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Rock Street, San Francisco

Fritz
-Satyajit Ray
Ray takes us to the Rajasthani town called Bundi. Two friends, an author named Shankar and a journalist named Jayanto visit the town.

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 had previously visited Bundi. Those visages from the past was 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.

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He recollected the lofty structures of Bundi and the circuit house. Even the furniture, vibrant fauna and flora etc were all familiar to him. It brought a quality of eternal existence to the place. He thought he had never left Bundi.
Both of them begin an expedition to explore Bundi starting with the famous palace. The dilapidated relics of the site brought further nostalgia for Jayanto. He was arrested in a time capsule as he stood dazed by the sheer beauty and vastness of the fort. Every part of the place had so much history and stories buried within it. The hallowed workmanship and architecture of Rajput kingdoms of yore was stamped all over Bundi and with extension Rajasthan. The craftsmanship and dexterity infuse in every gateway, balcony and wall was intricate and intimate. Jayanto was transfixed like a lost lover and the romance of spectacles of Bundi was tugging at his heart strings. .

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 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 was 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.

Anguished and tired both of them went back to sleep. After sometime, Shankar got up and saw a horrified Jayanto, awake and upright. He said some small animal had crawled over his chest during sleep. There were footprints on his pillow as well. They looked for a rodent or animal but did not find any success.

Shanker reassured Jayanto and exhorted him to rest after a difficult day.

The next day they returned to the fort and the scenes of previous day repeated themselves. Jayanto was still overwhelmed by the familiar sights of the statues, thrones and the memories.
Jayanto was still absorbed in some thought. When Shankar hectored him for a response, Jayanto divulged his mind. He was worried that the night visitor was no one else but Fritz.

Growing restless with his friend’s fear, Shankar asked him to dig up the old grave of Fritz and allay any lingering doubts, once and for all. Unwillingly Jayanto relented and they asked the gardener to exhume Fritz’s decaying remains. They hoped to find a rotting plastic body or its metal belt.

However, what they actually saw left them shell-shocked. In place of Fritz, they found a baby’s bones. Horror seized the two friends who were left with some unnerving questions.

Key Thoughts:
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 adds a unique taste to the story which culminates without closure. This allows the reader to imagine and creatively engage with the characters.

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