What Happened to Regina That Night?
Antarpur suddenly seemed full of intrigue, though in what way he could not imagine.
Rahul Srivastava’s fast-paced thriller, What Happened to Regina That Night, is set in Antarpur, a small town with a vast, fascinating history. Perched at the edge of a dense, wild forest and connected to the outside world by only a railway track, the region had once been occupied by an ancient forest tribe called the Kands. But constant battles with an invading warrior prince and subsequently the British, through the years, had resulted in the Kands being pushed away to the hills in the corner of the district. The only settlement that remained close to Antarpur now was the one located on Kandoha Hill, a site of great tragedy.
Tragedy is about to strike Antarpur once again, unless Kabir, an inquisitive (and unwelcome) visitor to the town can find out what really happened to Regina, a nun from the local convent, twelve years ago, and stop Regina’s fate from befalling another innocent.
Here’s an excerpt from the book –
The train raced through the darkness without attracting too
much attention. Except for the repetitive sound of wheels hitting
the joints of tracks—tatak tatak dudum dudum—there was little
else announcing its swift passage through thick forests. Winter
mists dulled the engine’s powerful headlights and its horn was
In the train’s sole air-conditioned coach, a thirteen-year-old
boy lay beneath a woolen blanket. It was 3:30 in the morning
and Kabir was lost somewhere between unfulfilled sleep and
a diligent desire to wake up. His body moved in rhythm with
the gently rocking coach. He nodded to his history teacher Ms
Rahel in a dream, wondering what she was doing there. Her
beautifully shaped mouth, painted crimson, appeared near his
ears, whispering something that sounded either like a plea to
be careful or an instigation to do something really reckless. Or
both. He wasn’t quite sure as the words didn’t make much sense
‘Danger ahead, kid. Scary moments await you, just around
the corner. Have faith in yourself. Take a chance. Rewrite your
She had a habit of peering over his shoulder in school, usually
to check if he was reading her prescribed book. Her sweet breath
always disconcerted him. It was like the whiff you got when
opening a jar of sugar. It merged with her favourite perfume to
produce a heady cocktail.
How could she smell so intoxicating? And look so fabulous?
And entice him into loving her classes so much?
The memory of her fragrance unsettled him and he struggled
to open his eyes. Where was he?
He saw the familiar plastic blue upholstery and thick curtains
of the railway coach, through a sleepy haze, and returned lovingly
to hug his pillow.
She was waiting for him, with a broad smile. She threw her
head back and laughed, her eyes shining wildly, hair spread
around her face like a halo.
‘So you will tell me something about the past that no one
knows? I know you can do it!’ He nodded meekly, and she laughed
like a maniac.
The sound of her laughter transformed into hiccups which
proceeded to become the clicking and clacking of train wheels—
tatak tatak dudum dudum.
He woke up, looked around nervously, and was half-relieved
not to find her anywhere, though one confused part of him could
have gone on with the dream. It felt so real. And nice. Like half
his class, he had a thing going for stunning Ms Rahel.
Groggy-headed, he switched on the light and stared at his
watch. The compartment was still nearly empty. He tied his shoelaces, yawned again, and stared out of the tinted window listlessly. By now, he had lost all enthusiasm for Antarpur.
About the author
Rahul Srivastava has always been intrigued by unusual places and the people who live in them. Along with Matias Echanove, he writes about them on airoots.org and has co-founded Urbanology – an initiative that wants to make places even more interesting and special.
He lives in Goa and works in cities and inhabited forests all over the world. His formal training is in anthropology.