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Friday 17 April 2015

The legend of the unbreakable coin

The legend of the unbreakable coin

-K Sreram

Episode 1

"Time can be bent in the most mysterious possible ways"–An old man

Part 1 (part 2 is still pending to be written)

“I send you out to buy tomatoes for fifty two rupees and you come back to tell me that you were robbed? Which robber robs fifty two rupees?” asked Hema to her younger brother Roshan who had just returned home after losing a sum of fifty two rupees to a stranger. He said “I told you! He demanded for the money. He first asked me for some food, claiming to not have eaten for three days. I said I had none, but only had the fifty two rupees which I needed for buying tomatoes”
Hema said “why would you need to tell him how much you had? Of course! Now it makes sense. It’s like approaching a stranger voluntarily and telling him ‘Mr. Robber. I have some money with me. It’s not much, but you may rob me’”.

“Oh come on Hema! He looked scary” said Roshan.

Hema decided to end the conversation saying “Next time let me go to the market. I’ll teach you how to peacefully go to the market, without getting into trouble and return back with tomatoes!”

It’s not possible for a stranger to rob someone of their money and get away with it in their village. People in their village know each other very well, so capturing a robber who was new to their village would be a lot easier for them. It was a Sunday noon and Hema had to prepare the afternoon meal for herself and her brother (Usually they cook together, but Roshan’s exams proved to be a good excuse for him). Hema’s parents own a farmland, so each day they would go to their field to supervise the fieldwork. They were depended on their farmland for their living. Hema was upset with her brother losing their parent’s hard earned money so easily. After about half an hour, she said “Roshan, let’s go. We’ll see how easy it’s to walk all the way to the market and bring back tomatoes”

“Hema you can go by yourself. You won’t need my help, would you?”

“Yes of course! Who is going to help me carry the bags back home?”
Soon they left their double floored house fastening the metal lock that hung on the large wooden door. Their house was at the middle of the large farmland they owned. Nature had always shown their village its soft corner by bringing them enough seasonal showers. Roshan and Hema had never seen any noticeable problems that arose during the seasonal harvest in their village.

They started crossing their field towards the tar road that was few yards away. Roshan said “what if we meet up with that man again?”

Hema said “Roshan, don’t be a coward. He is new to this village, shouting for help will be enough to call the nearest people to our aide”. It’s not common to find vehicles like car crossing their farm, but occasionally carriage trucks and busses would pass by. They walked along the road, which was bounded by trees on both sides. Suddenly Roshan said pointing his index finger towards an old man “he’s the one I have been talking about”. Hema gave him a shot look and turned her attention towards the road.

“Roshan just ignore him. I don’t think he wants anything from us now. We got to go to the market and buy tomatoes, or I won’t be able to cook our lunch. And moreover we can’t be concealed in our house fearing this old man” said Hema looking straight.

But she was wrong. The moment he spotted Hema and Roshan walking past by, he started approaching them. They found it hard to ignore his presence and finally gave up doing so. Roshan turned towards him and said “what do you want now?”
The old man said “I am sorry young man, for steeling your money. I hadn’t eaten for three days”. Hema said “but why did you have to force a young kid like my brother for money? Our villagers are generous. Just asking them for food could have given you enough for a day! They might have also given you a work in their fields so that you won’t have to care about your food”.

The old man said “that’s nice, thank you. Now listen young man. I am going to repay you for your help. Here take this coin. It’s gold”.
Hema immediately said “No we don’t need it. And by the way, what do you mean ‘that’s nice’?” Looking down at her brother she whispered “Roshan, I think this man is crazy. Don’t get that coin from him”. It was too late Roshan had already received the coin. The old man said “dear citizens of earth; this coin now belongs to both of you. You are given the biggest treasure in this entire universe. Battles have been fought, murderous disasters have occurred, to just gain the ownership of this coin in the past. You both own one of the most powerful magical object in this entire universe!”

Hema got the coin from her brother and handed it back to the old man saying “we don’t need it. If it really were that valuable, why would you be a miserable old man striving for food? Shouldn’t you be a king?”

The old man said “Returning this back to me will not reside your ownership. It will find you and return back to you, where ever you are. Neither of you can part with it for the rest of your life. Even if the most obscure case occurs, which causes your ownership of the coin to end before the end of your life, you are bound to certain strict terms from the moment of receiving the coin. You can’t expect me to explain about this further, it’s magical! It takes years to master the art of pure magic”. The villagers in that village were not like most others who believe and rely too much on supernatural beliefs. The word “magic” would be enough to turn any villager against that old man, because most people in that village were against supernatural beliefs and if they were to find someone who claims to have witnessed supernatural incidents they would segregate him calling him a mad man. Hema said “We don’t believe in magic. To be honest, none of our villagers do. If you have come here to start a leaving claiming to do real magic, I am sorry to say that you have chosen the wrong place. Most of the villagers here are literate”.

The old man stared at her for a while and said “This is all I have to say. From now, you are on your own”. He stepped back and started walking past them. Roshan looked at his sister and said “what do we do now?” She said “Roshan, don’t be tempted to believe in such stuff. There are no such things like magic. If there is really something like magic and if I could create thousand gallons of gold coins by just saying a word, why would I even have to consider showing of my powers to someone else? I can keep it a secret and live like a princess”.

They headed back home from the market carrying the bags of tomatoes (and some potatoes) pondering over what that old man said. Roshan kept asking “what if it were real? What if magical forces really exist? We might be able to do anything we like!” Hema simply replied “then it means we have got ourselves into the biggest and the most dangerous mess any kid could get into. And as he said, perhaps for a lifetime

Hema didn’t like her brother considering the possibility of the existence of magic. Whenever he tried to talk about it to her sister her reply would be “knock it off Roshan. You can’t live in a dream world like this. The truth is all around you, not within some small awkward coin, which is not worth a rupee (I don’t believe its gold)”. It was Sunday afternoon and his sister was busy cooking their meal. Their parents haven’t come from work; each Sunday, Hema a high school student of Kavin Roopini metric higher secondary school, studying her ninth standard and her brother Roshan studying his sixth standard in the same school, would cook their lunch themselves. Roshan was not much of a ‘mark scorer’ but Hema was. She always topped her class.

Roshan had mathematics exam the next day and found it hard to get himself to concentrate on the subject. He had just convinced Hema to cook the meal herself by using the exam as his excuse (and in turn she had asked him not to expect her help when she had exams). He was trying hard to solve the maths problems; the more he tried, the more difficult the problems seemed. He thought about all the students in his class who score top ranks in mathematics. ‘How are they managing to read these problems?’ He thought. He remembered his friend Kiran who solves mathematical problems without needing to have seen the solution to the problem before. Whenever he asked Kiran about how he manages to solve the problem himself, the reply he would get is ‘I just proceed with the solution. I see the problem and it just occurs to me what to do next. How can I elaborate this any further?’ Hearing this would make Roshan feel even more miserable; he would start thinking ‘come on! The answer doesn’t occur to me when I look at the math problem! Besides, I tend to feel more irritated on seeing mathematical problems! Does that mean that I am intellectually inferior to him?’

Roshan really tried hard to get himself to solve at least one problem, but he failed to do so miserably. He was really upset with his maths textbook that he threw it away with all his might. The book flew to the other end of the room and fell noisily, along with a sound of a coin rolling on the floor. He was shocked to hear it; because for a second he thought that it could be the same coin. Roshan leapt forward to see what caused that noise. To his astonishment, he found the same coin that was given to him by the old man. He felt a mixture of excitement and fear on seeing it. What if that if the old man was right after all? Do they really own one of the most valuable object in the entire universe?   

He ran to his sister who was cooking their meal. On his arrival, she said “Roshan, I accepted to cook because of your maths exam. I won’t cook alone if you are not in your room studying!” Roshan quickly said “The coin is back” showing her the coin. Hema got shocked for a movement and said “Oh my god! This can’t be. Roshan, did you get the coin back from the old man after I returned it?” Roshan said “How could I have done that without your knowledge. You were right beside me that time. And what do you expect? Neither do I like to have this scary coin nor possess its ownership”

Hema said “If this were all true, we would have to be extra cautious about everything that happens related to this coin. Roshan, even now I refuse to believe this fully. There are a lot of chances that there is another coin like this with the old man.”

“Then are you telling me that someone could have sneaked into our house and placed the other one under my mathematics textbook?”
Hema remarked “We cannot jump to any conclusions now Roshan, we first need to conduct an experiment to decide if this is true.”
“Experiment? What sort of experiment?”

“I have been thinking all the way back home; if it is really true that the coin returns back to us if we were to not have it with us, then burying it somewhere and waiting for it to return will be the best way to test it.”

Roshan was looking at the food that was being cooked while thinking ‘if it really were to return, it would be enough to conform that this coin’s magic is for real. But if it were not to return, then its best to stay where it is. If the old man knew it was gold and had decided to give it to us, then he must have had some trouble with it. Could he have robbed it from someone?’

Roshan said “can we sell it? We get the money for it, and later the coin would return back to us. Then we can sell it again to a different dealer and get the money from him. If the coin doesn’t return back to us let’s not worry about it.” This unwise remark made Hema really mad. She said “Are you mad Roshan? This is not the time for jokes. If this is not a magical coin, then it’s more likely that the old man had stolen it. So the best thing to do will be to tell our parents and return this coin to the police”

The next day, when they were returning back from, they started searching for a place to burying the coin. They went to a place that they believed to be least visited by people (it’s easy to find such places in village, owing to the low population density there. But contrary to this, most cities and towns in India are crowded). It was a barren land, with trees randomly scattered all over the place. A few yards away from that place lay the road that led to their home. Roshan said pointing at a huge Banyan tree “could we use this as our landmark? It ought to gain our attention easily when we come back for this coin.” Hema agreed, because she didn’t have anywhere else to suggest. Hema and Roshan dug a small hole which was two feet deep. Roshan wrapped the coin around an aluminium foil (to make it and laid it gently and covered the hole.

Hema said “Roshan, check your pocket. I don’t think it could have returned back to you”. Roshan checked his pocket, but couldn’t find it back in his pocket. He simply replied “No Hema, I don’t have it”. Hema said “Its fine. Let’s get back home. We have to literally lose it. It won’t consider itself lost if we are standing so close to it”. Roshan never thought that his sister would consider this to be true. Of course he could see disappointment in her eyes once he said he didn’t find it back in his pocket.

They were back home at half past six and they had their dinner served in the table. Roshan’s father said “Roshan, I heard that you have test tomorrow. What is it again? And how did you do your maths test today?” Roshan said to himself ‘I did it horribly’ and said aloud “I don’t know for sure dad, I just think I did well”. His father did not look at Roshan when he spoke. He said “I don’t know Roshan, I don’t know where this is going to lead to. You didn’t show proper performance in your academic part yet, and please don’t deceive me Roshan. Do you know how many of our fellow Villagers are actually sending their kids to a proper school? All money I bring back home are hard earned. So you have to focus on your education Roshan” The hardest part of it is, his father never scolds him. Usually, if you do something good to someone who did something bad to you, it would make them feel really bad for committing that mistake. And moreover he knew clearly that his father works hard for him. He was feeling miserable. He took a scoop of porridge with rice mixed with a little pickle and ate it. He felt bad; it’s not his fault, was it? He tries his best to score but he loses badly. He didn’t have any trouble with any other subjects in his curriculum.

He miserably took another spoon of porridge, and when he started to chew the rice, something cold and metal-like and round in shape hit his teeth. He spat out the porridge to find the coin rolling on the table. He quickly grabbed hold of the coin, before his parents could realise it was gold. He mother said “Roshan, be careful what you eat. What was that?” Roshan and his sister ignored their mother and exchanged looks nervously.

Roshan turned to his mother and said “Mom, I’ll be back” and rushed to his room. In a moment, his sister followed. Back in his room, he could hear his sister’s footsteps approaching him while he was examining the coin. Hema said “Roshan, tell me you didn’t find the coin in the porridge while eating. Anything the size of this coin will be easily noticeable in a bowl of porridge, if I am not mistaken”

Roshan said “Hema, This coin appeared in my mouth from nowhere”

“So this is for real, is it? Then everything that old man said, about being bound to certain terms on gaining this coin is real isn’t it?”

“Terms are no terms, this coin is freaking me out. I need a break from this”

“Ok Roshan, I’ll have the coin.”

“Hema, I wanted to ask. Should we tell this to our parents? Because this sort of involves stuff beyond our wit”

“No Roshan. Proving this to be true will be really hard, especially to people who would stay stubborn from believing it. And think about what consequences this would led to. Evidently they would either approach police authorities to try to make them believe it or make one of our relatives to get to know about it. Each time we make someone believe it, we would be wasting a lot of our time”

“So let’s go and find out if the coin still stays where we buried it”

“Why do you bother Roshan? If it’s already here how could it be there?”

Hema was now holding the coin. She was examining it carefully when Roshan said “You see Hema, this coin is supposed to find us right? If we are able to find the hiding place of the coin, then it wouldn’t have been considered to be lost. How can we say that we lost something if we know for sure where it is? If I had intentionally kept it there to hide it from someone, how can that be same as losing it? We didn’t throw it down a river or lake or something! We hid it in a place where we could find it”

“Ok Roshan, I think you have a point. Let’s check our hiding place tomorrow”
Roshan could not sleep that night. He kept thinking about it through the night. Before he realised that he was asleep, he found himself being vigorously shaken, and heard the words “Roshan. Wake up! Wake up Roshan”. He opened his eyes to see his sister who had her eyes filled with the excitement longing for adventure. He quickly got up and got himself dressed and ready to set out. It was five in the morning and the sun was not up yet. They sneaked down the stairs and towards the main door. Hema unfastened the latch and let Roshan out. She whispered “Mom is in the kitchen cooking breakfast. Now is our chance”. They left the house soon enough and were already on the road that connects with their hiding place. Though it was so early, many people were out and were busy going for work. Roashan and Hema soon arrived at the barren land, with randomly scattered trees, where they hid the coin. It was not difficult finding the hiding spot and Roshan started digging. Hema said “wait” and took out the coin from her pocket and held it to her fist. “Now dig” she said looking at Roshan.

He started digging it slowly with a stick. Soon he found the aluminium foil’s uneven and dirty wrapping. He took it out and started unfolding it. Hema looked at it and said “after all, I guess there are many coins. Still this doesn’t explain how you got that coin from your mouth yesterday night”. Before Roshan could finish unwrapping the aluminium foil, he heard Hema say “Roshan, it’s gone!”
“What?” Asked Roshan showing her the coin which he had just unwrapped. Hema said “the movement you got hold of the coin under that aluminium foil, it disappeared from my hand! It is magical after all!”

“I told you, didn’t I? This coin is magical. Let’s not waste much time and find the old man and ask him about it. He is bound to tell us at least something. And can I take this to school tomorrow?”

“No you can’t, you’ll lose it!” Said Hema.

“Hema, you are quite aware that this coin keeps reappearing somewhere near me. So even if you do refuse to let me take this coin to school today, it’s going to find me and return back to me. But I won’t be able to find it easily. Imagine what would happen if it reappears in my mouth again? I would be forced to spit it out!”     
Roshan’s argument seemed fair enough. Each morning, Roshan and his sister would walk for about half an hour to reach their bus stand. Their school couldn’t provide enough transport facility to allow school students to be picked up from their home.

Hema said “Roshan, be careful with it. Now it is for certain that this coin it magical. We cannot exactly guess the old man’s true intentions and we cannot take chances with it. This object is magical. So does that mean that this is safe? What I really fear is that this could hold a danger that cannot be solved”

“All right, Hema. I’ll take care of myself. Now what is that building? I don’t think it was there here before. How did it come here” said Roshan.

“What building?” Asked Hema, who had the answer to her question the moment she asked. There was an old fashioned castle, with some of its parts in ruins. It had three towers with the fourth one barely in shape. The architectural design had made it look strong enough. It had a huge entrance door which was probably the first thing that caught the sight of Roshan. They had been walking along the same road for fifteen minutes, and the size of the castle was so large that it would have been visible from their house, if it was not for its magic. But they hadn’t noticed it all the way along the road. Hema said “Roshan, is this castle really there?”

“How would I know? But it seems real enough.”

“No Roshan, take a look at it” Hema pointed to a crow that was moving towards the building. It went straight for it and crashed its walls and fell to the floor. Roshan said, “it proves that this castle is solid enough.”
“No Roshan, can’t you see? The crow didn’t notice the castle. Like we didn’t all our way along this road. And we have been walking along this path for a long time and still didn’t notice it. This castle is for real, of course but that doesn’t mean that it was really built. I guess it has something to do with the coin”

“Yeah, good similarity. The coin keeps appearing mysteriously, and so does the castle! It makes sense. So what else are we getting at? Why should this awkward looking castle exist in the first place?”

“Roshan, we have no choice but to find the old man. At least he would be knowing all about this. And about the terms we are bound to, as he said, do you think it would really be true? You gave him your fifty two rupees right? Wasn’t that enough for him?”       

Hema started going towards it when Roshan said “we’ll be late for school”. Hema looked back and said “right. Let’s investigate in the evening”.
Soon they got into the bus which drove them to their school. Roshan couldn’t concentrate in class, he was peeping outside the window staring at the ground. He was suddenly shaken back to reality by a forceful voice which said “Roshan what are you doing? Did you listen to what I said?” Roshan got up and said “Yes ma’am”.

His teacher asked “then tell me Roshan, who invented to telescope?” Roshan said without thinking “Albert Einstein”. The entire class roared with laughter. His teacher took her wooden scale and started beating him up. He was sent out of the class. How miserable he felt. He though ‘we use telescope and I admit that in some cases it’s really required. But why do we have to bother about who invented the telescope? It could be invented by anyone!’ His thoughts started wavering; he thought ‘This educational system should be improved. And what about human rights? Who was she to beat me up? I am a student just learning these stuff thought at school. Teachers have no right to beat children like this.

He kept checking the time to see if the period got over. But he wasn’t having any luck. He always has a belief that time mocks at him. It moves slowly when he really want it to move fast, and it moves fast when he really wants it to move slowly. At that time, even five minutes seemed like for ever. He thought holding the coin in his hand ‘if this is really such a big treasure, why on earth (or probably galaxy, because he called me citizen of earth) would he give this to Hema and me? Are we really that special or something? And who is this man to give us something without asking us if we want it? It’s strange. If this coin is really magical and is one of the most valued treasure in this entire universe, then shouldn’t it give me what I wish for? In many stories, the characters were given the power to ask for a wish. But unfortunately every one of them forget to ask for infinite wishes. If I were to be given that power, I wouldn’t make their mistake’.

He took a closer look at the coin. It had something written on it. There were strange inscriptions on it that didn’t seem to belong to any language in our world. He kept staring at, and to his astonishment the inscriptions seemed to make sense. The small line of writing seemed to say ‘several kingdoms may rise and fall, several galaxies may form and die, but the truth always remains the same’. Roshan got shocked; he flipped the coin over to see if there were any writings behind it. And to his astonishment, there were. It said ‘the truth is the entire universe is concealed within a single grain of sand’.

Rohan shuddered reading it. How could a language he had never seen make sense to him? He thought ‘I have finally got myself into this mess, but how am I going to get out of this? The old man said that it would require a miracle to get me lose its ownership. And moreover, I would still be bound by certain terms. What terms?’ The bell rung and he entered the class the moment the teacher left. He felt that looking outside the window was what drew the attention of his teacher. The next period was maths; again, the way most of his friends answer questions easily made him feel that he was inferior to them intellectually.

Soon it was lunch time and everyone started eating. Their school don’t provide food, each student brings his own food from home. While Roshan was busy eating, he found something tickling in his shoulder. He turned and looked at it. In a second, he sprang to his feet and was moving in circles shouting “get off me!” It was a spider. Not of normal size but was bigger than most spiders he had seen. Before he could conclude that it must be the magic, he heard a gang of mischievous boys rolling with laughter. He turned back and shouted “cut it off! Why do you always do this to me?”

One of the boys said “Oh look at that. The chicken is scared of spiders.” Roshan was helpless. Another boy standing to his left and dressed untidily said “Kumar, didn’t you tell him that we stuffed his bag with two more spiders?” and again they roared with laughter and were shooting insults at him. Roshan said “you are all just a bunch of cowards, you fight me because I don’t fight back. Ajay, remember the day you got beaten up by that eighth standard boy in the ground? You cried for mercy”. In a movement the attention of the others turned towards Ajay. One of them, who was tall and with an overgrown front teeth said “Ah, Ajay. Look at where you stand. Even Roshan insults you!”

This was enough to make Ajay mad. He turned towards him and said “What do you expect? That boy was two years elder to me!” Roshan quickly said “Losers find reasons for their failure”. Ajay felt really embarrassed among his friends. He said “Roshan, tell me. What good are you in fighting someone? You are scared of spiders aren’t you?” Roshan realised that it was high time for him to stop the argument. But his temper held him from doing so. He said “I am a coward. I accept. But do you? You are a chicken who is afraid to accept his mistakes”. ‘Oh god’ thought Roshan. ‘This could start a fist fight. Now I am really scared. I don’t think even compromising is going to work now. But at least-’.

Ajay said forcefully “You don’t talk about fighting. Did you forget the last time you got hit by me? You possibly can’t have.”

“Ajay, talk all you want; but you are still a bad loser. Don’t call yourself great Ajay, because you are a toddler in fighting”     
The next second, Ajay stepped forward and punched Roshan hard on his nose. He felt his nose bleeding. He looked helpless in front of everyone. The light around him seemed to get more dimmer for a second and became normal. Sitting on the floor, he held his hand to his nose trying to stop the bleeding. He almost rolled with pain. Drowsiness filled his head, making him lose his concentration on what was happening around him. Suddenly, he felt that the coin in his pocket was burning. He couldn’t bare the heat it was liberating. With much difficulty, he took out the coin (which looked like it was burning red hot but his hand couldn’t feel its heat) and tossed it away, without looking.  

He didn’t aim for Ajay, but when he looked up, he found that Ajay was badly burnt in many places including his face. He roared with fear and pain and rolled on the floor unbearably; but he was not bleeding. All the students there shifted their attention to Ajay. They all broke into a silent conversation. At that time, he felt footsteps rushing towards the class. He expected to see his teacher rush into the room, but instead it was his sister who had come. How pleased h was to see her! She placed a cloth drenched with cold water on her brother’s nose to stop his bleeding. Roshan said “the coin didn’t do this to me. It was Ajay.”  

“I knew it. My friend told me about the spider. When I was coming to your aid, another friend of mine came and reported that you were bleeding in the nose. Anyway Roshan, what is all this? What did you do to Ajay?”

“Hema, how many more minutes are left for the lunch time to get over?”

“About fifteen minutes. Now tell me Roshan, what did you do to him?”

“The coin in my pocket started to grow hotter each second after he hit me, I couldn’t bare two pains at the same time. So I took it out and tossed it around aimlessly. But you won’t believe what happened. The coin changed direction and hit Ajay twice on his forehead and once on his right hand and fell down. Before I couldn’t concentrate on what happened fully because I was shaken by the pain in my nose; he started rolling on the floor with pain. Now I am really scared sister, this coin looks dangerous”.

“All these weren’t coincidence Roshan. The movement I heard you were beaten up in the nose, I had a strong wish to beat up Ajay with a burning rod. Looking at what happened, he seemed to have been beaten up with a burning rod! I seem to believe that the coin was trying to protect you”. Saying this she picked up the coin which lay a few feet away from Rosham

The moment she finished talking, the class teacher and the department head approached Ajay to examine his wound; but astonishingly, he had no wounds or burns. He seemed perfectly alright; he looked perfectly well. Roshan brought up his courage to say “ma’am, he bet me up and found me bleeding badly. So he pretended to be beaten up to make everyone believe I bet him”

The department head turned towards Ajay and said “you broke his nose and tried to cover it up acting to be beaten up badly? You are suspended for fifteen days. I don’t want to see you in this school from tomorrow for fifteen days; we’ll inform your parents”. Roshan was given first aid and was made to take rest. After the class ended, he stood waiting for his sister to return from her class. One of his friends approached Roshan and said “Roshan, what you did there at school was wonderful!”

Roshan seemed to avoid any conversation related to what happened during the lunch time. He didn’t want to reveal the secret about the coin. Rohan said “Roshan, how did all that happen. You must have an explanation. Ajay looked burnt until our ma’am came in”.

Roshan said “He was acting”

“No he was not! He was in pain”

“Then can you show me his wounds?”

“Please I know that you are hiding something. I swear I saw the wounds on him”

“You might have imagined it”.

Something unexpected caught Roshan’s eye. He found the old man standing near the compound wall opposite to him. Roshan said “wait a second. I need to meet someone.” He had started running towards the old man. Rohan said “meet someone? Who?” And followed Roshan. Roshan ran towards the old man and soon found himself standing beside him. Roshan said “ask this old man if you want to know the truth” pointing at him. Rohan looked in that direction and said “ask who? I don’t see anyone”.

Roshan said “That man! Can’t you see him?”

“No I can’t”

The old man said to Roshan “It’s ok to tell him the truth”. The moment he said it, he disappeared. Rohan asked “What’s going on. I don’t see anyone”.

“Rohan, its magic”

Just that instant he saw his sister approaching him. She saw Roshan with Rohan, so she said “Rohan, I want to have a word alone with my brother. Do you mind?”
Roshan said “It’s ok Hema. The old man said that it’s not a problem to tell him the truth. We can tell him”.

Hema hesitated for a movement; something made her think that she has to trust him and so she did. Hema said “We need to find the old man. This magical coin looks dangerous”

“What magical coin?” Asked Rohan.

“Roshan, didn’t you tell him?”

They narrated the entire story to Rohan. Rohan found it exiting to hear what he was hearing. ‘After all magic is real’ he thought and said “This is impossible. Ok at least show me the castle. And let me handle the coin, after all its going to get back to you”.

Roshan said “I am sorry Rohan. We need to ask the old man if we can let you touch it. This coin is more dangerous than it looks. It had beaten up Ajay so badly and made all the wounds disappear”

Rohan said “So you don’t trust me! I won’t run away with it. And moreover, you said you don’t didn’t completely trust the old man, didn’t you? If that is the case, trust me better than you trust him!”

“The old man said that I won this coin, but if I were to give it to you, I can’t say if it would change its owner”

“So you still think I am trying to gain its ownership right? You say that this is a magical coin, but I haven’t seen anything uncommon with it (perhaps the symbol it holds looks different)”.

“Rohan, it’s for your own good. We don’t know what this will do next. So please wait”

“Ok fine. But once you meet the old man and ask him about it, and if he does say that its fine to let me take a look at that coin, then you ought to let me handle it”.

“Fine. But let’s first find him. I have a lot of questions flooding my mind”
Rohan, Hema and Roshan went to the place where they found the castle. Rohan looked upset when he glanced up to see if he could find a castle “I seem to think you are trying to make a fool out of me. I don’t see any castle here” said Rohan.
Roshan said “Rohan, I guess we are the only ones who could see it. Hema why don’t we go near it?”

Hema said “what if it’s not safe? We are bringing Rohan with us. It will be utterly our fault if anything happens to him”

They were standing on the lonely road, with no one around. To their left was the half ruined castle that hid the setting sun. Roshan said “do you see this shadow?” pointing at the castle’s shadow. Rohan said “yes I see it!”

“Wait, you see the shadow but not the castlt!” said Hema.

“That’s strange” added Roshan.

“I don’t know for sure, this shadow is shaped like a castle alright, but could the invisible castle be casting it?”

Hema asked “What do you mean”

Rohan said “how can you expect a shadow to be formed if the castle is invisible?”

Hema thought for a while and said “perhaps the magic plays tricks on your mind”
Rohan leapt forward and said “It’s incredible, let me take a picture of it”, pulling out his cellular phone to take a snap of the shadow. Roshan said “Do you really bring your cell phone to school?”

Hema said “now that’s not important” trying to snatch the cell phone from Rohan. Rohan said “I am taking a picture of this. It’s my phone and this is a public road. Who are you to prevent me from taking a snap?”

Roshan said, fighting hard to stop Rohan from taking a photo “We showed you this place!”
Rohan said, fighting back from Roshan and his sister and falling to the ground “I bet you don’t own this place. Who are you to prevent me from taking a photograph of this place?”

Roshan tossed himself forward and they both rolled on the sandy road fighting. Roshan clutching and pulling Rohan’s hair with his right hand and used his left hand to prevent Rohan from hitting him. Rohan had the phone in one hand and fought with the other. Suddenly Roshan saw a flash of light from the phone and saw the image of the castle photographed in his phone. He heard his sister cry “cut it out you two!”

Rohan said “I see the castle”.

Both Roshan and Hema were dumbstruck. Roshan asked getting up “do you really see the castle?” Rohan said “I see it in the photograph”. Hema said “Roshan, then I guess the castle really exist. It might be the magic that prevented Rohan from seeing it. But this camera captures and detects light to produce the image”

Rohan said “so are you coming to say that the magic is making me imaging that this castle does not exist?” Hema now turned towards Rohan and said “Rohan, you must have some nerve, bringing cell phone to school”. Roshan said “Now we really got to meet the old man. If someone was to give us something so important like this coin, and if he doesn’t show up, I bet we are in great trouble”.

“You are wrong!” Said a voice Hema and Roshan were longing to hear. “Hema, Roshan don’t worry. I’ll guide you”. Both Hema and Roshan approached the old man, while Rohan tried to photograph in the direction they were moving to see if his phone could capture the old man’s image. But unfortunately, he could only see Hema and Roshan in his photograph. The old man said “Many years ago, there was a world just like your world, but a world filled with magical powers. It was a magical world where every living thing there got what it wanted. There was just one being which was so greedy that it took the entire world for itself. In this world, it’s called human. Humans in that world were hungry for power, which caused them to wage war and cause chaotic imbalance to the entire world. Every other living being was influenced by these human’s. Human’s misused magic, by using it to cause destruction. I am not an ordinary old man who belongs to this world; I am the magical force that powered that other world with magic. Now, that world is destroyed to ashes and the entire worldly cycle had finally come to an end. But there is just one thing missing. A map. I need a map. The map which will guide me back to where I belong. You both, and perhaps that little friend of yours can help me find the map. Only the one with the coin I gave you that day can possibly hold that map. Please! I am depending on you!”
Roshan asked “Which is your home? Where are you planning to go once you get the map?”

The old man said “Back to my home. My job is over. My job was to empower that world with magic until its time’s over, and now it’s time is over! I can now freely go back to my home. I just want the map”

Hema said “Why can’t you ask the police man for directions?”

Roshan said “Hema, are you mad?”

The old man said “It’s ok Roshan; my home is not in this world. My home itself is an entire galaxy. It’s been a long time I met my parents and brothers. So please, could you both get the map for me?”

Roshan and Hema exchanged looks. Roshan said “Hema what do we do?” Hema looked at the castle and said “What would happen if we were to refuse to do this job for you?”

The old man said “Refuse? Seriously, no one in the past, present and future have ever refused to do what I said”

Hema persistently asked “I am serious. What would happen if we refused to do the work”.

The old man stared at Hema’s face. Hema said “after all you are the magical force that empowers an entire world. If taking the map is going to be easy, why wouldn’t you do it? I mean, having all the powers in this world. Or possibly, if you really want to get the work done by us, what is stopping you from using your magical force to make us respond to your words. It would be much easier right? Rather than negotiating with us.”

The old man said “Whatever may be the cause, I won’t indulge myself in activities that are resounded out to be evil. By job in that world is over. Now I have no power over this world as this world is not mine to monitor. So I cannot use my magic without any cause. I really need your help. I want to go back to where I belong”. Hema said “Ok, then say why can’t you take the map yourself?”
“Hema, that map is now in your world. I don’t have to right to take what belongs to this world without being given by someone else. I happened to find your brother Roshan, and I had decided to give him that coin. I can totally do nothing if you refuse to do this for me, neither can I claim back the ownership of that coin. So I will be bound to this world for eternity. I will have to wait for another planet that supports life to form and meet someone there and make them accept to get the map for me. If you refuse, the only problem is that I will have to wait for another one million years to get back to my place.”

Hema thought for a while and said “Ok. We’ll help you out with this. But on one condition. You must never bother us anymore”. The old man simply accepted to this. Hema, Rohan and Roshan finally decided to enter the castle. Rohan said “Roshan, ask the old man if he know where the magical map is”. Roshan looked at the old man and said “At least do you know about this castle”.

The old man said “Yes I do know”.

“Then tell me, where can we really find the map?”
“I am glad that you asked. I wouldn’t be able to tell it to anyone unless they ask me. It’s a curse I received from the place where I am coming from. Walk along the main hall, which is the next room to the entrance and try and find an old dusty book shelf with inceptions written with golden words. Hema, Roshan, you would be able to understand the writing on the shelf if you concentrate. Follow the instructions and find the map. Once you have the map with you, unroll it and bring it to me. Remember, if you fail to not do exactly what the golden inceptions says, you will be lost in there for ever. Even with all the powers in the world, you won’t be able to get out”

Hema said “You never said it was this dangerous. I now refuse to help you!”

“Hema, you accepted for it. The movement you accepted it, you were magically bonded to do the task. By accepting it, you have given me the power to hurt you if you don’t listen.”

Hema asked “I was the one who agreed to it. So will you be able to hurt my brother and his friend?”

“No I wouldn’t. Especially because I don’t belong to this world. But Hema, you will have to do it.”

Hema immediately looked at her brother and shouted “Run Roshan. Don’t care what happens to me. Save yourself”. The moment she said this, she felt something burning in her left hand. The pain in her left hand intensified each second. She started crying in pain shouting “Run!” Roshan and Rohan didn’t respond to her. Roshan ran towards the old man but to his astonishment, he passed through him. The old man was not materialised. He said “Roshan, I am not an ordinary old man made of blood and flush-” Hema cried in pain again when Roshan said “Stop it! Ok I’ll do it. I’ll DO IT!!!”

The old man waved his hand and Hema stopped crying in pain. Both Hema and Roshan are bonded to do the task. Hema turned to Rohan and said “We are in this mess now. Don’t get yourself to it. I know that you don’t see the old man. Rohan, run away from here”. Rohan hesitated for a second and said “I-I’ll help”.
This was something unexpected. Neither Hema nor Roshan predicted he would stay for them”. The movement he said it, he was able to see the old man and the castle clearly. For a second he got shocked, but soon got relived of it. He went towards Roshan and said “I have no choice but to come with you”.
The old man had a wicked smile in his face. Roshan said “We are going to help you right? Will you at least tell us one thing? Why did this coin hit Ajay?”
The old man looked at him and said “Ajay hit you and committed ‘crime’ according to the coin. And Hema chose his punishment. That punishment was fulfilled. The movement the teacher appeared, you wished for his wounds to become healed to erase all evidences. And so it happened as you wished. It won’t grant you wishes or anything. It will protect you.”

“I just wished you be punished severely the moment my sister started suffering from pain. Why didn’t that happen?”

The old man looked at Roshan and said “as for now, this magical coin cannot protect you against two things. One this castle and second it’s from me!”
Rohan said “you are so awful. You read other’s mind do you?”

“Yes I do”

Hema said “we’ll get in and get you the map. After which you accept to not trouble us anymore!”

“Ok, we have a deal. To add to it, I had already paid you for your help in the form of this coin. Now get in and come back out safely. If you don’t make it, you will not be the only loser. I desperately need the map. So even I would lose. Something in me said that you and your brother were opt for the job. So I chose you for it”

To be continued as part 2…….
copyright 2015 K Sreram. All rights reserved

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