Sundaram was passionate about collecting artifacts and searching history on ground. He used to collect them while visiting different deserted sites from time to time. He visited them whenever he got time out of his office work. He had a good collection of sculptures, pots, potteries, metal pieces, beads, ornaments etc. With time he learned a fair amount of history as well and the ancient routes of antiquity.
After gaining experience, he started to visit regularly. He used to reach at the site early morning and spent his time there till evening. At times, when he travelled far off places he managed to arrange a modest staying near to the site either in the hospitality of a villager or at nearby temples.
Once while visiting a lesser explored site, which he came to know from a book. He found a cave there. The cave was deeply cut, chiseled, and polished; and was well decorated from inside on a straight face of a hill. He had to make an arduous decent from the tip of the hill by the help of a rope to reach at the cave. He found that the cave was dedicated to Buddhism and a big Stupa was engraved upon the polished wall of the cave. He noticed while exploring the cave that he was not the first one to reach there. As he could see the left over remains of previous searches. Yet the cave was in such a beautiful condition and location that Sundaram decided to spent much time there in hope of finding something of significance. He climbed the hill again; descended to the other side of the hill; searched and marked the places of significance around the hill.
Sundaram marked a big heap of land just near to the western base of the hill. The mound was big enough to accommodate a big colony of ancient time. Just 1 and half km away from the hill there was an ancient river stream. He searched the mound and found pieces of antiquity laying there; he also found the layer of colonization at one point of the mound. As now he was pretty sure about the significance of the site; he planned to stay there at night. The place was inhabited by at least 30 to 35 houses of villagers scattered in a bunch of 10 to 12 houses at one point; at nearly 300 to 700 meters away from the hill. Rest of the area was either covered by farming lands or hills.
At the western base of the hill there were few thatched houses of a community who had painted their mud houses with the figures of animals, birds, plants, and different motif designs. Sudaram noticed the same designs of antiquity on the hill top as well at many places. He also found the same designs on few stone pillars which he found was laying at the eastern corner of the mound. As now it was getting late so he decided to stay at one of the mud houses.
He enquired and found a veranda to sleep at night at one of the house. He had his food with the family of three; father, mother and a small child. After the supper he was sitting at the veranda with Dimu; the owner of the house where he found his staying and the food. Dimu was a farmer who spent his whole life here. Dimu’s forefathers lived at this place for ages. Sundaram was fascinated about this stay and started to enquire about the place to Dimu.
Dimu started to tell the story about his village-
“Earlier the stream flowed bit nearer from where it’s now. The place was much more deserted as Dimu’s family was among the few other families which used to occupy these lands. His grandfather told him about the curse of the land. There was a king across the hills from the lands that fought a brave battle and brought a beautiful woman in reward from the battle field to his fort. The woman was enchanting and few said the king fought the battle only to capture the lady. Dimu’s grandfather told that the woman had some magical prowess for which the king captured her. As the woman came to these lands the area became blessed by the haven. Soon the prominence of the woman grew to other areas and one day a big army attacked at the fort. The king fought a brave battle but could not survive the attack. He was killed in the battlefield. But this time the woman somehow had an escape and came to Dimu’s village for safety. She assured to Dimu’s forefathers that in few days she will go somewhere else and will never return. As the army was searching for her; one of his forefather’s brother went across the hills and brought the army there in expectations of reward. Before the army could capture her, she burnt herself alive. Then onward only the land is cursed with nightmares. The nightmares are mostly about the woman still searching for help. Sometime people see someone walking on the mound in night where she had burnt herself. As time passed, people started to bury dead at the mound and it became more haunted. Dimu told that as we were the ones who brought this curse to the lands others threw my family out of community and we started to live near the mound. Since the woman died no child in my family lives long except for a male one. My grandfather told me that the family member who brought the army here did suicide after few months; being that much scarred by the nightmares. I do see the nightmares as well and would suggest you not to be afraid if you get some. I too lost my two children soon after the age of 7. This child is my third one I don’t know if he will live or not.”
The night was getting darker and darker. Soon after the conversation Dimu went inside. For a while Sundaram contemplated and gazed continuously toward the mound which was not far away from him. That night Sundaram was not in a situation to walk or have a look at the mound which he generally does while travelling. He went to his bed at veranda and layed there for a while gazing at the thatched roof in a dim light of a lamp. Fatigued soon he slept. For the first time in life; he saw the most disturbing nightmare of his life.
Read the part II at 11.p.m. 23rd July 2018