The Legend of Frosty Nights By Sonal Singh
"Baba*, tell us a story," said a small child.
"Yes Baba, please, please," said others clustered around.
Geriatric Abdul Jaffer’s rheumy eyes looked at the circle of eager faces. He was the oldest man in the village. Bent over on rheumatic bones, slightly deaf in an ear, he patrolled the village at nights. To the eager beavers, he claimed to be the village protector. Most evenings, sitting by a fragrant pinewood bonfire, he told the children stories before they went home, after play. Of late the children had been pestering him more and more, remaining outdoors far longer than their mother’s liked it. Unmindful of the cold, much to the chagrin of their mothers, the children would sit and listen enraptured. Finally, the mother’s complained to Abdul.
"Baba, tell us a scary story," suggested an imp today too.
"Scary eh?" said Abdul.
"Ooooh yes, please." They said eagerly. "We are not scared."
"Okay. Mind you then young scamps, this is a true story of a Chudail*." He said and began…
"Nestled in a secluded glen in the high mountains of Kashmir, lies a tiny hamlet. It is accessible only by half a day’s trek on foot. The hamlet sits in a circle of wooden huts, clustered around a small maidan* and is shrouded by thick woods. On frigid nights when the ferocious northern gale whips though the statuesque Chinars, howling like a banshee, the denizens retreat indoors, abandoning everything.
Legend has it that those are the nights when she walks, seeking warm bodies to keep her cold self from freezing. Those calamitous moonless nights are her realm.
No one has seen her for she cannot be seen. But, for those who listen closely, on stormy nights the tinkle of her anklets can be heard echoing in the valley."
The children looked at each other nervously. This was slightly scarier than they had bargained for.
"Shush…don’t speak, just listen." Eyes twinkling Abdul continued.
"Legend also has it that she is from the plains and she cannot bear our cold winters. She always comes with the first snow. So, when the first mist clings to the clammy woods, on nights like tonight, she comes seeking warm bodies. She abducts young disobedient children for their bodies are warm with mischief."
A few young ones gulped audibly. The slightly older ones held hands discreetly and snuck a glance at the woods. Their faces registering fear in the glow of the bonfire.
One brave soul spoke up. "Baba, will she come tonight?"
Abdul chuckled. "Don’t know but the weather is turning, isn’t it?"
The first gust of wind blew in from the woods. A wind chime tinkled softly in the distance. "She’s coming, she’s coming," yelled a child, running pell-mell for home. The others soon followed, tripping over, toppling down in their haste to reach home. Soon the maidan was vacant.
Old Abdul cackled his toothless laugh, sitting by the bonfire. "They won’t be troubling me or their mother’s anymore."
GLOSSARY Baba – grandfather Chudail – a malevolent female ghost/witch
Maidaan – A clearing, or piece of land used for play etc.
Sonal Singh is an MBA in finance and the founder of a woman centric Executive Search firm called Rian Placements. She dabbles in travel and is passionate about writing poetry, blogs and short fictional stories. Her poems and stories have been published in several anthologies such as ‘Bowl of Peace’ by Poetry Planet, ‘Out of the woods’ by Literature’s Light, ‘Quilled by Patriotism’ by Evince club publishing, ‘Voice of Hearts’ by Inkquills publishing etc. Sonal is a contributor to several online literary forums and platforms and has won awards, commendations and accolades for her work. She is working towards her getting her first solo book published. Sonal believes that life is a repertoire of anecdotes strung together in a colorful array, like a beaded necklace. The various situations that we encounter, the many incidents of every day, make life a melange of tales and conversational tidbits. And, that is what she attempts to capture through her writing. The above story has been written by her under the #nanostory #writingprompt organized by Plethora Blogazine on their Facebook’s Official Group Page. PROFILE LINKS Facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/sonal.singh.thakur Blog – https://sonal31singh.wordpress.com