It was a typical museum with dark, long corridors and huge halls with high ceilings. This one almost resembled the insides of a cathedral. Rohit and Seema gazed around in awe. One of the most beautiful museums they'd seen. And to think they'd get to visit one on an unlikely trek such as this. They'd been planning on the trek for quite some time now, and this museum literally waylaid them, as if it wanted them to walk in and take in the rare artefacts, before they proceeded in the hot sun. Seema smiled and clutched Rohit's palm. She was like Alice in wonderland. Rohit smiled back and sighed. This was a great place, no doubts.
The trek organizer had left them a few kilometers back at the foot of the Jogi mountain, with detailed instructions about first aid, food and other helpful tips in case they got lost. This was their first trek before they tied the knot a month hence. They just wanted to have a blast and do what they both loved doing - exploring nature.
"Funny, I thought the building looked much smaller from the outside" Rohit commented, gently running his fingers on a tiger, so realistic, he felt it would roar and bite his finger any time.
It never struck them as odd, the appearance of a museum such as this, in the middle of virtually nowhere. Even the organizer hadn't mentioned this in the route. But it didn't matter. Rohit had checked. From the window of the museum, they could see the nearby town. Well, a lot of folks preferred to drive up to a place like this; it was good tourism. Even if Rohit had any doubts it had slowly perished, after having walked around for a while now.
"This way please," The curator who'd welcomed them in flashed a typical curator smile that said, see it but don't touch it. He'd called himself Guru.
Seema rolled her eyes and exchanged a brief knowing glance with Rohit. The curator watched the lovers from the corner of his eye and smiled to himself before leading them to the room at the far end of the museum.
"And this.." He said opening a door that led to some kind of a basement, "is something you would'nt have seen anywhere in the world."
Rohit raised his eyebrows. There was a rare confidence in Guru's voice. They simply smiled and followed him downstairs.
"See? I told you." Guru looked around proudly, as if he'd built this place with his own hands.
Rohit had never seen anything like this before. Statuettes, caskets, jewelry, pottery, and more...indeed he'd never seen anything like this before.
"Original. From the 10th and 12th centuries. All these belonged to the Rastrakutas."
"Rastrakutas? But...how..?" Seema had read a bit of history, and knew that the valiant dynasty had indeed existed in India between 752-985 A.C.E and that their contribution in the field of art and architecture was unmatched. But to openly claim that all of this belonged to them was being a little too confident.
But before she could continue to quiz him about the Rastrakutas, Guru led them to an adjoining room with massive blinds and the walls adorned huge life-size paintings of various temple and historic monuments. They would've missed it had they not stopped by to see the paintings closely. And funnily, this part of the museum was lit poorly. And the air suddenly felt as heavy as lead. Seema's throat felt dry.
"Hey, isn't that..?" Rohit stopped. Guru turned. Seema grasped Rohit's shoulder, her eyes round with bewilderment.
"That's as you can see.." Guru stepped closer.
"The Taj Mahal" Seema completed the sentence.
"Yes. Quite right, ma'am."
"Why's it in shambles? Who could've painted it this way?" She wondered aloud.
"Ah, that's the specialty of these paintings ma'am. All these paintings represent buildings that are going to perish in the near future."
"But how gross. How can somebody think about our national wonder in this way?"
"That's how it is, ma'am."
Rohit and Seema turned to Guru, who had an almost diabolic smile now, instead of his warm, friendly countenance.
They looked at the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, the Qutub-Minar, Vidhana Soudha...all in pieces. And then they came to the last painting.
"Yes. It is."
It was the museum they were in.
"Wh..when is this going to happen?"
"Anytime now," Guru said, as the floor beneath them began to rumble and they started shaking violently.