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Thursday 21 December 2017

Holiday at Shiny Valley - Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Den

The next morning they woke up to the loud chirrup of birds and the cow mooing from the shed. After a quick shower, pleasurably shivering in the early morning cold, they eagerly waited for breakfast. It was their all time favorite, piping hot pooris with alu sabzi and fresh jalebis! Neel and Varun made sure they gobbled up all the hot jalebis Bani had made, leaving behind only tiny scraps for the girls. Grandpa tut-tutted at the greedy boys and instructed Bani to make a fresh batch for the girls.

Breakfast done, the children were packed off to help Charan and Bani. Charan made the boys weed the garden and align the bricks in a perfect line on either side of the central cobbled path. The girls helped Bani collect fresh okra and legumes from the kitchen garden. She asked them to pluck some of the beautiful flowers from the front garden and arrange them around the house in attractive bunches. Chores done, they were free to do whatever they fancied until lunch.

They bounded up the wooden staircase to the den and fought over who would sit in the easy-chairs. Soon each of them found a book from the bookshelf and settled down. The girls got busy with old fairy-tale books having whimsical pictures while the boys found a lot of action hero comics that had the most amazing caricatures, way better than the Japanese mangas they were so crazy about back home. 

After a while, they decided to explore the contents of the large wooden trunk next to the bookshelf. It was a treasure trove filled with the most incredible knick-knacks! 
Old black and white albums, a large collection of foreign coins, a box of exquisite seashells and another box full of pebbles, a wooden doll house, a box full of screws, nails and other odds and ends. Then there was an array of forgotten board games to choose from. They decided to play them all. The boys beat the girls at all the games and laughed scornfully at them when the girls played with the doll house. The girls looked blankly at them when they mentioned they should have brought their PSP’s and that set the boys jeering at them again.

By now, the den was a mess with stuff lying scattered all over the place. Mili knew Grandma would be in a tizzy if she saw the mess. She said, “Listen guys, why don’t you two go down and get some snacks for all of us? Reya and I’ll put everything back in the trunk.” The boys masked their looks of relief at having escaped the clean-up chore and dashed off to ply Bani for snacks. Soon they were back with a tray loaded with homemade sweet and savory treats.

Neel happily sank into an easy-chair, a large bowl of treats right beside him and a thick stack of action comics he’d found in the trunk, on his lap. As he flipped through the stack, a card fell down from it. It was an old painting, a handmade postcard. 

It had a lot of greenery and a large cave like opening with a silhouette of a man at the center. He was just about to put it back inside the book when he saw something on the reverse of the painting that made him freeze. He couldn't believe what he was seeing!
The back of the card read:

How could this be? How were their names on the postcard? Who was this “I”? Where is “here”? And today was 21st July 2017! This was so freaky! Neel excitedly called his brother and soon both were whispering in a corner. The girls tried to edge in and peek at the card but the boys wouldn't let them. After a while, they realized they would have to let the girls in on the secret, they still didn't know where “here” was!

The girls in turn shrieked and exclaimed when they saw the front and then the reverse of the card. They knew the place! The girls informed them that the place was on a hillock a little way away, about 2 km from Shiny Valley. It was a large natural cave, centuries old. Its opening was nearly obscured by dense untamed foliage and creepers and people rarely went there.

Chapter 1: Cozy Nest >> Chapter 2: The Den >> Chapter 3: Things get exciting

Read other stories from Nina's World:  Click on tag/label #NinasWorld

Disclaimer: All the characters in the Nina's World series are fictional, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI