Bonds Beyond Death

The heritage homestay by the sea was seldom occupied. Most guests who came here were either not able to cross the state borders before nightfall or had to make a halt due to an emergency. Johanpal, the owner, did not actually care much as long as enough guests kept trickling in to pay the salary for his staff. It was not easy for him to retain the employees of course, for the stretch of beach on which the solitary haveli (heritage mansion) stood, was believed to be haunted.

The haveli was his ancestral property. Johanpal could never understand why his great grandfather had decided to build this beautiful structure in this area more than 120 years ago. The seashore had been the site of a great battle once, between the Rajput soldiers and invading forces. Unfortunately, the cavalry of valiant Rajputs could not keep the marauding invaders away, and had been mercilessly slayed.

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For as long as he had known, the beach was known to have seen strange sightings – while some people said they had seen flickering lights others claimed to have heard sounds of horse hooves. The last, he knew, was true. In the last 40 years, Johanpal had himself seen an unearthly vision a few times. On a full moon night, the sea shore had turned into a surreal site – he could see a team of horses, their silvery white bodies glistening, waiting on the shore, looking towards the sea. It was as if they were waiting for their masters, the brave soldiers who had lost their lives, to rise up from the waters, and unite with them again. Every time, he had seen the magnificent ghostly animals, it had left him with a feeling of strange sadness.

It was a full moon night again. Johanpal and his family were grieving the death of their beloved Pomeranian, who had died two days ago due to a sudden illness. They lovingly called her Queen, for she ruled the hearts of everyone in his family – his wife and two sons. For Johanpal, Queen was like his young daughter, and he was finding it extremely difficult to cope with the grief of losing her.

As he stood on the terrace looking towards the sea, after many years, he saw the horses again – waiting endlessly for their masters. Then suddenly, he could make out a little figure, darting from the seashore running fast towards his home. As it approached the building, he could unmistakably make out the little form of Queen. She stood below the terrace looking up at him, wagging her tail tirelessly as she always did. Then, in an instant, she was gone, and so did the horses.

Johanpal then realised that death had not snatched away Queen forever, she had probably appeared to make him understand that. As he climbed down the stairs to share with his family what he had seen, his heart had already started to heal.

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