It was a glorious autumn afternoon, one which made you believe in fairytales and fairy godmothers. The fidgety wind blew gently, rustling the mellow leaves and collecting them in a heap here and there and then suddenly sweeping the heap away. The warm sun percolated through the flaming autumn leaves adorning the gigantic trees creating patterns of light and shade on the green carpet of the peaceful park.
For a moment, the heart of the park skipped a beat, when a beautiful English rose stepped onto its lonely existence. Oblivious of her surrounding, Cameron’s coal black eyes searched for a familiar face whom she longed to see after so many years. Lifting up her beige long skirt with small red rose buds all over, she treaded
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Sitting on the exact spot Riya sat five years ago, she heard a shriek very similar to her father’s. All the memories came rushing back to her and before she knew, she started running. By the time she came to her senses, she was standing on the main road, panting, her eyes stinging, cheeks wet with a salty taste on her lips.
Wiping her eyes, she ran home. By the time she reached home, she forgot about the shrieking and was the old Riya again – the Riya who was bullied in school, the Riya who couldn’t articulate her problems, the Riya who mourned for her father and cared for her grief-stricken mother, the Riya who did the household chores as well her homework and the Riya who loved reading borrowed Agatha Christie novels.
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Although the full moon could not dissipate the melancholy encrusting the crevices of the dilapidated palace, the sweet fragrance of the jasmine
flowers mingling with the strains of a melodious flute stretched their arms to reach the unreachable. A fragile heart chided away the stupid tears lacing her long eyelashes as she stood at the window weighing her own heart. It was her last night in this palace. With a sigh dipped in trepidation, Nihar, the princess in rags, stared at the full moon while the lilting strains of the flute stormed her heart. She knew that Budhiya, the son of their gardener was playing the flute for her.
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Sainthia, formerly known as Nandipur, standing on the southern bank of the Maurakshi River, is one of the busiest economic hubs of Birbhum district, right in the middle of West Bengal. The small town is famous for its rice, mustard oil, rice bran oil, puffed rice mills and galvanized wire units. The town of Sainthia is a major railway junction with one of the oldest platforms of the country. It is 192 Kms from Howrah and the travel time is 4 hours approximately. There are more than 46 trains connecting Sainthia to Howrah and Sealdah. One of the best trains is the Ganadevta Express which departs from Howrah at 6:05 am and reaches Sainthia by 9:25 am. The other good express trains are Kaviguru Express, Howrah – Malda Intercity to name a few. The nearest airport is the Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport at Andal. The National Highway 114 and State Highway 11 runs across the town. Therefore, you can also reach Sainthia by bus. There are budget hotels and lodges near the station like Dutta Residential Lodge, Natraj Lodge, Balaji Hotel to name a few. Sainthia is famous for the Nandikeshwari Temple which is one of the Shakti Peethas of India.
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She must’ve been seven or eight years old, a child the colour of the earth. Her matted sun bleached hair teased her shoulders. And across her body hung a black sling bag that spat out the words EDUCATION.
She stood engrossed in the quiz taking place on stage. The open venue had made it possible for her to slip in unnoticed. I wondered if she actually understood what was going on even though she must have understood the language. In the audience people chatted, strolled, ate. But she kept watching, deeply involved.
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