Rekha Valliappan writes / blogs in multiple forms and genres. She lives in New York. She has an M.A. in English Literature fromMadras University and an LL.B. from the University of London. Her influences are issues of social justice, people, nature and places - real or imagined. She is fascinated with the macabre and exploring fantasy, history and mystery. She has had the opportunity to travel North America, Europe and Asia. Her short story 'The Copper Amulet and The Ginger Cat' won Boston Accent Lit's 2nd Prize in their Annual Short Story Contest 2016. Her other prose pieces are forthcoming or featured in Indiana Voice Journal, Third Flatiron, Friday Flash Fiction, Scarlet Leaf Review, 100 Voices Anthology and Intellectual Refuge among others. Born in Bombay she is actively involved in community service and looks to Asia for inspiration in her writing.
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"It's a bonny thing," said Holmes holding the stone against the light. "Just
see how it glints and sparkles...blue in shade...it has already a sinister
history. There have been two murders, a vitriol-throwing, a suicide, and
several robberies brought about for the sake of this...crystallized charcoal..."
- Arthur Conan Doyle
A star rode the heavens over a hundred years ago - the Queen of the mother
lode. She streaked through the midnight blue of the firmament into folklore -
an indigo star sapphire, little known at the time she appeared but rising to
such priceless rarity as to be unmatched; in color so intense as to outshine
the darkest hues of the deepest oceans; in radiance so bright as to light up
an entire palace; in luminosity so stellar as to magnify astral galaxies; in
etymology so Sophoclean as to invite crime. A rare and sinister jewel - loved
and feared, reviled and admired - mined from centuries old bedrock and
shale deep within the crusted bowels of the earth. Some people would
affectionately call her 'Neela / Blue'. Others Bombay Blue. The name would
stick, carrying down the ages - this 'Jewel of the Crown.'
One monsoon day in July this tale began, a day in chronology most
casual storytellers recall. It was the day an unknown gem obtained its
comet's tail of grandiosity to streak in a fiery orb, and then just as suddenly
as it emerged to mysteriously vanish into the ether in a puff of blue opium
mist - here one moment, gone the next. Pffft! The inexplicable simplicity of
its disappearance could only be thought of as illusionary, like the classic
Indian rope trick - first the rope, then the assistant, then the magician. Till
voila! All re-appeared. Hypnotic thrall? Perhaps.
Only in this case the smoke and mirage sleight of hand displayed a
certain trickery and thievery too weighty to be taken lightly. Bombay Blue
after all was a priceless stone capable of carrying far-reaching consequences.
Two fateful days would solemnly unfold to reveal a stain smudging the
archives like a blot of blue ink. Under cover of the magic veil it would bring
a motley crowd to the crossroads. They had been on disparate tracks living a
helter skelter existence in a Dionysian bacchic fury of sorts.
Torrential rains raged that day creating swollen rivers in flood. With
rising sea tides the gushing waters spilled onto roadways, entering homes
and snarling daily life. Although relief from the heat and dust was the much
needed deliverance from the unrelenting sun, what the deluge did in fact do
was provide the seminal backdrop for the Trimurti Triumvirate - the Troika
The first was the annual 'Guru Purnima' festival of the full moon,
dedicated to the Teacher and Knowledge being celebrated with the usual
gusto and religiosity. The second was the arrival of a new Director out of
King's Cross to take stewardship of the prestigious Bombay Museum of
Antiquities - a dark somber building with stone interiors, reticent to spill
secrets from within its textured confines. The third was the announcement
from Whitehall of HH the Prince of Wales' imminent state visit.
It was widely rumored the real cause of the visit was to finagle
Bombay Blue to London and see the gem properly installed with honors
befitting her star status in the 'Durbar Room' on the Isle of Wight. If the
Queen could not go to India. India would be brought to the Queen and some
such rarity of definition.
Three catalytic events suddenly found themselves fated to coincide -
one celebratory, another promising, the third controversial. Three disparate
and divergent happenings met to clash then merge like a Triveni Sangam
confluence of three holy rivers - Ganges-Saraswati-Yamuna - to regurgitate.
Clear, brackish, hidden.
Tipu Sultan's metal sword of manifold skirmishes gleamed wickedly
from the far end of the spacious exhibits hall on the upper floor. The entire
staff was caught flat-footed that fatal day, sipping steaming hot Darjeeling
tea in new chinaware, as they welcomed the new Director into their midst.
Usually the morning ritual was masala chai spiced variety from the hawker
stall across the street. But today was special.
Pandemonium broke loose as panic set in. Maniacal fear like a Bengal
Tiger was unleashed to roam the city streets, at the conjuring skill of the
thievery, leaving no traces behind. This spread the aura of mysticism big
time, large scale. Gradually acrimony surfaced, when the stealth felt too
good to be true. Eventually all were befuddled. It felt like a medieval
morality play of everyman on a pilgrimage with a cast of characters who had
lost control of their underlying beliefs.
The narrow aisles, offices, the Great Room were feverishly searched.
They revealing nothing. All assemblage seemed untouched, inveigled with a
calm Grecian serenity of overruling destiny in pantomime as the ancient
artifacts paused reverentially. Only the blue sapphire was missing.
Neela Rai the Floor Supervisor ensconced on the upper floor was
exhausted. Hit by the bolt from the blue she had completed full inventory of
all objets d'art for the fifth time that afternoon with nothing new to report.
The blue jewel had vanished. The empty glass display pedestal in which the
titillating gemstone resided lay serene as it always did - unbroken and
Only now it was empty.
Amidst the sea of others all else was intact - the black obelisk at the
far end; bronze tiger-coins predating the Indus Valley Harappa Civilization
at the other; two gigantic 'nandi' bulls in alabaster across; broken pieces of
miscellaneous dated clay pottery to the fore; a tribal silver talisman
blackened with age in the center and the ceiling to floor rich cloth hangings,
painted with colorful folk tales from the Panchatantra along the walls.
Neela returned to her desk cataloguing all minute details perceived
into leather bound ledgers which she carefully dated. She would have the
Report to prepare on the Remington typewriter with its misaligned keys,
which only she could disengage. It was her job, one she was good at. She
had better get to work. They would be needing her ledgers. They were a well
crafted work of art, containing measurements, drawings and designs, filled
with all manner of intricate details of every entry and stock. She was proud
of her work with every exhibit.
While a cold fear gripped her at the treachery of the disappearance,
the significance of the auspicious coincidental date was not missed - Guru
Purnima. This was a day of worship manifesting Wisdom and Abundance.
The jewel would turn up she consoled herself uneasily. How could it be
The inconsolable part was that she might have to flimsily hang on by
the skin of her teeth for one more day. Just one day more - tomorrow - when
she would retire from two decades of unblemished service as the first female
She shuddered at the thought, mind numb with despair, casting an
experienced eye around through the murky afternoon, willing the blue jewel
to appear. She knew this could not be. The Guru the Teacher was leading.
He would show the way when He was ready, when all would be unmasked.
The rest was unsubstantiated. She just knew.
Deep from within the alcove buttressed between two thick pillars, the
large stone statue of Lord Shiva in Repose from the ancient Gupta period
gazed at her unblinking with a fixed disconcerting stare. His third all-seeing
eye signaled a blazing light that grew intensely red and inflamed. Neela
shivered involuntarily consumed by the fire.
She turned away to hide her agitation, thankfully distracted when she
spotted the Records Clerk moving furtively.
"What is it Bannerjee?" she called out firmly.
"Nothing Madam," Bannerjee gave a start jumping awkwardly
sideways. Caught red-handed hovering outside the main office door he did
his best to convey the impression he had been latching the window shutters
against the pelting rain. But the worry on his countenance was apparent.
The new Director had been closeted with the antiquary for over an
hour, venting his spleen like a puritanical Renaissance monk incensed by
despotic rule and corruption. This was clearly not a good sign. Breaking out
into cold sweat was called for. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
"Tiny bad luck stone," Bannerjee muttered accusingly under his
breath for want of something to say. He felt more beset with guilt at being
caught eavesdropping. He kept his gaze averted, avoiding looking directly at
"Is that what you heard Sir Brownlow say?" Neela cornered him
fiercely. "You really shouldn't be listening at keyholes. And its not a small
gemstone. 600 carats! That's very large."
"Sir saying mystery cannot solve till cow coming home..." Bannerjee
revealed unapologetically. He ignored her for the most part mumbling to
himself while jotting the phrase in his little notebook he had sewn by hand
out of loose pages, which he carried everywhere.
"Old wives tale, besides gems do not bring bad luck. Someone has taken it."
"Wife you say? People losing fingers and foots. Evil stone no good.
One fellow two eye digging out, other fellow full tongue pulling out."
"There you go spreading rumors again. Where do you pick up such
gory stories? We are in the age of science and reason. Don't you forget. We
have a duty to use our wisdom well."
"But Madam...evil eye walking by own magical power..." Bannerjee
rolled his eyes upwards in mock alarm, crossed them, then rotated them to
convey the horror of her stupidity.
"No 'buts'...and stop such foolish talk..." Neela felt overwhelmed with
"As you wish Madam....but evil gem not be coming back...."
"Gemstones don't walk away by themselves. It will return. It must."
"As you wish Madam...."
The overhead fans whirred slowly, struggling at each rotation. Each
blade creaked and grunted. Ordinarily their loud metallic sounds would have
drowned out all speech but on this day they could scarcely be heard above
the din of the rain pummeling the windows and crenellated stone parapets
The doors flew open. Sir Brownlow the new Director emerged,
impeccably suited to the hilt, keen to start out on the right foot on his very
first day in office but showing obvious strain at the trajectory of his
predicament. Blue eyes cold and gleaming, he had the dashing and debonair
air of a man in a hurry, but filled with a fury which had plainly but surely
replaced eagerness. Briskness had turned crisp as he swept a swift glance
around assessing the damage mentally in a single eagle swoop. Then having
made up his mind he punched the air wildly with his balled up fist in a
hammer throw, speechless and livid.
A gloomy silence prevailed by which time he considerably simmered
down. Gone was the pepped up fervor to conduct searches throughout the
building with the staff in tow. Their unnatural solicitousness had unraveled a
corresponding bellicosity in him which had turned largely belligerent. So he
had given up.
He suspected his entire office to be in on the mischief. They had the
luminous air of pranksters seeking to be engaged in unprecedented
tomfoolery arising from within the ranks, of the kind which he knew only
too well as an Old Etonian. He was acquainted with outmaneuvering all
manner of ragging in his heyday as a youth. His face reddened at the
Coupled with willful dereliction of duty they had all the markings of a
rather perfidious lot, he thought, especially the woman they called 'Blue.'
Nasty piece of work. Of them all she looked the most treacherously sly. He
rolled a suspicious eye on Neela. Thick bushy eyebrows rose an entire inch
across his mobile face as she trembling stood her ground, hovering in the
shadowed periphery of the shuttered windows. It galled his instincts that a
woman was actually permitted to work within these haloed interiors.
Invasion of a male bastion he conjectured. Whatever was the Board
thinking? Had they gone completely mad? Taken full leave of all senses?
This definitely required a correction - one he would attend posthaste. Make
no mistake he pondered. Moreover, given to handle the Crown's priciest
treasures? Not under his watch. Most confoundedly disagreeable business.
He would bring the lot to justice he surmised perplexed beyond recall.
It bore all the earmarks of 'an inside job' in his estimates - masterpiece of a
clever caper with a scorpion's blue sting. He knew the kind. He had
encountered several while on duty in the Crimea.
''I'll leave you to it," he signaled the antiquary, smartly turning on his
heels and departing without a word.
Jeejeebhoy nodded miserably. It was in his nature to sob unrestrained
like a high-velocity hot sulfur spring. The severe censure he had received
had caused lachrymosity to build. A tide of tears were chasing each other
thick and fast down his plump ruddy cheeks as the floodgates were released.
He needed pacifying.
Neela's motherly nature took over. She hurried to prepare more tea.
She could only guess. He had taken the full brunt of the Director's wrath.
They had heard snatches of the waspish tirade. A genuine wretchedness took
hold as she mixed milk, tea leaves and sugar while the rest respectfully
waited for weeping to subside.
Eventually Shiwde the young office boy plucked up sufficient courage
to pull the spotless white handkerchief embroidered with tiny pink daisies
peeping out of Jeejeebhoy's spotless jacket. He unceremoniously handed him
"The affront meted out to the British Empire will brook no mercy,"
Jeejeebhoy launched into directive as instructed, trying to sound haughty
like the Director, but failing miserably. He set about the task of getting the
ugly part of his job done. His voice quavered lamentably conducting the
staff meeting, outlining the many procedures.
The disgruntled staff looked unhappy. Worry clouded every
"...men may come and men may go, but brook be going forever...'
Bannerjee prattled obliviously.
"Will you be quiet?"
"Joining together ...qualities of merciful be not strain...Jolly good!"
With poetry cascading around his ears like the Bong Bong Falls in his
hometown, Bannerjee was the lone figure overjoyed at the overload.
"Last year on Guru Purnima day same mystery occurred" Deshpande
the Chief Clerk expressed with the air of one handed the divine revelation of
the Puranas, prodding the group to a place they did not want to re-visit. It
cast a dampener. Most of his pronouncements usually turned into full-
fledged Delphic Oracles as it turned out. Oxford-returned, with experience
as Vakeel in the law courts of Gopinagar in Bengal, he was contemptuously
dismissive of all around him with the messianic air of an amiable gargoyle.
He proceeded with careful explanation of his full-proof theories by
applying the 'Rule in Larkings Case', derived from Old Bailey records of a
notorious cat-burglar of Kensington, using three inkwells and all the quill
pens he could lay his hands on for diagram as illustration.
Ten minutes into the narrative all developed varying degrees of bigger
headaches and none could decipher what exactly it was Deshpande was so
effortlessly propounding. A deathly silence hovered broken only by the
whirring fans and the falling rain.
"We must do pooja prayers. Guru will set all right. How can you think
we can find the gem without God's help?" Neela comforted once all had
recovered from Deshpande's lecture. Glancing heavenwards she set her
teacup down and joined her palms in supplication to her late father in his
holy abode above. Teacher of the Vedas and alchemy it was to him she
turned at moments of deep sentiment, her reality of reincarnation obfuscated
by the deeper reality of a higher heaven in the pure journey of the soul which
she accepted as a result of her father's karmic samskaras pure deeds.
That divine intervention was needed by fibonacci sequence to attain
the higher mind was beyond reproach. Whether anyone was convinced of
her late father's role as the divine vehicle of intercession was another
question altogether. It proved too much for the amenable Neela to steer them
safely through the swamp, although persist she would. She must be patient.
"...evil tiny stone, how we can be looking?" Bannerjee grumbled
vacuously pulling his nose out of his notebook and trying to appear
"Last year Babu saying look for shining," Shiwde emphatically
reminded, the urban coyote in him crushing nervous agitation. Young in
years he was wondering what turn this new suspense would spin this time
around. It always did.
Babu was the kindly former Director, a septuagenarian devoted
to the study of Indian birds and the 1877 Hawthorn's Almanack on life in
London, forced upon ill health to retire to Stoke-on-Trent. They missed him.
The white handkerchief with the tiny pink embroidered daisies made a
"Forget Babu! He's gone. This year Sir saying mystery cannot solve
until holy cow coming home," Bannerjee vociferously insisted, determined
"Silence!" Jeejeebhoy blew his red nose noisily, tucking his
handkerchief away delicately. "Most unusual business I must say. Think of
the buzz. The scandal. The suspicion."
There was no question of that and with the Prince of Wales arriving.
All were suspect, especially Neela. Jeejeebhoy made that crystal clear,
coughing ominously, uncomfortable at meeting Neela's gaze.
"Needless to add, all retirement ceremonies tomorrow have been
forthwith suspended with immediate effect. No roll call of honors. No
certificates. No gifts," he emphatically reiterated, trying to look sympathetic.
Neela's heart sank like a stone. It was as she feared. Twenty years of
unblemished work was wiped out. She was returning to her quiet farm in her
hometown of Krishnapuram. She was looking to receive the yellow
parchment certificate bearing the insignia of Her Majesty, her name artfully
stencilled in gold cursive near the Director's seal and the final parting gift
awarded uniformly to all retiring staff - the fob watch set in metallic gold,
attached to a glittering link chain. She could not imagine where she would
hang it as her male counterparts did, buttonholed onto their waistcoats, or
strung into their pockets, glinting brightly. Perhaps it would hang shining
and heavy on her neck. Tears filled her eyes threatening to spill over. But
she would not cry. Not here. Not now.
The cow which had languidly wandered in one year ago from off the
streets was following the fruit-seller who had been beckoned into the
Museum by Babu to satisfy his penchant for alphonse mangoes. Staff were
huddled in the offices haggling three rupees worth. Appoos aroma pervaded
the air. No one saw the gentle brown bovine's trajectory till spotted by
Shiwde in the exhibits hall. No amount of pushing or prodding to dislodge
the animal prevailed. After a loud soulful 'moo' it settled comfortably on the
upper floor, blissfully content.
At someone's bright suggestion Shiwde was sent scuttling to get some
dried grass to entice the creature out. The bovine refused to budge, calmly
surveying his surroundings with doe-eyed languor. Hours passed. By then
the disappearance of Bombay Blue had been discovered. In growing panic it
was even agreed to seek out the Yogi who had been spotted standing on one
foot in prayerful position for the past three months drawing huge crowds at
Crawford Market. Eventually the vagabond cow arose and without further
fuss on its own accord quietly hobbled down the stairs meandering its
unhurried way out to the peepul tree under whose spreading branches street
dogs and other cows were resting.
That would have been the end of that. Except that the cow had
mysteriously cud-chewed the precious sapphire together with the hay,
rotating the priceless meal through its four stomach chambers from which it
exited within two days as various sources of green energy, agricultural
fertilizer and repellent for mosquitoes. Shiwde had luckily spotted the
glimmer of blue and rescued the ambulatory sapphire from its bovine
The Commissioner of Police Tilbury, a short florid man in khakis and
with handlebars for a mustache took charge of the investigation with
unprecedented thoroughness. He descended into the Museum with flourish,
wearing a pompous scowl and bristling with righteous indignation at the
temerity of whomsoever it was who had precipitated such a foul deed. Six
sergeants of the local constabulary accompanied him fanning out expertly on
all floors with zest.
That the precious gemstone was stolen was beyond a doubt. That the
culprit was lurking "within these very walls" was a foregone conclusion.
That it required Bombay's finest and perhaps Scotland Yard to intervene was
without question. He eyed all staff balefully with a vehemence reserved for
criminals, aiming his gaze through a glassy monocle obtained specifically
for the purposes of ensuring the fiercest of countenances for the gravity of
the situation at hand.
To be officially labeled a thief?! Neela groaned inwardly at the
"Do you have anything to say?" the Commissioner finally barked,
resolute as an upland English bulldog, setting his jaws to engage in a battle
of wills with the local natives.
The new Director glared threateningly back, pure Faustian in his
contractual outlook. Was this discombobulated fish for real? What a waste!
He knew who the culprit was. Everyone did. Not necessary to get his entire
staff maligned. And on his very first day.
"Blue!" he snapped, with the objectionable sound of firearms
"No-o-o-o" Jeejeebhoy replied meekly for all, nervousness making his
voice quaver in a falsetto singsong.
"...shining coming from holy cow," Shiwde spouted spontaneously,
unable to be quelled, memories of the previous year in his head.
"What cow? Speak up young man."
Bannerjee gesticulated wildly in warning, rolling his eyes, flashing his
teeth, waving his arms.
Shiwde fell silent, scuffing the floor with his slippered feet.
"Come here boy. Now listen carefully. You want to go home don't
you? Relax on the charpoy. Roll a beedi or two? If you know who has the
gemstone its your duty to spit it out. Do you understand?"
No one moved. The large grandfather clock in the hall below was
striking nine. Its loud bell tones drowned the noise of the falling rain.
Shiwde stared at the monocle entranced. From up close through its
thick layered soda-bottle glassiness what he saw was gigantic - the
Commissioner's single one eye, large as a guava and just as green.
Monochromatic. A raw fruit. It swam juicily. He nodded deferentially,
fascinated and mesmerized by his mystical experience, jet black oily hair
"Its no use" the Director dismissively waved his hand and grimaced
painfully, "You'll get nothing out of this lot, except more mumbo-jumbo."
The noonday sun slanted in through the green painted window of her
modest two-room dwellings the next day, when Neela awoke. She had
overslept, torn in part by a reticent disinclination to spend her last day at the
Museum. It set aglow the vermillion bindi dot on her forehead, casting
lengthy shadows on the Mount Everest calendar of the Himalayas hanging
perpendicularly. Moksha. Nirvana. The heavenly abode.
She twisted the long coils of her dark hair onto the nape of her neck in
a bun, folding her tall slender frame with the grace of a dancer into the cane
armchair, colorful glass bangles jangling noisily on each arm. The rolls of
her six yards ochre cotton saree with its printed peacocks in purple paisley
she pushed into her waist, wringing her hands in anguish. Her steel trunk,
misshapen from wear was immaculately packed, ready for departure to her
village. It would be a long journey south by train, across mountains, tunnels,
plateaus and rivers.
The Bombay Herald a leading daily which she had been reading lay
crumpled on the floor. It had blown the entire story of Bombay Blue in
banner headlines out of all proportion, laying blame by whimsical
speculations on incompetency within the Bombay Presidency, swinging
wildly from foolish goose-chasing of three-humped dromedaries codenamed
Blue by Scotland Yard, to finger pointing at the Museum's only female
employee nicknamed Blue; from sea-faring piracy afoot of East India
Company treasures falling into Dutch East Indies hands, to incongruous rise
in professional thuggery among local dacoits. Grainy black and white kodak
images of the new Director, an alpaca, Neela Rai, turbaned snake-charmers
and the blue sapphire were spread over several pages. It was horrendous.
Neela's mental state escalated several notches and was at fever pitch.
She knew the inevitable that would follow, publicly disgraced, crushed by
the weight of false accusation. She could not hide. Where would she run?
She could not stand with her peers. She lacked the will to face adversity -
resolute and unflinching. Pent-up tears long withheld overflowed in a
Deep down in her core something stirred - a flicker of orange. A blue
flame ignited - the star fire spark of a flawless pure gemstone, hard as flint,
unclouded and clear, as malleable as it was eternal.
Dusk was descending when Neela shook herself free from her reverie.
She must hurry. There was no time to lose. Over the northern flats she raced,
across the docks, breaking into a trot. She hopped aboard a tram as she
hastened towards the Bombay Museum of Antiquities, through the rain-
soaked streets, past the swollen creeks that breached their banks at the time
of the full moon.
Soon she arrived, panting, short of breath, shivering and soaked to the
bone. Her long dark hair in disarray dripped with raindrops that glistened as
they pooled at her feet. She felt light-headed and wobbly. She wanted to sit.
She wanted to run. The intense flutter in her heart made her take mental
flight on wings like humming birds as turbulence mounted afresh. And she
almost lost courage again.
In an instant she recognized dark shapes emerge through the gathering
shadows in the dimly lit portals that no starlight could penetrate. The
blanched paleness of her face was faintly visible.
First The Commissioner approached followed by the Director with the
others in the rear. They were talking all at once, softly at first. Then the
voices sounded louder as if she were deaf.
They handed her a scroll then the gold shining fob watch which she
had so coveted. They sounded jovial. What were they saying? She could not
"...as my dear Aunt Dorothy was fond of saying. Bless her sweet soul.
Nothing like a good night's rest to be fit as a fiddle," Tilbury declared
effusively like a devious tabby, toothy grin stretching into mustaches waxed
"...holy cow jump on Guru Purnima moon. Jolly good!...diddle
fiddle..." Bannerjee chanted loquaciously scripting the rhyme.
"Beastly blighter! Gave us quite the scare. But all's well that ends
well. And all that sort of thing really, old dear."
Old dear? She?! Bombay Blue? Found?!
They looked sheepishly at each other, their laughter conspiratorial to
her untutored ear.
"Yes indeed. It gets better. You're to accompany His Highness to
London to your new appointment - Under-Secretary to the Queen. Her
Majesty wishes to maintain a Hindustani diary. Phenomenal work I must
say, your ledgers. The clue."
Neela's enormous kohl contoured eyes grew round and large as dinner
"Gave the whole game away, eh? Those old glass encasings. Trifle
bizarre! But they really do need replacing you know."
"There are moments when one asks oneself 'Do these things really
"Nature is filled with strange subterfuges," Deshpande slyly
commiserated, bouncing his head deliriously like a strung yo-yo, relieved
that his convoluted theory had demystified the mystery. In this moment of
celebration none sought to burst his bubble.
"Cigars anyone? Let's have a cuppa."
Merry guffaws followed.
"I say Jeejeebhoy old chap, are you quite all right? You do look sort
of ...green around the gills...?"
"A will of iron. That's what you need my lad. A will of iron."
"Devil of a chappie Sir, he be having weak constitution",' Shiwde was
opinionating in his expertly conceited fashion, elated at the turn of events.
"Well don't just stand there my boy twiddling your thumbs. Get the
The pounding in her head became hammer blows. The roaring in her
ears turned deafening. A mounting flush consumed her senses. The last
words Neela heard before she fell to the ground in a swoon were :
"Ghastly not to have guessed. Pop-eyed blue turnip came quite
unglued. Headed for the floor in its own display pedestal! Rummy
"Life's adventures. Providence takes care of us all..."
• ° • ° •
And so it would transpire as the story goes, that a star fire named 'Blue'
would voyage home around the Cape on a sea passage to the British Isles to
her place of final rest, from where she would beam her light eternal on the
And on many a Guru Purnima when the grey skies would herald the
monsoons and the rain would fall in sheets, many a nostalgic song would be
sung and many an infectious tale would be told of courage and greatness
and of faith. The stuff of legends. It would inspire generations.
A jewel called 'Neela /
* * * *