Thursday, July 14, 2011

The RED Soul!! (Final Part)

(Hi Guys, I guess it’s time for a adventure through a mystical story. For easy understanding of the conversation, the mystical characters have been assumed to speak English. Happy reading folks and please do post you comments. They motivate story writers a lot!! :) )


The dagger stuck deep inside my heart pained no more. I could feel my soul draining out of my body. Perhaps it was the end of my dear life!

Suddenly I could feel a great force pulling me from the bottom of my navel and I choked. A bright red light shone furiously upon my face. As I struggled to open my eyes, I could see two people peering hard at me from a distance. Thank god, I was alive. I slowly touched my chest and could find no traces of any stab injury.

Damn!! There she was.. I strained hard to pull myself off the ground and stood up groggily. I reach out the back of my trousers and check for the small gun that I would always carry with me especially when going to unknown place with unknown people.

Thank god. They haven’t found my gun. I steadily pulled the gun out and pointed at them.

“You want to shoot us?” questioned Vidya jokingly. Strangely there was not even one drop of blood on the blades of the dagger that she was holding. “Go ahead.. shoot us” she spoke inviting me to blast both of them.

I pointed the gun to their forehead and was about to shoot them when Vidya spoke again, “I hope you are not as stupid as you look. We don’t miss many opportunities of finishing off a person and you gave us the opportunity twice, one in the hospital and one here”. Her logic seemed immaculate. I immediately checked my gun and as I had imagined they had removed the bullets from the gun.

Stupid me. I had to work my way out of this. This had not been the first time I had been stuck in an unfriendly environment. I quietly removed my belt and touched the secret front button built on its hilt. The belt tightened into a long stick.

“Ok. Who wants to enjoy a 100 KW shock?” I spoke proudly holding my MI5-like weapon. This weapon had rescued me from innumerable tight situations. I could see Vidya’s face turn pale, but could see no reactions in the wrinkled face of the Old woman standing beside her.

“Cut the crap” spoke a hoarse voice. “I don’t want this drama. Bring the female and get on with the things. We have loads of work”

Suddenly Vidya pulled open a trap door on the side of the wall and dragged somebody out the crevice.

I strained hard to see who that person was. “Amma..” my shout rang loud and echoed throughout the underground cave.

They had cello-taped my mom’s mouth and her hands. She was struggling to stand on her feet.

“If anything happens to my mom, I will kill both of you” I threatened in the usual filmy style. My threat had literally no effect on both of them.

“Get the stupid thing that he holds and get him ready for the journey” spoke the Old Lady. “I will bring the transporter”

“Transporter? What is that?” I spoke up trying to buy some time to rescue my mom.

“Don’t try to act too smart kid” spoke the Old Lady.

“Don’t ask too many questions” she ordered. “Ah! I forgot. He must meet his old friend”

She pointed to the other corner of the room where I could see some bars of steel. I quickly rushed up to the jail like structure and could see Srini in an unconscious state.

“Srini” I shouted. “It’s me, Venky. Get up!” I pleaded.

Srini faintly shook his head and on seeing me, dragged his body to steel rods that separated us.

“Are you alright sir?” I spoke holding his arms through the steel rods.

“I .. I am ok.” spoke Srini. He was more dead than alive.

“You should not have come here” he spoke straining every muscle of his.

“They have my mother” I spoke quietly as I didn’t want them to get suspicious of our conversation. They didn’t seem to care as they were busy dragging something really heavy.

“Why did you send me the telegram?” I questioned.

“What? What telegram?” he shot back. Quickly I understood that it was all the game of Vidya who might have sent me the telegram and also caught up with me on the train. It was all her work!!

“How did you come here?” I spoke, trying to understand how he got here.

“I worked with your father on my projects and suddenly about twenty years ago, he vanished while trying to search for the red soul”. Oh my God!! Father you too…

“I found some clues about where he might have vanished but it took me fifteen years to decipher it. About five years ago I landed in here, but these two people had reached here before me and locked me up in this cellar. They tortured me, but I didn’t tell anything until one day, when they suddenly found out about you and your mother.”

“And then, they plotted to bring us here” I concluded. After a long pause I spoke again, “Who are these people?”

“They seem to be related to the Pandya dynasty. They keep speaking about that all the time” he replied.

“Ok fellas, time’s up” commanded Vidya. I deactivated my belt and gave to it Srini and told him quickly on how to use it.

Vidya stepped forward to snatch the belt when the Old Lady whispered to her, “We wouldn’t need it after our mission is accomplished”

“Young man”, she spoke rising her staff, “come here” she ordered.

“I won’t do anything for crooks like you” I spoke clearly declining her order. In one quick motion, she waved her staff and I went flying about five feet to my right and landed roughly on the floor face down. Damn.. She knew magic!!

“I don’t have time son” she spoke calmly again. “I don’t wish to kill your mother, but if you behave like this, I would have no other option.”

Seeing no opportunity for escape I quietly got up. The dagger incident along with my fall had drained most of my energy.

As I looked to the left of Vidya and the Old lady, I could see a huge twelve foot hour-glass filled with glittery silver colored sand. What the hell was that..

The Old lady read my mind and spoke, “This is what we call the Sands of Time. As the sand particles roll from the top dome to the bottom, it turns back the time. This is how we rolled back the time to get you up and alive”. As she finished speaking, I could feel the fear of our actions for the first time. A black magic witch along with her assistant would have great plans for our destruction. We were doomed!!

“Step forward and hold the hands off your mom” ordered the Old lady. “Don’t try any tricks” she warned. All of my tricks - gun, belt had failed. Perhaps they might take pity on us and leave us once their task is done.

Quickly the Old lady swung forward and held Vidya’s hands and asked her to hold my mom’s hands. We had formed a human ring. She slowly reached out to the tap situated between the two bulging hour-glass domes and turned it on.

“How many years back are we going?” I shouted, wanting to know at least which time period I would land.

She smiled for the first time in our conversation and replied, “A thousand years back!!”


My body was encapsulated in a travel through time and space with a feeling of weightlessness sinking rapidly in my heart. I could see a bright light at the end of a long tunnel that we were floating through. Suddenly I landed with a thud of the barren mud floor.

I looked up to find the Old lady and Vidya all geared up for their operation in the huge cave room. I looked up at them and my jaw dropped. They were decked in the brightest of silk robes with countless jewels adorning their body. As I looked at myself in a small mirror beside, I just fainted and fell down.

A few sprinkles of water landed on my face to wake me up. As I opened my face, I could see my mother lifting my head and stroking my hair gently. She was wearing the same old sari that she had worn; from the time we started our journey.

“Get up, you lazy bones” shouted Vidya. I went up to the mirror once again and was astonished to see myself in a completely different shape and form. I had completely changed into a twenty year old girl, wearing the same shirt which had outgrown now as my physical shape had changed.

“Hold this lady here till we come back” commanded the Old Lady to the two mighty six foot warriors behind beside her.

“Kayal, get her dressed up and explain our plan. You,” she spoke pointing a finger at me, “better do what we say or…” she just left the words hanging in there which struck a mighty fear in my heart.

“Who is Kayal?” I spoke trying to diffuse her anger. The Old Lady just smiled and left off.


“Ouch!!” I tripped over my sari and was about to fall when Kayal aka Vidya, held my hand and balanced me. I wore the brightest pink sari along with priceless jewels. If I could sell these jewels to a jewellery shop, I could fund my archeological projects for another 50 years.

“Walk properly” commanded Kayal.

“Where are we going? What do you want me to do?” I spoke.

Kayal weighed her words before speaking. “We are following an underground path to go to the Periya temple, where the temple’s inauguration will happen in about an hour.”

“Damn, you mean to say we are in 1010 AD?” I questioned her, shocked by where I had landed myself. But there was more deadly news to come.

“There is a big task waiting for you. You are the main dancer in the temple and will dance in front of thirty thousand people” she spoke. I nearly fell down again.

“Me? Dance?” I spoke half-fainting on her words.

“You are a trained dancer. As we create a commotion you will stop dancing and take the red soul placed right between you and the king and make a run for it” she concluded.

As we reached a large hole at the end of the underground passage, she signaled for me to stop. She peered out and then spoke, “Any tricks and you will be dead along with your mother in no time”. I just nodded in fear. What a great plan!!

At the end of fifteen endless minutes, we heard the might roar of the elephants and amidst the tremendous applause, the king of kings, the great Raja Raja Choza walked majestically into the temple.

Kayal pushed me out of the large crevice into the main temple. Suddenly, a person dragged my arm and spoke to me angrily, “Sundari, where have you been? We have been looking for you for last two hours”

Sundari. That must have been my name. I quietly followed her and stood in front of a troupe of five hundred dancers. All the drums blasted we marched in triple profile onto the main stage. My arms and legs just followed a particular routine. As the musical instruments joined in along with the drum beats, I along with the dancers started dancing.

A look at the King of Kings shook the base of my heart. Here I was, dancing before the mightiest warrior that India had ever seen.

After about two minutes, a few arrows shot past me, landing at the King’s throne. Suddenly all the warriors protecting the king formed a human shield around their lord. People started screaming from all directions and I ran quickly up to the pedestal containing the red soul and grabbed the precious. My hands will be fried now, or so I thought.

Surprising the chillness of the precious stone cooled my hands which had been all but bruised. I ran with all my strength towards the large crevice where I had come from and could find Kayal pulling me in and we both ran at full speed in the underground passage. Suddenly Kayal turned a large lever and I could find a huge rock door shutting behind us. We both ran towards the cave room where the Old Lady was waiting for her precious stone. As we reached the cave room, Kayal turned another lever to open the entrance of the huge cave room.

The Old Lady stood up and laughed aloud. “At last, my precious has arrived. Place it on the casket” she commanded.

Suddenly from no where one of the warriors came rushing at me and snatched the red soul. Instantly he was turned into a heap of red ash with the red soul perched on top of the ash heap.

“Traitor” the Old Lady roared. As Kayal bent down to touch the stone, the Old Lady stopped her. She motioned me to pick the precious stone and place it on the casket.

Suddenly from our earlier passage way, a might warrior wearing a shining armor of gold and wearing golden brown garments entered the room.

“Ah!! Mayavalli, I expected you” he spoke in a thundering voice. The King had arrived.

The legs of one of the two warriors guarding the Old Lady gave away and fell to the floor bending before the Choza King. “Forgive me my lord, spare my life” he pleaded.

With one swoosh of the sword in her hand, Kayal slashed the head of the warrior. “This is no place for cowards” she finished.

“How pleased I am to see thy lord” spoke the Old Lady, Mayavalli. “Unfortunately our meeting has to be cut short. I have other business to look after”

“Not so fast” spoke Raja Raja Choza as he pounced on the red soul lying on top on the red ash. Suddenly the Old Lady wafted her staff and the king was suspended in mid-air.

She slowly moved her staff and made the king stand right next to me. She closed her eyes and muttered some words and thumped her staff on the ground violently making it sink half way into the ground. In one quick flash, invisible ropes bound me, my mom and the King.

“The precious is all mine” she roared in delight.

The King gently smiled and spoke invitingly, “Try touching it”. The delight on the Old Lady face gave away to an exasperated shock.

She knew she had missed the trick. She should have made me pick the precious stone and put in the casket laying the center of the room. If she abandoned her combined curse put on me, mom and the king and took out the staff buried half-way into the ground, Raja Raja Choza would pounce on the stone and that would be the end of her dreams.

The Old Lady took out a huge sword and tried to move the red soul. The sword instantly turned into ash nearly burning her hand.

About five minutes of silence ensued, wherein the Old Lady sat in the corner of the room, thinking on what trick to use to retrieve the stone. So near yet so far.

Gathering all my courage to speak to up to the great king, I spoke “O King, why is it that she is not able to touch it?”

The King looked at me with all the care in this world and spoke gently, “There is curse put on the stone which will reduce anybody to ashes unless they relate to my royal family or their belongings”

“Am I a part of the royal family?” I questioned mixing huge of anticipation for a positive answer.

“Yes and No”, spoke the King confusing me more. “About 40 years ago, when my brother was murdered, I took an oath to destroy the Pandya dynasty. My armies razed down the whole kingdom and as we were returning, a woman who is your mother now, was secretly carrying you away from us. My spies found her and brought her to me along with you. I had one look at you and I knew you belonged to the Pandya royal family. Having no heart to kill an innocent girl, I brought you to my palace along with your care-taker. You became my daughter’s best friend and indirectly became a part of the royal family.”

“When you know so much, can you tell me why I keep getting the horrible dream of somebody trying to stab me?” I questioned him further.

“When the Pandya army re-grouped, they came to know about the red soul and its powers. They kidnapped your care-taker and black-mailed you to steal the red soul. But your loyalty belonged to Choza royal family and you didn’t do what they told you to. After the inauguration dance the enemy killed you and your care-taker. We tried searching for you but were never able to find you” he concluded.

“Oh my god!! Did I really die then?”, I exclaimed. The King politely shook his head affirmatively.

“The memories of past life are so scarred in your soul that you have repercussions of it many generations later” the King spoke.

“Just one more question” I spoke up again after a minute of silence.

“Shoot” replied the King patiently.

“Why did they choose me?” I questioned.

“The blood that runs through you is of the Pandya Dynasty and they thought that they could black-mail or persuade you to do the job. No other Choza empire person would dare do the job” The King glowed in pride speaking about his race of warriors.

“And they actually only succeeded now?” I questioned him again.

“They had been trying to retrieve the red soul from the time of the temple’s inauguration to the time you had presently come from. I believe they were able to succeed only now, for some unknown reason”

“And so what would happen if they manage to steal the red soul and its powers?” I posed a more disturbing question.

The King brooded over the fact. He let out a deep sigh and spoke, “As I can understand from my astrologers, our dynasty would extend for another 250 years followed by foreign invasion eventually culminating in their extended rule for another 700 years. If Mayavalli captures the precious stone’s power, the tables of time will change and Pandya Dynasty will rule over not only our kingdom but the whole world and the world as you know now may never exist”.

I slowly managed to gulp the hard truth along with the locked saliva in my throat. They should never get the red soul.

Suddenly the Old Lady got up and walked up to the King and removed his dagger. She then went up to the ash pile and then took a few steps back. She bent low and then took a sharp aim at the red soul. She threw the dagger to the base of the red soul and the stone flew right into the casket while the dagger burned bright but did not turn into ash. The King had divulged the secret that his dagger could touch the red soul.

The Old Lady screamed with delight and ran up to the casket. Suddenly a mad man screaming at the top of voice came running into the cave room and smashed the hour-glass with the huge rock he had been carrying. The impact broke the top part of the bottom dome of hour-glass and huge amount of the silver sand flowed into the ground. The delicate balance of time had been scrambled and the floor shook with great intensity resembling a massive earthquake. The Old Lady’s staff broke and the invisible ropes binding us disappeared. In one swoosh, the King took out his sword and severed the head of Kayal and also one leg of the Old Lady.

The mad man caught the protruding glass shards and reached out to my mom who reached out to me. Suddenly the whole world was spinning and complete blankness enveloped me.


The back of head pained as if stuck with a heavy club. I slowly raised my head, to find the mad man and my mother helplessly laying unconscious on the floor.

As I tried to get up, an old trembling hand caught hair and pushed me down to the ground. With all my force, I exerted a push to break free but the grip was way too strong. Suddenly she let go off me and quickly jumped up to stand on my feet.

“You are no match for me, Sundari” came the old hog’s hoarse voice.

In one swoosh of her hand she made me fall five feet to the left. Damn.. she could do magic with her hands. Where the hell was the King?

Suddenly she came running up to me on one leg and in the process tripped and fell on the steel rods of Srini’s enclosure. She screamed for help as Srini had gripped her neck with the help of my belt that I had given him earlier. He tightly rounded the belt along the neck of the Old Lady and then switch on the 100 KW button. She died at that instant!

“Check what has happened to your father?” screamed my mom.

“Father?”. Damn, I though he was a mad man.

My father slowly regained consciousness. He hugged me and my mom.

“Glad to be back home”, he quipped.

I could not help but agree more!!


(Six Months Later)

My father’s return had been worth all the trouble we had faced. My father in pursuit of the red soul had found out the Sands of Time and mistakenly used it to reach the Choza age but didn’t how to get back. But perhaps it was all destined that way, because if not for him the Old Lady would have stolen the Red Soul.

As I finished my thoughts, I could see the students assemble in the class.

“So as I do in all my classes, no theory, only past experiences will be shared” I spoke.

“Can you tell us about the Red Soul?” came the boy’s reply who had asked me the same question six months back.

I frowned. “What is you name?” I retorted.

“Senthamizh” he replied as I turned my back to him.

“Pandian” he finished. As horror stuck me, I quickly turned around. He had disappeared in thin air. I slowly realized that he was the next Kayal from the Pandya Dynasty who was there to continue her failed task.

Enemies abound everywhere!! The fight would continue on..


Friday, July 8, 2011

The RED Soul!! (First Part)

(Hi Guys, I guess it’s time for a adventure through a mystical story. Happy reading folks and please do post you comments. They motivate story writers a lot!! :) )

I peered through the large crevice at an astonishing sight. About five thousand artists had gathered in this huge temple. Artists from musicians to dancers were adorned in the brightest clothes and decked with the best pieces of jewellery with generous splashing of gold and semi-precious stones.

Behind the performers, the best warriors in the country were lined up. Each soldier stood over six feet tall with a six pack to resemble a Greek God. A huge smooth spear glittered in his left hand while a sword ducked in a shining metal shaft shone brightly around his hips.

Oh my God!! I have to beat these hunks to steal the Precious.

One look at my target told me that it would be virtually impossible to steal it, but I had no choice. They had my mom.

My heavy dress adorned with jewels of various kinds was dragging me down. It seemed like a Marine carrying 50 pounds of stuff on a long desert walk in the farthest mountains of Afghanistan. With sweat pouring generously off my body, I looked for an escape route and took a step back from the crevice.

“Don’t you dare” came a sharp hissing voice. Kayal pulled out her sword in one flash and placed it on my neck.

I shook my head and my eyes pleaded with her. She gently pushed me back to the crevice.

“It’s nearly time. He should be here any moment”

Suddenly a huge noise mixed with drums and trumpets along with the shrieking sound of elephants shook both of us. Kayal pushed me aside and peered through the crevice and then motioned me to look through also. From the farthest corner of the temple, came a loud booming voice.

“Rajathi Raja, Raja Gambeera, Raja Marthaanda, Raja Kula Thilaka, Raja Maavera, Raja Kula Shekara, Raja Raja Chozan Vaarugirar (Entry of the greatest king to have ruled the earth, Raja Raja Choza)”


I felt a bout of nausea hitting me as I looked around. The great king Raja Raja Choza along with his wife and ministers along with the various kings sat around the main podium. I had waited for this opportunity for last fifteen years and my moment of glory had come. I headed the troupe of dancers onto the podium, my heart beat increased with every step. As we saluted our King, he looked straight at me and smiled and then waved his hand for the dance to begin. Through the rolling drums, blowing trumpets, melodious flute notes our troupe matched the music step for step and it all seemed a piece of cake.

As I got down the podium, I could feel a hand crouch around me. I tried to wring myself out of the person’s control but he was far too strong for me. Suddenly from no where the person holding me drilled a sharp dagger into my heart.

“Help!!” I shouted and I got up clutching my heart expecting it to be bleeding. With pouts of sweat lining up my forehead, I could see the morning sunlight softly making its way into my bed room.

“What happened?” my mom came running up to me.

“Dance.. Dagger..” I blurted.

My confused mom shook her head and headed back in to the kitchen. A dance big stage performance for the king along with my murder with a large dagger was usually the part and parcel of nearly all my dreams creating much annoyance for my mom.

“Nice flat” came a sharp voice from the hall.

Not interested in all the stupid visitors visiting my home from time to time, I picked my t-shirt and wore it on and proceeded to the rest-room across the main hall.

“What are you doing son?” spoke a fat lady about the age of my mother as caught me waking into the main hall.

I shrugged and looked at my mom for support, but she was no where to be seen.

“Going to bathroom, aunty” I replied. She laughed so loudly that the children playing in the apartment corridor suddenly quieted down fearing a fierce scolding from the aunty in my home.

“I am not asking about that son” she explained as if I didn’t understand. “Where are you working?”

“ASI” I spoke rubbing the sleep off my eyes.

“What?” she questioned. I searched for my mom again. She never helps me when I am in trouble.

“I am archeologist” I replied.

As the lines on aunty’s forehead converged displaying a complete sense of ignorance of my profession, my mom jumped in from the kitchen.

“He digs the ground for past treasures” she spoke mockingly. She hated my job, while I loved it.

“Oh.. He is software programmer who creates programs for digging earth?” came a earth-shattering comment from the aunty. Damn.. People think that there are only two types of jobs in India – Call Centers and IT!!

“Whatever it is he should get married soon.” Out poured her Einstein type intelligent thoughts.

“He will never get married, unless he digs his future wife out of pit that he works in” replied my mom.

As I ignored my mom’s scathing comments on my bachelorhood and profession, I headed into the bathroom. I didn’t want to get married.


As I entered the big hall, I was greeted by about 50 enthusiastic prospective archeologists. People taking archeology class had greatly diminished with the onset of the great so-called technology jobs.

I put my bag on the table and scanned the 100 tables situated in the bog hall. I took a piece of chalk and started writing “Archeology – Last Class”

“Before I start asking each of us to introduce ourselves, I speak a little about myself” I started. An enthusiastic student raised his hand and I asked him to speak.

“We all know about you sir. The only South Indian to be selected for NASA’s exploration of various historical sites around the world. Author of twenty books including the best seller “Forgetting India’s Past?”. A former Assistant Field-Director of ASI operations.”

“And a bachelor” whispered a girl smiling sweetly at me. At thirty three I had achieved a little in life, but still there was more to do.

“All you have said is true, but is bull shit according to me” I started. “My real joy came when our team found a major temple in Khajuraho. And I would be even happier if you guys can make a mark in Indian history by discovering some things”

“But before all that you must finish this only class in this semester, to pass and you’re your credentials” I finished.

“I am not going to repeat what is there in this book” I pointed to the fat book in the front desk, “but if you want we can have a discussion on some things that were lost to history”

“Like the Red Soul?” spoke a young student sitting at the top corner of the hall. I scanned for his face and found his eyes gleaming at the prospect of my denial. I had never denied the existence of any myth and had always encouraged my students to dig in for the ultimate truth but not this time.

“Professor” came a low hooting voice of the watchman. “A telegram for you”

As I opened the telegram, a lightning scooted from the base of spinal cord right to the top of my head. As sweat started pouring from my forehead, I slowly started reading the contents.



“I really like that book” a sweet voice from a woman sitting right opposite to me broke the silence between us.

I slightly swung my book to the right and looked at her. She was in her later twenties and wore a dark green shiffon sari with a golden brown border. Her bronzed colored skin radiated in the white light partly falling on her hands alone. A single diamond platinum necklace laced her neck to go along with beautiful pairs of diamond earrings.

As I was in no mood for a chat, I swung the book back to my face again. I had to finish it off before I reached the station tomorrow morning.

“Srinivasan writes really well” she spoke again.

I placed a page marker inside the book and looked at her. After letting out a sigh, I grabbed my bottle of water. After gulping a few pints of the elixir of life, I stared right at her eyes.

“What do you know about Srinivasan?”

“He was one of the greatest archeologists of our generation. His excavations range from pyramids in China to hidden stone temples in Bangkok to Khajuraho excavations. Strangely, he disappeared five years back while working on a secret Indian Government project.”

Suddenly she bent low and requested me to come closer. “He is also considered to be the spy of a foreign nation”. I literally jumped out laughing at the joke. I had known Srini for over 20 years now. He had been my mentor till our paths diverged.

Taken aback by my lack of seriousness, she looked away feeling slighted.

“I… I didn’t mean to laugh” I spoke.

“But you did” she protested.

“It’s hilarious to know how many rumors pile around a person when he is out of this world’s eyes” I tried to reason.

“You seem to have a great knowledge about him” I tried to praise her.

“I know about you also, Mr. Venkatraman” she spoke trying to surprise me.

Quite startled to hear my name, I started to think a little vicisouly about this woman. How could she have known me? The probability of a woman knowing about me and sitting right next to me on one of the five trains going to Tanjore was really next to zero.

“I am also going in search of the RED SOUL” she declared.

Seriously taken aback, I tried to avoid gazing into her eyes. Damn.. she knows everything. Srini, why do you always do this to me.

She took out a piece of paper and gave it to me.


The words that screamed from the telegram were nearly similar to mine.

“Hi, I am Venkat” I officially introduced myself.

“I am Vidya Kumari” she shook my hand. “I am the Special Research Assistant of ASI” she declared. Damn!!


The train came to a smooth halted at the Tanjore station. I had always wanted to come to this beautiful city. But now, I was about to meet my best friend and along with him, the most precious stone in the history of mankind – the RED SOUL.

“We can refresh ourselves at a lodge nearby and proceed to Temple” I suggested.

“We have no time for that, Venkat. Just brush up and wash your face nearby, I will get some tea for you” she ordered. It had been a long time, since I had taken order from anybody least of that a woman. But it was not a time for a fight; coz she knew more information than what I did.

I nodded my head and in five minutes, we were on our way to the temple. She expertly guided the autorickshaw driver through the narrow alleys and very soon, we reached the temple. The grand entrance of the temple reminded me of my childhood days when my father used to let me sit on the top of his head and we would roam the city. He had been one of the best archeologists of his time. I missed him a lot since he disappeared twenty years ago.

“Lets walk inside and see if we can find Mr. Srinivasan” she spoke. I nodded my head and stepped into the temple when suddenly I clutched my heart. I felt as if somebody had stuck a dagger into my heart.

A strange blankness enveloped me and I felt as if I was floating in mid air.


As I woke up clutching my heart expecting it to bleed heavily, I found myself looking at a huge painting adorning the room with a few chairs and a sofa. I could find my right hand paining as if I was being pricked by needle and I could find a bottle of saline being injected into me.

I knew I was in some hospital. Suddenly Vidya entered the room and came and sat close on the sofa next to me. “So how are you doing?”

“I am fine. Thanks. What happened to me?” I spoke back.

“You fainted” she replied.

“Before we speak, I would need to know everything that you know about the Red Soul” I spoke mixing politeness with my curiosity to know about what she knew. She was after-all the Special Research Assistant of ASI at such a young age.

She sighed deeply and spoke “About six months ago, we at ASI received a message from Mr. Srinivasan, who for some reason had disappeared. Senior heads at ASI decided to trace the message. However, we were never able to trace it and the search had lost steam until two days ago when we got a telegram. Our team did some research and found out that you had also received a similar message and so we booked a ticket and I met you on the train”

“Wait” I declared. “Who works in your team?” I questioned her more.

“The Red Soul is a national interest” she paused, waiting for my reaction as she tried to steer away from my question. I hinted at her to speak on.

“As you would know the Red Soul is the largest natural Ruby found in the world and it had become a myth till it was rumored to have been found sometime back. The ruby does not belong to India, but was stolen by Raja Raja Choza on his ruthless mission to destroy SriLanka”

Suddenly I started feeling that she was distorting the truth. Raja Raja Choza was just waging a war for god’s sake. But I needed to know everything that she knew and so I kept quiet.

“The Red Soul was the main reason Raja Raja Choza came to power even when his family was pitifully massacred”

Oh Com’on, his brother was killed and his mom committed sati along with husband who died of that grief.

She looked at me for any reaction of her scathing words. Not finding any she continued “The king wanted to secretly store the most precious stone of this world somewhere and legend has it that it is kept hidden in the maze like tunnels running under the Periya Shiva temple of Tanjore”

“Wait a second” I interrupted. “You mean to say nobody tried to search for that precious stone till now”

“Why not?” came a wry reply from her, nearly churning my stomach. “Do you remember the fire that raged through the Periya temple in 1994 while performing the puja. Do you think the fire started on its own?”

I was stumped by the revelation. It took me a moment to digest the fact that many more people with sinister designs who were in search of the stone. I shuddered at the thought of what harm might have come over Srini who had spent half his life time in search of it.

I shook my head. “Why would people fight for a piece of stone?” I sighed.

Vidya let out a huge roar of laughter and looked at me as if I had asked her the most stupid question in this world. “Perhaps you know everything and still want to hear it from me. The Red Soul is not a precious stone, it contains a hidden energy that has been accumulated by the Lanka King, Ravana”

It was my turn to laugh at her. “You mean.. that.. Ravana stored his energy in that?” I could barely control my laughter.

“Ignorant people laugh at all myths” she replied calmly and I stopped laughing feeling a little stupid. That had precisely been my reply to my students who did not believe in myths and stories. Now it was dished out to me.

“Ravana towards the end of the Ramayana war is said to have deposited all his powers in that stone which was then stolen by Raja Raja Choza from the ancient Sri Lankan buddhist monks and the precious stone helped him re-build his dynasty and sustain it for three centuries after his death.”

“So where do we find it now?” I spoke enthusiastically forgetting the fact that the stone had been hidden for ten centuries now.

“First we have to find Srini” she spoke. Suddenly her phone buzzed and she read the SMS that she had just received.

“Ok. Lets go” she commanded.

Not thinking a split second about the saline flowing into my body, I removed the needle of my wrists and we both started walking.

“So where are we going?” I spoke as we hurried down the staircase.

“The Periya Temple” she replied.

“Oh no. Not again”

“We are not going inside the temple” her reply puzzled me even further.


We reached a small house adjoining one of the outer walls of the massive temple. Vidya opened the door cautiously and switched on her torch. It was pitch black inside.

“Where the damn switch?” I shouted as I tripped over something in the dark place.

“Shut up” she ordered.

I quietly followed and then she pulled some kind of a lever and the wall in front of us started to give way to a staircase in front of us.

“Walk slowly. These are ten centuries old” she cautioned.

As I slowly gripped the railing, I could smell a mixture of stale air and moths. We walked for about ten minutes down the staircase and suddenly she came to a stop.

She expertly pulled out a lever from behind one of the big rocks and suddenly the big rock gave way to a huge hall containing hundreds of statues carved in granite. As I stood amazed by the sculpting on each of the statues in the room, I could see a bright red glow emanating from another room attached to the entrance room where we had been standing. Vidya ushered me in to the next room and my mouth fell open on seeing the source of the shiny bright red light illuminating the entire room.

Before I eyes, was the world’s most precious stone, THE RED RUBY placed on a casket embroided in gold and silver. I took a step towards it and I could feel the waves of power crashing into my body, vibrating each and every one of organs. Ravana’s powers was here for the taking.

“Welcome, Kayal” came a harsh voice. From a corner of the room, a very old lady walking laboriously with the help of a staff, came upto me.

“Who is she?” I asked Vidya.

“She is my grandma” came a hollow reply.

Suddenly I remember that we had found one of the most sought after treasure. “We have found the Red Soul. Com’on lets take it” I spoke willing to share the treasure.

“It’s not that easy” she replied dejectedly. She whispered something to her grandma and her grandma handed her something covered in a silky cloth to her.

“Raja Raja Choza was not a stupid man. He has put a curse on the precious stone that will not allow anybody to steal it” she explained.

“So how do we take it?” I probed further.

“The only way to go back to his time and steal it from there” she spoke.

My feet nearly gave way hearing her thoughts. This was not the first time she had spoken strangely and stupidly.

“Have you heard about the Sands Of Time?” her riddles had reached a limit.

I politely shook my head. She suddenly took out a sharp dagger which had an embroided base of gold and ivory and came closer to me. I took a step back instantly but could not move back further as the old lady’s staff thudded into my back.

“HAIL THE PANDYA DYNASTY!!” came a huge roar from her lips as she punched the dagger into my heart. I had felt the pain many times before and I knew it was a dream, but as I touched my t-shirt to check the wet feeling and saw the thick liquid trickle out of my hands in the bright red light.

It was my blood and she had bloody killed me!!


(To be Continued....)