She sat down beside the river. The sun was setting on the other bank, behind a small line of trees. Its pink rays touched the river and turned it crimson.
She wondered if it was with happiness or shyness.
The river water rippled and touched her feet. A cool sensation filled up her body. She stretched her feet and dipped them in the water.
The water softly rippled around her feet as if it was touching her, playing with her.
There was something about water that pulled her like magnet, she often had a dream, or dreams like that, she was falling into water, but after falling she did not drowned, in place of that she could swim in it like fishes do.
She got up, she had to return home before sunset… before dark.
Or else his father will send a search party for her.
“Hey little girl…” her father was waiting on the verandah.
“Hey dad!” she smiled.
A tray with two glasses of lemonades was waiting, ice cold.
“I will be going out on trip tomorrow…. Rani will stay with you till I return…” he said. “Will miss you darling…but will have to go…”
“It’s ok daddy…” she snuggled close to him and laid her head on his shoulder.
He left next morning, early.
His sister Rani came over to stay with Misha.
She was very fond of Misha, and her late mother, who passed away all of a sudden only a month ago.
Misha was very close to her mother, her father was a frequent traveler, rarely at home. At her mother’s request he bought this house on the bank of a mountain river, with huge amount of land on one bank, including a small wood.
The river looked quite nice during summer and winter but in monsoon they could hear it from their bed, roaring, hitting the rocks as it made its way through them.
It looked beautiful- like thunder, like lightning- like erupting volcano.
The deers, rabbits and birds from the woods roamed freely in their land, garden.
It was a lovely place to live in. A place of pure beauty and peace.
Shekhar, Misha’s father was devastated when she passed away.
At first he thought about selling the property, returning to Delhi but Misha begged him to not to.
She too loved this place. She passed every minute of her free time out, away from home, the only time she was home was from sunset to sunrise.
Shekhar has built a treehouse for her in a sturdy tree near the woods, the house was visible from home and guard station, so it was absolutely safe and a piece of heaven for Misha, she often took her books there and studied or read.
It was her personal heaven, no one else went there, they were too busy to join her there, and she just loved that.
It had two rooms, a toilet and a small balcony. A professional treehouse builder was hired to build the house.
The first year after her mother’s death crawled away, then it took its speed, and before she could look back five years have passed since she was gone.
Now she was a sixteen year old girl.
People stopped and looked at her went she walked by.
“Everyone stares at you because you look like elves… not the bad ones… the pretty ones of TLOR…” her best friend has confided in her.
“You are far more prettier than me…” she has told her in return, straight from heart.
She never knew herself, why people looked back at her, but her friend was right, there was that divine glow in her face… the same glow.
“Misha…this is Ragini…” his father introduced her to a young girl, who looked a few years older than her.
“She will stay with us for the weekend…”
“Okay daddy…” she waved at them before heading for her treehouse.
Her addiction to that treehouse have turned into addiction.
six months later, when Anuragini became her stepmother, that treehouse became her main home, she only visited the bungalow for food.
“Misha… ” Shekhar sat down beside her. She was sitting beside the river. “I was thinking… about shifting to Kolkata.”
“Can I stay back here?” Misha asked.
“You know we cant leave you alone here…” Shekhar said.
“Please daddy… I can take care of myself… ” she said.
“Give me some time…” he patted her shoulder and returned to the bungalow.
a pleasant tickling in her feet brought her concentration back to present, she looked at the river, its crystal clear water was sparkling like thousand diamonds.
She hoped and prayed with all her heart … and it was returned.
His father and Anuragini packed up their stuffs and left by the end of the month, “I will come every weekend… you will be fine with Mrs. Morgan (Misha’s governess), Rani will come up regularly too… ”
“There will be a bedroom ready for you in Kolkata… so if you dont like it here… ” Anuragini waved her before entering the car. Her eyes were behind dark glasses, so she could not see them… whether they were relieved or sad.
Rani was waiting for her on the porch. The house was very silent. She could feel something was really wrong. She stood up the minute Misha stepped out of the car.
Misha could see that she has been crying…
“What happened to daddy?” she uttered the words, her heart became numb.
Its been three years since Shekhar got married and shifted to Kolkata, in the first year he has been quite regular in his visits but slowly his visits became sparse.
Misha did not missed him much, when she went to Kolkata she passed a night or two with them, but anuragini’s cunning sweetness and Kolkata’s closet flats were just not for her.
“He committed suicide…” Rani started to sob.
Misha sat down… it was so hard to believe… Why… how but she knew it was not the time to ask questions, Rani was in no condition to answer.
A police jeep stopped in front of the house.
An officer came out of the car. Through him she learned the story. It seemed Anuragini’s extravagant ways was the reason of huge debts in the market. Shekhar’s business crashed and he was about to become penniless. He jumped from his flat’s verandah. Anuragini was out partying with her friends.
It was lucky for Misha that before marrying Shekhar has clearly left a portion of his property, including this house for her, Rani was her guardian till her 21st birthday. There were two more years left for that…
They left for Kolkata.
Anuragini was inconsolable. Rani invited her to stay with Misha, because she was penniless now. Every thing that Shekhar had was gone- to clear the debts.
They knew that Anuragini was orphan, her parents died a few years ago, right before she joined Shekhar’s office.
They returned after Shekhar’s cremation. The last rites were to be held from home.
Misha felt truly sad for Anuragini, she was barely a few years older than her… If she was rich she might have married again easily, but she lost everything with Shekhar.
The house became empty once again after the last rites.
Misha tried to spend some time with Anuragini but failed, she could feel an invisible barrier around the young woman, that kept her away from seeing her.
So it became a polite co existence.
She really missed her father, even though he has not been around much but still she knew he was somewhere happy. She started taking long walks beside the river, feeling its calmness slowly seeping into her heart, she often had a feeling that the river was feeling her pain, keeping her company.
It was late as night, she was walking, thinking about the days when she used to walk with her parents, then her father, now alone… she felt as if life was telling her something.
She walked by a small grove of trees, a sharp whisper made her turn and look, “Did she see us?” the voice was familliar, she turned and their eyes met, it was Anuragini, sitting on a rug, her dishevelled condition and her young companion told her the rest.
“Get her…” was the last words she heard before something hitting her and darkness engulfing her.
Freezing touch of water brought her back to senses, she was sinking fast, something was sucking her down to the depth of the river but she could breathe… she could breathe in the water and see.
She saw something… surreal… it looked like a body made of water, it was setting her free.
The chain dropped away, the being touched her hand, held it, she could understand what he was saying, “You are one of us…” he said.
“You are special… to hide you from his enemies your father placed you inside your human mother’s body. You were supposed to be there till he solved the problems but your stepmother killed you, like she killed your father for his money. That young man you saw, he is her real lover, they trap, seduce middle aged old men and then kill them, usurp the money…”
“Let us see what your father says when he sees you… he is waiting in the ocean.”
She looked down at her own body, there was no flesh… only water.
She smiled and held her companion’s hand, her heart filled up with peace and happiness.