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“If the sky that we look upon

  Should tumble and fall

  Or the mountains

  Should crumble to the sea,

   I won’t cry

   I won’t cry

   No I won’t shed a tear

   Just as long as you

   Stand by me”

                 {B.E.KING*STAND BY ME}

 

APRIL 2001:

SUBURBIA MUMBAI

I received the letter, the day I lost my job, the letter had been mailed at Akash’s address, he had couriered it to my present P.G. Accommodation.

I held it in my hand as I sat down to on my bed. I had found it pushed underneath my door and had stepped on it while opening the door. The hand writing was not familiar, there was no sender’s address on the reverse side, and it was blank, except for my shoe print where I had stepped on it.

“What can it be?” I contemplated, it can’t be a bill, I bought everything on cash, shrugging my shoulders I tore it at one corner and then tore down the whole length, I puffed air into the now open letter, then pushed my fingers in and pulled out a single sheet of paper. My forehead creases, I unfolded the sheet.

 

Dear Vikram,

You might be surprised to receive a letter from me, but there was no alternate as I didn’t have your phone number, I am sending this note at Akash’s address hope you receive it soon. I called Akash’s place for your contact address, but his mother told me that Akash was out of town and she didn’t have your address!

Anyway when you receive this letter, treat it as URGENT and contact me.

                 Bye,

                Anupama!

 

Hell, the letter was from my cousin sister Anupama, I hadn’t met or talked to her for the last two years, puzzled I read the letter again. I noticed that halfway through the letter the writing had turned wobbly, words like ‘Address’ Treat and Bye’ had been hard to decipher, it seemed like someone drunk and in a stupor was writing who had lost control on his writing halfway.

Anupama, now what was wrong with her? Why the sudden call?

Anupama Saxena was my first cousin from my mother’s side; she was the eldest daughter of my aunt who was my mother’s elder sister.

They were two sisters, Anupama and Radhika, Anupama the elder one, Rakhika a year younger, before I lost my parents in a train accident; we use to visit my aunt’s house on regular basis and on festivals. It was a must go, they were rich, compared to us, they had always been rich, when I lost my parents on the fatefully day, five years ago, my aunt and Anupama and Radhika had taken care of me. I lived with them for a year, my aunt was a widow, having lost her husband when Radhika had been a tot, and he had died of a heart-attack. I stayed with them for a year, and then shifted, deciding to stand on my own, they begged me to be with them and carry on with life, but I decided otherwise. I wanted to be my own man; so many things had changed in the last five years. Anupama got married, I attended her wedding, my brother-in-law was a nice guy, who six months after the married left for American to pursue higher studies, while Anupama stayed back to await his return.

The last I met them was when they shifted to a quaint little bungalow in Santacruz named ‘MEHTAB VILLA’. I met them for the house-warming; my aunt chided me for not keeping in touch, reminding me that we were the only kin in this big city.

I promised to come more often, a promise I broke on many occasions, since I kept shifting my residence, everyone found it difficult to keep in touch, some gave up, some pestered, I myself encouraged people not to bother with me, I refused practically every invitation, preferring to keep to myself, people thought me aloof and standoffish, I agreed that is what I was, I wanted to be a recluse, working only to keep body and soul together. I had turned this way since my parents died, in my subconscious, I blamed the world for it, I hated everything, yet some people stuck to me not giving up like my friend Akash, who was always a step behind me no matter how many jobs or homes I changed, we had met on my first job and still remained friends.

My aunt and cousins were not as hardy as Akash; they had given up on me long ago and preferred to wait for me to surface!

Not this time, this time they were seeking me, hence the letter, since I had just left my job, I decided to visit them first thing tomorrow morning!

☠  

The next day I rode my bike over to my aunt’s house, their bungalow nestled a quiet by lane in Santacruz*, and there were a few other bungalows and some vacant plots, on one of them a building was under-construction. I parked in front of the bungalow, I was surprised to see the name ‘MEHTAB VILLA’ on the wrought-iron gates, and my aunt hadn’t changed the bungalow’s name. Unlatching the gates I walked over to the front door, the bungalow was a two stored structure, if I remember correctly there were nine rooms in total. The bungalow was surrounded by a small garden, the borders of which were ringed by trees. A high wall ran all around, you couldn’t look out and vice-verse. No one could fail to notice that the garden area was going to waste, the grass was already ankle-high, leaves from the trees lay like a carpet on it, bushes stood untrimmed and a few planted flowers had wilted and dried up. In fact if one examined closely the whole bungalow looked seedy and run-down.

The paint flaking in some areas, while moss crepes over closed windows, all the windows that I could see on this side were closed and possibly locked too! Question forming my mind, I rang the front bell, I could hear it chime through the house, two minutes later I was still outside. I rang the bell again and once more for good five minutes, still no answer, panic crepes up my spine, I rang again and again and then banged loudly on the door from some time. I was about to shout our names when I heard footsteps running towards the door, loudly the chains were rattled, the door unlocked and slowly opened.

Anupama peered out at me through fatigue-filled eyes; there was no reorganization in her eyes.

I froze on looking at her appearance, her hair was disheveled, the gown she wore which had stained, her feet bare, she looked like someone who hadn’t slept for weeks!

“Anupama It’s me Vikram, Vicky.” I ventured looking at her.

There was a flicker in her eyes, she blinked them several times” Vicky, it’s you, you got my letter?” she said hoarsely.

“Yeah, I received it yesterday, what’s wrong?” I said.

She sighed, relief flickered across her face. “Come in, come in, why you are standing outside, mama will be so glad.” she chattered.

She caught my hand tugging me into the house. I stepped inside.

(Later when I recollect that moment, wryly I think that step was my most fatal!)

The house was a mess, no question about it, things in the drawing room were strewn, everywhere things lay where they were, and no one bothered to pick or set them right!

If I remember correctly from my last visit, the bungalow had nine rooms, the drawing room led to three rooms, one of which was a large kitchen with a door opening into the backyard, upstairs were the remaining rooms and the staircase led up to an open terrace.

“Come upstairs, mama is in bed, she’s not well” Anupama said hurrying up the stairs.

I paced to catch up. “Something serious” I asked anxiously referring to aunt.

“Yes, everything, everything.” she replied

“What’s wrong with aunt?” I questioned, puzzled over her reply.

“Aunt?” you mean mama?”

“Yes, what’s wrong, you said everything.” I said.

“Oh not with mama, she’s got a mild fever, rest every thing’s serious” she replied puzzling and walked into mama’s room.

I mulled over her reply, hell what was happening here, why was Anupama so vague and tense.

I heard her calling out to her mother, saying that I was here. When I heard my name, I went in.

Aunt was lying in bed covered with a blanket, a chair was placed near the bed, and I went up and sat down.

“Vicky, Vicky, is it you?” aunt said, her voice straining from the fever.

“Yes aunt, I’m here.” I said grasping her hand. “How do you feel?”

Anupama handed her mother her glasses, aunt put them on then looked at me, a small smile spread on her face.

“Vicky, you came, you came, good, good.” she said.

“Of course, aunt, I came as soon as I got Anupama’s letter”

“Good boy, we need you, we need you here” she said.

Puzzled I looked up at Anupama, who nodded silently.

“Anu, have you given Vicky something, tea, something to eat?”

“Mama, he just got here” Anupama said.

“Relax aunt, I’m okay, tell me how do you feel?”

She made a face. “It’s just a slight fever, now that you are here, I’ll get better soon”

“Of course you will, don’t worry aunt; I’ll be here as long as you want” I assured her.

She beamed, her hand tightening in mine, and then her strength slackened as she drifted off to sleep.

Quietly I rose and tip-toed out of the room followed by Anupama We went downstairs.

“Come Vicky, have something.” Anupama said, heading for the kitchen.

I sat at the large table, while Anupama busied herself, pulling things out of the fridge.

“Anupama, first tell me what’s wrong, what’s happening?” I said perplexed.

“I’ll tell you, I’ll explain everything, first have something.” she said.

“Where’s Radhika and uncle, what’s the news from Sekhar in USA?” I asked, beginning to get exasperated with her behavior.

“Will you have eggs? I’ll make an omelette?” she asked ignoring my questions.

“Anupama, what the hell, will you listen to me.” I almost shouted.

She jumped, dropping a couple of eggs, they splattered on the kitchen floor, and she looked down and started sobbing.

There were footsteps at the door.

I turned round

Radhika and uncle stood there looking at me.

        

That afternoon was a nightmare for me, I couldn’t believe a word they told me, they repeated and cajoled, but for me it was disbelief and to a certain extent stupidity. It was their imagination; finally I declared they had all gone mad, crazy, loco, together and simultaneously!

“It’s true Vicky, There are spirits haunting this house.” Radhika repeated for the umpteenth time, tension fraught on her face.

“With respected to uncle, I think you have gone Mad. Spirits! Ghosts! Beings! There are no such things and you all claim to have seen them!”

“I don’t believe what I am hearing!”

“It’s true, Vicky, whether you believe or not.” uncle said quietly.

“And uncle you have seen them?”

“Yes, many times and so will you.” uncle replied, he coughed then continued.

“When we shifted in, in the beginning we heard noises and such, but no one gave it a thought, thinking it must be rats or other thing’s, then everyone started falling sick regularly, I would fall sick, then get well, then aunt, after her Anu and so on, the doctors were puzzled, we did extensive tests, on a couple of occasions, were admitted to, but nothing, the doctor’s couldn’t come up with nothing specific. Sekhar suggested it might be some virus which will go away after a while…”

“Where’s Sekhar?” I interrupted.

No one replied, uncle looked away, Radhika looked at the floor.

“Why what’s wrong, where’s he?” I asked again.

Anupama blurted out. “He’s disappeared.”

“Disappeared, What?” I said incredulously.

“Yes, vanished, six months back, the police in America are trying to locate him.” Anupama said.

“And his parents in Bangalore” I said.

“They too, we tried to contact them, but there’s no news.” Anupama said.

I thought I’ll go mad, I was being bombarded by stunning revelations, I couldn’t make up what to believe, what to not!

“Vicky, believe us.” uncle said. “Six months back things took a turn for the worst, Sekhar and his parents are untraceable, and here we are being hunted and now being attacked physically.”

“Uncle, let’s go to the police, to someone.” I suggested.

“What will you tell them, that our house is haunted?”

“Then let us leave this place.” I said.

“We can’t, we tried leaving, that was the first thing we tried, but the spirits following us, they tried to kill us.” uncle revealed!

“Tried to kill” I swallowed.

“Yes, Radhika was almost run over by a truck and your aunt was electrocuted badly in the hotel, where we had shifted.” uncle said.

“Vicky, we can’t leave, and neither can we stay, during the day, everything is normal, but at nights they come, some nights they are here, then for a couple of nights nothing, you can’t feel anything. Then they reappear.” Anupama said, her voice resigned

“The provisions and eatables are delivered by the vendor’s and stores, the bills are collected. But we cannot step out, we tried many times and every time almost escapes with our lives.” Radhika said.

“We are worried, if we say all this to someone else, they’ll declare us insane and worst, so the only person we could turn to was you.” uncle said.

“We tried contacting you earliest, but you had moved.” Anupama joined in.

“Vicky, you don’t understand, we are trapped in here, and this house has become a prison for us. Can you do something?” uncle pleaded.

Can I do something? What can a twenty-nine year old man do? Do about such a situation? What can he do about ghosts and beings, when he didn’t believe in them in the first place! Should he go to the police? Or to the priest’s and temple! Or to the media! Or to the common man walking down the streets? I looked at my relatives as they looked back at me with eyes filled with hope.

The looked pale and sick to me, some disease seemed to be eating away at their insides.

“Uncle, I’ll stay here and see for myself, after listening to all this, I’m still not convinced to be frank. So I’ll stay and see things for myself.” I said hesitantly. Then a thought struck me. “To clear up things, right now I’ll go out of this house with you and we’ll see.”

On hearing my words, I saw uncle shrink back physically, almost retiring inside his skin.

The fear was so great.

“I’ll go out with you.” Anupama said quietly.

☠       

The afternoon sun was hot and bright in the skies, when we stepped out of the house, Anupama sticking close to me, looking around her like a frightened deer.

“How far is the station from here?” I asked her.

“Whiten walking distance.” Anupama replied.

“Good, then we won’t take my bike. We will walk slowly and carefully to the station, you say that every time you tried to leave the house somehow you meet with a nearly fatal accident, right?”

“Yes, Vicky” Anupama said, fear rising in her voice.

“Let’s see, walk carefully beside me, slowly.” I instructed.

In that fashion we reached the station, I brought a couple of newspapers and Anupama made some purchases. I watched over her like a hawk, seeing that no person disturbed her or clashed with her, slowly we came back, till we reached her lane, the house visible in the distance.

“See, it’s nothing, I think it was just some coincidences that made you think that if you left the house you will be killed.” I told Anupama.

“My heart wants to agreed, Vicky, but with me it has happened twice and also with Radhika and uncle.”

“Anupama, you know since your dad expired, uncle has not been keeping well, after your dad was his younger brother, and he still hasn’t overcome the shock of losing his younger brother.”

“Yes that’s true.” Anupama said.

I continued. “So in his mental state he must have imagined things.”

“No, no, Vicky, it’s no wild imaginations, the house is haunted.” she declared.

I shrugged. “We’ll see.”

We were a house away from ‘MEHTAB VILLA’ the three stray dog’s came out from nowhere with ferocious barks, they attacked Anupama, snarling and snapping, with a terrorized scream Anupama fell on the ground, the dog’s trying to bite her.

“Help, help me.” Anupama screamed. “Vicky help”

Passer-by stopped a woman screamed, a man shouted trying to scare away the dogs, and another man ran over to help.

I shouted and kicked at one dog, catching him in the stomach, the dog howled and jumped in the air.

Anupama was screaming and rolling on the ground trying to protect her face, one dog snapped his jaws, unluckily he bite into Anupama’s handbag.

Desperate I looked round grabbed. A fallen branch and whacked one dog with all the strength I possessed. The branch struck his hind legs, there was a loud crack as a bone in his leg broke, the dog howled in terrible pain and hobbled away.

“VICKYYYY” Anupama screamed as another dog bit her hand, his teeth drawing blood.

I swung the branch at the dog, striking him in the jaw, it wheeled away. The man who had ran over struck the third dog with a brick, the remaining two dogs ran away.

Anupama screamed hysterically, blood dripping from her hand.

“She needs a doctor.” the man advised me, he still clutched another brick in case the dogs came back.

“Thanks for your help, sir” I told him, stooping to help Anupama to her feet.

“Take me home, Vicky.” Anupama cried.

“Yeah Anupama, but let’s see a doctor first.” I suggested.

“No, no, no, take me home.” Anupama cried.

“Anupama, it may get infected.” I argued.

“Home, Vicky, I’m scared.” she pleaded.

“Okay, okay” I said giving up I smiled at the man, who smiled back in sympathy and walked away.

I held Anupama and we entered ‘MEHTAB VILLA’

“See Vicky, you see, it happens.” she said fiercely.

I said nothing, they were right, I felt crushed, as we walked up to the door, I saw Radhika, aunt and uncle staring out at us through the glass windows.

                                                

The five of us sat around the dining table, each one lost their own thoughts, and dusk was falling over the city. Anupama sat with her hand bandaged, a doctor had left an hour ago, giving her an injection and some medicines, aunt insisted that she was feeling well and refused to go back to bed. I wracked my brains for some plan. Tomorrow I decided to approach the authorities, who could help in such situations, the government must be informed!

“I have decided to go to the police tomorrow morning.” I told the others.

“You think that will be a good idea?” uncle asked.

Radhika rose to make some tea for all of us.

“Yes uncle, we must go to someone if we can’t go out ourselves than let others come here to help us.” I said.

“I think Vicky’s right.” aunt said.

“But what if they laugh at us or call us mad” Anupama said.

I thought over it then said. “Tell me something about these spirits that you see.”

“What do you want to know” uncle asked?

“All that you have experienced” I said.

“They were always there, but have turned more forceful in the last six months.” uncle said.

“What do you mean by forceful?” I asked.

“They have attacked us physically.” he replied softly.

“Have you seen them?” I asked.

“No, but during some nights, they attack and….” Anupama began then fell silent.

“And what” I said.

Anupama sighed. “Vicky, we can’t describe the attacks, one can only know it by experiencing it.”

“Okay, but tell me anyone else has been attacked, any outsiders?” I asked.

“No, no one, like I told you, it’s all quiet and peaceful during day time no one who has come here has felt anything.” uncle replied.

“Vicky, the doctor just left, did he feel anything? No nothing, I’ll tell you it’s just us.” Anupama added.

“So no outsider feels anything, okay what if someone stays back, during the night?” I questioned.

“They don’t feel a thing.” Radhika said coming from the kitchen carrying a tray.

I turned to her.

“In the beginning I invited my friends over for the night, but nothing, no one felt anything different. In fact everyone loved this house.” Radhika explained.

I pondered over all this, while we had our tea. I had heard about people who believed in the occult. The Unknown, perhaps some such person will be able to help us. What I could make out from all this talk was. One: the house was haunted and my relatives being harassed by spirits and beings. Two: they couldn’t leave the

House and three: any outsiders didn’t feel anything. Strange while in the house during the day or at night!

The big question was will I also be like an outsider or become like my relatives. Haunted!

                                                 

Radhika showed me to my room.

“Vicky, if you feel anything, don’t hesitate just come over to our room.” she told me.

I squared my shoulders, in my life; I had read novels, seen movies, heard stories, but never personally experience anything about spirits or beings. I wasn’t frightened, just cautious about something I had no clue!

“Anu, mom and I sleep in one room, uncle Shyam is in the room next door, when the spirits come we all huddle in one room and wait for the morning.” Radhika explained.

“Don’t worry Radhika, it’s just tonight, tomorrow I’ll go to the police and things will change.” I said assuring her.

She gave me a bleak smile. “I hope so, if only we can get away from this house.”

“We will, we will, I promise you.”

She said good-night and walked away looking tired and listless.

I didn’t blame them; the continuous trouble was taking its toll.

I kept the door open and the lights on, I sat on the bed, my room faced the west side of the house, and out through the windows I could see the dark vacant lot below. Next to the house and the street lights and the lights of the buildings beyond! The lights assured me, giving me a warm feeling for a moment. I found everything funny here the world was on its routine and here we were trapped inside a haunted house!

I removed my shoes and slipped under the coverlet, looking up at the ceiling I thought about next day’s plans till I drifted to sleep.

                                                                                                                  

The thumping noise woke me up. Someone was walking up the stairs. The steps were heavy.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

“Uncle, is that you?” I called out sitting up in bed.

Silence greeted my voice, whoever it was, was waiting.

“Uncle, uncle are you there?” I called out again, my body breaking into a sweat. I looked out of the window; it was pitch dark, except for the lonely street light. The light in the room was out. Who had put in out! Radhika Anupama.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! The steps came again ascending the staircase.

I felt my heart pounding loudly. I remembered Radhika’s words. If you feel anything comes to our room.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! The footsteps were heavy; they seemed to be still climbing. No, it can’t be that, someone was going down the stairs and climbing them again and again!

Blood pounding in my ears! I waited, frozen like an animal under a searchlight.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

The steps came again up the stairs.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

With a prayer on my lips, I got out of the bed and dashed for the door.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

THUUUMMMMMPPP!

The footsteps seemed to merge into once. Someone was now running at top speed, someone running towards me!

THUMPPPPPPPPP!

With a cry I ran to the door and someone dashed into me. The force of the collision was so strong that I was flung away and thrown onto my bed. Landing on my hands and knees! I looked at my room’s door. The light in my room was off, but the hallway light was on.

A man stood in my room doorway. A tall man, heavyset and bearded! His bloodshot eyes fixed on me. He raised a foot and then let it fall on the floor.

THUMP!

Then the other foot!

THUMP!

I felt saliva drool out of my mouth, still on my hands and knees I watched the man! I tried to say something, a croak escaped my lips.

The man repeated its action.

THUMP! THUMP!

Then he started dancing up and down.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

Then his action became a blur. THUMP! THUMP! THUMMMMPPPP!

The man rushed into the room. I opened my mouth to scream for my life, but strangely no sound escaped my throat. I felt as if I had turned dumb. In seconds my throat felt like tied in knots.

The man kicked me in the stomach. The blow made me literally rise in air and then drop down. He kicked me again and again repeatedly on my stomach!

The pain was horrible. I screamed and screamed, I felt my screams resound whiten my body.

The man kicked me again and again, his legs like to well-oiled pistons.

I begged for unconsciousness to faint. The agony was unbearable.

The man went on and on. Not saying a word, just kicking me again and yet again in my stomach.

I felt my stomach would burst open, spilling my guts out. My mind was aflame with the pain.

Then he stopped, turned round and walked out of the room.

I groaned and sobbed wildly. The tears running wild! I had received the beating of my life and then like a dream I slipped into unconsciousness

                                          

“You mean, when you are attacked, no one else knows.”

“That is correct Vicky, see last night you were attacked brutally, but we slept soundly not knowing anything.” Anupama said.

We were gathered in the dawning room. While aunty and Radhika were dusting and setting the room right! Anupama and uncle sat with me.

“When they attack you, you scream and shout, but there is something that no one else can hear you.” uncle said.

“One more thing you were hurt badly, beaten repeatedly. But do you feel a thing right now, any pain?” Anupama said.

“No, in fact I feel perfectly alright.” I replied.

“Exactly, that is what happens with us too.

During the attack you shout for help or in pain, but no one hears you and afterwards you feel no pain, no tell-tale bruises, not even a slight headache! It’s like as if nothing happened.”

They were absolutely right. After a pain-filled, terrifying night, I should be in bed or hospitalized badly hurt! Yet here I was feeling not a thing and having coffee with the others. Was the attack my imagination?

“You know, you began to think that nothing happened, it was all your imagination.” Anupama said, as if reading my mind.

“Now tell me Vicky, in such a situation, who will believe us? Nothing happens during daytime, no outsider feels anything wrong or strange when he’s here. You are attacked but can’t shout for help and there are no signs of the attack the next day, no proof to show to anyone. Under such circumstances who will believe us?” uncle pointed out.

Anupama nodded her head. “They will only laugh of our claims and dab us insane.”

I rose to my feet and walked around the room thinking. I was attacked because I was related to them. If he stayed here we will be haunted till someone died or went mad. If we left the house, then a fatal accident will get us. We were truly properly trapped! Yet there must be some people who will believe in us. Believe our stories. I decided to try there police first.

“I’m going to call the police.” I declared to the others.

                                                  

By evening I was still waiting for someone from the police-station to arrive. The officer-in-charge had promised to send someone across soon to check out the house. He had flatly refused to believe my story of spirits and insisted that I had been attacked by an intruder or burglar.

When by seven O’clock no one had come. I picked up the phone for the third time to call the station. There was no dial tone. The phone was dead!

Groaned inwardly! Night fell rapidly across the skies.

Will they return tonight? The thought seared through my brain.                                              

That night we all decided to sleep in the large drawing room. We carried down mattresses, pillows and bed sheets, while uncle lay down on the sofa. I spread my mattresses near the main door. Tired and weary everyone went to sleep. I saw Anupama wandering around for some time, and then she too went to lie down!        

☠                                                                                                                                          

My eyes snapped open, with a jerk I sat up. I peered at the watch on my wrist. The time read two-thirty-five. I looked round and could hardly see anything. The drawing room was in pitch darkness! Someone had switched off the lamps. I was about to call out. When I heard the murmurings, it came from upstairs.                                                                                                                                                                   

My heart began to pound. They were here. The spirits were back! I began to shiver, will I be attacked again? The pain will be unbearable.

The murmurings rose and fell. A lot of people were talking. People!

Slowly I rose to my feet. “Anupama, aunt, uncle” I called out softly. I wanted them awake and with me.

There was no reply.

“Aunt, uncle” I hissed again, trying to look into the darkness room.

No one answered me, and then I realized, the murmurings, the voices belonged to them. Not wanting to disturb me, they had gone upstairs to talk. The tension left my body. I started upstairs.

The voice was coming from aunt’s room.

I opened the door and for a moment shielded my eyes from the power lights blazing inside the room.

The room was ablaze with lights and crammed with over a hundred people inside.

What the hell. How can over a hundred people fit inside a single room! I thought.

Then the answer stunned me. They were not people. They were ghosts. Dead people! I was seeing so many for the first time.

A meeting was on.                                                                                                                                         

Some of them parted and uncle Shyam and aunt, Radhikar and Anupama came forward.

I gasped in shock.

“Welcome Vicky, come join the party.” aunt invited.

“Aunt what are you doing here, with…with these things.” I said.

Aunt looked at the others, someone giggled.

Then they all laughed.

“Silly man, don’t you understand, we are all dead, we were dead when we call you over, dead long ago and joined by our friends here. Come now you must join us.” aunt answered, stepping forward.

Silently the others walked behind her.

“No, no, no, leave me alone!” I shouted. Stepping back and bumping into others behind me.

It was no use they were all around me. They drew closer and around. Till they enveloped me completely!

                                                

May 2001

Suburbia Mumbai

A month has passed. I lay in bed. My body wracked with fever. I hardly move. The pain is constant and reminding. A whole month has passed and no one has come to the house. There is no one to save me. My body is wasting away. Every night the others come to cajole me, to make me understand. When I refuse, aunt tells them and the others beat me, hurting me badly! I try to shout, scream. But no sound escapes my lips. Night after night they come to beat and beat me.

I can’t take this anymore and have decided to give up. It is futile to resist them. Tonight perhaps I will join them. It will be so nice to give up this wretched life and live with them.

                                              

APRIL 2001

Suburbia Mumbai!

“Sir, the government took over this house and has converted it into a state guest house.” My assistant Shanker said, showing me around ‘METHAB VILLA’.

“You will be the first person in two years to stay here, Sir.”

“What happened to the original owners” I asked.

Shanker shrugged. “No one knows sir, the place was found locked but empty by us”

The government advertised for any claimant to come forward. After six month’s had passed a no one came forward. The government took over the property.” he said.

I nodded. I had been, just been appointed as district administration and for the next two years this house would be my official residence.

“We have refurbished. I hope you find it comfortable.” When is the family coming sir?” Shanker said.

“In a couple of days” I replied. “It’s a lovely house, I’m sure I’ll be comfortable here.” I said.

“Okay sir, I’ll see you tomorrow, in-case there’s anything, and you have my number.”

                                                                                                                                   

Satish sat up in bed, with a start. The noise came again.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

Someone was climbing the staircase. Who can it be? Was it a thief?

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

Satish switched at the bedside light and looked at the door.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

It seemed like someone was going up and down the stairs.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

And then the sound merged into one THUUUUUMMMPPP!

A huge man with bloodshot eyes stood in the doorway. Satish tried to shout but no sound came forth.

The man rushed at him.

 

                                                        THE END   

     

Santcruz* A place in Mumbai {India}

Cover Image Haunted Nightmares

Every written work is entirely a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely unintentional and coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claim for damages.

Thank You!

Author:

Gautam Mirchandani                                                      

 

 

 

 

 




Author

Gautam Mirchandani
Last Online: Monday 24/09/18 | Published on: Saturday 08/09/18

Gautam Mirchandani is the author of this content.

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