We had a fantastic time at the 'Maiden Lake'-a scenic, peaceful and some say,
mystical lake right in the middle of the island. There seemed to be mystery and
magic surrounding it.
I had screamed with joy on the banana boat. It was an
inflatable raft in the shape of a banana and riders had to hold on to dear life
as the speedboat jetted across the still lake. Till today, I can still remember
our crazy laughter reverberating around that crater-like lake.
We had gone kayaking right after the banana ride. Strangely, it was not as
exhilarating. Rather, it felt solemn and subdued. I had this strange feeling
that something ominous was about to happen... but when?
We retreated back to the holiday bungalow. A beautiful white bungalow
overseeing the sea, it was perfectly picturesque. It was almost as if the sea
could actually travel up the sandy beach and touch the marbled flooring. The
bungalow was that close to the sea.
The city-dweller in me had refused the quaint wooden chalets scattered on the
beach. After inspecting one that looked rather dark and depressing, I had
tantrumed my way for an upgrade. My husband of a few months conceded to my
request and soon we had a room in a huge bungalow with at least ten rooms in it.
I gleefully checked it out.
It was an ordinary room. There was a bed, a television set, and a wooden
cupboard. I checked the cupboard and it was locked. I found that strange. I drew
the curtains and saw that the window overlooked
a forested area. It sent a chill down my spine though the day was still warm.
My eyes rested on a map that we happened to buy from one of the many roadside
stalls. It was a curious-looking map of the lake that we had gone to. It looked
ancient and I smiled. It did look somewhat
like a treasure map, with its hand-drawn diagrams and ancient symbols.
I peered at the drawing drawn right in the middle of the lake and it looked
like the form of a big reptile- the crocodile. I mused. Silly! Why did they have
drawings of crocodiles in the middle of the lake when there weren't any? Then I
froze. I had assumed that there weren't any! Suddenly, everything turned
doubtful and hazy. For the rest of the day, my imagination grew wild.
Later that night, I kept looking at the clock. It was twenty minutes before
twelve-the bewitching hour. Somehow, I felt it in my bones that something would
happen when the hands struck twelve.
My eyes were trained on the small clock as my husband's gentle snores
punctuated the passing seconds. I willed my eyes so that they would not stray to
Then the clock struck twelve. I braced myself.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
I nearly jumped out of my skin. I tried to wake my husband up but like a
felled tree, he did not move.
I glanced at the clock. One minute had just passed but it seemed like an
eternity. My thumping heart beat faster as I grabbed his shoulders and shook him
like a rag doll.
Only then, he arose, bleary-eyed. He was heavy with sleep-strange for someone
who usually spent his nights doing work well after one.
For a moment, we kept silent. The cursed knocks were no longer heard. I never
knew who or what had made those knockings.
Outside, an old man was shuffling along the road. He had tried to ask for
food and money at the previous bungalow but no one had answered his knocking.
Perhaps he would have better luck at the next bungalow...