La Vida Homestay
Thursday, 28th February, 2020
It’s five o’ clock in the morning. The candle is burning low. Though it’s still dark outside, the sound of the temple bell is booming loud and clear. I’m sitting in front of a large square window of my room, overlooking the vast gardens of La Vida Homestay.
La Vida, a beautiful bungalow sprawled over the greens, in the midst of Western Ghats, has been recently converted to a homestay when its present owners couldn’t afford to manage the property solely on their private income. It was formerly known as Anand Bhavan, named after the wealthy farmer- Anand, who with an extraordinary vision established the mansion with the view that one day his sons and grandsons would just like him toil in the farms and would be satisfied with the sweet fruits of labour. I guess he didn’t comprehend that hard work is not everyone’s favourite flavour.
The original name was given a French twist when the owner’s grandson propounded that an exotic name will attract more customers. Well, donno how much his theory worked! But, this was definitely not the reason why I booked the whole place for two weeks. I wanted peace and solitude and this place had it in abundance. For miles there are no houses or shops and the only companions I find solace with are trees, birds, inconspicuous house staff and my very own deluge of thoughts. Every day I listen to the melody of the birds, the rhythm of the wind and the bell of the small temple which is built on a knoll, a few meters away across the homestay; but...nothing has managed to bring you the stillness you’re seeking. Right? I have been enjoying the spring blossoms for last one week but out of the blue, it has started raining in the month of February. Now I’m not critical of rain but I like to have it in its own season, not out of it. Someone is knocking on the door. Must be room service, I asked for more candles.
Now you may think that I am one of those inconsiderate people who would wake up others at five am just for candles. But the truth is that the whole house is awake for last two hours. The incessant rain has disrupted the daily routine of the quiet villa and from what I overhear, there are people running with buckets to third-floor rooms as they have discovered the leakage in the newly prepared Maharaja suite. Thank goodness, I chose the ground floor suite, I’m safe; but the lights are out coz of which I have been awake since one hour.
Writing this at five am, wasn’t part of my plan but Jay, my friend who has recently started a publishing company called last night and impelled me to finish the story (I promised to give him), I’ve been working on for last three months. So here I am holding the pen, writing the story about the incident that changed my life forever. Whatever happened....how it happened...
But before I begin, let me introduce myself. My name is Neil, Neil Sharma. I am an Indian by nationality, an app developer by profession and a tennis-player by hobby. I am not a writer. I have never written a single paragraph other than school essays throughout my life and I never thought of writing this....but Jay (as I mentioned earlier) insisted that people should know my story. ‘It will be a sensation dude. You just don’t know yet,’ were his matter-of-fact words.
Now I’m not a strong admirer of his counsel and as a faithful friend, at first I scorned at his suggestion and bluntly rejected the idea but eventually my tenacious mind badgered me to act upon it. I don’t know if it happens with you or not but my mind is super-talkative and pushy for which reason I have not been able to omit its regular, most of the time inappropriate insinuations which it proposed to me during the given circumstances. Having words for every occasion and suggestions for every situation, my mind is my friend as well as foe. Well....I hope you’ll forgive the shortcomings of my writing and probably as Jay said- take something from my story.
It all started a few months ago...One night, in Old Grange Street...