Young World

Blood and an ancient curse

The curse of the Broken Steps. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Hate history? Well, here is a book that will change all that pronto and you will be looking at other ancient monuments, wondering what gory, gruesome, romantic mysterious secrets lie behind its walls.

The curse of the Broken Steps by Bubbles Sabharwal and Anjali Raghbeer, promises all that and more. A bunch of kids who go on a class excursion (yawn!) to the Purana Qila, not knowing what lies in wait for them .

Dhruv's racy narration sets the tone of the story and the feel is familiar as his narration is both simple and descriptive. He and his friends carry all the latest gizmos, which eventually aid them to unravel the mystery. The four friends are hurdled into the mystery of stolen miniature paintings, tantric yogis, men with cold ghostly grey eyes, a murdered foreigner, CD's with strange pictures and wait, a curse that surrounds the staircase from which Emperor Humayun fell to his death and the strange appearance of a spot of blood that is said to be Humayun's.

The four friends, amateur detectives, enthusiastically follow all the leads, till they are “found” to be thick in the middle of the mystery and the table is turned. Unfortunately, they are thought to be culprits and are caught in a scandal, and suspended from school. Dhruv's dad, being a suspect, even by Dhruv himself, is a nasty turn, but still this does not deter them. All set clear to his name, the story takes them to Hyderabad and the final showdown takes place in the Chow Mohalla Palace.

The book has some heart stopping moments like when the kids meet up with murder, mayhem, and suspicion within the family.

THE CURSE OF THE BROKEN STEP, Bubbles Sabharwal and Anjali Raghbeer, Scholastic, Rs. 99

An excerpt :

We backtracked quickly but Anunya's foot caught on the second last step, I quickly held her to help her regain her balance.

And that's when we saw it. A red stain — a deep, dark red blood stain. The kind that has been there for centuries.

“It's Humayun's,” she said softly.

For one instant I almost believed her.

“Don't be ridiculous! From four hundred years ago!” I asked.

“They say his blood was thick, not like ours,” she continued. “The story goes that Humayun was coming from the library when he heard the call to prayer. Being an extremely religious man he knelt down immediately, tripped on his robe, fell down these very stairs and hurt his head. The bloodstain remains from then. He died within a few days.”

“Who's there?” shouted the security guard, pounding his lathi on the floor.

We rushed out and hid behind the Sher Mandal only to see the guide hurry the American along as the guards followed them,

As they they left, Anunya darted forward. Her sharp eyes had spotted the notebook that the American had dropped as he rushed away. She grabbed it and darted into the alcove. After a couple of minutes, Anunya emerged. She waited till the American and the others were out of sight. Then she held up the notebook triumphantly and said, flipping open the pages of the notebook, “I smell it, this is a clue!”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 2:05:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/Blood-and-an-ancient-curse/article15540840.ece

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