The magical chair

SHORT STORY

Suma discovers a rocking chair with very special powers but... 

Holidays are always an exciting time for Suma, an only child, because she gets to visit her grandparents in Sakleshpur. It means snacking all day, reading lots of books and exploring the estate with Ranga.

 And so it was that Suma was on her way to Sakleshpur during the summer holidays. She was soon flinging her arms around her Ajji or grandmother, who looked just as pleased to host her as Suma was to be there. After feasting on Ajji’s delicious snacks, Suma tore outside to find Ranga. She found him in the garden, planting seeds with his father. He grinned happily at her.

“Uncle, can Ranga come with me for a walk?” Suma pleaded.

“Please take him, Suma-amma. Since he knew you were coming this morning, he has hardly done any work,” said Ranga’s father.

They walked together on the familiar path around the estate. “Is there any jackfruit left for me? Does the peacock still dance every morning under the banyan tree?” Suma asked.

“Yes, there’s one tasty fruit for you. We will pluck it today,” replied Ranga.

However, when they came to the tree, Ranga was astonished to find that monkeys had already made a feast of the precious jackfruit. “Well, there goes the last fruit of the season,” he said angrily. Suma tried not to look too disappointed.

After a sumptuous lunch with Ajji and Thatha, Suma settled into her favourite rocking chair to read. She noticed that one of the arm-rests was different.

“Is this new, Thatha?” she asked.

“Yes, putta, the old one broke. Thankfully, a carpenter came by, a few weeks ago, looking for some work. He fixed it with an old piece of wood.”

‘He has done a good job,’ thought Suma. She noticed that there was a strange circular knot in the wood. It was loose, but would not come out fully. Fascinated, she kept turning it around as she read her book.

She had hardly read a few pages before she fell into a dreamy sleep. She was flying over a large estate which looked very much like theirs. She spotted a jackfruit tree close to a pond. There was a large, ripe fruit near the top of the tree.

She told Ranga about her strange dream later that day. He knew of a tree exactly at that spot. But, he had not found any fruit on it. However,  they both went to the tree.
“See, I told you it has no fruit,” said Ranga.

But Suma clearly recollected her dream. “It was above those branches. Ranga, can you climb up and see?” After a few minutes, Ranga shouted down delightedly. “Yes! There is a perfectly ripened fruit here, just like in your dreams. The leaves were hiding it from our sight!”

Suma was amazed. How had she dreamt it? Perhaps, the rocking chair was magical, she told Ranga as he started expertly cutting the fruit. He nodded sagely. “Then find my football. I lost it near the rice fields. That may prove the chair is indeed magical,” he suggested as they chomped happily on the super sweet fruit.

Later that evening Suma sat in the chair and played with the knot, thinking of Ranga’s football.  Soon she fell asleep and started dreaming. The rice fields appeared in her dream. She could see the football inside a hole under a large boulder.

The next day, she told Ranga about the dream. They both ran to the only large boulder there and looked under it. They saw the football in the hole which was partially hidden by bushes. Ranga eased it out using a stick.

Thrilled, they stared at each other.

“Do you think the rocking chair will solve our village mystery?” wondered Ranga.

“Tell me about it,” said Suma.

“A long time ago, a powerful chieftain ruled this area. He was rumoured to have hidden a treasure in a cave. He died without telling anyone where the treasure was. Nobody has found it, yet.”

“I bet the chair will tell us where it is,” Suma declared.

Excited, she rushed home. But the chair was not there! “Thatha, where is the chair?”

“A trader came and I got rid of some old things, including that chair,” he told her.
 Suma stared at him, anguished. Now they won’t be able to look for the treasure! She could not tell him about its magical power as it was unlikely he would believe her. Instead she said, “I liked that chair very much, Thatha. Can we get it back?”

“I don’t think so. He was a stranger. He could be far away now.”

Suma has not given up hope though. Whenever she goes visiting her grandfather’s friends, she examines their rocking chairs carefully for strange knots! She is yet to find her magical chair. If you look carefully at all the rocking chairs you ever see, you may find it before her!

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