Children

Summer’s End: What a mess!

Illustration: Sonal Goyal  

The storm broke at night. The thunderclap rattled the windowpanes and woke Keya. Angry flashes of lightning streaked across the sky, rain splattered the windows and a stray branch from the pear tree knocked against the glass. Every time lightning struck, the garden lit up. As she lay there looking out at the sky, Keya heard footsteps in the passage. “Dhruv is scared,” she thought, “he must be going to Moti uncle’s room.”

But the footsteps stopped outside her room and the door opened. A burst of thunder followed by lightning lit up the room. The passage was empty. She heard footsteps but she could see no one. Her drawers and cupboard were flung open noisily. She whimpered. Strangely, she felt the glare of icy-cold eyes on her. She crawled deeper into her blanket, not daring to breathe. She passed the rest of the night in a funk and awoke to a messy room.

At breakfast, when she told Moti uncle and Dhruv what had happened, all they said was, “It could have been the wind.” In the drawing room, they were surprised to find books off the shelf and papers strewn everywhere. Albert, the general factotum, was putting everything back in place.

All morning, it rained. They sat indoors and read, thinking it was a sad end to their holiday. They were due back early the next morning. Mishti was behaving strangely, whining, and walking around with her tail between her legs. Somewhere in the house, a window banged. The cold wind that swept in and the constant slamming of the window added to their unease. Mishti growled, the fur on her neck standing up.

Something strange

“I’ll check,” muttered Dhruv, getting up. Mishti whined loudly and hid between Moti uncle’s legs.

“The storm is frightening Mishti,” said Dhruv, walking out. He found the open window in the study and leant out to get hold of the catch. He felt something cold and clammy on his back. He let out a sharp cry and felt it slithering off. He shuddered and, turning around, caught a glimpse of a dark, black shape scurrying away. He shut the window and looked around. The room was in shambles. It looked like someone was conducting a thorough search.

Dhruv went back to the drawing room and said, “The study is a mess. Everything is lying around…as if someone’s searching for something…”

“Was the window catch broken?” asked Keya.

“No…” he replied and hesitated.

“What happened?” asked Keya.

“Just that I had a strange sensation when I leant out to shut the window…it was as if something cold and slimy touched me. When I turned around, I saw the shadow of a dark figure moving away…”

Mishti howled.

To be continued...

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 4:32:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/summers-end-what-a-mess/article33524006.ece

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