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Srishti-2019   >>  Short Story - English   >>  Face of the Desert

Face of the Desert

Written By: Athira Shaji
Company: SunTec Business Solutions

Total Votes: 0

12th July,2015

The call at 1’o clock, midnight, woke him up. Startled and confused was Prof.Rathore, as he never expected a call so late. Tired from last day’s busy schedule of long lectures on history, the most acknowledged historian of this time, was reluctant to take the call. However, he attended it. The professor in his late 70’s was no more involved in any serious issues that had the police officials. Yes, he had been one of the most brilliant officers who once closely worked with the police for solving mysterious cases involving archaeology, treasures and decryption. Retired from his official duties, he made himself engaged as a professor and a lecturer. But this call, had urged him to be on his official duty once again.

Waiting at the airport, for the flight made him feel sick. He felt as if the whole world was participating in a slow race. He wanted to reach the British Palace Museum as soon as possible.

………The museum was famous for the antiques it treasured, collected from every nook and corner of the world. It had the most precious and valued treasures of the world including the Kohinoor diamond from India. 

13th July,2015

He was accompanied by the museum officials from the airport to the museum. There he was introduced to Mr.Gilbert , who was currently in charge of the museum security.

"Hello Professor, nice to meet you"- Prof.Rathore was greeted by Gilbert. The entire atmosphere seemed to be mysterious.

He greeted him back-" Hello Gilbert, it would be good if you could explain why I was called so urgently. I was just briefed about the situation".

Then Gilbert explained the situation to him.

……. During a research, conducted by the British research students last month, an unnoticed tribal inscription was revealed from the antiques that had been preserved in the museum from late 20th century. It was an old language and found it very difficult to decode. Finally, experienced historians of Indian origin were successful in relating it with some sort of precious gift that had been hidden somewhere. Prof.Rathore was struck by the word "Indian origin" and understood why "he" had been called. But what made him shocked was yet to be revealed.

"Professor, the situations were under control until the inscription got missing. Now the situations have worsened after this news came out about the treasure trove. This case has instigated a fury among the superior officials as well as the British government. This case has to be solved before the confidentiality of this case is lost. Professor we need your help, as this can affect the unrivalled secrecy and supremacy of the British government."

Prof.Rathore instinctively started his work. He was very cautious about the consequences of this case, and how it could affect the entire government if the treasure trove reaches the wrong hands. The manuscript had been already stolen and that could be decoded by anyone. If this happens, then the treasure may remain as a hidden possession forever.


14th July, 2015

Mr.Gilbert had provided him the photos and all the available source of information related to the manuscript. Meanwhile, Gilbert’s people had started enquiry on the stolen manuscript. It was equally important for them to catch hold of the culprit.

“Professor, we had been studying the period pieces collected from all over the world. It was as part of the documentation of these antiques, we had been studying these in detail. Initially the manuscript seemed to be of no importance. But somehow, we grew interested in it...” One of the students who had been involved in the research was explaining the incidents to Prof.Rathore.

“Where did you find this ?” he asked her.

“Among the antiques collected during the 20th century. It had the most precious relics of all times that had been moved to this museum. Like the Kohinoor...”

He was concluding on the reasons why the officials thought of the Indian connection with this case- the manuscript contained Indian tribal language... was found among the relics collected from India... and of the history where many such valuables had been taken from Indians or the so- called gifts to the British officials during the reign of East India Company by the Indian rulers of that time … The third point being his own contribution.

There were many questions before him- What is this treasure all about? Where is it? Why is it that no trace of such a relic has been discovered till now? And moreover, is the treasure still existing?

He had no answers and was completely clueless as from where to start. Just that, the treasure has some Indian analogy.

15th July,2015

The very next dawn saw him being indulged in studying the museum pieces. He was searching for that one clue that could help him in this dilemma. The time had passed, and he along with the other officials was getting exhausted when something caught his interest.

A piece of relic that was part of the stolen manuscript that contained the lines (if correctly decoded):

“Perished lands extend, with not a bit shade to depend. Gone with the wind, were the memories of great warriors, left to suffer, to keep it safely.”

He noticed something unusual with these lines. He tried to sort all possible ways to solve this. He could not sleep that night. He was so restless and strained. He tried to sleep but took a long time to get a good nap. While in sleep, he dreamt of the last lecturers  that he had delivered to the students. It was all about wars and its impact on the civilization and culture. Suddenly he was awake. 

He always believed in his instincts that always led him throughout his career. He felt that this was also such a play of his instincts.

He recollected the words – Perished lands, warriors, safe... He was trying to connect all these words. Finally, he concluded - this could be about a war fought in the deserts in the past to safeguard something priceless. 

Perished lands and not a bit shade - these words had made him think about deserts, warriors – war and to keep “it” safely – it can point to some object. Thus, he had concluded.

Simultaneously, the officers were engaged and were running after the stolen manuscript. But to their great despair and relief, the manuscript was found abandoned in the premises of the museum itself. Relieved as they found the swag but despairing as they were left with no clue about the larcenist. They were also under the impression that the burglar must have abandoned it to mislead the officials. So, they continued their investigation.

20th July,2015

Prof.Rathore had discussed his perceptions on the case till date. Mr.Gilbert was also convinced on how he had concluded about the concept keeping in mind the history of Indian linkages with the British Government. Both of them stil could not figure out what the hidden treasure was.

It had been a week since Prof.Rathore has been involved in the case. For the past two days, there had been no improvements in the case. He was all the way studying and collecting the information regarding the history of wars fought back in the western parts of India during the 20th century.

It was then Mr.Gilbert called out for an urgent meeting. Professor hopefully looked forward for some crucial information. And it was something crucial and mysterious that Mr.Gilbert had to share.

There on the table laid an envelope. Gilbert passed on the envelope to Prof.Rathore. He read it and was shocked, it said that the treasure they were in search for had been safely hidden and treasured even now and that it was in India itself. It also wished Prof.Rathore all the best wishes and assured that he would be able to find it. This left all the people there stay awestruck. This meant that the person who had taken the manuscript was one among them, as the arrival of the Professor was kept very confidential and was known only among them.

Professor hastily went out of the room and became busy again. He was now hopeful in finding out the hidden. He was obvious that the treasure has been kept intact. Now it was his turn to find out the possible locations which can house such great treasures. He went through all the information he had collected. Suddenly, he was stuck by some idea and very soon he was on his way back to India. He was accompanied by Gilbert and a few other officials.

22nd July, 2015

 At the Delhi airport, he met some representatives from the UK embassy and other Indian police officials. The case details had been already shared with the govt.

“Sir, where are you going now? None of us are aware about your destination. “- said one of the indian official.

 “To the epitome of love- taj mahal.” 

Even Gilbert was unaware about their destination. On their way to Agra, Professor explained as to how he had concluded that the possible destination could be Taj Mahal.

 Taj Mahal was famous for what it stood for, it was really an epitome of love but was also a treasure house. It is believed to contain many treasures from past era. When they read the envelope that assured the existence of the treasure, the first thing professor did was to find out the treasure houses that treasured relics collected after the wars. The most famous among them was the Taj Mahal. He also thought that if the treasure they were in search for had been preserved till time, then it must be safeguarded with utmost care, which was possible only in such a place. All this made sense to Gilbert and was ready to start the so-called treasure hunt.

As soon as they reached Taj Mahal, they got hold of the records of all the wealth it had. They started to filter out the ones they felt as unimportant. They emphasized on those that had been collected from the west as well as on war relics. Sooner or later they finalized on these-  a sword, a crown, a sculpture and a sarpech. These were all priceless relics. They were confused as to which one would be the treasure that was mentioned in the manuscript and why it has such a special mention and why it remained unknown till this time.

They were left in a dilemma and was unable to find the treasure.

24th July, 2015

“I had a great experience working with you sir. I would look forward for such experiences in future.” , said Mr.Gilbert. He was on his way back home after completing all the procedures on closing the case.

“It’s my pleasure Gilbert to assist and help you solve this case and may be many more to come, if my age permits”, Professor replied and laughed. He bid farewell to Gilbert.

The flight took off.

On his journey back, Gilbert thought about yesterday’s events that finally led them to the discovery of the treasure.

As the dusk was falling heavily on the scene on 22nd of July, they had no clue on how to determine the treasure from available relics. 

Meanwhile he had received a call from UK. It was all about the burglar who had stolen the manuscript. Shockingly, the burglar had turned out to be his co-official, Edward. Edward was in charge  for the supervision of research students. He had confessed the crime and had said that he was unaware about the importance of the swag, and that he had by mistake taken it along with some other relics for reference and examination. He was forced to abandon it under the fear of being charged for burglary.  He was still under interrogation and is expected to be relieved only after he proves himself of not guilty. 

Then Professor asked him,” Gilbert, Can you recollect the objects in the relics that were examined? Any object that has some connection with the ones that we have finalized?” Gilbert started to seriously examine the objects, and then he noticed the sword. It had some rare stones inscribed on it. It caught his interest as back in UK, the museum also treasured the rarest and precious stones like Kohinoor. 

He was about to fix the sword as the treasure, when he noticed the sculpture that worn the title as “face of the desert”. He along with Professor started examining it in depth for a long time until Prof.Rathore noticed something peculiar about the sculpture’s eyes. It was both deep and facile. They examined it closer and suddenly Prof.Rathore exclaimed, “The eyes!!!!“ . In the shallow hole of the eyes, there was a stone, a diamond. It seemed so trivial, but when closely examined had the most mysterious glow in it. Immediately Gilbert remembered the famous Kohinoor diamond. All the pieces of the puzzle were getting placed correctly now.

--The manuscript was found along with the relics collected during the same time as the Kohinoor diamond had reached the British palace museum. It was studied only recently and was decrypted under the supervision of expertise. It revealed a secret about a hidden treasure. Prof.rathore was then called to inquest on it. Meanwhile, the manuscript was stolen but later found abandoned in the premises of the museum itself, leaving the officials under suspicion. The rest is known now.

The government officials confiscated the sculpture for further analysis. Thus, the treasure was identified as the sculpture with the beautiful eyes that hid the diamond that was worth as the Kohinoor diamond.

He and Prof.Rathore was appreciated for their wit and intelligence.And now he was on his way back home.

25th July,2015

After the hectic days of work, Prof.Rathore was relaxing when he got a call from UK. The caller said, “Thank You.. You had played well” Professor smiled and replied, “You too Ed”.

Two weeks before on 5th July,2015,

As Prof.Rathore was returning from his college, he received a call from a person who introduced himself as Edward, a British official from UK. He wanted an urgent appointment. They had a meeting on the same day over the phone, which had initiated a set of events that rolled out in a way that changed their entire life for the next two weeks.

“Hello Sir, I am Edward. I need your help. This meeting is very confidential so better be sure to take this in that sense itself………..”

Edward was basically an Indian born – British official. He was in charge of the research students who had found the manuscript. He was so curious about it, that he himself had initially studied and analyzed the same. He understood that the manuscript described about something that had a greater value than what he had assumed initially. Hence, he called Professor for his assistance.

“Professor, if there is such a treasure as described in this, be sure that you will be able to discover it. Because this time, it has to be made sure that, the priceless stays in India as its treasure , rather than letting others take its ownership as happened in the case of Kohinoor“ Edward explained everything to Professor. 

The Professor was so startled hearing all these, but immediately rolled out a plan for it. Thus, Edward had started to work out their plan by recommending the Professor to Gilbert to solve the case and hence made him involve in this case. The manuscript was stolen so as to divert the case and also to give Professor sufficient time to solve the mystery. They made sure that both the governments were involved in this. Meanwhile, under the directions of the Professor, his students in India had started to search for all the possible relics in India that could have been the treasure. Thus, even before Gilbert and him had flew down to India, the treasure was discovered. And what followed was the perfect execution of a perfect plan. 

30th July, 2015

The Taj Mahal, became all the more famous for its past and also for safeguarding world’s precious stone. Even though the conflict over the ownership of Kohinoor diamond is still continuing, India can now be proud to house an equally valuable treasure of all times. 

All thanks to Professor and Edward for their efforts.

The end.