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Chapter 12 How it all started

  • Dodamarg, Maharashtra. Ten years ago:
  • Strangely there was no lock on the door, it limped badly to a side on the floor. It was the reason why it didn't swing open inside, otherwise the latch wasn't strong enough to keep it closed. The possibility of someone using the room couldn't be ruled out from such a situation, yet the thick layer of dust on the floor raised doubts over a living soul to have come that way in a while. Dust had settled inside the room too causing the door to sink into it.
  • The light from the torch revealed no other footsteps than her own as she guided it all around the floor. After several attempts the old, wooden panel holding desperately to it's rusty hinges finally creaked open letting out a gust of wind as if captivated for years. The smell of old furniture and furnishings laden with cobwebs immediately rushed out to torture her nostrils. The dampness in the room was sickening. Finding an electrical switch on the wall she pressed it in the hope of light, but in vain. She searched amongst the pile of books, clothes and utensils - all scattered on the floor. It seemed a storm had passed through once, creating a mess. There was a single window facing the door. It had glass panes through which the faint shimmer of moonlight cast strange shapes on the opposite wall.
  • As she opened it a gush of fresh breeze ruffled her hairs. Along with it came a strange feeling. It appeared that someone whispered something into her ear. She could even feel the warm exhalation of a man's breath on her neck. She turned back. But there was only the open door before her and swaying shadows of tree leaves and branches on the wall. She clenched her teeth. She could certainly not allow her fears to distract her from her job now. The reason why she had flown in from far-off Kolkata to a remote village in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district. Finding that book had become so important now. And the need to destroy it after reading. That's what Swami Adityanath had told her back at the ashram (1). It was the only way the incidents could be prevented from happening. He had even explained her the complete vidhi (2) for destroying the book. But she had to find it first.
  • As she guided her torch on the floor she reflected upon the strange circumstances in which her chotka - youngest uncle, Satyasadhan Roy had disappeared. A research scholar in philology, he had come to Dodamarg taluka (3), in quest of an ancient Hindu scripture. While on his way back to his hotel following a meeting with Adityanath he had met with bad weather on the road and forced to take refuge in a dilapidated temple. A dark-skinned, stark-naked, fierce-looking deity made of black basalt of about two metres height stood in a tribhanga (4) posture inside. He held a sword in one hand and a skull bowl in another. A blood tilak decorated his forehead. A scorpion dangled around the waist girdle made of bells, and serpents entwined as armlets. He was also wearing a garland of human heads. A gaping mouth revealed sharp fangs and red, piercing eyes made his gaze ominous. Large circular earlobes dangled over his shoulders and skeletal body frame showed pronounced rib cage. On close examination he found some letters inscripted near the feet which appeared similar to the text in the ancient book Adityanathji had referred about. The book was lying inside a secret chamber of one of the temples in Dodamarg - he had seen through his divyadrishti (5) though he didn't know which temple it was.
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