“Tia, no you can’t go alone”; “mamma please, im already in my 11th, I can go alone……..it’s only 18 kms from here”; “keep the phone Tia, let papa come we will go together, I have lots of work today.” But as expected the phone rang and from the other side and a male voice said, “Tia beta, don’t worry you take out your bicycle and ill handle your mom ……..and don’t forget to give my wishes to your friend”. Papa is the best……. That’s what Tia thought and gave the phone to her mom……….. Mrs. Ray’s husband as always took his daughters side “Priya, she’s old enough let her go ……her friend stays only 18 kms from here if she leaves now she’ll reach in 1 hour….we should let her discover the world and here all know us, there wont be any problem”…..Mrs. ray kept the phone and looked at tia and said “ok, you can go and don’t forget to call me back as soon as you reach, and wait wait take this gajar ka halwa she really likes it.” Tia shouted, “You are the best parents ever”……and she went down the lane of her first ever journey alone……..
“Bye Hari uncle…….bye Chachi…hey Sunita im going to my Sarita’s house on my bicycle”…….Sunita waved at her and shouted “have a nice day Tia and tell me how was it.” On the way she stopped near a park and plucked some fresh flowers for her best friend and smiled and said, “sarita, it will be the best surprise for your birthday.” It was 4:00 pm and the weather was quite a pleasant one…..but oh god this wasn’t in plans it started raining heavily and she stopped at a small bus stand. A man with a big moustache was standing there and gave her a grim look…….there were three ladies sitting and gossiping they didn’t even turn to look at her……just then a young boy entered the dilapidated bus stand and kept staring at her……but, she was just bothered that, was the rain going to spoil her otherwise first….would be… adventurous short trip….. all alone. The rain didn’t seem to stop and she was already very tired. She decided to take a short nap.
Suddenly she heard so many voices …..As if there was some party going on. She opened her eyes to see that it was 8:00 pm. “Oh god! I slee….pt so laaate….oh my god what am I doing in this palace? My bicycle??” She turned to see it was kept right behind her but it wasn’t leaning to a dilapidated wall. The wall was polished one with craft work on it. She was confused and thought how tensed her mom would be??? She stepped outside the room …… it was a magnificent palace and there were so many men and women celebrating. All dressed, like the people in the fairy stories, that her grand mother used to tell her, when she was small. All dressed in exquisite jewellery and such beautiful costumes…..her eyes remained fixed they didn’t blink even. Suddenly someone pulled her inside and pushed her to the corner wall and closed her mouth…..two armed men crossed the balcony where she was standing. She stamped the feet of the boy who held her and blurted out, “you are the same boy who was standing in the bus stand?” “But why are you dressed like a prince”…… he smiled and said, “Because I’m the prince and it’s my engagement ceremony going on.” Suddenly Tia felt that she was staring at a very handsome young man…….prince. “What is your name?” she asked. He replied “I am Adwaitya”……. “But how did I come here? And why did you pull me inside when you saw those guards coming.” He replied, “You won’t understand”…… “If they had seen you they would have killed you”…….. “But why??? What have I done I don’t even know where I am?”….. “You are in the palace of Maharaja Ranjit.” Suddenly they heard a shrill voice “Rajkumar Adwaitya …….. Rajkumar Adwaitya” …….
He went outside keeping Tia guessing what was happening. An elderly woman in a beautiful sari …was enquiring. Adwaitya said, “Pranam matashri”. The over dressed woman asked “What are you doing in this room?”…. “No no im not doing anything”….. Then she moved her fingers on his head and continued “I know you are upset. I know you don’t want to marry but believe me it’s for your good that maharaja has arranged this girl……..look at Mrimayee how beautiful she is looking.” He didn’t say anything but told he would go down in some time……..the lady smiled at her and went away. Meanwhile Tia was almost in tears. He returned back to her and said “how can you girls cry so easily, I wish, I could even cry and tell that I don’t want to marry her……and anyways you look still prettier when you cry”……… and as all must be knowing once you praise a woman she forgets her tears…….and tia wasn’t any exception…….she blushed and said “stop joking and tell me how can I go from here.” He was lost in her small tiny eyes which already looked lost. He held her hand and took her to a door behind the room…..Tia said... “Oh! I forgot my cycle” wait here ill get it and in next few moments they got inside a big cave like thing with many torches …….it led into a beautiful and a big garden…..it had flowers of all types …….Adwaitya plucked one beautiful pink rose and gave it to her and then plucked a blood red apple and said “ you must be hungry please have it” just then Tia realized that she had been very selfish all this while and asked, “So, the Rajkumar doesn’t want to marry but he’s being forced to marry……” he stopped there and held her hand and said, “Tia, if I tell something you won’t believe. When I saw you in the bus stand standing alone smiling to yourself……I had lost my heart to you that very moment……I had agreed to get married but after I saw you I…..” Tia was shocked and of course very happy that PRINCE had fallen in love with her……..but she hid her happiness and showed only the shock “what?” ……. “Yes Tia” , but you don’t belong to my world and …….then suddenly he pulled her inside a bush and group of men, all armed, walked down the way…..trampling the tender grasses below there feet. Meanwhile through the leaves in the bushes, Tia kept on staring at him…….and as soon as they went she asked “ what do you mean by that and what world…… who are you?” “Tia, its 16th century……” that was enough to make Tia faint…….
“Tia beta ……….Tia beta open your eyes, I told you but you didn’t listen”………..the voices seemed like her parents voices. She opened her eyes and there she was lying on the lap of her mother. “How did I come here?......I was……I was…..” her father caressed her hair and said beta don’t worry uncle Hari saw that you had fainted in a bus stand…… he had gone to take shelter there because of rains….. “And… where is Adwaitya…..”….. “Which Adwaitya, Tia you were there alone in the bus stand”…… she looked at her right hand the pink rose was still there in it………and closed her eyes and slept……
While going that way again Tia kept staring at the bus stand till it perished from her eyes……. The car stopped at a small black colored gate and her granny came out and hugged her tightly….that day at night granny told Tia……. “Tia you know, that old bus stand on the way …….people say it was a big palace long back……and it is said that……it was a fateful night…..the prince of the palace had his engagement but there was a fire outbreak and the whole palace had perished.” Tia took out her diary and took out the rose and asked “Was the name of the prince Adwaitya?” granny said “I don’t know the name of the prince but the king was Maharaja Ranjit”……….. A drop of tear rolled down her eyes and fell on a petal of the flower…….and she wrote in her diary, “I don’t even know whether my first love was a truth or dream…….”