Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Fort

Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur (Courtesy:
The old fort where the party was being held did not really have any legends attached to it. At least none that she knew about. Maybe Google would throw up something or asking some locals. Not that it mattered.

However, its location atop a hill allowed one to view unmatched panorama of the old city spread below. But it was night, so that picture was cloaked in darkness. The revelers had to pass through twisting passages, laid out with electronic red carpet, to reach the inner courtyard where the dance floor, the food and the booze were. They were advised not to step off the path to explore the unlit part of the fort.

So, she left the lit passages and walked through one of the doors along the path. And emerged into an open space, high above the ground and under a vast blue, grey sky. Moonlight created a comfortable shadow play. Her hands, when she extended them, were awash in a silvery blue and if she tried very hard, she could feel a cool tingle in her fingertips.

The shadows in the corners were shy, gathering within themselves. She was tempted to go coax them out, explore them, learn their secrets. Were there any stories hidden within their soft folds?

Later, she decided. This hushed light had its own story to tell. While it was silent all around and any noise was too far away to be heard, occasionally she heard the voices of her fellow revelers passing on the paths to the party.

She ignored them. She was drawn towards the high boundary walls. The city lay hushed and spread below her like some covered feast. All she had to do was extend her hand and scoop the darkness out, laying bare the lives that were cloaked. She turned back to the unlit, moonlit terrace. She was beginning to feel a little cheated. Disappointed. Where was the grandeur of the moment? She might never come back here. And she deserved something special. A memory that belonged to her alone, transcending time and history.

Suddenly, there was a twinkle in those cornered shadows. It caught her eye. She was intrigued but also a little wary. She had wanted something special, hadn’t she? This could be it. She was both hopeful and trying very hard to be pragmatic. Hope fluttered and quivered in her belly, threaded through a vague, unnamed fear. In the end, she walked forward. Curiosity and imagination had always been her salvation and her doom.
It twinkled again. She was now in the extreme corner of the terrace, where the shadows were most bashful. Her shoes echoed, muted in the stillness. The night remained cool, fresh, flowing through her unbound hair. She reached.

She stooped down and extended her hand. It touched a papery, wrinkly silver foil of some candy.

Disgusted, disappointed, relieved, she muttered under her breath. “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.”

Stupid tears stung her eyes. In helpless anger, she picked up a small stone lying next to the deceitful foil. It was uneven with pointed, jagged edges. She tested the edges and threw it with all her strength into the shadows.

Getting up, she spun on her heels, leaving behind the dust of some unnamed, unrealized romance.

Sometime in the night, from some where in the soft , trembling shadows, dropped and rolled onto the silver stones, the muted tinkle from a broken, silver anklet.