Chapter One: Curious Dreams

When I woke up it was dark everywhere. The first thought that came to my mind was that I was still asleep but then I heard the boring ticking noise of the wall clock. So I fumbled around in my sheets to retrive my mobile. After trying for some time I found it near my feet! Though I had no idea how it ended up there.

It was 2:30am and it happened again today or should it's still tonight? Since a few months back now every once or twice in a week I woke up and each time I felt as if somebody I deeply care for was scared. But I checked everytime no one were scared or felt any kind of mental stress. not mum, nor dad neither Tinni, my 5 year old sister. But I felt it inside me that someone I cared about was very scared.

For once I thought I should ask Moon about it, but then she would worry about my mental condition and run to my parents. So I decided against it and let it go. So now once or twice in a week I wake up in dead night or very early morning and roam around in my house till I get tired and fall asleep again.

I can't understand how am I even awake now! The day had been hectic one, yesterday we started from kolkata at dawn, it was a long drive up north here. When we arrived it was almost evening. So it's quiet strange after that long journey I am still up at 2:30.

Slowly I walked down the corridor toward the bathroom, it was when I saw a thin slit of light coming out of Moon's room. At first I was startled by the light, then I heard Aunt Sunanda, she was frantically talking to Moon. The first thought I had was to rush in the room and ask if they were alright, but then it dawned to me it would be extremely impolite to barge in their room at this time of day. I was wondering if I should call for my Mum or not I felt a hand rest over my shoulder. I almost jumped out of my skin, turning around I saw it was my Mother. She whispered to me, " I'll go inside and check on them, you know it will appear highly impolite if you run into their room." I silently nodded and Mum walked into their room, I was sure I heard a well known sniffing sound, it was how Moon sounded when she was crying.

When I passed the room again I heard mum talking to Aunt Sunanda.

I don't remember when I fell asleep, but when I woke up again it was nearly 7 o clock in the morning. I retrieved my toothbrush and toothpaste from bag and rushed for the bathroom. It was 20 minutes later when I entered dining hall, hall because the house we're staying at formerly belonged to a local landlord who was also great grand father of my mother. Anyway when I entered the hall I was assaulted by my sister Tinni,she's a little thing but always so energetic and talkative. I don't remember a day when she was not chattering, again that is what makes my sister adorable. Right now she was so excited, " Dada, have you seen the garden? It has so many flowers and trees. There's a swing too. Will you take me there please? " she asked the last line with her most cute puppy dog eyes and who am I to resist that?

I glanced out of the window the garden was covered with thick foggy blanket of autumn but there was a swing out there. I crouched down in front of Tinni and said to her, "we'll go but after breakfast, okay? "

"Okay Dada" she replied happily.

It was aunt Sunanda at table who greeted me next, but I couldn't find Moon anywhere, mum's voice was coming from kitchen as she was talking with Gauri Masi the gardener's wife and resident cook of the house.

"Masi where's Munia? "I asked aunt Sunanda.

She took a sip from her coffee mug and replied, " still sleeping I guess." She then checked her watch then said "and its about time somebody go there and wake her."

My little sister ran toward stairs "I'll wake Didi up!"

About 15 minutes later Tinni returned with a triumphant smile on her face, behind her Moon, my best friend in the world entered as ever so gracefully . I don't know how she always walks like that , it dawned to me once if she was related to any royal family, but no, my mum knew her mum from when they both were children. So my once thought that Moon was a princess was proved wrong... But when I asked the question it amused Moon,aunt Sunanda and mum very much.

Her official name is Sunetra, all of her relatives call her either Netra or Munia which was given by her parents, in school some people call her Sue, but once she told me that she hated that last name.I always wanted to call her by a name that would be different so when I was in 9th standard I read a poem about lady Moon who every night descends from her domain in sky and gracefully roam around on earth, that's where I found her name, Moon was appropriate considering the way she keeps herself. By the way I forgot to introduce myself, my name is Aditya but everyone call me Adi.

As Moon took her seat my mum, Anuradha, walked into the room pushing a trolly that held our breakfast, one look at the food and I suddenly remembered I had not eaten in last eight hour and my stomach made a funny noise.

After twenty minutes of pushing a swing I realised how painful it is to be on the wrong side of the swing... I was not sure how much I could've pushed my sister's swing but the rescue came as my mother, she came out of the house and told Tinni that it was now time for bath. My sister pouted and held up her hands so mum carried her all the way to the house... My arms were hurting and and I was feeling hot too, so I too followed mum inside the house. I hadn't seen Moon since breakfast, may be we can chat a bit.

Moon was my first friend. I still remember the day we met. It was our first day at nursery school. I was very nervous, at that age I was very much afraid of school because of all the terrible stories I'd heard from my elder cousins. It was when a pretty little girl entered the class. There were three other seats available but I don't know why she came to my desk and asked me, "Can I seat here?"

I don't know what would have happened if she didn't sit with me that day! She was so lively, we were friends even before first break. When we came out of school holding hands our mothers followed us and there was a reunion of old childhood friends. Sunanda auntie and my mum were best friends but they were separated when auntie's parents went to live in a different city. After a separation of nearly 10 years they were reunited again, all because of us. By the time we entered high school we were inseparable best friends.

I found Moon with a huge book on her lap. I slowly crept behind her and waited for a few minutes, then asked her,"what's it that bothering you so much? "

"Nothing, why do you think so? "She replied, her voice was trembling a little, "I was reading a bit, anyway where is Tinni? "

" Moon, you can do lots of thing, but you can't lie to me, we know each other from when we were 4 years old. I know you can read that single page in 5 minutes but it's been 10 minutes and you are still at that page. Please tell me what's it that giving you so much trouble? "

She remained silent so I tried a different way, "Is it about that stupid boyfriend of yours? Did that buffoon hurt you? That's why you were crying last night? " I asked her, but I couldn't recognize my own voice,there was a hint of anger. Well that was strange!

Moon quietly asked, "How did you knew I was crying last night? Radha auntie told you?"

"I heard it myself, I swear if its really because of that.. that waste of flesh n blood you call a boyfriend I will teach him lesson "

"No Adi it's not about Sagar, it's something nobody knew... I even don't know should I tell you this or not."

"You can tell me anything you want to Moon, I will be there for you always, you know that, don't you? "

She slowly nodded, " It started after my 16th birthday, once or twice in a week I had some peculiar dreams, some of them were happy some were not. It was almost like I was seeing someone else's memory but I was in that memory and so were others, people I never knew, the one whose memory I Was seeing she lived in a palace may be she was princess of somewhere. She had a loving family father,mother, a older sister too. The girl was named Sujata, her sister was Sohini. They were loved by all the people. At first I thought it was my own imagination." She chuckled there was a distant look in her eyes, " Do you remember Adi, once you asked if I had some royal relations or not? I found my dreams very amusing at first considering your that question, but then after some month Those dreams turned into some sinister ones."

"Three months ago I saw somebody killing my entire family... "

"WHAT? "I almost shouted the question, I was shocked!

"Not my real parents you monkey boy! The parents Sujata had in those dreams, they were mercilessly assassinated by her own uncle, that beast didn't even left her elder sister Sohini. He was seeking something that they were not giving him, he torture Sohini for days but when she didn't helped him he went for Sujata. He cut her skin in places and pur salt in those cuts... it was very painful, as if I could feel her burning pain... Sohini begged to spare Sujata but the monster torturedthem more." She stopped for a moment, " I was so scared, when mum woke me up I was in hysterics, she told me I was crying in sleep."

I was in shock too. That was the time around when I first woke up in middle of the night too.

"Now those silly dreams have turned into nightmares, those haunt me... now every night I see that man murdering them." She choked back a sob, " Am I losing my sanity? Mum has already taken me to doctors, the weren't of any help. I can't take it any more."

By now she was openly crying, don't know why but her pain hurt me too.. Is it friendship? I pulled her closer and hugged her,she hugged me back, I sat there holding her. After sometime her sobs stopped.

What has happened to my best friend? I had noticed she was acting a bit strange lately but I thought it was one of those many girls problems which we boys would never understand. She had lost weight very fast in past few months, I thought at first she was controlling her diet to lose some weight but today I felt it,she's as light as feather and that isn't normal for her.

"Hey Moon? " I asked her.

"Hmmm? " she replied.

"Let's go outside, I want to show you something. "

"What is it Adi? " She asked warily.

I picked the book from her lap, page marked it and put it on the bed, "Come on don't you trust me? I am your best friend! "

"I trust you with anything but except your surprises and my chocolates!" She joked as She stepped off the bed.

Anuradha was giving instructions to Gauri the sound of laughter reached her ears. The melodious sound was coming from the garden, when she came to the door that leads to the garden she found Sunanda standing there too and following her gaze she found a laughing Netra on the swing and Adi was pushing it. She noticed her friend again, Sunanda 's eyes were wet, but a faint smile adorned her lips.

"You Know Radha it's been very long time since I heard her laugh so heartily! I am very much grateful to Adi, for being a wonderful friend to my daughter. I missed Munia's happy face so much."

" Nanda it is what a friend does when their friend is hurting so much. They've been friends for nearly 13 years. I'm sure if Adi was hurt somehow Netra would've stayed beside her too. Last night when I came to your room, Adi was already there before me but he was hesitating if it was right for him to enter or not. They have a strong bond between them. They can feel when other one is hurting."

"Hmmm... I too thought that they have a strong connection of sort, but never actually paid attention to it, but again you were the Holmes among two of us. "

"That you deduced perfect my dear Watson. " Anuradha replied in a very haughty manner. And moment later both elder women were laughing too.

"Don't you think we should now? It's past 12. " asked Sunanda.

"You're right." Anuradha called out " Netra, Adi come inside. Lunch is in an hour!"

Across the garden two voices replied in unison, "Yes mum."


Adi's p.o.v

Just a few hour ago the sky was clear with pieces of white cotton clouds floating around, but now it's around 4:30 and the sky,was covered in grew thunder clouds. We (that includes I, Moon, my mum, Sunanda auntie and my little sister Titir better known as Tinni) had come to get some fresh air into our respiratory system and my little sister wanted to see the river. The River that flows by the village has its origin in Bangladesh , that cuts through the district and meets River Ganges (or as we Indians address it, Ganga) down in south. The River has a nice name Atrai though people also refer it as Atreyee. I was walking with Moon, who was snapping away photographs. That girl has that talent too, well to tell the truth she is multi talented. She sings like a nightingale, she's a brilliant dancer, an awesome painter, and she's the top student of our class. Well as I was saying Moon was snapping photographs out of nature and I was capturing her different moods in my camera. My camera generally holds photographs of people, that people can be normal civilians or passerby on a journey or an artist at studio who's intently drawing eyes on a Idol or a little child playing etc. So I also take pictures that features my mum, my little sister and Moon.

I actually didn't knew how far we had came when I suddenly heard Moon gasp beside me. When I followed her gaze I found we were in front of a huge gate. Though the only part that remained was just the two pillars and behind them there was a old, very old temple, it had trees on roof. Moon headed for the temple and I followed her. Our mothers were a good deal behind us.

In the temple the priest was preparing for evening puja, there were some villagers too. When our mothers arrived with Tinni. Both of our older companions were very much eager to see the sandhaarati at the temple,we younger ones too never witnessed such thing... so we're excited too... The puja had just begun and the hell broke loose around us, that is the storm started. So we all ran to wards the Natmandap of the temple. The storm continued for nearly half an hour along with heavy rain... thunderclouds were roaring a thunderbolt strucked to one of the many coconut trees those had the temple surrounded. Tinni was practically pasted to my mum's side. Moon was staring outside, the beauty of evening was enhanced by the sounds of bells from the temple as the Sandhaarati started, we all turned to see it. It was beautiful, the entire experience was divine, between a thunderstorm a old almost ancient priest was lost in worship of the almighty. Once it dawned to me if the nature mother was also somehow participating in the puja. The environment was restless yet so peaceful, the thunderstorm made us afraid yet the sound of conch, sound of bells and the holy words from the priest made us feel safe. I just felt it's one of those experiences those you have once in a lifetime, I turned to my companions Moon had tears in corner of eyes our mothers were overwhelmed by the experience, my little sister was awestruck by the beauty of the Sandhaarati.

Who says to experience something so divine one have to go miles and miles? The almighty is everywhere, It's his whim when he shows up. He may not show up in physical form but in spiritual way.

We returned to the house a few minutes after 7pm. Road that lies beside the river was all muddy, on the way back we heard the roaring sound of the river. It was another for us younger generation, though Tinni was once or twice afraid of the bushes beside the road at last i had to carry her all way to the house. Moon was quiet most of the time, well she doesn't shout ans shriek all the time but still she was very much absent minded.

After having a hot cup of tea, we all parted, our mothers went to watch television, they basically watch serial and some reality shows. Tinni had come to my room to read one of her so many comics, I asked her why she had came with me, why not to mum? She stared at me for a moment making face as if I had asked very foolish question, then she answered haughtily , " I am here to keep eye on, you are a trouble maker! " then she broke into mad giggle.

"You are right Tinni, Adi is a trouble maker. " Moon commented as she glided into the room. I used the word glided into because in that particular long skirt when ever she walks around it appears as if she is gliding or floating in air.

I folded my hands across my chest and pouted, "It's not fair, when ever you two ream up against me I can't win a battle! "

"Your highness, what can this mere mortal can do for u? "

"Well minion, you can always get me an ice-cream. " She said smiling.

" One for me please Dada, please? " Tinni asked again with her those puppy dog eyes.

On my way out of the room I heard both girl break into fits of giggle. I shook my head and made my way to kitchen.

Afrer finishing ice-cream Tinni went back to her comics and Moon opened her laptop, it was her old habit to discuss photographs after taking them. So we started from beginning, her talent with a camera always amazes me, a simple banyan tree that hung over the river, which was not in first glance but she made that tree very mysterious in her photo. I have no idea how she did. When we arrived to the photographs taken at the temple she whispered to me,

"I have seen this temple before,in my dreams, but then it was more glorious. "

I was shocked again,

"Are you serious? You aren't joking, right Moon? "

"Yes Adi, I am sure and serious, do you see that symbol on the pillars?"

I certainly could see, the symbol consisted a cross made of trishul (trident) and a sword but just above the cross point of both there was a faint image of something. At first I thought it was a leaf,but then it struck to me, it was a feather, a peacock's feather to br precise just like one we see on crown of idol of Lord Krishna.

"Moon you are not trying to scare me right? "

"Adi I myself am scared to my core! What's happening with me? First those dreams,then those nightmares and now this symbol! "

"I am so scared, I need your help. I don't wanna spend rest of my life in a mental asylum. " she was closed to tears I hugged her, tried to assure her,

"Hey, don't cry please. I'm with you. I'll help you to figure this mystery out. Just don't lose belief in yourself. "

The door was open, Sunanda auntie peeked into the room," oh all of you are here! Radha is setting table for dinner come down all of you."

A/N: It's my first ever attempt in writing. English is not my first language either so if there are mistakes please point out. Constructive criticism is welcome,you can PM me. And please let me know if you guys like the story.