Ray takes us to the Rajasthani town called Bundi. Two friends, an author named Shankar and a journalist named Jayanto visit the town.
Jayanto’s Love for Bundi
One day while having some tea, Shankar observes that Jayanto is more quiet than usual. He asks Jayanto for the reason for such deep thought. Jayanto informs him that he has previously visited Bundi.
Those visages from the past were flooding Jayanto’s mind. Jayanto’s father worked as an archaeologist and had many excursions to this part of India, the graveyard of ancient lore and lavish architecture.
He recollects the lofty structures of Bundi and the circuit house. Even the furniture, vibrant fauna and flora, etc are all familiar to him. It brings a quality of eternal existence to the place. He thinks he has never left Bundi.
Trip to Bundi
Both of them begin an expedition to explore Bundi starting with the famous palace. The ruined relics of the site bring further nostalgia for Jayanto. He is arrested in a time capsule as he stands dazed by the sheer beauty and vastness of the fort.
Every part of the place has so much history and stories buried within it. The hallowed workmanship and architecture of Rajput kingdoms of yore are stamped all over Bundi and with extension Rajasthan.
The craftsmanship and dexterity infuse in every gateway, balcony, and wall were intricate and intimate. Jayanto os transfixed like a lost lover and the romance of spectacles of Bundi tugs at his heartstrings.
Next, Jayanto remembers the old Deodar tree, a tree of mystery and intrigue. He could still remember the tree and hunts for it. Soon he locates it.
His eyes are hypnotized by its pristine beauty and strength. Jayanto recalls a unique encounter with a European here but could not remember the details.
Jayanto finds it hard to remember more about the ‘European’. Eventually, he does. It was a doll named Fritz gifted to him by his uncle from his Swiss visit. The one-foot-tall doll became Jayanto’s favorite toy and he became inseparable from it. Shankar is intrigued.
However, the doll met a terrible end as it was mauled by two rabid dogs and ripped to pieces. It was tattered and bruised irreparably. Like a true friend, Jayanto gave Fritz a deserved burial near the Deodar tree in the same Circuit house.
A Strange Event
Anguished and tired both of them go back to sleep. After some time, Shankar gets up and sees a horrified Jayanto, awake and upright. He says that some small animal has crawled over his chest during sleep.
There are footprints on his pillow as well. They look for a rodent or animal but do not find any success. Shanker reassures Jayanto and exhorts him to rest after a difficult day.
The next day they return to the fort and the scenes of the previous day repeat themselves. Jayanto is still overwhelmed by the familiar sights of the statues, thrones, and memories.
Jayanto is still absorbed in some thought. When Shankar hectors him for a response, Jayanto divulges his mind. He is worried that the night visitor was no one else but Fritz.
Growing restless with his friend’s fear, Shankar asks him to dig up the old grave of Fritz and allay any lingering doubts, once and for all. Unwillingly Jayanto relents and they ask the gardener to exhume Fritz’s decaying remains. They hope to find a rotting plastic body or its metal belt.
However, what they actually see leave them shell-shocked. In place of Fritz, they find a baby’s bones. Horror seized the two friends who leave with some unnerving questions.
The story exploits the themes of childhood memories, illogical phobia, and paranormal phenomena. There is a constant vibe of suspense and foreboding in the text.
The mystery and horror add a unique taste to the story which culminates without closure. This allows the reader to imagine and creatively engage with the characters.