The magic castle has been there since my childhood. My tiny feet were not strong enough to climb the hill, nor did we have parental permission to go there.
We grew up with stories about the monsters that punished disobedient kids, the Fairy Godmother that rewards good behavior on attaining adulthood, the people who disappeared after going up there.
I met one of the disappeared beings in the city today. She had migrated because local custom would not allow her to take up the vocation she liked. She had attained a degree of fame and success as a ballet dancer in the city. She talked freely about her life, happy to meet someone from her place of origin – how she was terrified of the monsters in the castle, the monsters she encountered in the big, bad city and the friends and mentors who helped her along the way.
Sitting in her plush apartment with a glass of wine in hand, I visualized her being imprisoned by the monsters in the castle and then her grand escape to the city of her choice. Did the Fairy Godmother help? Or did she find her own wings to fly?
Back home in the holidays, I mustered courage to walk up the hill and take a tour of the castle. I saw cobwebs in the sunlight. A keeper who had set up house in the place was quick to notice me.
“There are very few who venture up here, though this is a place of historical interest. There are some statues and artefacts which qualify it to be called a museum. I wish the authorities would spare funds for it.”
“Have you taken up the matter with the authorities?”
“They are aware of this place being used as a den of vice by certain elements. I choose to turn a blind eye, if they don’t bother me. I guess it suits certain interests to keep it isolated.”
So, there are many stories hidden within the walls, but not the same ones I’d heard. Or are they the same stories in a different garb? The keeper himself is a mysterious figure.
It is a cold, wintry night and darkness falls by 5 pm. The shadows inside assume different shapes. The cobwebs are not visible any more, but I take care to avoid touching those while walking out.
I wish I’d cleaned the cobwebs long back. The ballet dancer had done it.
I turn back to see if the keeper really exists, or was just a barrier to thought.
The characters that live inside the castle are Hope and Fear. They had been dressed and paraded as demons or gods by storytellers. Someday, I’ll come back to see the artefacts – who created those and in which century? Are they good enough to be relevant today?