Monday, 26 August 2013

Whispers of Spring........Prologue


Naina sighed softly as she gazed out toward the mountains through the stained-glass window. The first shades of twilight cascaded gently over the mountains and hills. The snowy top of the highest peaks were still veiled in a pale golden misty blanket, which she knew were the last rays of the setting March sun. The night would surround them in no time. That’s how it was here. It always surprised her how quickly darkness shrouded the valley. She never missed viewing the landscape at twilight….she had never missed one in her seven years at Palampur. This period of the day to her was of hope…as if the dusky glow lets the night know that howsomuchever faster it came and for whatever length it stayed, the twilight would always precede it. She kept that thought of hope burning in her….always…even when the darkness locked up in her heart tried to rear its ugly head in moments of solitude.

She turned away from the window and from the night and looked at the beautiful room…the master bedroom of the Rawin Mahal. The magnificence of the room always took her breath away. From the richly embroidered tapestry to the elegant furnishings to the carpets and rugs and antique Oakwood furniture…especially the Victorian bed in the middle…ornate yet elegant. She twirled on her toes with a giggle as she imagined herself as a princess of that room. It felt good to indulge in these typically teenaged fairy tale dreams. The ambiance of this place always had the surreal effect on her. She closed her eyes and her father’s words came from yonder, “One day a prince will come, give you his heart, and take you to his palace. You will then live a life of a royalty. Only a prince for my princess…no one less.” She opened her eyes and smiled mistily at herself in the mirror, “I am glad you didn’t live to see the reality of your princess papa. Dreams vanish, leaving only dust. But I have no complaints. I have Adi.” Her broodings were cut short by the sound of her cell phone ringing. She realized she was holding a pillow cover in her hand as she picked up the phone. It must be Beeji. It was.


“Naina, how much longer child?”

“I am almost done Beeji. I was just finishing changing the pillow covers of the master bedroom. After this I’ll make that essential grocery list and then I’ll be on my way. Did Adi take his milk?”

“He has finished it. He has gone to his room to get the sword you bought from the fair. He says his friend taught him how to take a stance before a fight. He is going to show me first, and then teach me. With you not here, I am the privileged audience and student.” Beeji laughed. Her six-year-old grandson kept her on her toes and she loved it.

Naina smiled affectionately. Her son sure was a bundle of energy. He was especially enamored by stories of battles and wars. He would sit and listen to Ranima for hours when she regaled him with stories of battles of past centuries. She also had the patience to answer his innumerable queries, saying he reminded her of her own grandson at this age.

“Naina, I am sorry you had to see to the housekeeping. Meenakshiji specifically asked me to give the staff off for this fortnight, so that they can be with their families for the festival. With her in Europe, it was easy to do so. But suddenly this news of her grandson coming has upset my schedule. And this blasted fever is also not helping.”

“It’s the viral going around Beeji. You’ll be fine tomorrow. Anyways, relax. Ranima’s grandson is not due to arrive before Friday. That’s still two days away. I’ll finish getting the grounds cleared too by then….A day of raking and weeding will get the gardens and lawns spruced up. Tomorrow I’ll stack up the kitchen. That boy will definitely land up with a pack of his friends, like last time. I remember Ranima saying how fast the food disappeared from the kitchen. You don’t worry.”

“I am not worried about the Rawin Mahal, Naina. It’s you I am worried about. You already have your own work to see to…and now this.”

“C’mon Beeji….you know me. I love to be in this mini-palace. Rawin Mahal’s got history and it’s got a soul. I am sure if you stay still, you can hear the walls speak….I can.”

Beeji smiled at that. Naina loved mystique, “OK then beta. I’ll accept you at home within the hour. Take the main road. There’s a child kidnapper on the loose…remember? The two sons of Kapoors are still missing.”

Naina chuckled, “Err Beeji…I am not a child, if you haven’t noticed. Relax...OK? I’ll keep the phone now and finish the work. Bye.”

She finished changing the bed linen, fluffed the pillows, and checked all the lights. She was about to turn them off when her eyes lit on the large portraits of Rana Sumer Singh Chaudhary and his wife Meenakshi Devi….termed lovingly as Ranima by her staff. Their love story was a folk lore in the region of Rawingarh, once a small kingdom and now part of Himachal Pradesh. Ranima belonged to the royal family of Rawingarh and Sumer Singh was a *Zaildar, an officer of court. Yet that didn’t deter the feisty princess from falling in love with the handsome Sumer and subsequently persuading her parents for the uncommon alliance. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Between the two, they had given them three grandchildren: one grandson was in the army, and another grandson and granddaughter were doing graduation courses in Delhi. Rawin Mahal, here in Palampur, was given to Meenakshi Devi by one of her uncles as a wedding gift. Once used as a summer retreat, she shifted to Palampur permanently after her husband passed away. Naina’s Beeji, Karuna Sharma, used to be the Mahal manager, looking after its upkeep. She retired from her post two years back, though she remained a close confidante and friend of Meenakshi Devi. However, whenever family visited, Ranima relied only on her friend Karuna to get the house in order, literally. She had called two days back from Paris where she was visiting her sister to inform Beeji that her grandson is coming to stay over. The phone reception was unclear so she could only get the date after that. Since she was running fever, Naina was the happy volunteer.


Naina neared the landing to go down to the kitchen when she heard a thud and then a curse…a man’s voice. She stiffened. A thief!!! Yes…has to be. She was so busy upstairs that it didn’t strike her that the ground floor would be completely in darkness. She had told Altaf chacha, the Guard, to go and have his dinner with his wife and that she would call him on the intercom once she finished her work…so it couldn’t be him. Whosoever was downstairs had come in unhindered. Blast it! There was another shuffle and more muffled curses, now loud enough for her to make out that he was looking for the light switches. Naina looked around and stepped back into the bedroom she had come out of. She found what she was looking for…Ranaji’s collection of walking sticks kept in a metal container. Her hand closed on the nearest one and she grabbed it, holding it up in a striking position. Very softly she walked down the marble staircase. She saw a man’s form near the main door, holding what looked like a….a rifle!! Dear God! He was armed. 

Naina felt an anger building up. Her inherent fighting spirit egged her forward. No one robs Rawin Mahal…especially not under her watch. When she thought she was close enough, she raised the stick…and the next moment found herself in a stranglehold.

Before she could react, Naina was pressed against the wall, the man’s left arm against her neck, her arms imprisoned above her head in a viselike grip, and a leg across her own two. She was literally pinned to the wall. For a moment Naina was petrified as in the faint moonlight she looked up into dark smoldering eyes and felt his hot breath. She also noticed a sharp jawline and a deep scar that ran all the way from his left temple to jaw. He seemed to be frozen in his position as he looked into wide eyes that changed expressions swiftly in a matter of seconds. Those moonlit eyes were furious now. He drew a sharp breath as a jolt of awareness shot through him. He stepped back with a jerk, speaking in a gruff and deep voice laced with annoyance, “What the…? A woman? Who the hell are you?” He didn't realize he was still holding her arms. That’s when she pushed him with all her might and ran toward the switches. 

The lights came on, momentarily blinding them. Naina noticed two things at the same time: The man was completely off balance and was trying to stand himself straight after picking up a stick and taking the support of the wall...and was having some difficulty doing so. Oh, so it’s not a rifle, but a walking stick. Naina felt a passing sense of relief till she saw the sofa next to the door. A little girl lay on it wrapped in a shawl…sleeping. Her hand flew to her mouth in shock as she deduced the identity of the man…the kidnapper. Thankfully she still had the stick in her hand. She ran to the sofa, bent, and tucked the child well with the cushions, and then straightened to stand in a protective manner.

He had regained his balance and was about to question the girl again when he saw her standing with the stick, ready for another fight…Oh no! Not again. He rolled his eyes.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing…Mr kidnapper.”

“What? Are you crazy or something?”

“Neither crazy nor something. I know who you are. You are the kidnapper who the police warned against. Don’t move…and don’t speak you…you…you bad man. I will not let you come near this girl. I have switched on the alarm signal. Altaf chacha will be here in no time. He will call the police and then you will be in jail, where you belong. Here he comes. Don’t you dare try any tricks.”

“Good God! Do you always talk so much?”

She kept silent….not budging an inch…not taking an eye off him. 

He inclined his head as he studied her disheveled look. She was dressed in a salwar suit…with her dupatta tied across her shoulder into her waist. Quite a few strands of hair had loosened from hair bunched up casually with a clutch and now framed her face. He noticed the determined set of her jaw, tightened lips, uptilted chin, and narrowed eyes. The girl was beautiful. Something stirred within him, making him scowl and feel disgusted with himself. Never again, he reminded himself. Wait till she sees him in totality…that anger and the rebellion will change into instant pity or revulsion. He had seen those looks almost every time he came across anyone. Women….bah! They are so predictable. Nonetheless, whether he liked it or not, he had to deal with this petite, defiant woman who was role-playing a warrior at the moment. This chit of a girl…Who does she think she is? What is she doing here? Aha, a maid…of course. Who else?

He took a step forward and halted as she wielded that godforsaken stick like a sword. And, was that a muted snarl he heard? Unbelievable. If he was not so upset with himself for letting the girl get to him, he would have found the whole situation rather funny.

He raised his hand, “Look…I am not sure what gave you the idea that I am a kidnapper. You must be a huge fan of Hindi movies. Just because I have this scar does not mean I am the villain.”

“This is nothing to do with your scar.”

“It isn’t? You mean it doesn’t bother you?”

“No. However, who you are does bother me.”

“Look Lady…for the last time, I am not a criminal.  I am that little girl's father whom you seem to be guarding.
"Yeah...and I am the Maharani of this palace."
"Well that's the truth. Take it, or leave it. And since you won’t tell me who you are… I shall have to make a guess. Hmm!! You must be a maid. Do the maids do cleaning so late at night in this palace?”

“That’s none of your business Mister. You stay where you are. You surprised me there.” She gestured toward the wall, “But we…err maids…have been taught a few moves as well.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Like…emm…like…” Naina was saved from saying anything further by two simultaneous voices.

Altaf chacha, who had run all the way from his quarters on hearing the alarm, saw the scene and the stranger, and shouted, “Colonel saab!!”

At the same time, the little girl woke up and spoke from Naina’s back, “Papa!!


*Zaildar…..A native officer in charge of a Zail in the colonial rural administration of Himachal Pradesh in British India. Each Zail was an administrative unit, extending between 2 and 40 villages.


  1. Indu di.. awesome. me totally love it..
    prologue is so good..
    Love it ..
    Please continue it di..
    Me eagerly waiting...

    1. Thank you Shalini. Need the wishes to develop this into something worth reading. I am so happy to have you here with me.

  2. Replies
    1. Where else lil' one. I had to create this if I had to write again. I had to take some lessons from a very impatient daughter to get a hang of creating a blog. I sat through never-ending rolling of eyes at my incompetency. :) Anyways, I am still trying to navigate my way through.

  3. Congratulation for new story di!!!!
    Amazing prologue....
    Awesome start...Naina admiring the nature's of beauty...Beeji and naina conversation nice
    Last part Sound interesting and funny...
    Naina mistook colonel as a kidnapper...
    Wants character-sketch...Eagerly waiting for first part
    Continue soon
    Thanks for pm :)

    1. Thank you Radha. :)

      I am so glad you enjoyed the prologue. I deliberately left the characters test waters. Well get to learn about them as and when the story develops. At the moment I am not sure about the length of it...Let's see. Naina mistaking the Colonel as the kidnapper was natural, as she was accepting the other grandson of Ranima to make an appearance...not this one. Also, it didn't help matters that she had never met him.

  4. Indu, wow! Am so glad you've started a new story and it sounds interesting. Waiting to see more from you!

    1. Thanks Abie. Need the best wishes and the support. God bless you!

  5. Congratz on the new story my dear friend...this is a very intriguing start and I'm already hooked...Bravo :)

    I don't know if it's Naina's fierceness or her sensitivity that attracted me the most of the fact that the owner's grandson is afraid to trust women because of some bad experiences...Whatever the reason I can't wait to find out more about both characters and the people close to them :) :)

    I can totally see those two causing a lot of trouble yet getting close to each other but I can also see the man trying to stop himself from falling for Naina especially because of some bad experiences he had regarding women :( I know that Naina will give him a run for his money and prove to him that all women are not the same :D

    Can't wait for what you've got in store for us....I will love to see the two kids becoming friends and be the bridge that will make their parents to become friends as well ;)

    Good luck Pal and loads of Hugs n Love to you <3

    Sincerely yours, Zet xox

    1. Thanks a ton my dear dear friend. I always maintain that I totally love your very biased and wholehearted support. You never fail to be there whenever I needed you.

      Glad the prologue intrigued a little. That was the idea...just so I get some idea whether I should continue this.

      Naina is going to be quite opposite to Aarti of Samarpan in many ways...a glimpse of which we saw in the prologue. Raj, on the other hand, is going to be a complete foil to her character. Coming from an army background, I wanted to have an army man as a protagonist. Handling his character is going to be a challenge. I am extremely nervous about wording his character. Let's see how much I succeed.

      Once again, thanks. Love you back...:)

    2. My pleasure, Hun....We are an extended family after all, I there for you cause I know that you would do the same for me as well :):)

      Yes you should definitely continue and I know that you will get more readers as the story progresses ;)

      That's great I'm going to get know a character other than my beautiful Aarti and as for Raj well I'm happy that you decided to go with an army man :D...You will do justice to both characters there's no doubt about it.

      Anytime Love! *Hugs*

  6. This has got to be one of the best parts of today...another story from you :-)

    Very inriguing story so far. An interesting start with some background on Naina and then the entry of the Colonel. I'm liking the fact that you have made Naina to be strong yet soft and sensitive as well.

    Beautifully written as always and can't wait to see what is in store for this journey.

    Lots of love,

    1. Hey Saf...Thanks my friend. You are such a confidence booster. A couple of words from you, and I feel as if I am up there somewhere.

      Naina and the Colonel are going to be antagonistic protagonists to start with. I really don't know how this will move Saf. I am hoping the characters will guide me to their ways when I sit down to write. They need to speak to me for me to feel for them and then to word their emotions...Did that make any sense? :)

      Lots of love back to you as well sweet Saf.

    2. Aww you're welcome. You made lots of sense and I'm looking forward to what is in store. I'm pretty confident you will do full justice to this one as well.

  7. Congrats Indu for the new story
    Awesome prologue
    Waiting for the first part
    Thanx for the pm

  8. YAY! another story from you! i am so excited to read this.. the prologue was awesome and definitely creates the needed curiosity and excitement about the story. i am really looking forward to read this story.. hope you update the first chapter soon.. and also some character sketches.

    take care,
    ruchi (princess4120)

    1. Hey Ruchi...I am glad you approve of the prologue. Thanks. This support has boosted my morale to take this forward. As far as character sketches are concerned, I would rather the reader gets to know and understand the characters as the story progresses. Where's the fun, if I tell you all about Naina and Col Raj in the beginning itself? ;)

  9. Hey Indu Di! It's Vanny(MSN_Vanny) :) That was so beautiful!!! I know I shouldn't, but I kept picturing Kratika as Naina and Gurmeet as "Colonel Saab". :) :)

    I'm in love with Naina's character! Strong, yet oozes elegance! (Y)

    Please continue soon and thanks for the PM! *hugs*

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Mohini...Wow! I love your name. No more Vanny for me. :)

      I am glad I have your approval. Let's see how it goes...the tough will be meeting the tough, and well..after that it's anybody's guess. As always I am only following an idea that entered my head and kept tickling me till I took this decision to go through with it. :)...Lots of hugs back to you.

      PS: I miss the IF emoticons so much. :(

  10. Hi, Indu!

    Sorry for the late response...
    Am actually confused where to post my comment, whether here or on I-F.. Coz I hardly open my gmail accnt.

    Good to see that you have upgraded into another level of your writing.
    You have your own blog, so happy for you!
    A new place to hangout..

    About the prologue, I can easily tell that this story will go for another amazing one.. Am loving it already, something that will catch attention from us readers. Something to think about, a suspense one!

    Though it comes with different character name, am still seeing it as Yash and Aarti. Especially when you mentioned the stick. Funny, isn't it.

    Nwei, continue this dear, will be back when I read Chapter 1.

    Btw, thanks for informing me 'bout your new journey, a pleasure to be a part of it..



    1. Hey Barbie....Thanks pal. Welcome to the blog! I am so happy to see you here. I had to shift base because I wanted to write something with characters other than Yash and Aarti. It's a new hangout as you so rightly put...a place we can still communicate even though a lot of us have scattered over the months after PV.

      I'll look forward to your continued presence here.
      Take care. Give my hug to the lil prince. Lots of hugs to you. :)

  11. Hello Indu di!
    U have opened a blog wow!!! It beautiful, Congratulations di <3

    Coming to update; Superb prologue di, something different from aarya nd samarpan, Amazing dear.
    Love naina's character, but I was imagining aarti in her (no one to do my imaginations with :(,)
    Naina is married?
    D last part was hilarious.JKR in action hehehe poor colonel, can't wait to read chapter 1 :)

    Something I have always loved about ur writing is the use of nature di, so cool even from d title"whispers of spring." Lovely dear ;)

    Glad to be part of another amazing write up by u di, will be back for chapter one :)
    See u soon!

    1. Hi Billi...Welcome to the blog my friend! Thank you for your approval for the story. The beginning is most difficult.

      You know I chose Palampur as the backdrop as this place has lingered in my memories from my childhood. I loved the small town in Kangra valley.

      I shall await your opinions as we progress. :)

  12. Hi Indu di finally i made it although my epi on Samarpan is pending but could not resist more
    After reading about characters now i got its not aarya story n your reason to move from if to blog but....i miss you on IF too
    Coming to prologue again a beautiful vision to captivate us is written with feelings of a innocent girl who had some dreams and hopes which as woman once met with real life things become much different what she aspires to be
    the whole ranimaa meenakshi n summer love story sounds a royal fairytale like bed time raja n rani love story we hear but i know once we will move forward we will also found the depth of life across each corner of your story which make us learn and lead a better life for me .
    but one thing i am sorry to say Naina , adi n colnel still i can imagine gurika n divyam in first place the way Naina n colnel encounters n cute nonk jhonk n defing gal frm his father only thats our JKR n his hot breath fall on her n then her features you mention take me aarya land may those characters are so well absorbed by all of us that we could help imagining them
    sorry if you dint intend to make it aarya story
    thanks for your pms n i will come back soon for ch1 till then tc.. love you as always

    Regards,, Riya

  13. Hey Ria...My apologies for the late reply. Work front is a killer at the moment.

    Welcome to "indu's musings." I am so happy to have you here.

    Thank you so much for the sweet, and if I may say so, a very Ria-like straight-from-the-heart comment. Love you. :)

    Yeah, I guess it does have a fairytalish tinge to the ambiance of the story, along with some harsh realities thrown in. Raj is a royal, yet not...He is first a soldier in heart. Naina is a survivor of an ugly past and doesn't believe in letting the past predict the future....and also not letting anyone take a peek into her past. Let's see how this goes from here.

  14. induji!! - ok don't be angry- i'm late to the fun so so so sorry. kan pakad ke sorry. now that i've found your blog again, i'll be reading the story from the start. will leave a comment after each one (even if i get so involved that i want to get to the next part) missed you!

    the first chapter was really interesting and intriguing - waise i tend to like picturing the proceedings when stories are well written. to kahiye, who does naina and colonel look like?

    -rutu (hope i'm not forgotten)

  15. Hi Rutu...Welcome to my blog my dear dear friend. I missed you throughout the penning of this story. I am so happy to have you here. There's no better time than the present. I am looking forward to walking the journey again with you and looking at Raj and Naina and their family n' friends from your outlook. You got me excited again. I woke up this morning to a mini treasure of your comments. Thanks.

    I'll just give you little pen-picture of Raj and Naina. Raj is a tall, handsome ex soldier who took premature retirement from army after being losing a leg in a terrorist bombing. He is good looking as normally all Rajasthani royal rajputs are. A scar on his cheek enhances his appeal rather than diminish it.

    Naina is a petite, stunning beauty with lavish long n' soft hair and an exquisite face that is transparent in its expressions. She has a cute dimple on her chin.