Over To (N)ainital

Over To (N)ainital

Varun protested as the two of them left the gypsy’s hut. He said indignantly, ‘That voice talked a lot of mumbo jumbo. I wanted to find out what it meant.’

But Gayatri quietly led him back to their hotel. She opened her mouth only after they were back in the hotel room. She said, ‘I don’t think she was talking mumbo jumbo Varun. I don’t think she was doing any talking at all. Didn’t you notice she said she was a Shaman? A Shaman is a person who can communicate as a medium with the nether world and dead souls. And that woman had communicated with a spirit, and she just gave us a message from the spirit. Those verses would probably help us find a solution to Anandi’s illness. The verses we heard were a clue. I think that woman wanted to help us.’

‘Gayatri, it all sounds so ridiculous coming from you of all people. You are an IIT grad, damn it.’

‘Varun, you are the one who first hit upon the bright idea that there was something supernatural about Anandi’s illness. Now you are calling me ridiculous.’

‘Okay, all right. For want of anything better to do we might as well unravel what we heard in that woman’s hut. Do you remember what we heard?’

‘Yes, I do, thanks to my photographic memory. I will write it down on a piece of paper.’

Gayatri picked up a piece of paper and wrote for a few minutes. She handed it over to Varun.

She said, ‘Let us take one stanza at a time and see what we can uncover. There are just three stanzas. Here is the first one.’

Move backward in paths,
Known, well known,
Trace the route,
By which you came.

Varun said, ‘It tells us to move backward in known paths and trace the route by which you came. Is that supposed to mean that we are to find out who your ancestors were? Gayatri, you and Anandi are sisters. Do you know anything your ancestors did that was terrible or horrendous?’

‘No, nothing at all. I remember both my maternal and paternal grandparents. We used to play around their knees. I don’t remember anyone in my family mentioning anything terrible that our ancestors had done. I have a better idea. I don’t think it means ancestors at all. It says trace your route. You mentioned that Anandi’s character changed slowly and subtly. Can you pinpoint exactly when you observed this change?’

‘Well, I really don’t know when. At first, she used to be mildly irritable. We are very fond of each other, and she was always a fun loving, gentle girl. But she is human after all and used to get irritated sometimes. But… Oh hell, I really cannot tell you because I am not able to figure it out myself. Anyway, why are you asking that?’

‘Because the gypsy told us to go backward and trace the route. So that simply means we have to trace your path backwards. That is, we must go to each place you had visited for shooting in a backward direction and see where she picked up this character change.’

‘How do you plan to do that? And, how is that going to help?’

‘What we have to do is to look for something terrible that happened in the places where you shot for the movies. In fact, we must look for things that happened at the exact location where you filmed. Varun, it is the same old story that Bollywood and Hollywood are so fond of springing upon us all the time. I think some spirit, or something has possessed her body though it sounds ridiculous to educated people like us. And we must find where it could have happened. Which was the last place you visited?’

‘Well, we were in Nainital for shooting at a college named St Olivier’s college. Anandi was acting in a college love story. St Olivier’s closed down ten years back due to lack of funds. So in some ways it was the ideal spot for some scenes.’

‘How long ago was this?’

‘Around twenty-five days back.’

‘Okay. Tomorrow we will take a flight to Nainital and enquire why the college shut down? And what its history is…’

                                                                                             To Be Continued...

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter N

#AtoZChallenge 2023
Please check out the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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