing mysteriously.
Harish bhaisaab hired detective Ajay – the best detective in Bareilly – to solve the case, as Inspector Rana suspected the involvement of the most dreaded crime syndicate of Europe in the disappearance. Upon investigation, Ajay found Kartik’s diary. He knew that it was an important clue, as Kartik was writing in it for a month just before he went missing under strange circumstances.
As expected, Ajay found valuable information in the diary. His sixth sense told him that the information could prove to be the missing key to unlock the mystery behind Kartik’s sudden disappearance. He named it, ‘The Raavan Key’, feeling thrilled to investigate the case which had a connection to the Ramayana era of the Treta Yuga.
11th August 1972, Thar desert, Jaisalmer
A group of five students went on a research trip along with Professor Saini. Four of them were archaeology students at the Banaras Hindu University. The fifth one was Shivam, who was studying engineering at the Government Engineering College of Banaras. Professor Saini was the Head of the Archaeology Department. They visited many historical places across India.
Their last stop was an old fort in the outskirts of Jaisalmer city. Upon reaching the fort, Shivam had a strong intuition that everything was not right that day. He could sense that someone was following them ever since they had arrived in the Jaisalmer city, and was keeping an eye on them. To add to his suspicion, Professor Saini had told them about the lost city of Drumatulya, which existed during the Ramayana era.
Shivam was confident that Professor Saini was hiding something crucial from them. While they were discussing the details about the lost ancient city, a mysterious man appeared at the old fort. He was tall and well-built. His piercing eyes were oozing a mystic vibe. He told them that without his guidance, they will not be able to reach the lost ancient city. He offered his help in reaching the city. Professor Saini readily agreed to the mysterious man’s proposal. The rest of the team also got ready, despite Shivam’s objection. Finally, Shivam gave up, too, and they all left in the search of the lost city of Drumatulya.
PRAISE FOR DRUMATULYA TRILOGY
“The integration of mythology and the present-day story is fantabulous.” - Nishtha Bajpai, Blogger
“A fast-paced thriller.” - Susan, Content Writer
“Phenomenal narration of mythological fiction with a mix of mystery.” - Sameeksha Manerkar, Graphic Designer
“Pravin Agarwal is a master storyteller.” - Dailyhunt
“This novel has all of it – mythology, legendary, thriller, mystery, suspense and love.” - Sharimila, Tech Writer
“A mind-blowing combination of mythology, mystery, thriller and suspense.” - Hiba Khan, Author
Mission Drumatulya, 29th January 2019, Thar Desert, Jaisalmer
Ajay looked closely at the goons, and his eyes widened in panic as he immediately recognized them. They were actually the world’s deadliest assassins. It was almost impossible to defeat them in direct combat. Sweat beads appeared on his forehead and rolled down his face.
“The commandos that are surrounding them look lethal. Thanks to you that you saved our lives. If you hadn’t stopped us from going down the staircase, then we would have been dead by now,” Inspector Shamsher said, his voice filled with gratitude and awe.
A smile dangled on the corner of Ajay’s lips. “It’s my duty, officer... I get paid for it,” he replied humbly.
“Sir, it looks like these commandos belong to some deadly assassin group,” Jagan commented, his eyes riveted on the laptop’s screen.
“Yes, you are correct; the commandos surrounding them belong to the world’s deadliest assassin group called ‘Hashshashin’. It’s almost impossible to win them in face-to-face combat,” Ajay nodded and drew in a sharp breath. His mind was engrossed in finding out a way to deal with the deadly Hashshashin assassins.
Inspector Rana gazed at Ajay in disbelief, “as per my knowledge, the world most powerful assassin group ‘Hashshashin’ used to exist in the thirteenth century. But later, the assassin group was completely destroyed by the Mongke Khan, Genghis’s grandson. After that, no one heard about them.”
“What you said is true; Mongke Khan, Genghis’s grandson, had destroyed the assassin group ‘Hashshashin’ completely in the thirteenth century. But not many people know that the leader of that group ‘Sayyed Umrah’ had somehow managed to escape from the clutches of Mongke Khan,” Ajay informed. “Since then, the lethal assassin group is working covertly. They appear from nowhere, mercilessly kill their prey and then disappear into thin air. They never leave behind any trace.”
“What shall we do now, Ajay?” Inspector Rana asked nervously, wiping the sweat off his brow. “There is only one way to go down, and the world’s deadliest assassins are guarding it without blinking their eyes.”
Ajay’s gaze was fixed on the laptop’s screen. “Hmm,” he said thoughtfully and noticed that one of the assassin’s eyes dilated. His forehead wrinkled. He leaned forward to look at the screen with more concentration. He was sure that the assassin had spotted the spy camera-fitted ball. Ajay’s heart was pounding desperately. He was not worried for his life, but the lives of the five constables, Inspector Shamsher, Inspector Rana and Jagan, were also in danger. And then Kartik’s life was also dependent on them.
Within a second, the assassin came into action and fired his gleaming black Beretta 92FS semiautomatic pistol. A bullet left the pistol and hit the ball hard. The ball shattered into small pieces, and the laptop’s screen went blank. Simultaneously, Ajay heard the loud sound of someone falling to the ground. Ajay turned around, and to his utter horror, he found the five constables, including Sangram Singh and Mahavir lying lifeless on the ground. Blood was spurting out of their bodies at a rapid pace. Their eyes were open, but there was no trace of life in them. Someone had shot them mercilessly in their head.
A chill went down Ajay’s spine, and he froze out of shock. “How is it possible that someone shot at the sanctum downstairs and the bullet hit the five constables simultaneously here?’ He felt utterly perplexed. His mind went blank and stopped working. He was sweating profusely due to nervousness. He felt the drops of sweat leaving his upper back and dripping down his spine. He looked around; Inspector Rana, Jagan and Inspector Shamsher had an expression of intense terror on their faces. They were standing still without blinking their eyes as if they had turned into stone statues.
‘Is this really happening, or am I hallucinating?’ Ajay wondered. His stomach was churning, and his eyes were burning with anxiety.
“Who is this?” He asked in dread, turning his head in all directions but in vain. He couldn’t see anyone.
A few more seconds passed in acute bewilderment, and then Ajay heard the demonic laughter of someone. “Hahahaaaaaa……...” the laughter intensified further.
Ajay looked in the direction of the sound; a faint image appeared at the far end of the pathway. He pressed his lips together, narrowing his eyes to see the faint image more clearly, and he gasped in agony; he couldn’t believe what he saw. The faint image moved towards them, and his eyes ablaze with indomitable rage as he immediately recognized the person. Disappointment flooded him as the person whom they had trusted blindly was the one who had betrayed them. He hadn’t imagined even in his wildest of dreams that the person with whom they had shared their foolproof plan would turn out to be the traitor. It was a lethal blow to their rescue operation, Mission Drumatulya, and now only a miracle could save their lives.
I abducted Sita and took her to Lanka in Pushpaka Vimana. The vulture king, Jatayu tried to come to Sita’s rescue, but he was no match in front of me, the supremely powerful demon king. I cut off Jatayu’s wings and left him bleeding and helpless. Back in the forest, Lakshman found Ram unharmed. Terror filled his heart. He, too, had been tricked by Maricha. Ram and Lakshman returned to their hut and to their horror, they found Sita missing. They both immediately set out in the search of Sita. They thoroughly searched every bush and corner of the forest. In the middle of an empty ground behind a hill, the two brothers spot Jatayu, who lay there bleeding with both of his wings severed. Breathing his last, Jatayu informed Ram that Sita had been abducted by me, Raavan, the mighty demon king of Lanka. He described how he got wounded while fighting with me. He also informed Ram that I had taken Sita towards the south. Upon Jatayu’s death, Ram ritually cremated Jatayu in the funeral fire and performed his last rites with full honour.
28th January 2019, Karol Bagh, Delhi
“Hi, can we meet Richa Trivedi, the retired IAS officer?” Ajay enquired eagerly to the old lady who opened the door.
She looked at Ajay up and down for a moment. “Yes, I am Richa Trivedi. I am sorry, but I didn’t recognize you,” she replied, her voice trembling a little. From her expression, she looked fearful and suspicious.
Tingles of relief ran down Ajay’s spine. His eye’s glittered with joy as the old lady confirmed that she is Richa Trivedi. He thanked God that she was alive, and he was finally meeting her. It took him and Jagan six hours to reach Richa Trivedi’s house in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. They drove non-stop and took just a half an hour break at a restaurant on the highway to have lunch.
“Hello, Richaji,” Ajay greeted extra politely to make her comfortable. “I am detective Ajay from Bareilly city.”
Richa looked doubtfully at Ajay and Jagan. “Who?” she asked, her voice apprehensive.
“Do you remember; I called you today morning to enquire about Kartik, the NRI businessman? The one who disappeared mysteriously sometime back. You were telling me the important details about him and his father Shivam. You had also mentioned that you know about some deadly conspiracy, and then suddenly your phone got disconnected. I tried calling you back many times after that but couldn’t reach you as your phone was switched off. I was highly worried for your safety as I heard your loud scream before the phone got disconnected. My suspicion further increased as you were about to disclose crucial details regarding Kartik’s case. I thought something unpleasant had happened; it felt as if some goons had attacked you. Thus, we come here from Bareilly to ensure you are fine. Also, we want to know the details regarding Kartik as the information you know is crucial for us. Kartik’s life is in danger, and we need your help to save him,” Ajay said and pulled out his identity card from his purse. He showed it to Richa. “This is my ID card; you can verify my details in it.”
Richa craned her neck, her dark eyes flickering with concern, as she edged closer to inspect Ajay’s ID card. She then looked back at Ajay to ensure his face matched the photo on the ID card. “Ah, so it was you who called me today morning to inquire about Kartik. I am so sorry that I couldn’t inform you that I am safe. I knew you will worry about my safety as our call got disconnected abruptly. Especially, when I was about to disclose a critical detail about Kartik,” she said, this time her voice at ease.
Ajay nodded his head. “Yes, exactly; I am the one who called you in the morning. I am a detective, and he is Jagan, my assistant,” he said and pointed to Jagan, who was standing beside him. He felt excited as finally, Richa recognized him.
“Please come in,” Richa invited them and stood aside to let them enter. She realized that she had kept them standing for long.
Ajay and Jagan went into the drawing-room, which was big and creatively decorated with ancient monuments. There was an upscale sofa set and a wooden table in one corner, and a bookshelf adjacent to it with books arranged neatly in it. They both sat down on the sofa. There was a woman, who was cutting vegetables at the dining table, and she looked like a domestic help or maid.
“What would you like to have tea or coffee?” Richa asked with a smile.
“Tea would be fine,” Ajay replied.
“Sure,” Richa said and turned at an angle to look at the maid. “Geeta, please could you prepare three cups of tea for the guests?”
“Ji, Madam,” Geeta replied and left for the kitchen.
Richa looked back at Ajay. “Yes, please tell me now,” she said.
“What had happened this morning when you were about to disclose some important information regarding Kartik’s abduction? I mean, how did your phone get disconnected suddenly? Also, it was showing as switched off after that,” Ajay questioned and looked keenly at Richa.
“I was in the vegetable market when you called me. As it was too noisy in the market, I quickly moved to a comparatively silent place. When I was busy talking with you about Kartik’s abduction, two people came speedily on a bike, snatched my phone, and run away. It happened so fast that I wasn't even able to note down the bike’s number. They wore black helmets, and thus I couldn’t see their face as well. Luckily, I keep two mobile phones with me, one for official purposes and one for personal use. I immediately called my husband, and to my relief, he arrived in the next ten minutes. I didn’t have your contact numbers as I lost my official mobile on which you had called me. Because of this, I wasn’t able to call back to inform you that I am safe,” Richa replied.
“Oh, okay,” Ajay said with a sigh. “Thank God, they didn’t harm you. It looks like the assailants are linked to Kartik’s abduction. There are fair chances that Kartik’s kidnappers got to know about you and didn’t want you to reveal the details to us. It might also be the case that someone is keeping an eye on every activity of yours. You need to be very careful until we find out the culprits behind Kartik’s abduction and put them behind bars.”
“Yes, you are correct; even my husband and I felt that way,” Richa nodded. “We were worried about our safety after the morning incident, and thus we immediately filed a police complaint at a nearby police station. We also asked for police protection until Kartik’s case is resolved. My husband is a retired IAS officer and has good contacts with influential people. Thus, they agreed to provide us with police security for a few days till it gets clarified who was behind the attack. Two constables are guarding our home for a shift of twelve hours. Also, a police van is doing extra patrolling in our area to keep an eye on any nefarious activity. So, we don’t need to worry much.”
“That’s really nice; good that you immediately filed a complaint and took police protection,” Ajay praised and gave a thumbs up.
Richa smiled, “Thank you!”
“This morning, you mentioned to me that when you saw Kartik on the flight, you knew that he was getting pulled into a deadly conspiracy. And you were about to reveal the details to me, but then your phone got disconnected. So, please could you tell us what was that danger that you wanted to warn Kartik about?” Ajay asked.
“Yeah, I was already aware that Kartik is getting trapped….” Richa began but stopped midway as she noticed Geeta, who had arrived with the tea. She was holding a tray on which three cups of tea were placed neatly.
“Madamji, tea is ready,” she said, interrupting their conversation.
“Hmm,” Richa said and gestured her to serve the tea to the guests first.
“Thank you,” Ajay said and picked a cup of tea. Geeta then offered the tea to Jagan and Richa. She kept the empty tray on the table and returned to the dining table where she was cutting vegetables.
“Geeta, please cut the vegetables in the kitchen itself and also prepare the dinner,” Richa instructed.
“Ji, madam,” Geeta nodded dutifully. She picked up the vegetable plate from the dining table and left.
“Sorry for the interruption,” Richa apologized and took a sip of tea.
“No problem, Richaji,” Ajay said and looked keenly at her. “Please continue; there is no one to disturb us now.”
Richa rubbed her forehead, unable to imagine a less congruous backdrop for the blood-curdling story of deceit, betrayal, and violence she was about to reveal. She wondered where to begin. It was a haunting story which took place forty-six years back... the spine-chilling chronicle of the ancient city of Drumatulya that had changed her life forever.
“It all started forty-six years ago when I was an archaeology student at Banaras Hindu University,” Richa said as she began narrating the sinister story of endless secrets and brutality.
1972, Banaras Hindu University
All was going well and then Professor Saini joined our college as the head of the Archaeology Department. His dashing personality, handsome physique and charming looks soon became the hot topic of our college. There was an irresistible aura of mystery around him. No wonder most of the girls of our college had fallen for him, and even I was not spared from his irresistible charm. I couldn’t forget the day when he called me to his office to discuss a secret task. I jumped with joy and knew that when I would tell my friends about it, they would almost burn with jealousy. Some might even skip their dinner due to the shock.
“May I come in, sir,” I asked excitedly as I reached Professor Saini’s office to meet him. My heart was beating fast as if I had run for an hour non-stop.
“Hey Richa, please come,” Professor Saini said, his voice deep and hypnotizing.
He leaned forward in his chair, forearms on the table.
“I am highly impressed with your performance this semester. Keep up the good work!” He praised me as I stepped inside the room.
“Thank you so much, sir,” I replied gleefully. I felt like dancing but maintained my calm exterior.
‘Be calm, maintain the decorum, Richa,’ I warned myself in my head.
“I know that you have a very good knowledge of Vedic astrology, and so I want you to do research on a particular nakshatra position,” Professor Saini came straight to the point. “It’s a very rare nakshatra position that occurs just once in a century.”
Everyone at Banaras Hindu University knew well that Professor Saini doesn’t like wasting his precious time on any kind of gossip. He was a highly to-the-point person.
“Which nakshatra, sir?” I asked inquisitively. I was surprised as I had never heard of any nakshatra that occurred only once a century.
Professor Saini looked around, scanning the surroundings before replying. “It’s called Bhairav Nakshatra.”
I felt perplexed. “You mean Bharani Nakshatra, right?”
“No, Bharani and Bhairav Nakshatra are different,” Professor Saini shook his head. “Bharani is common, whereas Bhairav is very rare. Only a few people know about it. Even the accomplished Vedic astrologers aren’t aware that any such nakshatra exists. It’s not their fault as it hardly has any significance in common people’s lives. In the Treta Yuga, it used to occur frequently like any other nakshatra, but as time passed by, it became rare.”
“Oh, okay, even, I am not aware that any such nakshatra exists. It will be interesting to find the details about this Bhairav Nakshatra,” I said cheerfully.
“I am confident that you will be able to do justice to this task as you are the granddaughter of Pandit Jagannathji, the renowned Vedic astrologer of India.” Professor Saini edged forward, eyes unblinking, “I know you can do it easily and better than anyone else.”
He knew that I was the granddaughter of Pandit Jagannath, and thus he cleverly chose me for the task. There was nothing that Professor Saini ever did without meticulous planning.
“Sure, sir,” I nodded readily. I knew that the task was not that difficult for me as I am an accomplished Vedic astrologer myself. It was in my blood to decipher the celestial bodies and their messages. I had learnt astrology in depth from my grandfather, who was the best Vedic astrologer of our time. Also, I could ask for help from my grandfather if required.
Professor Saini smiled warmly at me, “Thank you, Richa!”
“Sir, can I ask you a question?” I asked hesitantly. I knew very well that Professor Saini was not a person to be taken lightly or with whom you could have casual discussions. There was an intimidating aura around him like those of royal monarchs.
“Yeah, please ask,” Professor Saini looked at me and said gently. Fortunately, he was in a good mood that day.
“Sir, what’s special about this nakshatra? I mean, why do you require the details about it,” I asked politely. “As you mentioned, it doesn’t have any importance in common people’s lives.”
He looked into my eyes earnestly. “Yeah, but it has implications on the lives of Gods. As I mentioned, it used to occur frequently in Treta Yuga when Gods existed on earth,’ he replied cryptically.
My eyebrows shot up in surprise, but I maintained my composure. ‘Hmm,’ I nodded my head gently, though I didn’t understand a single thing that he mentioned. In fact, I felt even more confused than before.
I wanted to know what he actually meant by this statement that the nakshatra had an implication on the lives of Gods. But I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask him any further questions.
“Please ensure that you do it accurately,” Professor Saini requested; his deep baritone was hypnotic. “It’s required for a highly important task.”
I felt enchanted by him. “Don’t worry, sir, I will do it accurately and provide you with the details as soon as possible,” I assured him with utmost sincerity. There was an irresistible charm in his personality, and it was almost impossible for any girl to resist his bewitching aura.
“No hurry, Richa, take your time, but the report you prepare should be precise,” he cautioned me politely. “We can’t afford to have room for any mistakes in it as it can lead to a big failure.”
“Sure, sir… please don’t worry, I will do my best,” I said confidently.
“One more thing, please do not reveal anything about this task to anyone. It can create an unnecessary issue for us. You know how the people are; they will not leave any opportunity to make a national drama out of it,” he requested gently, his lips curled into a half-smile, and his eyes sparkled as he looked into my eyes intensely. I felt spellbound for a second, unable to move or blink my eyes.
“Rest assured, sir, I will not mention this task to anyone,” I promised him earnestly.
Professor Saini looked at me appreciatively, flashed a brilliant smile, and gave me a thumbs-up, “Excellent!”
“Anything else, sir?”
He shook his head slightly, leaning backwards in his chair. ‘No thanks, that’s all for today; you can leave now.”
‘Okay, sir,’ I said and left.
That day I felt like I was on cloud nine. My friends couldn’t believe it when I told them that Professor Saini had called me and praised my performance. They all looked at me in admiration as if I had received the Padma Shri award from the Indian government.
In the evening, I returned to my room. My classmate Vedika, who was also my roommate, was waiting eagerly for me.
“Tell me in detail what happened exactly today morning when Professor Saini called you to his office?” she fired the questions as soon as I entered the room.
“At least, let me change my clothes,” I requested, chuckling.
She nodded half-heartedly. “Okay, but please don’t take much time; otherwise, I will die out of curiosity.”
I quickly washed up and changed into a comfortable dress. “So, what you were asking?” I said and sat down on my bed. I deliberately pretended that I had forgotten her question. It was my day, and I was basking in the attention from all of my friends.
Vedika looked at me with an unrelenting stare. There was a glint of mischief in her hypnotic eyes. “Did you both have…” she began when I cut her short. I knew what her question was.
“Shut up,” I snapped back and threw an angry look at her. “I went to meet him at his office in the college and not at his home.”
“Haha, I was teasing you,” Vedika laughed. “I know you very well.”
“Thanks,” I said gratefully and narrowed my eyes at her, “but what do you mean that you know me very well?”
“You are not Professor Saini’s type,” she said and burst out in laughter. “He is so handsome, dashing, and you are…”
“What do you mean? That’s unfair,” I said, annoyed, and hit her with a pillow. She hit me back, and we had a pillow fight until we were exhausted.
“Okay, no more jokes,” she huffed. “Tell me exactly what happened when you went to meet Professor Saini.”
“No, I will not tell,” I said firmly.
“I promise, I will not make fun of you,” she pleaded.
“Okay,” I said and narrated the complete incident in minute detail. I even told her that Professor Saini had given me a task, but I didn't reveal the details of it. I only mentioned to her that he had asked me to check about a particular nakshatra. Vedika also didn’t inquire much about it; she was more interested in Professor Saini than astrology.
Vedika was like a sister to me. We not only shared the hostel room but knew each other’s deepest secrets. Vedika was undoubtedly the most beautiful girl in our college. It was hard for any boy to take his eyes off her. Many boys had approached her in college, but she never accepted anyone’s proposal. Unfortunately, she also fell for Professor Saini like most girls in our college. I remember we used to discuss for hours about Professor Saini.
For the next two weeks, I worked hard on the assignment Professor Saini had given me. I even sought my grandfather’s help to ensure that the report prepared by me was accurate. He was curious to know why I was demanding the details of such a rare nakshatra, which hardly has any implication in our lives. I managed to evade his probing questions. I told him that it was a college project assignment. Finally, I completed the report and checked it thrice to ensure that all details were accurate. Then I triumphantly marched to Professor Saini’s office to submit the report to him.
“May I come in, sir,” I asked as I reached his office.
“Hey, Richa, please come in…”
“Sir, here is the report you wanted on Bhairav Nakshatra,” I said and proudly handover the report over to Professor Saini.
‘Hope he will find the report meeting his expectations,’ I prayed. I felt nervous as if my annual exam results were about to be declared. I had worked hard on the assignment. Many times, I had even skipped my meals to complete it. I knew I deserved appreciation for it.
“Very good, Richa! I am proud of you,” Professor Saini praised generously as he glanced through the report. ‘Thank you for such a precise report.’
I looked at his face; there was genuine gratitude.
“Thank you so much, sir!” I replied and felt the butterflies in my stomach.
Professor Saini leaned back in his chair. “I hadn't told you earlier, but I already had a report on this nakshatra which is prepared by two of the finest astrologers in India,” he revealed to my surprise.
‘If that was the case, why did he ask me to prepare the same report again? What is so special about the Bhairav Nakshatra that he is so much concerned?’ I wondered and felt a bit suspicious as well.
“Actually, I wanted to ensure that the previous report is accurate, and thus I requested you to prepare a report on the same,” Professor Saini clarified my unspoken doubt as if he was able to read my mind.
“Oh, okay…” I said, shuffling from one foot to the other.
“Now, I have no doubt that this rare nakshatra will occur eight months later. The last time it occurred was in the year 1892 in the 19th Century. After a long gap of eighty years, it is going to take place again this year,” Professor Saini said in a super excited voice.
Suddenly, the window opened up, and a cold wind gusted through the room, rustling the papers on the table and swirling my hair around my face. Professor Saini’s face stiffened; he quickly stood up from his chair and closed the window.
“Who the hell left the window open?” he grumbled and sat back on his chair. For a second, he looked at me and to my shock, I noticed a hint of demonic gleam in his piercing eyes. For an instant, I was frightened, and goosebumps sprang up all over my arms. The look only lasted a second, but it chilled me to the bone, more than the freezing wind.
‘Why is he so much interested in the rare Bhairav Nakshatra? Also, the devilish glint that I just saw in his eyes was actually there or just my imagination,’ I thought and felt scared.
I didn’t sleep well the previous night as I was busy verifying the report one last time before submitting it to Professor Saini. I wondered if it was the lack of sleep and tiredness that I was overimagining things in my mind. ‘Stop thinking absurd things; it’s just your imagination,’ I chided myself, rubbing my arms up and down to get rid of the goosebumps.
I smiled to hide my perplexity. “Yes, sir, there is no doubt about it. I have double-checked all the details at least twenty times. For absolute accuracy, I have done every calculation to ten thousandths of decimal points. I have even got it verified by my grandfather, Pandit Jagannath,” I assured in a confident voice.
“Your abilities and hard work are evident in the report. The quality of the report is at par or better than the previous report. I knew you were the only one who could do justice to this task. Very well done,” Professor Saini praised me again. This time there was a glitter of delight in his eyes. I felt relieved.
“Richa, one more request,” Professor Saini said and looked at me convincingly.
“As I requested earlier as well, please don’t disclose anything about this assignment to anyone. Nor even to your family members or friends. Do maintain complete secrecy about it. I hope I can trust you completely on this.”
“Of course, sir, you can trust me on this,” I said firmly. “I haven't told anything about it to anyone. Though I took help from my grandfather to verify the details in the report, I didn't reveal anything to him. When he asked about it, I only mentioned that it was a college assignment. In future also, I will not disclose it to anyone.”
Professor Saini tapped his fingers on the table. “Brilliant!” He exclaimed. “You can leave now.”
“Sure, sir,” I said and left.
For a few days, I felt intrigued to know why Professor Saini asked me to prepare the report on that rare Bhairav Nakshatra. His cryptic reply that this nakshatra used to occur frequently in Treta Yuga and has an implication in the lives of the Gods, added further to my curiosity. Also, why did he ask me to keep it a secret? But as time passed by, I completely forgot about it. Hostel life is like that only, very fast-paced and happening; there is so much noise around you that you even forget what you were thinking five minutes back.”
Richa was so engrossed in narrating the details of the mysterious archaeology trip to Ajay that she didn’t realize when Geeta arrived in the hall from the kitchen.
“Madamji, is it ok if I prepare rice as well for dinner?” She asked, interrupting their conversation.
Ajay noticed Geeta closely this time; she wore a white salwar and blue kameez. Her light pink zari dupatta was draped diagonally across her lean frame and tied at her waist. She was holding a spoon in her hand. A Rajma bean was stuck at the tip of the spoon. Despite the freezing winter evening in Delhi, tiny sweat beads were visible on her forehead.
“Why rice?” Richa questioned, sounding irritated. She didn’t like the sudden halt in their conversation due to Geeta’s query.
“I have prepared Rajma in today's dinner, and sir is fond of Rajma-rice. Last time also, he told me to cook rice as well whenever I prepare Rajma,” Geeta replied and dapped the loose end of her Dupatta to clean the tiny beads of sweat from her forehead.
“Hmm,” Richa said and looked thoughtfully at Geeta. “Leave the rice to me; it will not take much time to prepare it. If the rest of your chores have been completed, then you can leave. It’s already six-thirty in the evening.”
“Madam… let me wrap up the kitchen work in five minutes, then I will leave,” Geeta said.
Richa rubbed her neck and took a wheezing breath, “Okay, do it quickly as it’s already dark outside. If anything is going to take more time, then leave it. I will take care of it.”
“Ji, Madam,” Geeta nodded like an obedient school-going girl and returned to the kitchen.
‘How is the rare Bhairav Nakshatra linked to this case? Also, what did Professor Saini mean by the statement that the nakshatra has implications in the lives of Gods? How does it link with Kartik’s abduction, and what is the horrific mystery of Drumatulya that Richaji was trying to warn Kartik of?’ Ajay wondered and was anxious to know the complete story. He was eager to know what had happened forty-six years back that had such wide-reaching consequences.
“Sorry for the interruption,” Richa apologized as she noticed impatience on Ajay’s face due to the sudden halt. “Even I didn’t like it and thus asked Geeta to leave for the day so that she couldn't disturb us again.”
Ajay smiled, “No problem at all, Richaji… honestly speaking, there are a lot of questions in our mind, and only you can answer them. I am highly curious to know the mystery of Drumatulya and how it links with Kartik’s abduction.”
“I know you are eager to know what Bhairav Nakshatra has to do with Kartik’s sudden disappearance and also the sinister mystery of Drumatulya. I can completely understand it as Kartik’s life is in danger, and you need to know everything in order to save him. But before I continue again, just excuse me for a minute; I need to go to the kitchen to ensure that Geeta has completed all the work.”
“Sure,” Ajay said and folded his arms across his chest.
Richa got up and left for the kitchen.
Ajay looked around and noticed a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was placed on a table in one corner of the drawing-room. The statue reminded him of his grandfather, who was also a retired army officer like his father. Often, he used to fondly narrate the incident when he met Mahatma Gandhi during his school days. It was one of the most memorable events of his grandfather’s life, which also left him with the biggest lesson of his life.
1930, Bareilly, India
When his grandfather was a little boy, Mahatma Gandhi had visited Bareilly and stayed at their house. Gandhiji had come from Allahabad to attend a session of the Indian National Congress. A crowd of twenty-five thousand people had gathered at Bareilly Railway Station to receive him. Ajay’s great-grandfather, who was a prominent freedom fighter, had escorted Gandhiji home. His grandfather, who was in awe of Mahatma Gandhi, had excitedly volunteered himself to remain by Gandhiji’s side to take care of him during his visit. Ajay’s great-grandfather had readily agreed. Gandhiji then delivered a speech at the famous Parade Ground of the city and appealed to the throngs of people gathered to support the civil-disobedience movement and make it a huge success. During a private moment after the event, Ajay’s grandfather asked the great leader, ‘Bapu, what gives you the conviction that you’ll be able to fight the British?
Mahatma Gandhi smiled affectionately. He said, ‘We shall win because we’re in the third stage of our four-stage struggle.’
‘The four-stage struggle?’ Ajay’s grandfather wondered aloud and looked inquisitively at the Mahatma.
‘First, they ignore you, second, they laugh at you, third, they fight you, and fourth - you win. That’s the fourth stage, son,” said the Mahatma simply.
Ajay’s grandfather listened to the wise leader attentively as he kept pressing his feet. He hesitantly asked further, “Bapu, the British have guns and policemen. I’m but a little boy. How can I fight them? They are so much stronger!”
Mahatma Gandhi fondly placed his hand on Ajay’s grandfather’s head, who was a little boy then and said, ‘Son, always remember, strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.’
From that day on, Tauji made it a point to follow the principle that the true mark of strength is the indomitable will to succeed. No matter how powerful the enemy is or if all odds are against you, if you have the conviction and a strong will to win, no one can stop you from emerging victorious.
Ajay felt a surge of energy within him as he remembered the powerful lesson Mahatma Gandhi taught his grandfather. He knew that the deadly crime syndicate behind Kartik’s abduction was enormously powerful and much ahead of them. But even then, he was confident that his unflinching will to save Kartik’s life and honest intentions would make them successful in their mission.
To order click the links below:
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To order click the links below:
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More Novels by Pravin Agarwal
The Raavan Key (Drumatulya Trilogy Book 1)
“I am Raavan, the mightiest demon king…”
2019, Bareilly - A rich NRI businessman goes missing mysteriously. The detective found a clue in his diary and named it, The Raavan Key.
5135 BCE, Golden City of Lanka - Raavan, the mighty demon king, came to know of a chilling secret about his half-brother Kubera. Enraged by the revelation he fiercely attacked Drumatulya city.
1972, Thar Desert, Jaisalmer - An archaeology team was searching for the lost city of Drumatulya, which existed during the Ramayana era. They couldn't believe their eyes when weird events unfolded one after another.
2018, Antwerp, Europe - The overlord of Europe’s most dreaded crime syndicate received a phone call from a mysterious man.
What was the terrifying secret of Kubera that enraged Raavan? What connects the missing NRI businessman to the lost city of Drumatulya? What was the horrific mystery of Drumatulya city? Read on to witness the epic story of Love and Betrayal, Gods and Demons, Deceit and Violence.
“Pravin is in the league of Ashwin Sanghi and Christopher C. Doyle.”
- Bijetri Roy, Author
“Pravin Agarwal is a master storyteller.”
“With compelling narrative style, Pravin is the next literary phenomenon.”
Novel ‘The Raavan Key (Drumatulya Trilogy Book 1)’ continues to be on Amazon bestseller list. Tap the below link to buy.
#Amazon - https://zcu.io/ViyP
The Girl in the Dream: A Love Story Planned 500 years Ago
Synopsis: The Girl in the Dream
2017, Los Angeles - Vivaan, a NASA scientist has a strange recurring dream of a mysterious girl. His engagement with Riya turns into a nightmare when his dream starts turning into reality. He flies to Madhya Pradesh to find himself at the center of a 500-years-old enigma.
1500 AD, Kingdom of Ujjain - Shrinika is heartbroken when she is betrayed by Rudra, the king of Ujjain. After the unfortunate incident, she mysteriously disappeared.
2017, Madhya Pradesh - Dhiren, the evil son of the village sarpanch is in desperate search of the ancient Statue of Lord Shiva which is hidden somewhere in Shivgarh Fort and worth a billion dollars.
2011, MNIT Jaipur - Rachit fall head over heels in love with Swara when he is asked to propose to her, as a ragging prank, by his seniors.
What links Rachit and Swara to the complex puzzle of Vivaan’s dream? What is the secret of the ancient Shiva temple? What connects Vivaan to Shrinika, the missing girl in the 16th century? Read on as you travel through a saga of love and passion, betrayal and conspiracy, hope and ambition.
"Enthralling and thrilling, a mix of romance, mystery, mythology and fantasy...The story has the visual effect of a screenplay...a magnum opus!"
"Full of mystery, thrill, entertainment, and unexpected turns...A nail-biting romantic thriller..."
Indian Book Critics
Novel ‘The Girl in the Dream: A Love Story Planed 500 years ago’ continues to be on Amazon bestseller list. Tap the below link to buy.
#Amazon - https://amzn.to/3aFKuC6