Rescued By Time

Book Award Sub-Category
2024 Young Or Golden Writer
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Logline or Premise
This book explores the cultural exodus of India over the last forty years. It is a work based on Fantasy and Historical Fiction. It took the author nearly five years to complete it due to the extensive research needed in gathering historical facts.
First 10 Pages


March 1914

The bright afternoon summer sun bore down relentlessly over the hill as a herd of goats grazed on its eastern slope. The small hill was slightly out of line amongst the Eastern Ghats that marched in close order formation from the ‘Madras Presidency’ in the south to the state of Bengal up north, guarding the coast line of India. The eastern side of the hill was rocky and bare, with only patches of vegetation and one lone Neem tree to cover its modesty. The western side was however dense and dark with trees and shrubs. Anjayya, the goatherd sat in the shade of the lone Neem tree leaning against the trunk. He was fifteen years old and his head was tied in a small turban while his thin body was bare except for the loin cloth that was pulled up his knees. His eyes lazily followed the movements of each of the goats as they went about their business in an unhurried manner. He preferred to let them graze on this side of the hill as it was easier to spot them. With smooth boulders the hill provided a bird’s eye view of the entire slope below. He turned to his right and saw a distant dark cloud moving northwards. Anjayya looked at the cloud with surprise as it was the spring season and the tropical summer was on its way. He got up from his seat and made a mental note of the number of his goats. He then started climbing up the hill to get a better view of the cloud. After twenty minutes of half walking and running, he reached the top of the hill and flopped down to catch his breath, his heavy panting seeming to reverberate over the stones. The dark cloud looked like a heavy suspended hill, casting shadows over the ghats and moving fast towards him. Rain from a cloud of that size could drench the hill and make the ground very slippery. His goats looked like tiny black, white and brown dots over the stony surface. In the distance he could see his sleepy village of Hanumooru. The houses looked like match boxes. The well in his house had been running low for some weeks. This cloud seemed capable of filling it up. He decided to go home and inform his father about the cloud, and keep some of the grass and the clothes from getting wet. He started running down the slope towards his goats. He reached the Neem tree, picked up his stick, and started calling out and herding his goats. He gathered all of them and counted them. There were forty two in all which meant that one was missing. He looked around but there was no other goat in the
vicinity. They seemed to be all there but he rarely made a mistake in counting. It was too late to count them again. He yelled out marching orders to the goats and slapped the ground with his stick. The rain had started coming down in big drops, darkening and wetting the stones and boulders on the southernmost tip of the hill.
Just then he heard a muffled call that sounded like a goat from behind the boulders. Seeing that the rest of them had started prancing at a brisk pace towards the village, he quickly ran up towards the source of the call. He reached a stretch of smooth grass behind the boulders and stood listening where the calls seemed to
come out. Just then a goat leaped out of thin air and landed right in front of him. Anjayya screamed out in terror and fell back. Terrified by the scream, the goat turned around and ran into the grass. It had barely taken three springs when it again disappeared into thin air. Anjayya gaped blankly at the place where the goat had been sucked up into invisibility. A cold shrill fright ran through him. He got up shivering from head to foot and started running down the hill. He did not stop until he reached home.


By evening, the incident had spread around the small village and became the topic of discussion. Different people came up with different versions, some in favour of Anjayya and some against him. His father was however furious on having lost one precious goat and slapped him for his carelessness. He even instructed Anjayya’s
mother to not serve any food for a day. All the pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears. His explanation of the dark cloud only added to people’s suspicions as there had been no heavy rain in the village. It had drizzled for a few minutes on the hill and stopped which was unnoticed by the villagers as they were in the middle of their
afternoon siesta. Anjayya grew tired of giving explanations and decided to keep away from all human presence. He stole into the house, took a blanket and walked out to the haystacks across the street which was near to the last house in the village. He loved to lie down in the hay during winters. Even though it was spring and the
hay was warmer he still stuck to his habit. He lay down and noticed that it was damp. For a moment he felt like calling out to his father and showing the damp hay and convince him about the rain. He then realised that his stubborn father would not listen to him and kept still. He watched the lamps go out one after the other in the
houses. He rewound the events of the afternoon in his mind for the umpteenth time. The more he thought about it, the more he was convinced that the goat had indeed disappeared right in front of him. He rolled to his right towards the hill and looked at it with disdain. He could make out the dark outline of the peak and the sway of the few trees that stood on its bare side in the night’s breeze. His father had forbidden him from taking the goats to graze on it. A wild thought crept into his mind. What if he went up the hill, found his goat and thrust it into his father’s arms. That would be a victory beyond any other. He looked around the street and saw that it was deserted. The afternoon’s fright had run its course and Anjayya was more inquisitive than ever. He walked back to his house and reached for a lamp hanging on the thatched roof of the pyol. He went to the backyard and fetched his father’s machete lying in a corner. The hill looked creepy in the darkness as he started walking towards it. On reaching the foot of the hill, he slowed down his pace and started climbing up. He knew this side of the hill like the palm of his hand but a false step in the darkness could result in a couple of broken bones. Suddenly there was a distant sound from up the hill which gave him goose bumps all over. It was a high pitched sound, almost exactly the same as a goat call. He walked on with renewed enthusiasm keeping the lamp as low as possible looking out for any snakes near the rock crevices. After nearly half an hour of climbing, he reached the Neem tree near the boulders where the goat had disappeared in the afternoon. Another call came from the direction of the boulders a few feet away. This time it sounded painful and louder than before. Gulping hard, he crossed the boulders onto the soft grass and held up his lamp. There was nothing in the vicinity. He could only see the sway of shrubs nearby. Some of the fright was starting to return to him but the insults and reprimands of his father were fresh and he wanted to prove that he was not wrong. He sat down on the grass holding up his lamp for a long time as his heart pounded like a hammer in his chest, trying to make logical sense of the situation while his unseasoned mind conjured up many devilish conspiracies of demons and black wizards ready to lure him into some trap and take him away as a slave. The calls were however starting to get longer and more frequent and the more he heard the more he felt convinced that it was indeed his lost goat calling out in pain. After a few minutes curiosity got the better of him. He got up chanting the name of Lord Hanuman and started walking towards the invisible calls with slow deliberate steps without making any sound. Suddenly his body felt like it had become weightless and simultaneously his feet felt the soft touch of the grass change to a hard rough rock. He lowered his lamp to the ground. It illuminated a black coarse surface with small stones that seemed to have been stuck together. It was however very even and seemed to have been a paved path. He ran his toe along the surface and realized that he had never touched this kind of a surface before. This was surprising as the hill was known to him since childhood and he had never seen this kind of surface before. Moreover all the plants and shrubs seemed to have vanished to give way to this mysterious path. There was a dark outline of some structure at the
top of the hill. He turned back to see if the Neem tree was still there and was overjoyed to see it standing as strong as ever. Keeping an eye on it, he continued walking in the direction of the calls when he saw something shining at a distance of some 20 feet. He slowly made his way towards it one step at a time when it moved. In the
light of his lamp he could make out the shining eyes and the outline of a goat’s head. Seeing the light the goat let out a frightened call and tried to get up and run. Anjayya was gripped with an impulse to run after the goat and catch it but checked himself. He slowly inched towards it, taking a hard look around in the little light of the lamp. The goat however seemed to be in discomfort and limped a few feet before stopping and looking back. He could then see the full outline and body of the goat and recognized it as one of his own. He quickly tied his machete to his waist, ran to the goat and picked it up. There was a gash on its front right leg. He lay it down and examined it with his lamp. It was not a very deep wound. ‘It must have fallen down and injured itself while trying to run away from me in the afternoon’ thought Anjayya. The dark rough path seemed to stretch beyond a corner and the boy had a burning desire to explore it. Finally recognizing the boy, the goat snuggled up to his leg. He picked it up and walked back the same way he came. This time his step was more firm and he decided to explore the path in the morning. The goat wriggled in his hands as the mysterious feeling of weightlessness was felt for the briefest of moments as they walked out of the boulders to the Neem tree. On reaching home, he went around to the backyard of the house and laid down his goat on the soft grass a few feet away from the rest. He fetched some turmeric from his house, cleaned the wound, applied some wet turmeric and tied it with a cloth. Feeling the initial burn the goat cried out a little but the boy was not particularly worried about his parents waking up. He wound his turban cloth and put it under his head as a pillow and lay down on the backyard pyol still wondering about the mysterious dark path on the hill. Some sharp sound made Anjayya wake up with a start and looked at his goat. It was trying to reach the leaves of the nearest plant a few feet away. The bells on the bullock jingled loudly as it flexed it’s neck. His father was leaving the village to fetch some dry hay for the buffaloes. The boy got up from his place and walked round to the front of the house where his father was perched on the bullock cart with a whip.

“After I come back, I will gather some men and go to the hill to find the goat” His father was saying to his mother who was sitting on the front pyol.
“There is no need for that.” said Anjayya.
“YOU KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. WAS THE BEATING YESTERDAY NOT ENOUGH?” thundered his father whirling the whip menacingly. His mother gestured to him to keep quiet.
“I brought the goat from the hill last night. It is tied in the backyard. Come I will show you.” Anjayya said walking towards the backyard.

His father stopped whirling his whip and looked at his wife. Even though his parents found it hard to believe, his conviction drew them to follow him mutely. Anjayya untied the goat and brought it forward. He realized that his father was looking at him rather than at the goat.

“Where did you find him?” asked his mother.

The boy recounted his nocturnal ordeal. Both his parents stared at him with open mouths. Finally his mother spoke up.

“Why did you go in the night? What if something bad had happened to you?”
“Nobody believed me yesterday so I thought I should get him back to prove it.” Said the boy looking at his father from the corner of his eye.
“I never asked you to go there in the night. I was anyways planning on taking some men today”. His father replied loudly yet defensively.
“YOU STAY AWAY FROM MY SON.” Shrieked the boy’s mother shielding him like a lioness protecting her cubs. “Thank God he came back to me safe. You hit him and humiliated him in front of everyone yesterday. It is you who will not get any food today”. She was nearly in tears as she finished her verbal attack, held her son to herself and led him into the house.

Her husband looked at their retreating figures guiltily and realized that it was best to stay away from both of them for some time. He was however proud of his son. It scared him to look at the hill during the nights and he would never have had the courage to venture out in the darkness. However one thing was for sure, the boy’s tale of the previous day was indeed true and he wanted to look at the strange phenomenon himself. He called his neighbours, most of who were his childhood friends and proudly recounted the story to them. In an hour’s time the house was teaming with visitors. Anjayya and the goat were brought to the front yard and the visitors were lined up to see them one after the other. The women pulled at the boy’s cheeks and the other children stared at him with respect. The news reached the village elders and they summoned the boy to the ancient Banyan tree in the middle of the village which had a circular pyol built around its mighty trunk. This tree served as the village panchayat’s meeting place and all the important discussions were held by the elders here. Anjayya was dressed in his best clothes and was taken to the panchayat in a big group of followers and admirers. On recounting the tale, the elders decided that the matter be investigated immediately and chose half a dozen of the strongest men to accompany them to the hill. A team of nine men including the boy’s father, with the boy leading the way started climbing the hill. The men were carrying long sticks. The children of the village even though held at bay by the elders, lagged behind the group calling out ‘Anjayya’ trying to get a piece of the action. Anjayya proudly walked straight to the Neem tree. He then turned north, took ten steps to reach the boulders, looked down and felt the trail of damp grass with his feet and started walking around the boulders. After crossing the boulders he again came upon the grass which had now widened into a triangular lawn and walked straight. No sooner had he taken 5 steps on the lawn that he disappeared out of sight. The men behind him let out a gasp and stood rooted to their places. Anjayya’s father was the first one to recover from the shock. He gathered his courage and slowly inched towards the spot where his son had just disappeared and called out his name “Anjayyaaaaa”.
Suddenly Anjayya appeared in front of him out of thin air. His father fell back holding his chest. The rest of the men looked at Anjayya with eyes full of terror. Even the strongest of them seemed ready to flee and looked for some hint from others. Amused, the boy helped his father up and led him through the grass. The familiar
feeling of weightlessness was felt and the ground below changed to the black hard surface that Anjayya had seen before. They both turned backwards and saw the terrified faces of the 8 men behind them. His father beckoned to them to follow but the men just stared blankly. “They can’t see us” said Anjayya laughing loudly. Hearing the laughter, one after the other the men started moving forward and froze at the sight of the father and son standing there. Anjayya showed the place where he had found the goat the previous night. They turned around to see that the boulders and the Neem tree stood exactly where they remembered them to be. Only the sight in front of them had changed. They all bent down on the ground and felt the hard rough surface with their hands. It appeared to be a neat pattern of black stones cut in small cubes of similar size. They seemed to have been stuck together to create the hard surface. The men picked up a few scattered stones and put them in their waistbands.
“What is that?” One of the men pointed to the top of the hill.

A large structure was built on the top of the hill which looked like a temple. The boy started walking up the path towards the temple. All the men were sweating profusely due to the hike as the heat seemed to have increased on the hill which seemed to reflect and emanate from the black path. The men who were bare foot walked over to the muddy ground next to it.

“Let’s go down the hill on the path and see where it ends.” Anjayya said his face screwed in concentration. “I wanted to see where this leads to yesterday but it was too dark” he completed.
“No wait. We have known this hill since we were born. We must have been through this very place a thousand times but have never come across this path or seen that temple. Added to that, the heat seems unnatural ever since we found this path. I do not know if this is the work of some angel or demon but I feel that we should go
back, observe the strange spot which sucks you into this foreign place a few more times.” Said the Village Munasib (Village official). The other men agreed to this, especially the bare footed ones. Anjayya quickly ran down to the edge of the hill and peered over. The path wound down the side of the hill. It looked like a giant snake coiling around the northern side of the hill and seemed to stretch to the bottom. They all started walking backwards towards the Neem tree, Anjayya had to follow them with a dejected look. None of them looked back till they reached the Neem tree. Once the nine men and Anjayya reached the Neem tree, they looked back beyond the boulders. The path was nowhere to be seen. In its place the usual shrubs and plants waved at them in the breeze. The men proceeded towards the banyan tree to report their experiences. The villagers sitting at the banyan tree were surprised to see the nine drenched and shaken men come back so early. The men flopped down at the nearest possible seats and gulped down water from three coconuts each. Only the boy seemed to have been unaffected by the expedition. The men quickly recounted the experience in great detail including a generous eulogy for Anjayya.
“This all looks really mysterious. It was very wise of us to return from there without exploring the path.” said the Munasib defending his decision lest someone called him a coward.
“There are some forces there which we do not understand. Some evil power is at play which is tricking us into that godforsaken place. We must thank god that nothing happened to that poor child who went up that hill in the night.” said one of the old ladies looking at Anjayya.
It was almost noon and the elders decided to have a private discussion in the evening at the same place. The gathering departed for lunch. Anjayya’s mother had prepared a sumptuous meal marking his safe return. He lay down on the cot which was usually reserved for his father and fell asleep. In the evening he was woken up by his friends who had come to tell him that the elders had gone up the hill. His mother had however, forbade him to go up the hill without her permission. He therefore took his friends to the Rama temple and they sat down in a corner discussing the hill. Just then they heard Anjayya’s name being called out. He went out to see his father looking for him up and down the street.

“Quick let’s go up the hill” his father said almost out of breath.
“What happened?” asked Anjayya alarmed.
“We are not able to find the path.” He replied.
“Amma forbade me to go up the hill again.”

“Don’t worry all the men of the village are there and I will also come with you”.
The boy and his friends ran up the hill as fast as they could. His father panted behind trying to keep up. As they reached the Neem tree they saw a group of elders coming to greet them. At the head of it were the men who were sitting at the banyan tree along with the temple priest and another old man with a long beard. He was
wearing a saffron coloured dhoti and had ash smeared on his forehead. It was a miracle that the old man had managed to climb up the hill.

“Lead us to the place where it happened” said one of the men.

Still panting from the climb, Anjayya walked to the Neem tree, turned north and made the now familiar way through the boulders and onto the grass. He then took measured steps on the grass and turned backwards to look at the group. The men and his friends were looking with unblinking eyes. He smiled at them and said,
“This is the spot where it happens”.

He then turned back facing north and took a step forward expecting the landscape to change and the path to appear. However nothing happened. The path was
nowhere to be seen. He then walked forward scanning the northern slope of the hill for the path. Nothing happened. The stones, plants and the shrubs stood there as
solid as ever. He turned around in confusion. The elders were watching him intently.

“Can you see me?” He asked.

They all nodded in assent.
“I don’t understand. The path was right here. I saw it twice.” He said to which his father and the elders walked up. He did not even notice them coming. His eyes were fixed on the hill where he had seen the path curve down to. They were silent for many moments looking at the place where they had been that very morning. They all turned round to look at the old man with inquisitive eyes waiting for an answer.

Finally the old man in saffron spoke, “You all have god’s blessings shining on you. You might have disappeared along with the path if you stayed on.”

The red rays of the setting sun had touched the tip of the hill and were slowly marching down its western length. The old man looked hard at the sun for some time.

“One of you climb up to the highest point on the hill and stand with your back to the sun.” He said to no one in particular.

The tallest of the boys ran up the hill on hearing this. The group had reached the spot on the grass which Anjayya had pointed out. The old man stood on the spot, faced northwards and closed his eyes. He then reached into his cloth bag and brought out a smooth round pebble. He chanted something in a low tone which the men could not hear and threw the pebble over his right shoulder. All the men watched the pebble rise to the top of its trajectory, shine brightly in the sun’s rays and then fall and roll on the small patch of earth, a few feet away from the Neem tree.
“One of you go to the place where the pebble has fallen and stand there with the pebble right in between your feet”. Said the old man, reaching deeper into his bag.
The Munasib obeyed as instructed and waited for further orders.
“Look up at the top of the hill and tell me if you see the boy there.” The old man then said bringing out a bent piece of cane which had a knot in the middle.
“Yes, I see him” replied the Munasib.
“Is he exactly in front of you but obviously a few hundred feet higher?”
The Munasib looked at the boy. He sure was standing in front of him. If the boy had been standing on level ground he would have been facing the Munasib upfront.

“Yes Swamiji he is right in front of me but on higher ground.”

All the men and boys looked at the old man with new found reverence who proceeded to hold the cane at it two ends lightly and let it swing freely. He then brought it close to the ground and started walking around the side of the hill. The cane knot seemed to fluctuate and then oscillate after every few steps. He then placed it back into his bag and brought out a shiny ball of copper which had a long string tied to it. He held the loose end of the string and let the ball drop gently until it hovered a few inches from the ground. He again walked around slower than before. The copper ball also seemed to fluctuate just after every step. The old man slowly got up from his bent position and stood up straight to face them all. His eyes were full of satisfaction. He then walked over to the Munasib and inspected the pebble that lay on the
“What times do the sunrise and sunset happen?” He asked
“Sunrises at 5 AM and sets at 5.30 PM” replied one of the elders.
“It is the Uttarayan Punya Kaal (The holy period of the Summer solstice). The sun will be touching the hill for more than 12 hours a day.” said the old man to himself
“Tell the boy to mark the spot where he was standing.” He ordered.
“Swamiji is there some evil force at play? How can we live in peace near this hill?” asked one of the elders.
“Even though this is a hilly place, it is blessed with a good flow of ground water. I could sense it by the ancient art of Water Divination. Ideally any place with water should not have any evil forces dwelling near it. You need the watchful eye of Lord Anjaneya. He is the eternal god who still walks on earth. All evil flees before his sight. I suggest you build a temple for Lord Anjaneya on top of the hill where the boy was standing. The rays of the sun shall illuminate his presence for most of the day. Make sure to dig a well close to the hill and wash the Idol of the Lord with its water and drink it as the Tirtham(Holy water). That will eradicate this evil power from your lives. Avoid the hill during the nights. I will continue on my journey next week. I shall conjure up a Yantra (Powerful object aiding in worship) before leaving. We shall do the Pratishta(Installation) with a clay idol of the Lord before then. You can install a stone idol once it is ready.” He said looking at the priest who nodded with a low bow.
Within a week, a small temple not more than six feet in height, was built with mud bricks. The old man installed the Yantra and the clay idol of Lord Hanuman after which he continued on his pilgrimage. The village priest put his son in-charge of the Rama temple and himself took full charge of the Anjaneya temple on top of the hill. His new job required him to walk up the hill after the first rays of the sun had touched the temple and start the morning pooja for the deity. Some men checked the spot where the path had appeared on one of their visits. However no such thing happened and this reinforced their faith in the deity and the Swamiji whom they now
started believing to be Lord Anjaneya himself. Strict instructions were given to all villagers to avoid the hill during the nights. Women and children in particular were instructed to avoid the hill at all times unless escorted by a man. News spread to nearby villages and by the end of the month, bullock carts started pouring in bringing people who wanted to seek Lord Anjaneya’s grace at the temple. Bhajans and Poojas were held in the evenings. The devotion towards the temple reached such a level that people started their daily duties only after looking at the temple in the early morning sun. Only one person remained unaffected by all the activity. The
goatherd who had discovered the path sat near the temple every evening with his friends who eagerly gobbled the Prasadam (Holy offering to god). He was not interested in the Bhajans, Poojas or the Prasadam. His eyes were fixed on the Neem tree and the boulders near it where his goat had disappeared a month back.