Friday, November 11, 2016

The House on the Hill

The house on the hill had always fascinated Rahul.  But he never dared to go there.  No one did.  Because they said it was haunted.  Haunted by fairies.

“Miss, aren’t fairies wicked?”  Rahul asked his teacher one day.  She, the English teacher, had just narrated a fairy tale in the class.  It was the story of a beautiful fairy that went around playing little mischievous tricks on people in order to teach them a lesson.  Her name was Pansy.  She also helped people when they were in need.

“Fairies are not wicked,” answered the teacher.  “They are just mischievous.  Like children.”

Rahul decided to visit the house on the hill and meet the fairy who lived in it.

His heart was pounding when he stood in front of the house.  The house looked like an old palace.  Old it was, yet clean too as if someone had been maintaining it regularly.  But the fountain in the front yard gave the impression of desolation.  It was not working.  Probably it never did in the last many years.  Twigs and dry leaves lay scattered covering the pool surface like a ragged blanket.

The door creaked a little when Rahul pushed it open.  As soon as he entered what looked like a hall of mirrors the door shut by itself.  Rahul saw infinite Rahuls around him.  Not even the door was visible.  There were only mirrors and Rahuls in mirrors.  When Rahul was scared, all the Rahuls were scared.  When Rahul made faces, all the Rahuls made faces back at him.  When he smiled they smiled too.

“Every action has an equal and similar reaction,” said Rahul softly, modifying Newton’s third law of motion which he had learnt a few days back.

Every action has an equal and similar reaction.

Who had said it?  His words had been repeated by someone.  He looked around.  All he could find were the infinite number of Rahuls turning around frantically in the mirrors.

He pushed one of the mirrors and it opened like a door.  He stepped into the passageway whose walls bore candle-like lamps.  He was not sure whether they were electric lamps or oil lamps.  They were different from all the lamps he had ever seen.

He walked through the passageway until he reached an arched doorway.  The arches and jambs of the door were golden in colour and they glittered.  The door was multicoloured with lots of paints of different colours splashed.  Like a piece of modern art, thought Rahul.  He looked at it more closely.  Did it resemble a bunch of flowers?

Rahul opened the door.  It was another hall.  There were no mirrors.  There was a sparkling throne in the centre of one side and equally beautiful chairs all along the side walls.  Rahul walked up and touched the throne. He caressed its soft curves.

“What are you doing here, Rahul?”

It was a woman’s voice.  Rahul turned around to see a small girl-like figure with wings hovering above him in the air.  She was like the fairies in Rahul’s English teacher’s tales.

“How do you know my name?” Rahul asked without showing his fear.

“I asked you a question and you must answer it first.  That’s part of the good manners we follow here.”

“We?” Rahul expressed surprise.  “Are there many like you here?”

The fairy smiled.  “Seems that you’re not a good student,” said she descending from the air and standing near Rahul.  She was quite as tall as Rahul.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Rahul said very politely. He understood what she meant.  “I came here to meet the fairy who lives here.”

“I’m Pansy, the queen of this palace.”

“Queen!  But you have no crown.”

“Crown?  Why do I need a crown?  I have no complex to hide.”

“What’s a complex?” Rahul was perplexed.

“Complex is thinking that you are what you are not.”

That sounded quite different from what Rahul had ever studied at school.  But he did not ask for clarification.  He thought he would understand better when he saw more of the fairyland.

Pansy agreed to take Rahul around and show him her queendom.  [If a queen was the ruler the country cannot be ‘kingdom’, thought Rahul, it must be queendom.]

“Just close your eyes and open them after three seconds.”

Rahul did as he was told.  In those three seconds he remembered that odd numbers were associated with mystery. His English teacher had told him that.  But when he asked his Maths teacher why odd numbers were associated with mystery, he said, “There are no mysteries in Maths.  Don’t talk rubbish.”

When he opened his eyes he was standing inside an indoor stadium.  There were many fairies in the stadium and they were playing cricket.  Soon Rahul noticed that there were no umpires or score keepers.

“Games are an entertainment by themselves,” explained Pansy when Rahul asked about umpires.  “So why should anyone break the rules?”

“What about the score?  How do you know who wins and who loses?”

“Win and lose?  What does that mean?  They are playing a game, and not trying to defeat anyone.”

“What’s the fun in a game if you don’t win it?”

“The game is the fun.  How can there be fun when you ... what did you say, win?”

“Yes, win.  That’s what we play for.  We want to win.”

“How do you win?”

“When the opponent loses.”

“Who is an opponent?”

“The other players.  The other team.”

“So, winning means showing that you are better than the others.  Is that right?”


“Do you want to win when you play a game?”

“Of course.”

“Then you are in need of a crown.”

Rahul looked at her questioningly.  This is indeed fairyland; there’s no logic here, he said to himself.

“Do you never wish to win?”  Rahul asked Pansy as they started walking to where she led him.

“Certainly, yes.  When we fight with the demons we fight to win.  But that’s a fight and not a game.  And we don’t call it winning.  We call it overcoming.”


“Ah, demons.  They also live in our jungles.  And sometimes they want to fight with us.”

“Why do they fight with you?”

Pansy looked at him and smiled.  “Don’t you have wars in your world?”

“Yes, and there are reasons for them.”

“Tell me some of the reasons.”

“One country wants some land or oil or something else belonging to another, sometimes wars are fought because the people of the other country believe in some other religion, a country like America wants to be the only superpower in the world, or... oh, there are so many reasons for a war.”

“No, not so many reasons, but one reason: discontent.  It’s the same with the demons.  They are never satisfied with what they have.  They always want more and more.  So they attack us.”

Pansy had led him into a garden in which grew trees of various types bearing different kinds of fruits.

“Lovely fruits,” said Rahul looking at the fruits.  They were all new to him.

Pansy plucked one fruit from a tree and gave it to Rahul.

“Drink it.”  She opened a part of the fruit as if it were a soft drink can.

Rahul drank the content, a honey-like liquid.  He felt refreshed and more energetic.

“There’s something special about that fruit.  I feel different now,” said Rahul.

“You won’t feel hungry or thirsty for a long while now.  It’s an energy fruit,” explained Pansy.

“All foods provide energy, don’t they?” Rahul remembered his biology lessons.

“Of course, but some foods provide more energy than others.  It all depends on how much matter is compressed in the form of energy in a particular food.”

“Matter and energy,” reflected Rahul.  “We had a scientist,” he said, “Einstein, who discovered an equation between matter and energy. E = mc2. An object can give as much energy as the product of its mass with the square of the speed of light.”

Pansy looked at him quizzically.  “We don’t need so many meaningless words to understand simple things,” she said.

“What do you mean?  It’s no simple thing.  Einstein was a genius.”

“Even you may be a genius, Rahul.  A genius is one who observes carefully the reality around.  If you observe carefully the reality will reveal itself to you.  But foolish people need big words to understand simple things.  Perhaps, that’s why your Einstein used so many big words: to give his knowledge to others who are not as intelligent.”

“But how will I ever observe that matter is another form of energy?” Rahul was perplexed.

“Okay, watch what’s happening?” She made some motions with her hand and Rahul became invisible.

“Hey, what have you done to me?” He was astounded.  He felt totally weightless.  

“I have converted you into energy.  It doesn’t need any equation, you see.”

Rahul realised that he could fly now.  He made a circle in the air.

“How did you do it?”

“I will teach you.  But you have to learn many other simpler things first.”

“Such as?”

“All knowledge is responsibility,” said Pansy as she made some motions with her hand and Rahul became visible again.  “Those who don’t know that misuse knowledge.  That’s why there’s so much evil in the world.  Evil is misuse of knowledge.  Sometimes evil is done also out of ignorance.  Did you know that?”

“No,” admitted Rahul.

“You have to learn many such things before you learn bigger lessons.  Bigger lessons means bigger responsibilities, always remember that.”

“When will you start teaching me?”

“Now you have to go home.  Your mother is looking for you.  You will come to me again tomorrow.”

Rahul realised that what she said was a statement, a prediction, rather than an order or a question.  When you know something, you can predict.  It is when you don’t know enough that you have to ask questions or issue orders, he thought.

“You’re already becoming a good student,” said Pansy as if she had read his thoughts.

“Can you read my mind?”

She smiled, “Didn’t your scientist discover any equation for thoughts and words?”

Rahul understood what she meant.  He also knew that his mother had started looking for him.  Knowledge is responsibility, he recollected.

“I must go now,” he said.

“Good you realise it.”

“I’ll come tomorrow.”

“I know.”

Rahul’s heart pounded with joy as he ran down the hill.

PS. This was written some ten years ago when life had not permeated my being with cynicism.  Today I keep myself far away from little children lest I taint them with the cynicism I gathered from a lot of sanctimonious people who passed through my life.  That is to say, I won't be able to write a children's story now.  The latest Indispire theme #ChildrensDay prompted me to post this now.  

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wow....beautifully written. So many complicated things are explained in such a simple way. I am glad to read it.

  3. नोटबंदी के बाद डिजिटल पेमेंट पर जोर, जानें क्या है डिजिटल पेमेंट


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