Letter From…………

mysterious

 

 

Akhil is sitting in his drawing room, kind of distracted and irritated. He just got up from bed, it’s about 9:30 am in the morning. Normally Akhil is an early riser, but last night he didn’t sleep very well. Today he got up from the sound of his door bell ringing, as his manservant is absent for 3 days he had to answer the door.

He was surprised to see a young woman at his door at 9 am, from her behaviours it is only obvious she is a college student and reached to his door for any apparent reason.

“I came here to talk to you, to know you,” Her first sentence was so casual that Akhil gave up any hope of serious conversation.

“Yes tell me, why are you here? who are you?” Akhil shoots his preliminary enquiry.

“I am here to chat with you, to know you better than your stories.” She replied in a childish tone.

“What’s your name?” Akhil asked.

“Chitra is my name, isn’t it nice?” She replied in same juvenile tone

“Ok Chitra, may I know why are you here to see me?” Akhil asked impatiently.

“I like to chat with famous personalities, it’s kind of a hobby.” She already came in and sat on the sofa.

“I am not a famous person.” Akhil answered in a given up tone, he is so bad at dealing with these spotlight seeking young women.

“Of course you are, I read all your stories, how you solved all the twisted crime occurrences. I am a big fan.” Chitra spoke in one breath.

“Listen Chitra, I am kind of not feeling well today and need some rest, if you don’t have anything important, could come some other time.” Akhil was desperate to get rid of her.

“Oh! But see that’s why I am here, I know you stay alone, I would like to be with you and take care of you.” The reply came immediately.

Akhil is in a complete shock now, what this girl is even saying? These young generation so volatile, is she praying a prank on him? Akhil looked blankly at her. He could only imagine she is telling the whole story to her gang and then laughing and falling onto each other saying ‘OMG that old man actually believed me’.

He tried to be as calm as possible, cleared his throat and spoke” Chitra, you can’t stay here with me.”

“Ok, we’ll decide that later, but tell me something, you don’t look like an intelligent and sharp psychologist like your stories and also I thought you would be taller.” She was speaking continuously.

“Oh! Well how do I look like then?” Akhil asked in a light tone.

“You look like a normal professor of any college, like the physics lecturer of my college, calm and quiet and dislike everything about younger generation.” She was smiling, “why don’t you say something clever and prove you are the Akhil Mitra who solves all those puzzling cases.”

“I don’t give test of my ability, Chitra.” Akhil shook his head.

“Come on, be a sport.” The girl was impatient. “Tell me what you gathered about me so far.”

“Ok, if you insist, my observation about you is your name is not Chitra, I have called your name several times, its only human nature to react spontaneously as someone calls their name, your reaction was late. And the way you said ‘Chitra is my name, isn’t it nice’ sounds artificial, normally people would have said ‘I am Chitra’. You are here not to chat with me but to create a mystery around yourself, the way you suddenly said you want to stay with me knowing very well I won’t approve that.

You have done some research on me but not in very detail, that tells me you are here for a purpose that’s not yours. Someone of whose hobby is to meet famous people are normally research every detail before meeting them, especially females. You are trying to act over enthusiastic, but that’s a part of your acting as I noticed you are getting absent minded sometime during conversation. So I reckon you did not come here by your own will but you are sent by someone.” Akhil finished and looked at her.

First time while having this entire conversation the girl looked a little alarmed and then spoke softly but firmly “You were correct in all account Dr Akhil Mitra. I have no doubt now I came to right person. Could you get me a glass of water, I am suddenly feeling thirsty”

As Akhil came back from kitchen with a glass of water in his hand little did it surprise him to see the empty sofa, she is gone. In such manner she suddenly asked for water it was obvious to Akhil that she was trying to create an opportunity to sneak out.

As he kept the glassful of water on the table a bunch of papers attracted his attention. A buddle of papers neatly arranged and kept, the small statue which was on the table was used as a paper wait. As Akhil took that bundle the very first page shows only two words ‘HELP ME’ written right in the middle of the page.

Akhil suddenly felt bad for the girl, she must be in some kind of trouble and before she disclosed it his indifference drove her out of the house. As he looked through the pack of papers he found they are handwritten, most probably a long letter.

Akhil left out a long sigh, it’s been a while he read a long letter from someone.

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“Dear Akhil Sir,

Hope you’ll pardon me for creating a little drama, I wanted to attract your attention towards me. You must be thinking who is this crazy girl and what is her intention. Let me tell you first, I am a big fan of yours, I read all the stories published about you, the great Akhil Mitra.

I never saw you, I know you don’t do interviews hence I have no video clip or even a snap of yours, so I made an imaginary appearance of yours in my mind. As all of the stories about you are not written by you but someone else I am assuming you must be different from how you’ve been portrayed, as writer often exaggerate about their main protagonist’s capability. Nonetheless I am sure you are a sharp and intelligent person. You must be wondering who I am and why I am so keen about your personality and appearances. Well I am just trying to find the real Akhil Mitra of blood and flesh not the one portrayed by the writer.

 

This is where probably I should be introducing myself.

Name: Aparichita (A fake name, I hope you’ll find my real name soon)

Age: 22 years

Hobby: Reading, Chatting and doing nothing

Passion: Getting wet in the rain, Watching the moon on a full moon night

I know you are a busy man and if you are reading this long letter of mine, I am sure I made some curiosity in your mind. Let me come to the point now, there are incidents happening around me from my very childhood and I don’t get surprised or shocked anymore. I have accepted as they are, but after a long time I felt if anyone could help me, it must be you.

My mother died when I was very young, my father who is a rich and powerful man of this city (I will not disclose his identity but I am sure at some point you’ll find it out) was driving the car when it met with an accident and my mother died on the spot, astonishingly me and my father survived without a scratch, I was so small during that accident and I have no memory of it.

After that my father got remarried after a year or so, my new step mother came into my life. You’ll be surprised to know I used call her new-mom. As it happens, my new-mom couldn’t accept me with open heart, she was tiny and petite but got a hoarse voice. As I started to grow up everything about me became nuisance to her, the way I dress, the way I play or as she used to say making the whole house dirty etc etc. I have my own room and to avoid her I started to spend more time inside my room, my dad was always busy but whenever he used to get sometime he tried to spent them with me which was the only silver lining.

My new-mom was jealous type of woman, she always was suspicious about my dad and that led to a lot of heated arguments and fights, dad started to drink a lot. Then one day the news arrived, my new-mom was conceived, I was kind of happy hearing the news of a step-sibling coming to our world, the behaviour of my new-mom was also changed towards me, she was treating me better those days.

As things always go haywire in my life, there was no exception in this situation either, my new-mom lost the baby in a freak accident. She slipped and fell off the stairs, she was rushed to the hospital, father was out of the country that time, as he heard the news he came home immediately.

After she regained her sense in hospital she straightway accused me for the accident. According to her I only made those stairs slippery by pouring water on them. My father knew about our relation, so he simply ignored her words. When we took her back home she was hysterical, she even denied to speak or even see my face. Day by day the situation was deteriorating, I was getting worried about my father as I clearly see him becoming almost an alcoholic.

Then one day it all ended. The maid discovered new-mom’s hanging body from the ceiling fan in her room. Dad was at his work place and I was at school. As I said my new-mom and dad’s relation had become so bitter after the accident that they used to live in different rooms. In the morning we both left home without seeing her, the post mortem report indicated that she committed suicide in the early morning.

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After reading this much Akhil closed his eyes, he can feel his brain is palpitating, unlike others he read everything very attentively, and so he can’t read at a stretch. While keeping his eyes closed he tried to arrange everything like a Jigsaw puzzle.

It’s still could be a prank of a young girl. So far he read almost 2 pages and there were no spelling mistakes, it only happens if someone is very good at writing or literature or had rough copy then make it a fair one. Akhil checked the handwriting, it looks continuous and without any break, no change of ink either, normally it’s tough to write a letter so big at a stretch without any mistake. That makes it certain that the girl might copy it from a rough. The handwriting is also neat and clear, Akhil is not a graphologist or else from her handwriting he could have analysed her.

She told her pseudo or fake name as Aprichita, which means stranger(fe.) in Sanskrit. She also gave the info about her age, hobby and passion. Is this for some particular reason?

Akhil kept the bundle on the table started to walk towards kitchen, he defiantly needs some tea.

Next day as Akhil was getting ready to start for the university he couldn’t keep his mind away from the letter, he decided to carry it with him, so he can read it during recess and off periods. Surprisingly he completely forgot about it once he reached in university and got busy with his class, lectures and students. As he came back, after his supper he remembered it altogether. He took it out from his bag started to read from where he left.

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“You must be tired reading this nonstop nonsense and wondering why don’t I just come to you with my problems, why don’t I meet you face to face, I will Akhil sir, trust me, but before that you got to read this whole letter of mine, think that it is a childish demand of your ardent fan.

So as my new-mom left us I became lonely again, as usual dad was always busy in his work, I started to become a lonely kid, the servants were instructed not to enter my room as I love my space, I kept my room clean and organized as I want. As I never saw my real mother (We don’t even have a photo of her in my house) I started to imagine my demised new-mom as my companion. You must be wondering how but it was very simple.

I started to imagine my new-mom as a compassionate, sweet and nice lady who is my companion, I used to ask her to do something as the I used to do that myself, something like an imaginary companion, you might ask me why my new-mom, I would say during her pregnancy I saw the nice side of her and which was overwhelming. Let me give you an example how I used to imagine and play with her, suppose I have to get something from the table, I used to ask new-mom to get that, then I myself used to go and get it, and thanking my new-mom for that. The whole part was imaginary, and I knew it.

Then one day, I had high fever and doctor instructed me to have a complete bed rest, dad was out and servants are working downstairs. I was lying on bed, my eyes were closed when I felt a touch on my forehead, as I open my eyes I saw my new-mom was sitting next to me on bed. She looked just the same I remember her, but eyes were filled with love and compassion, something I hardly ever experienced. It was so normal that I wasn’t scared or shocked.

I am sure at this point your psychological mind started to analyse my situation, a lonely kid, during feverish state experiencing her dead step mom whom she kept imagining, it must be case of hallucination or delusion of a feeble child’s mind, especially when she’s ill. Well, you psychologist come to conclusion very quickly, with frowned eyebrows you easily declare what is real and what is imaginary, is it that simple? Let me tell you, I have already met a few psychologists, not because I want to but my dad forced me to. Why I’ll tell you later.

Akhil sir, are you getting irritated, or you have already made up your mind that I am actually insane, especially after telling you I have been to different psychologist. Let me tell you then, none of them were able to find anything wrong with me. I need your help, please help me, don’t throw away this letter thinking it’s just few incoherent sentences from a mentally sick and unstable girl.

You must be wondering what kind of help seeker I am, not giving you any details about me, not meeting you and let you ask your questions to me and expecting you to solve my problems. Well let me at least give you my phone no, “I already gave it you”. Ok, not the last digit maybe, you can try your luck.

Let me come back to my story, so it became a regular event of my new-mom visiting me every now and then, I am sure your investigative mind is restless to ask few questions about this ghostly appearance, I am guessing them and trying to answer them.

 

  1. What she used to wear?
  2. Normal Saari, different ones on different days
  3. How she used to appear and disappear?
  4. Nothing unusual, she used to push the door of my room and come and same way used to pull the door and go, I never followed her to where she used to after go out of the door.
  5. Did anybody else saw her or heard her talking?
  6. No. As I said I used to stay in my room alone and servants weren’t allowed, dad hardly comes to my room.
  7. She used to come and visit you as you wished to see her?
  8. No. She used to visit me as she wanted, in daytimes or nights.

 

I am bored of these questions answers already; I don’t know if I could answer you better if I were in front of you.

My life was going on as usual when one day again it was about to change. I was taking an afternoon nap when I felt a hand touching my head, I thought it’s my new-mom, as I opened my eyes I saw a beautiful and elegant lady was sitting next to me.

“Did I wake you up?” She asked in an embarrassed tone.

“Who are you?” I was surprised to see her in my room.

“I am your Vibha aunty.” She answered me in a hesitating tone.

 

Well, soon I came to know Vibha aunty going to me my next step mother, my father was about to marry her. Akhil sir are you thinking bad of my father? Thinking what kind of a guy he is who’s keep getting married to different ladies? Please don’t think ill of my father, he is a great guy and the best father, I mean it.

 

So Vibha aunty came into our life and then she discovered my little secret, my meeting with my dead new-mom. I am feeling so tired now, can’t write anymore. But you can read on as I am sure you have all the pages I’ll be writing to you.

 

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Akhil finished reading the page and put the letter down on the table. Leaning on the sofa Akhil thought this girl is a bright one. The small riddle of her phone number, it was an easy one.

I already gave it you”. All he has to do is to take the alphabets in serial order which has single numeric value, ignore the alphabets having double digit numerical value

I ALREADY GAVE IT TO YOU

9 1   514      71 5 9

 

As she said the last digit was not given, it mostly be zero as the last 2 words are null, so it might be

91514 71590

 

Akhil decided not to call this number, if she wants to maintain secrecy he will let her. It’s already late at night, Akhil walked into his bed room, he needs a sound sleep, then tomorrow he will finish the letter.

 

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Next day Akhil skipped his duty and requested one day leave from the dean. He wanted to finish the letter. So with a glass of orange juice in the morning he continued.

 

“Akhil sir, life is so strange, isn’t it? Sometimes you just ignore every flaw of someone whom you love so much, though you know they are wrong and they need to be stopped.

 

So as it happened Vibha aunty came into our lives. She was truly a wonderful woman, in all account, she was everything just opposite to my new-mom was. First time in my life I was enjoying motherly love and care, she used to take care of me like my own mother, she fed me with her own hand, bathed me, tied my hair, helped me with my school homework. But she never let me call her mother, she insisted me to call her Vibha aunty, and I had no problem with it.

 

I was in my teens and was growing fast, my dad now was getting busier day by day, he might have sensed that I was in the right hands of Vibha aunty, she was also getting busy with new found passion, boutique business. Then she only suggested to appoint someone as my very own care taker.

 

We are rich and it was only within our capacity to engage a maid only for their teenage girl, back in days Princesses used to have hand maidens, similarly I got one. Vibha aunty only chose a girl who was in her early twenties after much scrutiny. Her name was Farzana, she was from a nearby village next to the city, from a poor family.

 

Oh! Did I forgot to mention that my new-mom stopped visiting me? As Vibha aunty came into this house she stopped seeing me. I am sure at this moment you are smiling, thinking it’s just a simple case of hallucination, or is she schizophrenic? She must be imagining a mother figure all her life and as soon as she got one her dead step mother stop coming into her life. Maybe you’re right.

 

Farzana and me became fast friends, though we had an age gap of 5 to 6 years. She was a timid yet talkative girl, normally quiet when dad or Vibha aunty was around. My world was my home and school, since I came in touch with her I started to learn about the real world, the ugly, dirty yet the actual world where normal people live. I learned about poverty and desperation, how her drunkard father beats her mother every night for no reason, how her mother doing odd jobs to keep ends meet, how one of her elder sister died without any medical attention and younger one gone missing. Now it’s her and the youngest brother.

 

I am sure I am getting you bored by all these details, but I wanted to tell you, maybe for no apparent reason.

 

So one day I was back from school and found Farzana was sleeping downstairs, I came to my room and…… I saw my new-mom sitting there. Surprise, surprise! Tell me Akhil sir, did you expected that? I am sure you must be thinking “Is this girl just making up stories after stories?” Please trust me.

 

So after such a long time when I saw my new-mom I don’t know why I just froze there, suddenly I was scared of her, after all these years why she is here?

 

“Chitra, come here, sit next to me.”, my new-mom called in a calm tone.

 

See Akhil sir, I have disclosed my real name after all. Don’t worry, you were right, the girl came to meet you was not Chitra. I am.

 

So I slowly went next to my new-mom with scared steps, she held my hands and made me sit next to her.

 

“Chitra, you know Farzana is not a nice girl.” New-mom spoke in a strict tone; I nod my head in fear.

 

“You should not be mixing with these kind of females. It’s bad for you. I don’t want her here anymore, would you tell your Vibha aunty and get rid of her?” I shook my head, “But I like her.” I replied in a scared but firm tone.

 

“You are not old enough to know what’s good and what’s bad for you.” She spoke those words and then left. I was sitting on my bed, scared and numbed.

 

After a while I heard a knock on the door and then Vibha aunty came in pushing the door open. “Oh it was such a tiring day, how’s my sweetheart doing…..” she suddenly stopped and started to sniff something. “Somebody was here? I smell a strange perfume. Are you using any?” She kept sniffing.

 

I didn’t reply to her, she stood there for some time and then left. That night I was scared to sleep alone, and I did not want to ask Farzana to be in my room, I had a strange fear that my new-mom might want to hurt her. I asked Vibha aunty instead, she happily agreed and I went to her room to sleep, dad was as usual at work.

 

Me and Vibha aunty were lying next to each other, suddenly, I don’t know why I asked her, “Vibha aunty, can dead people come back?” She heard the question and there was a pause, “why are you asking this question?” She asked me. “Simply, ok, good night, I am sleepy.” I turned the other way.

 

Vibha aunty got up from bed and switched on the lights and then came and sit on the bed, “Listen girl, tell me what’s going on, don’t keep any secret from me, what is it? Tell me clearly.” She spoke in a firm crisped voice.

 

And I told her everything, starting from my new-mom’s death, her frequent visit to me and about her last visit today afternoon. I thought she will laugh at my childish imaginations, but she didn’t, she held me tightly next to her, we didn’t switch off the lights that night.

 

After few days I found Farzana was not around, I asked Vibha aunty about her.

 

“Her marriage is fixed, so she went home.” She replied with a dry tone.

 

“Does that mean she won’t work here anymore?” I asked with curious note

 

“I am not sure, let’s see.” She replied again with the same dry voice.

 

As it turned out she was really getting married, and her mother came to us with the invitation. From there conversation I learned Vibha aunty is taking care of all the expenses of her marriage, I was surprised and yet proud for her.

 

But as it turned out Farzana’s happiness was short lived, she came back after 3 days of her marriage as her husband was demanding dowry and refused take her back till she pays.

 

Vibha aunty was really angry listening to all these and she immediately summoned her husband. He was garage mechanic.

 

“Do you know I can hand over you to the police, taking dowry is a criminal offece.” Vibha aunty asked him in an angry voice.

 

“You people are rich and powerful, whatever you say is the law. But I am a poor mechanic, I need money to survive, why should I take her back if there is no benefit of mine from this marriage.” He replied in a shameless indifferent tone while scratching his neck.

 

Vibha aunty threatened him for another half an hour and then agreed on his terms. He wanted a bike and 50,000 cash. Vibha aunty promised she will think about it.

 

“And after all these if you ever again throw her out of your house, you will be in jail, I promise you that as well.” Vibha aunty was shouting at him, but he hardly showed any concern.

 

I went to farzana and condoled her, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright.”

 

“He won’t take me back, he knows, he knows.” Farzana spoke with weeping voice and trembling lips and broke down. Farzana’s husband promised he will take her back as soon as he gets his bike and cash he will come and take her home.

 

 

That night again I saw my new-mom, I was studying when I heard the door open, I didn’t look up as I know it was her, something in me already told me.

 

“Chitra, why did you tell your Vibha aunty about me?” She asked.

 

“She wanted to know.” I replied.

 

“I thought it is our secret. You shouldn’t have told her about me, now things have become complicated.”

 

I looked at my new-mom, “How?”

 

“And Farzana needs to go from this house, she must leave this house.” New-mom was looking scary, her hair was open, eyes were red. I closed my eyes, I was so scared. I ran to Vibha aunty’s room. I did not want to sleep alone that night as well.

 

 

 

Next day Farzana’s dead body was recovered from our back yard, her head was smashed with a blunt instrument. But that wasn’t the biggest news, Vibha aunty had gone insane, she was repeatedly screaming the words “I killed her, I killed her.”

 

Well she couldn’t as she was with me the whole night and the post mortem report suggested that Farzana was killed between 12 to 2 pm in the same night. The post mortem also revealed that she was 3 months pregnant. Police were unable to find the murder weapon.

 

Farzana’s husband was arrested in suspicion but he had a strong alibi that he was at home that night. He in turns accused the unknown person with whom Farzana had a relation and apparently carrying his child.

 

As our reputation was at stake, the money and power came in for rescue and the whole incident was hushed up. But Vibha aunty’s condition was deteriorating day by day. She had gone completely insane, she used to laugh or cry and scream the same words “I killed her.”

 

Dad has consulted many doctors but everything was in vein. To me it seemed like she is possessed by someone or something. During her end days she was used to locked in a room, the same room new-mom lived and died. Once I went inside the room and saw she was sitting on the floor, hairs open and with red eyes, she just looked so much like my new-mom, I ran away from there.

 

Her hanging body was found in the room one day, the same way my new-mom committed it, with a rope, from the ceiling fan. The mystery was though how she found the rope, as per doctor’s instructions everything that might be used for such thing was kept away as she was suspected suicidal and the door was locked.

 

 

 

Akhil finished reading the page and throw the bundle on the table. He doesn’t need to read the whole letter. He knows exactly what’s going on. Akhil dialled Inspector Dubey’s number, he needs few details.

 

 

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Next two days Akhil became busy with his university and students, on Thursday evening Akhil’s phone rang with a familiar number on the screen.

 

“Akhil speaking.” He answered the call.

 

There was a short pause from the other side and a very sweet voice replied, “So you read my letter?”

 

“Oh no I did not finish it.” Akhil spoke. The voice on the other side sound hurt, “Was it that long and boring?”

 

“I did not because it wasn’t necessary, I already have solved it.” His firm and quiet voice had quite an impact.

 

“Oh I see, but if you did not finish my letter how you know what I wanted from you?” the curious tone from the other side was shooting continues questions, Akhil felt little annoyed.

 

“Chitra, if I can meet you at your home, I guess it will be better.” Akhil replied.

 

“Alright then, Saturday at 10:30 am morning? And the address is….”, Akhil interrupted, I already have your address. I will see you then.” And the call went blank almost immediately.

 

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Saturday 10:40 am, Akhil car stopped in front of a gigantic bungalow situated in one of the poshest area of the city.

 

As Akhil came out of his car and walk towards the huge main gate, he saw the watchman looked at him with a curious look.

 

“Dr. Akhil Mitra saab?”, watchman enquired, “Yes” Akhil replied. Watchman immediately gave a salute and opened the gate.

 

As Akhil walked through the path leads main door, he saw the gardens on the both sides, its spread around the bungalow, in a keyhole design. Akhil pressed the calling bell, the golden name plate above the calling bell is glittering, Sushobhan Chowdhury, Doctorate of Law, PhD in Philosophy and so many other degrees are marked below the name. One of the renowned High court judges of this city.

 

The door opened within 30 secs, a girl wearing light green color churidar was standing, a calm and round face, short in height but long hairs till her waist. Her appearance was nothing special but her deep dark big eyes definitely extraordinary.

 

She didn’t say anything and made way for Akhil to come in, Akhil quietly walked inside and took his seat on one of the fancy single sofa in the drawing room.

 

“What would you like to have? Tea, coffee or something cold?”, Akhil showed his hand, “I had my breakfast, where is your dad?”

 

“He left a while ago, for airport, he is flying to national capital for some work.” The girl replied.

 

“I am sure you know why I am visiting you. Also you know how I guessed what you want without reading your whole letter.” Akhil paused, “But before all that, I want to see something, do you have any photo of Farzana?”

“I might have; I have taken few in her marriage. But I have to search. Why?” Chitra asked.

 

“Okay, was there any resemblance in appearance between you two?” Akhil asked his next question.

 

Chitra laughed, “A lot of people who don’t know us, like visitors often mistaken her as my elder sister. But I guess that’s a normal occurrence when there are two girls live in the same house of with not much of age gap.”

 

“One more question.” Akhil asked again, “I see you have few servants and maids working here, anybody stays or sleeps here in the night?”

 

“No, they all leave by at max 8 pm. They don’t stay here for the night, except watchman.”

 

 

Akhil leaned back, “Chitra, sit down in front of me, let me tell you a story.”

 

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Akhil started in a low but firm voice.

 

“There was a married couple, A man and his wife, they both had a healthy conjugal life but still they did not have any kids. After a thorough medical check-up, it was found that the man is incapable of having any child.

 

They both decided to adopt a kid, a girl who happened to be from a poor family. The child’s mother gave up his daughter to this childless couple thinking it will make her future better.

But fate had something else in its mind, after few months there was a horrible car crash and the wife died, the husband and their adopted daughter survived though.

 

The man decided to marry again for the sake of the child, but he kept silent about his condition for whatever reason, maybe he was ashamed, maybe it’s his male ego. The second wife was not kind towards his daughter though she didn’t know the daughter was adopted.

 

Then after few years the 2nd wife conceived, her husband knew it cannot his child but he kept quiet, at least he tried to, but the rift between them was growing. The adopted daughter was significantly intelligent, above average, she always doubted she isn’t her father’s daughter. As the fights grew to limits the man at last confessed his incapability and accused his 2nd wife of infidelity, in turns mocked cruelly by her.

 

Though the daughter was always suspicious about being her father’s real daughter, nonetheless she loved her father dearly. She decided to take revenge on the wife, of all the ill treatments, of her being unfaithful to her father and humiliating him. A simple plan, a stairs full of soap waters, she tripped and fell and the accident caused her to lose her unborn child, she already knew it was the daughter, but she had no one to believe or had no support from her husband for obvious reason.

 

The man and his 2nd wife was now growing apart, he was climbing up in his career and he fell in love again, this time with a junior, who knew about his inability but didn’t bother anyway. The man was already fed up with his 2nd wife, she was not ready to divorce him either and humiliating him every day for him being incapable of fathering a child. The daughter decided to end it all.

As the husband and wife were living in different room, the daughter chose the early morning time before the servants turn up, she quietly sneaked in to her step mother’s room with a rope, strangled her with the noose and later hanged her from the ceiling fan. Then she quietly left for the school.

 

The man got married to his junior, his 3rd wife and the girl’s next step mother. She was kind and understanding, she urged the daughter to call her aunt as she had a bad experience with her last step mother. Meanwhile both the daughter and the 3rd wife knew she was adopted. But their life was blissful, at least for few years. The daughter was lonely as both husband and wife became busy with their profession and they have no other way of being parents again naturally. So her step mother decided to track down daughter’s real family, and appointed her actual elder sister as her companion, but she did not disclose it to anybody, not even to their daughter.

 

But as I said the daughter was very smart, she found out and felt grateful to her new step mother. Both sisters were growing close and the daughter shared a few secrets about the past life, about her last step mother’s death.

The elder sister was a person of poor judgement which led her into trouble and she conceived unwantedly with one of her lover. The wife was upset nonetheless she arranged a guy to get her married to, which was her biggest mistake.

 

The man whom the elder sister married to was a thug and criminal, the elder sister trusted and told him all the secret revealed to her by the younger sister and he saw an opportunity of blackmailing.

 

He sent back the elder sister accusing she is carrying the child of her master. The wife was furious but also scared as it was the question of reputation, either disclose the inability of her husband which might open a lot of unwanted chapters including his 2nd wife’s death or gave in to that criminal’s demand which she did. He decided to keep it low and extort them slowly.

 

That night as the elder sister came back and confessed to her sister that she spilled all her secret out. Later there was an ugly fight and spat between her and the wife about the whole situation and at rage she pushed her in the kitchen and left from there, while the elder sister fell down and she had a minor injury.

 

The daughter and the younger sister was fuming after knowing everything, she stepped in after the wife is gone and killed the elder sister brutally. The wife and her step mother accidently saw everything but couldn’t believe her eyes as it was horrible and unbelievable. The daughter cleaned up and destroyed all the evidences and calmly went to sleep. The wife and her step mother witnessed something which was enough to make her lose her mental stability, she was convinced she was responsible for the elder sister’s death as what she saw was not possible.

 

As the 3rd wife’s situation was deteriorating, she was becoming suicidal and started to hurt herself. The daughter decided to end it for her as well, but this one was a mercy killing, to make her be free from her pain and agony. So the daughter sneaked in to her room where she was kept isolated and end her life just like she did to her previous step mother.

 

 

**********************************************************************************

 

Akhil paused and looked at Chitra. She was looking at her feet and nervously digging her nails.

 

“The man is your father, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wife are his 1st wife, your new-mom and your Vibha aunty, the elder sister is Farzana and the younger sister and the daughter is YOU!!.” Akhil finished and took a long breath.

 

Chitra tried to smile but only managed an artificial grin.

 

“So you mean to say, I killed my new-mom when I was 12 and then Farzana and then my Vibha aunty. How I managed to do all these? Do you think I am physically capable of killing or hanging somebody from a rope, obviously it needs tremendous strength? Do you think a short, thin girl like me can do all these or do you think I have an accomplice?”

 

“Not in normal state but in some unique circumstances and situations. In scientific term its called hysteric strength. Which human possess at some particular mental situation. You have heard about mental hysteria as in the diseases where human beings have their physical strength increased about 10 times more. You too have that strength but only when your subconscious mind takes over.

 

‘There was an incident

 

In 1982, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Tony Cavallo was repairing a 1964 Chevrolet Impala automobile from underneath. The vehicle was propped up with jacks, but it fell. Cavallo’s mother, Mrs. Angela Cavallo, lifted the car high enough and long enough for two neighbors to replace the jacks and pull Tony from beneath the car.

Mrs Carvallo thought the god gave her that strength, but it’s proven that our brain is capable of many miracles if used to its even half potential.’ There are several similar incidents happened accross the world.

springfield-union-newspaper-0414-1982-angela-tony-cavallo

I could have suspect your father as well, but he would have just killed his second wife with her unborn child if he had that kind of murderous rage, second to that he is himself a lawman and who has the reputation of being an honest judge must have an incorruptible consciousness. Why would he plot to kill her unborn child and later her?

 

On the other hand, your description about your new-mom’s visit strikes a chord. Why would a young woman will see her abusing step mother who’s already dead that too with a heavy change in her nature? You yourself said you used enact as your new-mom which slowly took over your subconscious mind. Remember your new-mom said Farzana is a bad girl, your new-mom wasn’t happy as you told about her to your Vibha aunty. Remember you said there was nothing abnormal about your dead new-mom’s visit, it was because you used to imagine and enact her.

 

 

 

When I went through the records, I found when police investigated about her death they couldn’t find the murder weapon, but in strange statement a servant claimed she saw the kitchen floor tiles were broken.

 

When your Vibha aunty had a heated argument she pushed Frazana on the floor thus she hit her head on the water sink.

Then you entered, with enormous strength you held her up and the smashed her on the floor which shattered her skull from the back and then throw her body on your backyard.  In post mortem report there are mentioning of two different injuries in farzana’s head. Your Vibha aunty who almost immediately came back witnessed the entire scene but couldn’t fathom it,resulting her the insanity.”

 

Akhil was out of breath after speaking continuously

 

 

“So you mean to say I have a monster hiding inside me, and it comes out every now and then? But why would I write to you? Why would I ask for your help if I am the murderer, I am the culprit?”

 

“You only have that hysteric strength when you experience extreme emotions. Like at extreme rage or sadness or happiness. Like when you overheard Farzana and your Vibha aunty where Farzana confessed spilling out the secrets to her husband or when your new-mom humiliated your father or when you saw your beloved Vibha aunty’s unbearable state of insanity.

 

as I said, you are a very intelligent girl and you suspected that you committed all these murders in your subconscious mind you have no memory of, you wanted a closure and that lead you to me.” Akhil calmly answered.

 

“So now what? What should I do, where should I go?” Chitra covered her face with her both hands

 

“It’s upto you Chitra, you turned to me for help and I did.” Akhil quietly walk up to Chitra and kept his hand on her head and spoke in a soft voice, “You should tell your father everything and surrender to police, I am sure law will understand the situation and send you for psychiatrist help.

 

Akhil couldn’t help his tears as well, seeing her sobbing inconsolably, after all she has done all these to save her foster father who she loved more than anyone.

 

Akhil slowly walked on his way out of the door.

alice_madness_returns_by_tydyshpysh-d4gr83g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Befuddled

Haunted Hut

 

(The story is narrated in first person, the protagonist may or may not be a real person, writer can not confirm that. The story is partly truth and partly fiction. But the truth and fiction can not be separated as they are lost in translation. Apologies in advance if that’s inconvenient or disturbing.)

I am walking aimlessly, clear blue sky above, the sun already sets down, the light of dusk is slowly dying, yet its visible around. I am walking on the grass, on the long and lush green grasses of the field, they are bowing down with winds towards north. I am trying to remember where I am, how I came here, I seem to have no memory of it, I am just walking and walking and all I can see around is trees and the green field meeting the sky at horizon at every direction.

And now I can see something ahead of me, it looks like an old hut, a broken, wrecked hut in the middle of the nowhere. I am advancing towards it while touching the long grasses with my both hands. Wait! There is something more, there’s a dog sitting right in front of the hut. As I came near to it, it got up on its feet, unusually black in color and it has only one eye, where the other eye supposed to be has a dark hole as if someone or something gouged out that eye.

It on its four legs and started to bark, as if it doesn’t want me to advance any further. I was little confused about the whole thing and then…. I saw it. A tall, lean figure emerged from the hut, and immediately a horrible smell of rotten meat hit me, the thing was wearing a gray and ash color long gown, its feet weren’t visible but it looked like floating little above from the ground. It was holding a long stick on it’s right hand and….. where the face supposed be, it was just a piece of yellowish flesh, no eyes, no ears, no nose or mouth.

The one eyed dog is barking madly. Though that human-like figure has no eyes, I can sense that it can see me, it started to move slowly towards my direction and hold out the stick towards me. My throat is dry, I want to run, but my feet are stuck to ground, the horrible smell is getting stronger and all my senses are slowly getting blurred and blocked. It has come near to me and almost touching me.

 “All is the fear and nothing is the love; As little is the wisdom, where the flight So runs against all reason” I remember the lines of Shakespeare.

I was sitting on my bed wide awake breathing heavily; my heart was thumping so hard that I could hear it. This was one of the worst nightmares I have ever experienced. I almost ran to kitchen and drank a half jug of water, the thirst was just not quenching and I was sweating profoundly. I started to feel dizzy in my head; I slowly sat on the floor, kept my head on the wall and slept or fell unconscious.

******************************************************************************

I am sitting on the hospital bench for more than ½ an hour’s now. I came to this government hospital which is about 2 km away from my place. There is always a stark difference between private hospitals and nursing homes and government ones. Private hospitals are neat and clean, smiling receptionists and caring nurses around, doctors are available on call in different departments. Government hospitals are all about chaos, patients lay down on iron cots with filthy bed sheets, some are even laying on the floor, nurses are busy and irritated, hardly doctors are around, compounders are giving proxies for them, smell of phenail and other kinds. You actually can smell the fear, pain, agony and even death in here.

I approached towards one the nurses, “Sister, I am waiting for a while now. May I see a doctor?”

She looked at me with an irritated face, “Don’t you see there’s no physician available now, what’s the case? Why you’re here?

“I am sick, I need some medical attention, I have seen ghost last night and got up with high fever, I need a bed to lie down.” I answered in a feeble voice.

“Do you think it’s a place to crack stupid jokes? Or are you trying to get a bed here by telling some cock and bull story.” The voice came from behind.

I turned back, there was lady standing in white apron, a pale face with a pair of curious eyes, angry curled lips with hair tied behind. Don’t know why I felt she doesn’t belong here, though she was not wearing any makeup, I visualized her wearing black eyeliner with heavy eyelashes, with cherry pink lipstick and a little touch of makeup on her cheeks, wearing a red banarasi saree and smiling at me. She is not meant to be a doctor; she is meant to be poetry of a poet.

I straightened my back and changed my voice to a heavy one, “That’s right ma’am, I was just telling a story, actually I am the PA of the state health minister, came here to investigate the situations of this hospital. I am under the direct order of health ministry; there are so many complaints against this one.”

I felt the sense of urgency in all the hospital staff members, the nurse I was talking to a while ago, stood up, she was looking visibly scared. Only the lady doctor was unmoved, she shrunk her forehead lines and was about to ask something suspiciously. But right before that my head spun like the whole world got upside down and it got dark in front of eyes and I fell down on the floor, unconscious, for the second time.

As Shakespeare said, “The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.”

 

******************************************************************************

As I gained my senses, I saw the face of her looking at me curiously, “Are you feeling ok now?” Her concerned voice sounded so sweet to me.

I found myself on the hospital bed, same iron cot with smelly bed sheet but still comfortable, I closed my eyes again, I am not sure how everyone else took my little drama just before I fainted. “How long I was out?” I asked

“About a day now. Do you always lie and create dramas whenever you go? This is a hospital not stage of drama.” She smiled and spoke in a light tone.

“Well,“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” I smiled back.

“You had fever and high blood pressure when you fell down; it was caused by some high stress or may be by elevated fear. I remember you are speaking of some ghost when you came in here.” She spoke again, with her sweet voice.

“You don’t fit in here; you don’t belong amongst all these diseases, pain and death. You belong in a heavily guarded high castle, attended and protected by the knight in shining armor.” As I spoke the words looking at her eyes, I could clearly see her face expression changing. She looked annoyed and irritated.

“Why you guys always have to be so clumsy and corny around females? I am just your doctor and you are my patient. I did not expect such cheap behavior, you looked like a well behaved, mild mannered gentleman, apparently I was wrong.” Saying so she stormed out of there.

After sometime a nurse came to inform me that I will be discharged by tomorrow afternoon. I passed my time chitchatting with the other inmates, various kind of people. The bed next to me is allotted to lady patient who has stomach cancer, last stage. She got 2 small kids, her husband does all kinds of petty works to make ends meet. Hardly got any money for her treatment, morning he comes to leave the children with their mother and comes back in the evening to get them home.

Met the janitor or hospital floor manager, he is not only janitor but a free advisor for all the hospital patients and their relatives, mostly how to get cheap treatment, he knows all the addresses godmen and so-called Ayurveda and herbs specialist self-appointed doctors in and out of the city.

So I asked him, “Do you know somebody who can cure cancer?”, “Of course I do”, he replied back with utmost confident. “There is a guy called Pagla baba (mad baba) he can cure anything.”

“How does he do that?”, I was curious. “Oh, you just have to take the patient to him and he will touch the patient and he/she will be alright in half a day.” The janitor replied enthusiastically.

“Oh, so did you try telling her husband about your Pagla baba?” I asked sarcastically.

“She can’t be cured; her time is up. We already took her to him. He said her time is already up. Pagla baba doesn’t help everybody, he even meets few people, sometimes don’t even meet anyone for days.” Janitor sadly shook his head.

I pulled my blanket on me and closed my eyes. This country is neck deep into superstition and no wonder all frauds and humbugs are taking advantages of it.

I murmured the lines from Hamlet “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”

******************************************************************************

“May I come in?” I hold the curtain of the cabin door and asked.

“Yes.” She replied. I am going to get discharged today it’s only my moral duty to bid adieu from the doctor who brought me back to health.

I sat in front of her, she was searching something in drawer, “Not here to apologise I guess.” She spoke without lifting her head.

“I came here to thank you.” I spoke in my sweetest possible voice. “That’s alright.” She replied, again without looking at me.

“And I am here to tell you the story how did I saw a ghost, got scared, fell sick and landed up here. If you have time of course, Dr. Aditi Majumdar.”

She frowned and leaned back on chair and then she laughed, “I see you know my name, I guess from the staff, ya sure, go ahead tell me your story in brief. I am not sure if I’ll believe you. By the way, here’s your purse and mobile phone, check if everything is alright, we thought of calling your parents or relatives but we couldn’t unlock your phone. We came to know your name from the credit card.”

“Much appreciated, I live alone in this city so it’s alright. If you don’t mind, could you order a cup of tea? It would be nice telling you the story with a hot smoky cup of tea.” I replied.

******************************************************************************

At school I had a friend named Ashfaq, he was a tall lean fellow, soft spoken, nice and little timid. He considered me as his best friend as I once stood up against his bullies. Since then he always looked up to me as his friend in need. His sister Ruksar also studied in the same school, two standards below us. To her I was her another brother from a different mother.

Frankly, I considered Ashfaq a good friend, not of my best buddies, I had a different group. But Ashfaq always used consider me his friend, philosopher and guide, even on trivial matters he used to ask for my help and suggestions.

We’re in 11th standard, it was during the summer vacation, Ashfaq’s ancestral village was some 150km away, a remote one, it had population of hardly 700 to 800 people, Ashfaq’s dad Moideen uncle was the wealthiest and they had their own estate.

There was a place there which was considered haunted. A small hut away from the locality, it had a story. A fakir used to live there, an honest and god-fearing, they say one day Iblis (Satan or Devil) himself paid a visit and turned him into his slave. He started to kill the villagers to offer sacrifices. After few days intimated villagers attacked him and beat him to death. They left his dead body inside the hut and since then no one ever went back. Few who by mistake went nearby paid with their lives.

When Ashfaq told me the story I laughed, I could only laugh at the imaginations of illiterate villagers. Then I told him to go and pay a visit there and crush the very superstition hold his village to ransom.

He looked perplexed and scared, but nonetheless he told me he will try. After 3 days he called me at my home in the evening. “I have decided to go there, but I am little scared. Wish you were here; we both could visit that place.” He spoke in a hesitant tone. He was calling from his village.

Don’t know why and how I felt angry about it, I yelled at him over the phone “I can’t watch your back all the time Ashfaq, you need to stop being a coward. Either you go there and prove there’s no ghost or don’t show your face to me, ever.” I rammed down the receiver.

After two days the news came, villagers found Ashfaq’s body on the field, near the hut. He died of heart failure, when they found his body his eyes were wide open with an expression of intense fear on his face.

We all friends were present in his last ritual, his mother was sobbing, his dad was sitting there with a blank expression. Only Ruksar was standing in a corner, with dried tears, with immense hate in her eyes, staring at me. I did not know the reason. That’s the last time I ever saw her as I never went back to his house again. After coming back home, I took out my diary and wrote down one of my favourite quote, that was the only entry I made in my diary that day.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” ― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

******************************************************************************

“That’s a sad story.” Aditi shook her head. “But that has to do with your situation?”

“Last night I had a nightmare, that I am walking on a field filled long grasses and then I came across an old hut with a black one eyed dog sitting in front of it. Then a strange tall figure appeared, without a face, almost floating above the ground. And I woke up in my bed, shivering and sweating.” I replied calmly.

“It was just a nightmare, how you can say it’s anything ghostly or super natural?” Aditi frowned

“Have you ever experienced any dream or nightmare with a smell? Horrible smell of something rotten, smell of decomposed flesh?” I asked, indifferently.

“What are you going to do now?” She leaned on the desk with a curious look.

“I am going to Ashfaq’s ancestral village, to pay a visit to that place, although I don’t know if it’s still there, but something is telling me, it’s still there.” I stood up, she was still looking at me with puzzled eyes, I couldn’t but recite few lines from ‘Hamlet’s To be, or not to be’

“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause—there’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.”

 

I walked out of her cabin slowly, leaving her behind, befuddled.

******************************************************************************

I went back home and spent sleepless nights for next two days. Every time I closed my eyes my subconscious mind kept telling me not to fall asleep, as then I might have the same nightmare again. Part of me wanted to fall asleep, and part of me kept awake. My slumbering half-conscious self was loitering around the world of dreams and reality.

Suddenly I heard a voice.

“Do you really want to go there?” Ashfaq was standing a few feet away. The same 17 years old kid in the school uniform.

“Yes, I want to.” I replied. Though I know I might be imagining or hallucinating.

“Why? After all these years.” The calm voice of Ashfaq asked me again.

“I don’t know. But I must go, to set myself free.” I closed my eyes already, my mind was blank.

“Set yourself free? From what?”

I did not reply but with all my might I pushed myself out of bed. There was no one in my room. I pulled my easy chair to the balcony and fell on it, murmuring few lines of Henry IV by Shakespeare.

‘O sleep! O gentle sleep!

Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,

That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down

And steep my senses in forgetfulness?

Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,

Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,

And hush’d with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,

Than in the perfum’d chambers of the great,

Under the canopies of costly state,

And lull’d with sound of sweetest melody?’

******************************************************************************

After 3 days I went back to the hospital. Dr Aditi Majumdar was not there, Instead I found the janitor, he was overjoyed seeing me and invited me for a tea to the roadside tea shop next to hospital.

Ashit (Janitor): How are you sir? You look so pale and tired. Did you sleep well?

Me: No, I haven’t slept a wink (Smiled sadly)

Ashit: What happened sir?

Me: I see ghosts. When I am asleep and when I am awake.

Ashit: Sir, I know you educated people don’t believe in all these, but I must request you to go see Pagla baba.

 

By his tone of urgency, I was certain he gets his commission from Pagla baba for making people go visit to him and pay his fees. Nonetheless, I decided to visit him. I have seen many godmen but never was too impressed by anyone. I smiled at Ashit and started to walk while recalling the lines..

‘There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.

But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,

Make gallant show and promise of their mettle. – Julius Caesar’

 

******************************************************************************

I am sitting in front of Pagla baba now. It’s been almost 10 minutes that Pagla baba is at his laughing spree. Today morning I came at his den, which is 25 km away from the city. Frankly speaking I was disappointed when I saw this place. No much crowd of disciples and visitors, hardly 5 to 10 people are scattered outside a torn tent. One of them told me to wait and disappeared inside the tent, reappeared in 2 minutes and announced my arrival to baba.

My disappointment increased as I entered and saw an old man in his 60’s was sitting there, he is so lean and feeble that anyone can count his ribs, he is wearing a spectacle with one leg, the other leg was missing a replaced by a thread. As he looked at me started to laugh I could see few teeth were missing as well.

I patiently waited for 10 minutes and then asked him, “Why are you laughing?”

“I don’t know, I feel kinda funny.” The intensity of his laugh increased, now even his whole body is shaking. ‘He really is mad’, I thought.

“Of course I am; why do you think they call me Pagla baba?” I was completely stumped now, baba actually read my mind.

“Do you know why I am here?” I asked in a serious tone.

“You are looking for the cure of your nightmares.” Baba was still laughing.

I let out a long sigh, so Ashit, the janitor has spilled all the info to his baba, I thought.

Pagla baba stop laughing, “No, Ashit did not tell me anything.” He spoke with a smile.

Now I was certain somehow Pagla baba knows the art of thought reading, I heard of similar kind of power exist among humans. And why not, how ant’s movements start before rain? How dogs and other animals can anticipate earth quakes and other natural calamities? Even we humans have something call sixth sense and some people have it to an aggregative length.

“So do I get the cure?” I asked, in an unsure tone.

“Go back home today, meet me after 3 days.” Baba is calm now

I got up and turned back when I heard him again, “You forgot my fees.”

I turned back to him, “How much?”

“Six hundred and fifty-three.” He smiled.

I opened my pursue, I had the exact same amount. I handed it over and asked him, “Do you always charge as much some has in his pocket?”

“Not to everyone. But yes, you must pay, you must pay your debt.” Pagla baba started to laugh hysterically again. I bid him goodbye and hit the road.

‘He that dies pays all debts. – The Tempest by William Shakespeare’

******************************************************************************

As I walked into my office, I headed straight to the cabin of my General Manager.

The GM looked at me and exclaimed. “What happened to you? you look like a complete mess, are you alright?

“I would like to resign.” I replied with a crisp voice and with a straight face.”

GM looked completely at sea, “What? Why?”

“I am starting a journey to somewhere and I have a strong feeling I won’t come back alive. I guess if I resign now you’ll have enough time to recruit someone.”

GM had a long and hard look at me. “is it another trick of yours to ask for a vacation?”

I smiled, kind of smile which could mean yes or no or both.

“I am giving you 15 days of leave on medical ground, I heard you were hospitalized, you don’t look too good either. Go see a doctor and get well soon.” He spoke in a harsh tone and looked down on the papers he is holding. I turned back and was about to leave.

“Listen.” GM spoke again, “Here’s the visiting card of a renowned physiatrist, he knows me, go see him once if you can.”

I took the card and left home thinking few lines of ‘King Lear’.

‘O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!

I would not be mad.

Keep me in temper. I would not be mad.’

******************************************************************************

As I was wandering around the city, my car stopped near a café, as I rolled down the window my eyes glued to a young couple sitting there, they were chatting, laughing and having a good time, while talking their heads were hitting each other and parting with another laugh, one happy couple who dares the world to be careless about.

It was Aditi and another young man, I felt a sharp tingling sensation of jealousy. I parked the car nearby and walked into the café, straight up to Aditi.

“Hey”, I greeted her,

“Oh hi”, Aditi replied with a surprised cheerful tone.

“After that day you never met me, never even called me, what did I do to deserve such? Did your feelings subside for me? In spoke in an artificial hurtful and complaining tone.

Aditi’s surprised eyes turned red into anger in few moments. The guy next to her also looked quite perplexed but nonetheless he decided to take the matter in his own hands

“Hi this is Vikalp, and you are?” he asked

“Aditi’s boyfriend.” I extended my right hand at him. He couldn’t shake it but spilled his cold coffee all over.

“Who is he?” The guy almost screamed at Aditi.

“A patient of mine.” Aditi munched her words in despicable anger and then pushed me in a corner.

“What is the meaning of all these?” Aditi hissed while holding a part of shirt.

“Who is he?” I asked in a smiling tone.

“He is my boyfriend. What are you even doing here?” Aditi hissed again.

“Really? That nincompoop?” My voice was filled bitter sarcasm.

She left my shirt and stepped back, “You have no rights to speak such about him, I demand you to leave now.” This time she spoke calmly.

“Aditi, come here.” The impatient tone from her behind was Vikalp’s

I grinned, “Why not let us put your love into a test, just ignore him and come with me, let’s go for a drive. “

“I don’t have time for your drama or games. Good bye.” She went back to her table and I started to walk back to my car. On my way I saw Aditi and Vikalp was throwing hands in the air and arguing over. I grinned again, did I just sow a seed of doubt between them?

‘Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt — William Shakespeare.’

******************************************************************************

As I was about to sip into my morning tea, I heard my doorbell ringing without pause, “Someone is up real early, it’s 10 am.” I thought.

As I open the door a plain looking man in his mid-thirties was standing in front of me. “You have to come with me, right now.” The stranger spoke in an authoritative voice.

“Sure let’s go.” I put down my cup and about to start, in my pyjamas.

The stranger looked a little puzzled. “Like this?” he asked.

“You said right now.” I replied.

“And you don’t want to know who am I and where you’re going?” His surprised voice annoyed me.

“That you were supposed to tell me, but you don’t I won’t compel.” I answered.

“Let’s go.” As we came down I saw SUV is waiting down below with ‘Police’ written on it. I looked back at the stranger and he flashed his ID, “Piyush Arora, from crime branch.”

“Oh”, I exclaimed and stepped inside the vehicle.

After 30 mins the SUV stopped in front of a huge 3 stored house, this time I was surprised as I thought we were on the way to police station.

Inspector Piyush held me by my shoulder and almost dragged me in. On my way I managed to read the nameplate, Mohan Majumdar, DIG, Crime.

Inside there was a man in his fifties sitting on a sofa, wearing white kurta and pajama, he looked at both of us.

“Got him Sir.” Piyush Arora spoke in a such enthusiastic tone that even I started feel special about myself, after all crime branch it is, which was looking for me.

DIG crime looked at his inspector and tell him to get out with hand gesture.

“How do you know my daughter?” He asked in a cold voice as the inspector left.

I never actually had misfortune to meet any top cop, Mohan Majumdar was a short, half bald and very fair man, with a round face, just like Aditi.

“So you spy on your daughter?” I took my seat in front of him, on the opposite single sofa seat.

“Answer the question before I turn your bones into white powder.” DIG was fuming.

“talcum or cocaine?” I yawned

“Shut up. And answer me.” Mohan Majumdar roared.

“You shut up. You don’t know how close I am to our local MLA. You want to get into trouble?”

I roared back. In reality I don’t even the name of the MLA of my locality nor any other. But it’s like rule, you want to intimidate somebody, tell them about someone they fear. Like to common people it’s cops or goons, for cops its politicians, to politicians about votes and elections, etc etc.

As DIG Mohan Majumdar was looking at me suspiciously I continued.

“I know you have two daughters, the elder one went against your wish and chose a guy. Since then you are over protective about your younger daughter, spying on her when she’s out of home and she hates it. You don’t even like her current boyfriend, Vikalp or whatever his name is.”

I stopped as I could see him completely perplexed by now. I saw the photo frame on the table in a corner, Aditi with another girl, no doubt she looks older and alike her. I beat around the bush and I guessed I got few of them right on. No daughter like her father spying on her, especially on her private life.

I started to walk leaving him behind. “There will be eyes on you.” Mohan Majumdar barked. I thoroughly ignored him.

As I was walking though the hall to the main door I saw Aditi was coming down, she saw me stopped on the stairs, her face looked puffy and eyes swollen, dried tears on her cheeks carrying the evidence that she might fell asleep crying.

“Lovers quarrel.” I chuckled. She frowned and about to say something when I stopped her. “I was called upon, by your dad.”

“Why?” her disgusted tone hit me hard.

“To break you up from Vikalp and take you away.” A cruel smile waved up on my lips. I walked out slowly, do I even know what I am doing?

“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.”― William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

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I got up from my good morning sleep next day hearing my doorbell ringing madly. As I opened the door I found Aditi Majumdar standing at my door step.

“Congratulation, you just turned my life into a living hell.”, She spoke with fire in her eyes and bitterest tone.

“Did I?” I was yawning and scratching my neck.

“I just want to know why are you doing all these, that day after you left I had the nastiest fight with Vikalp and then yesterday with my dad. Why did you lie to me? What exactly you want?” she had tears in her eyes.

“I am going to Pagla baba today, he told me to meet him after 3 days. Why don’t you come along, he might solve your problems too.” I yawned while speaking.

Aditi had a long and hard look at me for few seconds then she slapped me on my face so hard that sleepy eyes said good bye to my sleep.

I stepped off from the door as she stepped in while slapping, “Come on in, have some coffee.” And I closed the door behind her.

Aditi at her wit’s end now accepted the weird incidents happening around her and calmly came sat on the dining table. I pointed at the kitchen, “Water is on the oven and the coffee powder and milk are there, help yourself. Give me 10 minutes and we will be on our way to solve our problems.” I smiled.

 

As we were sitting in front of Pagla baba he already gave me a brown thread tied around my upper arm. “Where you’re going you will face grave danger; this might help you.” Pagla baba indicated at the thread, today he isn’t laughing instead he is calm and quiet.

Aditi was sitting there, befuddled. She didn’t know what to do. I looked at Pagla baba and grinned, “So this thing cost me 600 odd, not much of a worth ain’t it? By the way this is Dr. Aditi Majumdar and she too has great many issues which she thinks are caused by me.”

“They will go away, soon.” The old man smiled.

As we walked out of Pagla Baba’s hut I saw a dog sitting on the yard, a black dog, with one eye, sticking its tongue out and breathing heavily.

“Just like the one in your nightmares, isn’t it?” Pagla baba started to laugh hysterically again. “Start today, tonight is the new moon, I could warn you not to go but I know you won’t listen.

Aditi hold my hand pressed it so hard. “Can I come with you?” She asked in a scared tone.

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Hamlet, Shakespere.’

 

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And I am walking again, on these lash green grasses, just like I have seen it in my dream, in my nightmare, the only difference is Aditi is also walking beside me. This field wasn’t very hard to find, even today people don’t come this way much, villagers directed us in the right direction.

It’s only green and blue can be seen, the sun is on its way to bid goodbye and the dying lights making it look like a dreamland.

And I remember,

‘Two months after the death of Ashfaq, Ruksar called me, to visit her at their place. When I went there I found Ashfaq’s parents are away. Ruksar took me to the terrace.

“I heard your conversation with my brother that day. He was so scared to go there alone.”

I shrugged. Ruksar continued.

“My brother told me you people had a pact, you were supposed to be there with him in our village, you both were supposed to go there to unravel whatever you thought was unreal. But you did not keet your promise, and you pushed my brother to the edge.

He did not want to go, but he was too afraid to be called a coward, he was too desperate not lose his friendship with you. But you never cared. I begged Ashfaq not to go, yet he went, he couldn’t see his only friend turning his back at him.

I loved you both as my own brothers, but you had a different feeling for me. I knew it and now I know you aren’t worth it. But at least you will feel guilty of this.’

She stopped and took a deep breath, suddenly I spotted that she’s at the very edge of the terrace, before I could react she just let herself fall. No scream of pain but just a thud sound.

I stood there motionlessly and then walked out of that house slowly, there was no one in the street at 2 pm afternoon to spot a 17 years old boy walking off hurriedly. The city knew that evening, a grieving sister committed suicide.’

 

 

“Where is that brown thread?” Aditi asked suddenly as the old wrecked hut slowly started to emerge in front of us.

“I tore it and threw it somewhere here in these grasses.” I replied calmly.

 

Aditi looked at me with scared eyes and disbelieve, and then she ran towards the opposite direction.

The smell is getting stronger, the smell of rotten flesh. I could see the nameless, faceless figure is slowly emerging from the hut, with the big stick it’s holding. My vision and other senses are getting blurred, I am losing my power to even think.

“I FOUND IT!!” I heard Aditi screaming, as I turned my head I saw her running towards me, what I could see is she’s holding something in her right hand, something brown.

I looked back at that thing, floating and coming towards me, and I could see a black spot behind it, slowly getting bigger and bigger as if something is running towards me. I heard that black spot barking madly.

 

I knelt down and screamed, “I am sorry Ashfaq, I am sorry Ruksar. I am sorry.” And tears started to roll off from my eyes.

 

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Bitter Sweet

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1)    “Only 140 characters allowed.” She whispered.
“I only need 10.” He replied. “Rest of them are for you, to reply. ‘I love you’”.

2)    She didn’t want to force a commitment-phobic, so decided to keep their child and set   him free.
He kneeled in front of her, to be a good father, a better husband and the best friend.

3)    “She doesn’t love me; I have no reason to live.” The jilted lover left a note behind.
Only if he could see how much he means to her. To his mother.

4)    “What is your inspiration?” question asked.
“Love.” I replied.
“Ahh, love made you a good writer.” Exclaimed and remarked.
“Love left me a better writer.” I smiled.

5)    He was graduated. His mother was overwhelmed. “It’s time to mortgage my gold          jewels and send him abroad to study further.” She thought.
She was graduated. Her father was worried. “I have to save more to make her more gold jewels, for her marriage.” He thought.
They were twins…….

6)    They met, after a long time, in the Airport. “You’re still so good at pulling my legs.” She laughed.
“You hardly gave me a chance to pull your hands.” He replied, with a smile, sadly.

7)    “Let all your dreams come true.” His wish was granted.
He forgot, nightmares are dreams too.

8)    Her status says she is still online.
“She must be chatting with her friends.” He consoles himself, but deep down he      knows,  he isn’t the one keeping her awake late at night.

9)    “I killed them all, all the infidels, and protected you name, stayed true to my faith.”
The terrorist pushed open the door of heaven with his both hands, happy and zealous    with his achievements

He found his god laying in a pool of blood, with bullet wounds and splinters gashes.    “So you did my son.” He     gasped.

10)    Satnam Singh was worried sick as his wife Neha was giving birth to their first born.  His father in law Subramaniam Rajagopal was praying for the good health of daughter and the grandchild.

As surgeon Imtiaz Hossain wiped his  sweat from his forehead and smiled, the gynaecologist Pavel Lajwani and assistant Saurabh Jain congratulate him for the successful Caesar. Nurse Anita Matthew screamed with joy to its family, “It’s a baby girl.”

With the first cry of the new-born, suddenly the word intolerance started to sound so meaningless.

 

 

Lady Love

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It was an idle Saturday evening with no much of work in hand. I was lazing around at my place almost bored to death, I decided to pay a visit to Dr. Akhil Mitra. It’s actually been a while I met him since I wrote the story Doppelganger based on one of his case files. As I reached to his place and about to knock the door I heard sounds of laughter and two voices in bits and pieces. As I knocked, to my surprise Inspector Dubey opened the door.

Me: “Oh, hello Inspector Dubey, pleasant surprise, I thought you are on your duty”, I spoke.

Dubey: “Naah, I am on leave today, my wife and kids have gone to my in-laws place, so I thought to spend some time with Dr Mitra. Come in, Dr will be pleased to see you.”

As I entered, I saw Akhil was sitting on his couch, keeping his legs on the table and sipping into his tea cup. The weather turned a bit pleasant now as I could see some clouds in the sky. I greeted him.

Me: Dr. Mitra, how are you? All’s well?

Akhil: “Ahh Ani my boy, come in. How you lost your way to my doorstep today. Have a sit, let me make you some tea, the pakodas on the table are still hot I guess.”

Me: “You don’t bother, I am going to kitchen, looks like your cup is going to be empty soon. How about another round of tea?” I asked in a cheerful tone

Akhil: “You know me and Dubey, we will never say no to tea. But hey you just came in and you are going to kitchen to make tea?”

Me: “Well, between 3 of us I make the best tea, so no sweat. You people just wait here for 5 minutes.”
As we 3 of us sat together for the second round of tea, Dubey started the topic.

Dubey: “Sir, why you never got married? You are still a handsome old man and I am sure you have several admires in your young days; I have also heard about a few of them. Was no one worthy enough to tie the knot with?

Akhil did not answer immediately, rather he was smiling patiently.

Me: “Yes, even I am curious about it too, I mean I am sure back then you had a huge female fan following, but have you never fall in love?

Akhil: “There’s hardly a man who never fell in love with a woman.”

Dubey: “Then tell us about that woman sir, we are here to know”, he urged impatiently.

Akhil: “Very well then, as we all have nothing better to do, let me tell you the story.”

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Ghum

Akhil’s Story, in his own words:

It was back in 1989, I have just finished my masters and started my PhD, It was the month of October when I got a letter from my cousin Avinash. He was working in Railways and got married almost a year and half back. He was presently posted then on the highest railway station of India, ‘Ghoom, Darjeeling’.

We were always quite closed during our childhood but I couldn’t make it to his marriage, so he invited me this time to take a vacation and stay with them for few weeks. I was already exhausted with my research work, so I found this invitation as a welcome break from my hectic schedule. I packed my baggage and started the very next day. When I reached the destination, I found Avinash was waiting with his wife to receive me.

Avinash: “Brother, any difficulties during your journey?”

Me: “Not at all, so good to see you, now introduce me to your wife.”

Avinash introduced his wife Shikha to me, she was tall, well built and tough looking woman. Avinash brought his open hood jeep to take me his home. I was impressed to see her driving us the whole way, back then it was kind of rare for women to drive. Avinash was always a dare devil kind and one of his many hobbies were hunting, I was surprised and pleased to know Shikha also had the same hobby and quite good with hunting Riffles. She bragged about killing a wild boar in the jungle of Assam. Her dad was in Airforce and she was born and brought in a quite competitive environment. To me it looked like a match in heaven.

Once we reached there, I found the quarter of Avinash is in a beautiful location, from his terrace there’s an awesome view of Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan peaks. The beauty of Himalayas was still not hidden behind the pollution and population that time. The climate was chilled and pleasant, it was mid of October, and winter was still to come.

Panorama_Kangchenjunga_from_Darjeeling

In the evening we all went out to a nearby cafe, Avinash told me he will introduce few of his acquaintances here. As we all sat down with our fuming coffee, Avinash introduce me to another two gentlemen. Mr Shailesh Das, a young bank manager recently posted here, he was in his mid-20s like me and an elderly person Mr Charles D’Souza, an Anglo Indian who’s in his early 50s.

The young banker looked quite jolly and cheerful in nature, but I was intrigued by the elderly gentleman, he was a retired pensioner but his hobby and passion was quite unique. He was a medium, he used to play as a medium in planchette.

Planchette is an art or technique to call the spirit of a dead person. There are various ways to perform planchette, like use Ouija board or using pen and paper on the table. But the most famous way was to use a live person who acts as a bridge between two worlds and the spirit enter into him and answer the questions put to him by other participants.

Though a lot of intellectuals consider it as bogus and wastage of time, a lot of famous people vouch for it. A medium must have some qualities that clearly others don’t possess, as he must be spiritual and respectful towards the spirit and must have a body which is easily accessible to the spirits, not everyone can play a medium hence it’s an important role among the participants who perform planchette.

seance group

Being an avid observer of paranormal activity, I could never confirm nor deny the authenticity of planchette, but I always kept an open mind and fascinated with the idea of mingling with a medium, it was during my early days of course and I was really interested.

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In few days we really got along, after 3 days we were having a tea party at Avinash’s place. Shailesh and Mr D’Souza were also present, when we were surprised and overwhelmed by the presence of a new guest. As there was a knock at the door, I voluntarily answered. There she was standing, not so tall, medium built, fair and feminine, she was wearing a black gown with a black hat, he deep dark eyes were darker then the shade of her gown, her strong jawbone, cherry lips and confidant stare made her look like a goddess of elegant beauty.

Before I could open my mouth Shikha shouted from behind, “Hey, look who’s here, Rebecca!!!”

As I moved out of her way she entered inside, Shikha almost came running and hugged her. “Where have you been? I heard you were out of station, come in, you are at the right time.” Shikha spurred those words enthusiastically.

“Yes, I was out for a few days. I see a new face in this party.” She indicated to me while speaking.

“Ohh, That’s Akhil, Mr Akhil Mitra, cousin of Avinash, one of the brightest mind in his university, doing his PhD on Parapsychology. Rest of us are already known to you,” Shikha was smiling while introducing me.

“How do you do Miss Rebecca?” I leaned forward and shook her hand. I could see her smile vanished for a moment. She shook back my hand and answered, “Rebecca Fernandez, Mrs Rebecca Farnandez”

I won’t lie, her words hit me like a punch on my face, especially the word Mrs. I had seen and dated few beautiful ladies by that time, but truly I haven’t witnessed such breathlessly charming prettiness.

“Hello Mr D’souza.” Rebecca greeted. “Ahh my child, how are you?” Mr D’Souza replied with a smile.

“And Shailesh, what are you up-to lately?” Rebecca turned to the banker. “Nothing much really, you know how boring my life is”, Shailesh answered with a grin.

In another one hour it became clear to me that Mr Banker has fallen head over heels for Rebecca as he kept trying to make conversation and tried to flirt with her unsuccessfully. I can’t say I did not enjoy the show, but I was more curious to know about her.

I was helping Shikha in the kitchen when I asked her about Rebecca, “Poor soul, such a young age to lose her husband.” Shikha spoke abruptly.

“You mean she’s a widow?” I asked astonishingly.

“Yes she is. My heart goes for that poor tender thing. It’s been a year and half she lost George, right after 3 months of their marriage” Shikha shook her head sadly.

“No wonder Shailesh is trying to woo her, he is making quite a scene,” I replied in a mischievous tone.

“Nothing goes unnoticed from you”, Shikha replied back naughtily, the she spoke in a serious voice, “But he shouldn’t, knowing her past he shouldn’t.”

“What is it?” I was curious now,

Shikha hesitated, “Probably nothing, but there is a history, possibly just a rumour,”

“Rebecca is young, beautiful and sounds quite intelligent. She never thought of remarrying someone?” I asked.

Shikha hesitated again and then spoke, “After the demise of her husband, her parents found another guy, Robert Almeida. Everything was set when Robert met with a road accident, you know the hilly roads sometimes can prove fatal, Robert’s jeep was found 50 feet below from the cliff, his vehicle’s petrol tanker blasted and his body was charred beyond recognition.

Then it was a local called Ravinder Singh, who was so fond of Rebecca, Rebecca too were known to have a soft spot for him. But he was a heavy drunker, few days after his dead body was found hanging from the nearby jungle. Police verified he was too drunk to hang himself, they opened case of homicide but couldn’t arrest anyone.

After that it was Somsundar Chakrabarty, the characterless boss of her late husband George, Som used to follow and harass her in so many ways. That B****d had a wife and kids yet he was trying to lure her. Then one day he went straight up to her house with his heinous intention. He was found heavily wounded in her backyard by police. Before he died he confessed he went there to force himself upon Rebecca, but just before that a shadow emerged behind him and that broke his skull with a heavy blunt instrument. He confirmed it was not Rebecca by any chance as the shadow was taller than her.

All these incidents had an adverse effect and created some unwanted whispers,” Shikha caught her breath.

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The party ended around 10pm, Shailesh was dejected, hence he left early, Mr D’Souza bid goodbye by 9:30pm. In hilly places like Darjeeling 10 PM looks very much like 12 PM midnight. Someone needed to escort Rebecca to her from Avinash place which wasn’t very far, may be half a mile, so I volunteered.

As we were walking the quite dark road together, I was feeling like piece of iron unimaginably attracted towards the magnet called Rebecca.

As I dropped her in her door steps she turned to bid me goodnight and then she spoke.

“Do you believe that women actually can read the mind of men?”

“I do.”

“Then just stay away from me.” Rebecca replied.

“Rebecca, you deserve a second chance, you deserve to be happy, to be loved, cherished and protected by someone.” I couldn’t but blurted my heart out.

“I am protected….. By my late husband,” With fire in her eyes she replied and stormed inside her home.

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Next day morning I woke with a fuming hot bed tea right in front of me, Shikha was standing there and smiling impishly.

“So, how did the tete a tete go with Miss err.. Mrs Rebecca?” She asked

“Ahh, nothing special, she told me to keep away from her.” I replied with a smile

Shikha shook her sadly, “She’s been through a lot yes, I mean her late husband wasn’t a very kind one, he was known for his temper and brawling, once he almost bitten a coolie to death for trivial reason. He was way older to her too, almost in his mid-thirties.”

I started to sip into my tea cup. I made up my mind to pay a little visit to Mrs Rebecca Fernandez today.

As I hit the road around 9 am by foot, after walking a while I heard a car honking behind me.

“Mr Mitra, where you are heading to?” I heard a familiar voice, I turned back and found Shailesh Das was peeping his Head out of his white ambassador

“I was just going nearby.” I answered.

“Ohh hop in Mr Mitra, we both are the sailors of the same destination.” He smiled

As I opened the door of the car, I couldn’t help but noticing the driver, he was almost 6 and ½ feet tall, hugely built person, when he turned his head his eyes were red like rotten tomatoes.

Shailesh saw me staring at his driver and laughed, “Mr Mitra, that is my driver come bodyguard Raghunath Yadav, he was in the army but that didn’t suit him. Don’t get intimidated by his size or looks, he is actually pretty loyal.”

I smiled back and sat next to him. As the car started he removed his sunglasses and looked at me,” I presume you are on your way to see Rebecca, if I am not wrong.”

I hesitated then answered, “Yes, I am, a matter of fact.”

Shailesh wore his sunglasses again and lazily leaned back to the seat, “Yeah, I know you went to drop her back at her place and you had some intimate discussions as well.”

“The words spread faster in small towns I see.” I replied patiently.

“Well I and Rebecca are friends, she doesn’t hide anything from me,” Shailesh replied lazily again.

“Then I take you people speak a lot over phone, as it’s just 9 am and it’s most unlikely you have already met her between last night and this morning as you stay pretty far out.” I spoke.

“Mr Mitra, you have a very good observation, I tell you what, I have no problem if she chooses another guy over me, but I will not see her getting hurt by anyway.” The last few words almost hissed out of his mouth. “And I guess we have already reached to our destination.” Shailesh indicated out of the window, I saw Rebecca was sitting on her lawn.

As I opened the door and walked to her, her face did glow up for a moment but turned pale seeing Shailesh behind me.

“Hello Akhil, good morning.” She spoke in a soft tone.

“Good morning to you too Rebecca.” Shailesh said those words in a loud voice.

“You people here early in the morning. Anything important?

“Nothing at all, Mr Mitra here wanted to see you, so gave him a lift in my car. I guess my job is done here, I should on my way to work, after all not everyone is fortunate enough to have good time in hand to chit chat.” Shailesh was speaking in an unusually cheerful tone, as if he was trying to hide his anger and frustration behind it.

Once Shailesh left we sat together, this time I was curious about her past life, though I wasn’t sure how much she was going to reveal after all.

tea-table-on-point-ellice

“So you said, you are protected by your late husband, may I know why you feel that way? I mean someone who’s dead cannot be around to look after you.” I asked.

Rebecca smiled, “I know Akhil you have already asked about me to Shikha, and I am sure you have also learned about 3 painful deaths after I became a widow.”

“I hope you didn’t mind me asking about you to Shikha and she telling me about you, I persuaded her as I find you an interesting character.” I had an apologetic tone.

She ignored it and continued, “Those 3 people Robert Almeida, Ravinder Singh and Somsundar Chakrabarty, I hardly knew them and I had no wish to be the reason for their deaths, on the contrary maybe I wanted Somsundar dead for what he was about to do to me.

I was hurriedly married off to my husband George as I was once fell in love with a guy whom my family never accepted. George was almost 12 years older to me, he was suspicious and abusive, one of his favorite thing to do was getting dead drunk and then beat me to a pulp. I was not even allowed to speak to any guy even when we are out in a party. All our neighbors were aware of it and they used pity me but were scared my husband’s temper.

So I can shamelessly admit I was happy to hear the news of his death, I thought I can start over, can have a new life. I was all set to remarry Robert as I found him kind and nice, but then fate had other plans, so it was with Ravinder. But then when the day arrived when Som, that pig came to violate my honour, he came inside like a mad drunk bull in my house, punched and kicked me and threw me on the couch as I was trying to resist, and then I saw a tall shadow emerged right behind him from nowhere and hit him on his head with a wooden chair, not once but thrice, Som tried to run away but collapsed just outside my backyard.

Then I remembered something, once when George was alive and in a good mood I asked him why he being so mean to me and he answered, ‘You are mine, I can and I will do whatever I wish to do with you. I am your tormentor and I am protector, you will always be mine. If I am dead or alive it doesn’t matter, you shall not be someone else’s in this life.’

I don’t know how else to explain all those happened to me, people started calling me ‘The Black Widow’, whichever man turn me, he ends up dead.” She broke down while saying the last few sentences.

I held her shoulders and tried to console her “They all might be just a horrible coincidence; your late husband’s words mere be some jibber jabber of a mad man. Do you really want to believe in all these and spend your whole life in darkness?”

“There’s more.” She pushed her chin up and looked at me, “I can feel their presence, my dead husband, Ravinder, Robert, sometimes I see what they saw while they were alive, I can’t explain it, It’s inexplicable. I don’t say these to people as they might take as insane too.” She was in her tears.

I held her face in my palms, wiped the tears with my thumbs and almost naturally I kissed her lips while she closed her eyes. The moment lasted for maybe a few seconds and then we broke free, she almost jumped on her feet and ran inside. I stood up like a fool and slowly started to walk back.

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As I walked back to Avinash’s place I found them arguing over who is better at shooting guns, there were 2 hunting rifles were lying in a corner of the backyard and few broken wine bottles who were used at targets.

Shikha saw me and came running at me, “Look here Akhil I shot 4 of 5 bottles and Mr Avinash Mitra only took out 3 of 5, now he is arguing on wind direction and all, now you dare take your brother’s side.”

Avinash twisted his lips, “Huh, anyone can shoot sitting bottles, the talent is to shoot a moving target.”

Shikha made a face too, “I will show you my dear, when the time comes.” And she stormed in the bedroom

Avinash was laughing, he turned to me and said, “Well, at times I feel she is a better shot than me, but again my pride comes in-between.”

I shook my head, “Indeed.”

“Oh, while you were out Shailesh has come over, it seems Rebecca kept a dinner party tomorrow evening, he came to invite us on her behalf.” Avinash was speaking as he was checking few letters,

“Are you sure?” I asked in a puzzled tone, “I was there with her all these while, she never mentioned about any dinner party.”

“Why would he lie?” Avinash was taken aback, “But if you want I can ask Shikha to confirm with her one more time”

As Shikha called Rebecca, she confirmed there’s indeed a dinner party tomorrow evening and we all are invited,

Dinner-Party-Hors-dOeuvres

The night arrived, we all were present at Rebecca’s place, there were same familiar faces, Me, Avinash, Shikha, Rebecca, Shailesh and Charles D’Souza. As we were finishing our drinks the power went off. The whole bungalow sank into the darkness.

“There must be a power failure.” Shikha shouted.

“Unlikely.” I responded. The houses nearby have power.”

“Ahh, must be some fuse gone off, let me ask Raghunath to get an electrician.” Avinash spoke.

The candles and lanterns were lit as Shailesh send his driver to fetch an electrician, as Rebecca’s bungalow was little far off then it’s neighbouring houses and on a higher altitude, we could see the lights in those houses faintly.

“So, while we get the lights back, why don’t we do something fun?” Shailesh asked

“What exactly do you have in your mind?” Avinash asked

“Amm, let’s see, we have a parapsychologist, a medium and dark bungalow, why not we call a spirit?” Shailesh was jovial

“What nonsense?” Rebecca replied

“Nonsense!! No my dear the nonsense is how you keep saying your dead husband is around not letting you to get remarried, nonsense is how you are snubbing me away but entertaining the new stranger Mr Mitra. How about calling your dead husband’s spirit and sort it all at once?” Shailesh’s tone was serious now.

“Calm down Shailesh!” First time Mr D’Souza spoke

“Oh I am calm, but don’t we all want to see your gift Mr D’Souza, this is a perfect time to show us your talent.”

“I don’t consider it as a talent rather a way to help people” Mr D’Souza’s voice was composed and quiet.

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After some heated discussion everyone came to agree it’s a good idea to call George Fernandez’s spirit through planchette.

Shikha excused herself from it as someone got to check on food and drinks for dinner.

We all sat on a round table with a candle burning right in between, the other candles were put off and lanterns were deemed, the feeble light of the candle in the big room already making a supernatural ambiance. Shailesh and Mr D’Souza sat right opposite to each other. After Shailesh its Rebecca and Avinash on the right of Mr D’Souza, I was between Shailesh and Mr D’Souza completing the circle.

“Everyone put their both hands on the table, close your eyes and try to picturise George Fernandez, I guess everyone either saw him or his photo, so please visualize him and call him here.” Mr D’Souza’s heavy voice made commanding effect. I have already saw George’s photo with Rebecca.

“Once you see the table shaking and my head gets tilted, please ask if George has come. Also please ask the questions that can be answered strictly by Yes or No.”

There was a complete silence for 10 minutes and then the table started to move and its legs were making sounds, Mr D’souza’s head was fell down on his left shoulder. We were bit puzzled as what to do next. I thought to take the next initiative.

“Is it you George Fernandez? Are you with us?” I asked

“Yes.” The answer came from Mr D’Souza, it was his voice alright but sounded like the voice is coming from a long distance.

“We have called you here to ask you few questions. Would you answer us?”

“Yes.” D’Souza spoke again, his eyes were tightly closed and head was resting on his left shoulder.

“Rebecca feels that you are always around her, not letting her be with any man after your demise, you don’t want her to remarry. Is it true?” I asked again

“No”, the reply came.

“The death of 3 people involved with Rebecca, do you have to do anything with them?”, I shot my next question

“No.”

“Do you know who is responsible for those deaths?

“Yes.”

“Is he or she is among us today?”

“Yes”

“Is he someone close to Rebecca?” I put forwarded my trick question

“YES!”

Shailesh Das jumped off his feet, “You think I will believe in all these Horses**t, open your eyes Mr D’Souza, you’re an imposter.” Saying those words Shailesh was searching something in his pocket fanatically.

“Looking for this Mr Das?” Without us noticing D’Souza was also on his feet, something of silver color was glittering in his hand, in the faint light of candle also we could see D’Souza was holding a pistol.

At the same time someone increase the flame of the nearby lantern. “Lower your weapon Oldman, or I will shoot your head clean off.” I turned and saw Raghunath Yadav, Shailesh’s Driver come bodyguard appeared from nowhere and aiming a double barrel shotgun at D’Souza.

“And you two hold it right there!!!” It was a female voice this time, none other than Shikha. She appeared from the other door from the right in the room. She was holding and aiming her Karabiner 98 kurz 7.92×57mm Mauser bolt-action hunting rifle. Leaving me, Rebecca and Avinash sitting in-between this Mexican standoff.

face_off_mexican_standoff_three

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“Don’t you people have to go home? It’s quite late.” Akhil Yawned.

Me and Dubey felt like we woke up from a dream. Everything Akhil was describing were running right in front of us.

“But Sir, rest of the story?” Dubey pleaded.

“Some other day, are you people not hungry, its 10pm in the night.” Akhil Yawned again

I was feeling dejected because of this unwanted interval. Then I realized it’s raining heavily outside.

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Dubey opened the main door and looked outside. It was raining cats and dogs. The sky was dark, cloudy and getting occasionally lightened up by thunder lightning.

“Looks like the rain won’t stop tonight.” Dubey chuckled.

“Well my guest room is ready, but what about dinner” Akhil asked.

I went to the kitchen checked the ration, “How about khichdi and omelet and brinjal fry?”

“Sound delicious, in this pouring rainy night.” Akhil and Dubey both spoke cheerfully.

As we are done with cooking we sat for dinner, it was khichdi, egg fry, brinjal fry and desi ghee, which tasted better than it ever could.
Once again we sat in Akhil’s drawing room or as he described we both almost pulled him from his good night sleep to finish his story.

And he continued from where he left……

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“Hold your gun aiming that old bastard Raghu, and shoot if he moves.” He turned to Shikha, “Listen Shikha, it’s not me, it’s him, D’Souza.”

“Well in that case I want both him and your driver to lower their weapon, I am not trusting anyone till you do.” Shikha shouted.

“Shailesh, what the hell is going on, and Mr D’Souza please.” Rebecca stood up and try calm people down.

“Well Mr. Shailesh, what are doing you doing with this handgun in your pocket than? And how come driver is also armed? Seems like you came here with full preparation.” Mr D’Souza chuckled.

Shailesh smiled, “Yes, and like an experienced conman you picked it up from my pocket without me even realizing, I see you are quite good at pickpocketing and stuff. And as a matter of fact it’s not only us who are carrying weapon, seems like Mrs Shikha Mitra as well carrying her hunting rifle.”

“So can we all give up and have a proper discussion in a civilized way?” Rebecca moved near Mr D’Souza.

All of a sudden too many things happened at once, D’Souza grabbed Rebecca by her shoulder and pulled her towards him.

“Don’t shoot.” Shailesh screamed at Raghunath as he aimed for D’Souza who was holding Rebecca in front of him.

Then he shot at Raghunath before he could react, the bullet pierced through Raghu’s shoulder. Immediately D’souza turned at Shikha and yelled “Drop your gun or she dies.”, pointing his pistol at Rebecca’s head. Shikha was now aiming the gun at D’Souza but her clearly she was at her wit’s end.

Shailesh who as on the other side of table, leaped over it and attacked D’Souza with bare hands, he caught hold of D’Souza’s right hand and as both were struggling, Shailesh to snatch the gun and D’Souza to hold onto it.

Another cracking sound of bullet and with everyone’s horror Shailesh Das fell down on the floor, Mr D’Souza shook his shoulder and aimed the gun back at Shikha who was completely awestruck with the whole development.

injured and unconscious Raghunath was lying there with his shotgun resting few inches away from his hand. In the blink of an eye Avinash dived onto the floor and rolled, next thing I heard and was a blistering sound of another bullet and Mr D’souza’s ear splitting scream, the pistol he had and half of his palm, was gone, Avinash was holding the shotgun and smoke was coming out of its barrel. Avinash looked at his wife who was in shock but still holding the rifle, “Yeah baby, I am still the best shooter in the family.”, he grinned.

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The police arrived in 15 minutes as we have called in. Next few days me and Avinash actively took part in the police investigation about the whole matter.

Shailesh and George:

Shailesh, before he got posted in here he was a bank manager of a branch of a nearby town. There was theft of 20 gold bars from his previous bank branch, and he was one of the suspect, but he was off the hook for lack of evidence.
Shailesh and George were partners in this crime, mostly it was George’s part to hide the gold and keep it safe till the things gets cooled off. Nobody ever suspected George as he was a railway employee and not connected to the bank, he carried the gold here and kept in a safe place.

His sudden death changed the whole equation, as George did not tell Shailesh where the gold bars are actually hidden. Shailesh took a transfer here and started to search it.

Rebecca’s secret:

Rebecca had not disclosed a couple of things to us, one of which even she was unaware of. She was telepathic. Now Telepathy falls into different categories, Telepathic Communication, Telepathic Perception, clairvoyance etc. She had an ESP something called ‘Retro-cognitive telepathy’, she could enter into other people’s mind subconsciously, mostly when she was resting, sleeping or lost in some thoughts.

As I said it used to happen when she isn’t conscious she didn’t even know what she was doing, but every time she entered into someone’s mind the memory fragments of that person used stay inside her head. Thus she could see or feel the memories which were not hers, I guess that’s what she tried to tell me when she said she sometimes felt inside people’s head watching things.

Thus she had memories fragments of her Husband, Robert or Ravinder, whomever she was very attached to.

The other thing she did not tell us was Robert Almeida indeed wasn’t a stranger but her ex-boyfriend whom her parents initially rejected, but as she became a widow she expressed her feeling to remarry him and her parents couldn’t say no.

The real identity of Charles D’Souza:

Charles D’Souza was a small time crook who earned his reputation as psychic. He used to fool people claiming he got powers to speak to dead people and also he was involved into some violent crime including robbing his clients houses even for murder.
But he was also the biological father of George Fernandez, Charles and George’s mother got married quite in early days but it ended up in divorce. George’s mother moved here and got married again, George was raised by his mother and step-father. But George had his father’s blood in his vein, he also grew up a crooked dishonest man.

After a long time, Charles was back in town, George’s mother and foster father were already expired. There was a reunion of father and son. George told his father about the bank heist and golds, but did not disclose the place where he hid it.
Then the sudden death of George jolted him, George wasn’t popular and had many enemies, I’m not sure if he was killed or it was an accident, but the police promptly closed the case as an accident.

Then Charles came to know about his widowed daughter-in-law getting married again, George never introduced Rebecca to Charles as his father, she had no clue who he is, she simply believed his lies that he is just an old retired man.
When Charles find out Robert is actually the ex-boyfriend of Rebecca, he suspected that they both might have planned and killed his son, which is not true. But the cruel and vengeful father tampered the brake of Robert’s vehicle resulting his death.

Ravinder Singh:

Ravinder Singh was a private investigator hired by Shailesh, as he was after his gold and the keeper is already dead, his only hope was to find out if Rebecca knows something about it. Ravinder got close to Rebecca and started to investigate, when he found out about Rebecca’s ability and the idea strike to him that Rebecca might have few memories of George and using that he can find out where the gold is hidden.

But there was another guy keeping an close eye on Rebecca and Ravinder, that was Charles D’Souza. Charles came to know about his investigation mostly when Ravinder was drunk and spit out few information. When he came to know about the gold Charles saw an opportunity to kill two bird in one stone, get the gold and then take his revenge by killing his daughter-in-law, but first he had to make sure Ravinder doesn’t play a spoil sport, he removed him from the path.

Somsundar’s death:

Somsundar died in the hands of Raghunath. After the death of Ravinder, Shailesh smelled that Rebecca might be in danger, he ordered his loyal henchman to keep an eye on Rebecca. When she was attacked by Somsundar, Raghu intervened and in that scuffle Somsundar died. The tall shadow Rebecca saw before she fell unconcious was none other but Raghunath Yadav.

Rest of the story:

Once Shailesh received the news that Ravinder is killed he has no other choice to get into the act by himself, he tried to get closed to Rebecca but as days went by he started to fall for her genuinely. Not that his greed for the gold died off but still he was actually had fallen in love with her. It proved when he tried everything to protect Rebecca, starting from telling Raghu not to shoot when Rebecca was hostage than tried to save her life and died in that process.

Shailesh was a criminal but he also had human side, on the other hand Charles D’Souza was almost a psychopath who had no remorse or guilt for killing so many people.

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Akhil finished the story and yawned again.

“But sir what happened to Rebecca, did you not tell her about how you feel about her.” Dubey asked

“I did, but she refused, she was not ready for any more commitment, she was heartbroken and horrified knowing how many men tried to use her for different reasons. She devoted rest of her life to the church and became a nun.”

“Are you people still in touch?” I asked

“No, we were in touch for few years through letters but then we moved on, I couldn’t forget her though.”

“What about the gold? Did police were able to track it?”

Akhil was smiling impishly. “Yes they did.”

“Where was it?” me and Dubey asked together.

“George kept it to the safest place he knew, he gave it to Rebecca. What could be the safest place for gold more than a woman’s possession.”

“So it was in George’s house all along?” I was surprised.

Akhil sighed, “No, she kept it in her bank’s locker, the same bank Shailesh was working in.!!!!!.”

VectorToons.com
Cartoon Vector Stock

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The Story Within

story-within-story

 

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He: I have created you. But I’ve no idea how should the story progress.

She: Did you hit a writer’s block?

He: Maybe. I don’t know. But I described you just the way I have ever desired somebody in my life.

She: So I am your dream girl…..

He: Perhaps, yes..

She: *Giggling* So Mr. Writer, are you falling in love with your own creation?

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He: I don’t like this new character I have introduced in this story.

She: The handsome stranger you mean.

He: Yes. I think I will make him disappear.

She: *Sarcastic tone* Are you feeling insecure about him? That I may fall for him.

He: I portrayed you as a strong independent woman. I know you can’t be compelled to do anything.

She: Then let the stranger be in this story.

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He: No. It can’t be.

She: Why? You said yourself, I can’t be forced.

He: Because I love you, and I can’t see you be with him.

She: But I don’t love you. Besides I am just a character in your story.

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Journalist: *While taking the interview* So Miss Jhumpa Banerjee, what is your new novel is all about?

Jhumpa: Well, I am writing a story where a writer while writing a story slowly falling for the main protagonist. Someone he has portrayed as his most desired companion.

Journalist: Great. So how this ends? A happy ending or a tragic one?

Jhumpa: *Laughs* I can’t tell you that. You have to read the book. By the way I haven’t decided yet.

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She: *Frantically knocking the coffin the door* No you can’t do this to me, let me out. LET ME OUT!!

He: Oh I can, remember I am the one who’s writing the story. So the handsome stranger you fell for turned out to be a serial murderer who kills his victims by burying them alive. As we are speaking he is slowly lowering the coffin into the 6-foot pit.

She: You can’t do this to me you sick freak. You created a character and then fell for her, and when she stopped your advances he are killing her. You can’t do this *Sobbing*

He: It’s all over now. You are buried under 6 feet and no one can hear you screaming. Goodbye Jhumpa.

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Writer Jhumpa Banerjee opened her eyes as she was lying on her bed. All of a sudden she’s feeling suffocated. She tried to get up but couldn’t. It felt like she’s in a closed box and no matter how hard she is trying she just can’t free her arms and legs, and nobody seems to hear her screaming. Her body slowly started to sink in the bed.

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Jannat

Pahalgam_Valley

 

He was tall, dark and handsome. She was cute as strawberries.

He used to look at her. She used to try looking the other way.

He knew she likes him. She knew he likes her.

He was cupid struck. She used to blush in her dreams.

Her brother was bad news. He tried his best to stop him.

Her brother made our mother bleed. She couldn’t stop him.

He had to do his duty. He had no other choice.

She had to see her brother die. She had no other choice.

He couldn’t forgive himself. He couldn’t forget her.

She couldn’t forgive him. She couldn’t forget him.

.

.

.

He used to carry his automatic rifle. She used to carry her basket full of apples.

He was a soldier. She was a girl from THE VALLEY.

 

Agar Firdaus bar rōy-e zamin ast,

hamin ast-o hamin ast-o hamin ast.

— Amir Khusrau

(If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here)

Doppelganger

dualit10

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Akhil was sitting on the bench in the park for a while now, watching the birds in front of him, are screeching and picking the peanuts Akhil threw at them. He was observing the one of the pigeon closely, it has black polka dots on its whitish chest and it looked like an odd customer among its gang.

Someone cleared his throat next to him, “May I speak with you for some time?” The voice asked.

Akhil looked at him with curiosity, a man around in his early thirties, wearing a grey a shirt and a black pant was standing next to him. “By all means, please have a sit,” Akhil answered and shown the empty space on the bench.

“I hope I found the right guy. You are the famous psychologist, Dr. Akhil Mitra, I guess.” The stranger spoke in a soft voice. Akhil was measuring him from head to toe, about 6ft height, fair, black hair and eyes, the pair of eyes look dull and sad, yet there is a spark of some kind in them, a pair of thin pink lips, sharp nose and small ears. A man shouldn’t be called beautiful but handsomely, Akhil felt for this stranger ‘A beautiful guy’ would be an apt adjective, with very sublime features of femininity.

“I don’t know if I am the famous one, but yes I am Dr. Akhil Mitra.” Akhil laughed and replied.

“It’s a pleasure meeting you sir. I’m Hiren, Hiren Bose.” Hiren spoke those words and took a pause. Akhil felt he is hesitating for some reason.

“You can tell me what is bothering you, I will try my best to help you,” Akhil spoke in an assuring tone to Hiren.

“My wife…. My wife sees me, in multiple places.” Hiren said those words hesitatingly.

“Could you be a little more elaborate and specific?” Akhil requested in a warm voice. “Tell me everything, from the start.”

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Hiren’s story:

I am the only child of my parents. My father was a pilot in an airlines company and my mother was a homemaker. My father always used to be out of the station, we had enough servants and to take care of them and other businesses we had a manager called Gokul Misra or Misra uncle. I and my mother were very close, I was her ‘apple of eyes’. I remember she used to drop me at school and used to wait there until the last bell, even during recess she used to be with me. I was bullied by other schoolmates as I was such a ‘momma’s boy’, partially because I was also weak and feeble. My mother was always so protective of me.

When I was eight, my mother died, she had lung cancer and when it was detected it was too late. My dad was a complete workaholic, he came back to the country only finish the rituals of my mother’s funeral.

After that, he called me to his study room. “My son, I know how much you loved your mother, so did I, but now as she’s gone, I am worried about you. Next to me you will only inherit mine and your maternal grandfather’s fortune. You are young and you know the nature of my job, I can’t keep you fly by me till you grow up a little. Till then you will be under the guardian of your Misra uncle. I trust him completely, yet if you ever feel something is wrong, remember I am just a call away.”

My maternal grandfather has a huge tea estate, which was inherited by me after my mother’s death. As I was juvenile, as per his will dad was the caretaker, dad never bothered much about that estate and the income from it as his own salary was more than enough for us. As he went back to his work, Misra uncle becomes my guardian and caretaker. Gokul Misra or Misra uncle was short, dark and bald, and he had immense affection and love for me, he loved me just like his own son but always reminded me that he is mere a manager and I am the master, he was humble and intelligent, and absolutely loyal to my father.

Misra uncle had a daughter, Haimanti, we were of same age, after my mother’s death we became very close, almost all the time we were with each other. We grew up together, went to the same school and then college, slowly I started to realize I was falling in love with her, and I knew our feelings are mutual, even she was in love with me.

When I was in the last year of my college years, we got the bad news. My father passed away in a flight crash. As everything was burned and destroyed in that crash, the flight company was unable to retrieve his dead body, they sent back his belongings with their condolences and a fresh job offer for me, which I politely declined.

As a family of mine then I only had Misra uncle, Haimanti and few old and trusted servants. I was engrossed in our family tea business and in our tea estate, Misra uncle was getting old and he needed a helping hand, so we employed a new assistant manager. The new assistant manager was proved quite clever and street-smart, after few months of joining he was handling the works at ease, his name was Jiten Sappru.

One day as I came back home, I saw Misra uncle and 2 of the servants are standing around Jiten, who was sitting on the ground with a torn shirt and blood all over his face, he was clearly been beaten black and blue.

“What’s going on? Who did this to him?” I asked Misra uncle.

“He is fired. He won’t work here anymore.” Misra uncle said those words quietly.

Jiten was shown the door that very day. When I nagged Misra uncle to know the reason, after a lot of persuasions he hinted that Jiten was speaking ill and spreading rumours about me and Haimanti’s relation. I immediately took the decision of getting married to Haimanti and told the same to Misra uncle. Initially, he was dead against it, but then he accepted. In few days we had done a registered marriage without any ceremony, there’s hardly anyone to invite except the people at home.

As soon as we got married we started for Kashmir for our honeymoon. After 3 days tragedy strikes again, Haimanti went missing from the hotel room, next day her cold disfigured body beyond recognition was found 10 kilometres away in the nearby Jhelum River. Her eyes, face and parts of her body were eaten by the fishes. Misra uncle rushed there immediately as soon as he got the news, broken hearted and distraught we cremated her there and performed her last rituals. This unfortunate accident affected us both, I tried to forget everything and invoked myself into the business, but for Misra uncle, it’s proved too much take. In a year, he also passed away peacefully in his sleep. After his demise, in few months, the old servants also took their leave, partially because they were old and partially because of my indifference.

All these while I stayed a lonely workaholic man, but a year ago Riya came to my life, we fell in love and decided to get married, I thought my life about to take a turn towards happiness, but I was wrong.

Almost after 8 months of our marriage, one evening as I came back from work, as I entered into the drawing room there was no one. I thought Riya might be asleep on the first floor, I got refreshed and called her name, she got down from upstairs saw me and spoke in a puzzled voice.

“Did you go to the office again?”

“What again? I just came back now, get me some tea and snacks, I am starving.” I answered while wiping my face with a towel.

“But you came back today afternoon, had lunch with me and then we went to bed for a nap.”

“Were you dreaming all these time in your sleep?” I started to laugh. She looked confused. “Who knows, maybe, but it felt so real.” She tried to smile but couldn’t, she was looking worried.

“It must have been a dream baby.” I went and hugged her, she too held me tight. “I seriously hope so,” She said.

 

It happened again after a week or so. We were having breakfast on our dining table, Riya left the tea kettle on the gas oven, as she heard the kettle whistle she hurried into the and then I heard her scream and a sound of a heavy thud on the floor. I rushed into the kitchen to find Riya on the floor, unconscious. I carried her to bed and sprinkled water on her face. As soon as she gained her sense, she screamed again seeing me and then hugged me with both hands and started to sob.

“I… I saw him again, I saw you in the kitchen, leaning on the wall and smiling, and then I turned and saw the other you sitting on the dining table eating your sandwich through the door. There are two of you, there are one real and one fake of you…” She spoke in scared trembling voice.

It continued, she kept seeing me time to time, when I am there at home and also when I am not there, she almost started to act insane, last two weeks I didn’t go to work, I have always stayed with her, most of the time she is holding me. Our life has turned into a complete hell.

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“I need you help Doctor, I think only you can help us,” Hiren said those words as his eyes were getting wet.

Akhil was observing Hiren closely, his story is incredible and astonishing, yet not even once he felt Hiren is lying, his eyes, body language and everything else were indicating he was describing the true event of his life as it happened.

“May I speak with Riya?” Akhil Asked. “Of course, you can. Would you like to come now with me?” Hiren enquired eagerly.

“Not tonight, I have some work to complete. How about tomorrow 9 AM?” Hiren Asked.

“Very well, we shall wait for you then.” Hiren replied and got up from bench, he started to walk and then again he turned and came back, “Doctor I don’t know if you accept fees or money for your services, but if you solve this case I shall be ever grateful to you and promise you to pay you by a fortune.”

Akhil smiled, “That won’t be necessary. Let’s meet tomorrow.”

 

Akhil reached to Hiren’s residence by 10 AM in the morning, Hiren sent his car to fetch him. His tea estate is 50 km away from the city and his bungalow is just behind the estate, a huge one. The entire place with the tea garden won’t be less than an acre Akhil presumed. Hiren greeted him warmly and informed he has arranged for his breakfast which Akhil politely declined. He was curiously waiting to meet Riya.

The walked up to their bedroom. Riya was lying on the bed and a young man of Hiren’s age was sitting there wearing his stethoscope. “This is our family physician and my friend Sudheer Chatterjee and my wife Riya.” Riya looked at Akhil with an empty gaze, Sudheer smiled and shook hands with Akhil.

“I have written some medicine and a strong sedative for Riya, make sure she take them after food, I am leaving now, I shall check her up in another two days,” Sudheer spoke as he started to keep arrange his medical kit bag.

On his way out he shook hands with Akhil warmly one more time “I have heard so much of you. Hiren did the right thing to engage a psychiatrist, Riya needs some counselling badly, please let me know if I am of any help.” Sudheer applauded Akhil’s presence here.

 

Akhil Sat near Riya, she is about in her early twenties, short and petite, Akhil wondered, the couple must be having at least 7 to 8 years of age gap. He kept his hand on her forehead. “How are you feeling now?” Akhil asked in a soft voice.

“I don’t know, I am scared. I don’t know what that fake Hiren wants, I am scared, very scared.” Riya murmured.

“Can you tell me how and when it started? Would you be able to? Don’t get up, just lay down and tell me.” Akhil spoke again in a soft voice.

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Riya’s story:

It’s all started that day when Hiren came back early from his work, he generally comes home by late evening, but that day he was early. He didn’t speak much, we had our lunch together, I was happy seeing him early and then we went for a nap. When I saw him again in the evening, at his normal return time, when he told me I probably dreamt all of those thing, I wanted to believe it but I knew something somewhere was wrong.

Then I saw the other him in the kitchen, he was leaning on the wall and smiling at me, I looked back and found the same Hiren I left on the dining table still there, eating. I couldn’t take it and faint.

Slowly his presence started to be stronger and clearer, One day as I felt thirsty I got up from the bed and came down, I saw someone was standing on the balcony, I wanted to run away but my feet were stuck to the ground. I saw he turned back and he called my name, “Riya, could you get me a glass of water?” I felt dizzy and fell down there. When I woke up I found myself in the bed, Hiren was with me. But I was scared, suspicious if he is my husband or that imposter. But as he touched me I felt relieved, I recognised him by his touch.

Though our servants are staying in the servant quarter Hiren ordered our maid and cook to stay with me all the time, I don’t see him when somebody else is present, but every time I am all alone he appears in front of me. Dr Sudheer had done a lot of check-ups and gave me different kinds of medicine, but everything is in vain. A few days ago when I was sitting on the chair reading book, the maid was fast asleep, I saw a shadow emerged near the door, my heart started to beat like a drum. I got up from my chair and walked up there. Hiren was standing there, I was confused if he is the real or the fake one.

“Why you are so scared of me? I won’t harm you.” He whispered, and he slowly walked towards me and touched my cheek. The fingers were cold like ice and felt a strange smell of rotten flesh, as he moved closer to me the pungent smell was unbearable. I screamed and fell down unconscious. Since then Hiren stopped going to work, he is running the business from home, the maid stays with me for 24 hours.

I feel his presence everywhere, I hear him whispering at the night, at times I hear his footsteps. Sometimes the sound of easy chair moving in the study room. Once I was having dinner with Hiren in the dining area, I clearly saw him sitting on the sofa in the drawing room through the gap of the door connecting the drawing and dining room, I screamed and told Hiren about it, he rushed there but nobody was there then.

My little happy life now turned into an inferno, I don’t know what to do, whom to turn to?”

Riya’s big dark eyes were full of tears, Akhil felt bad seeing her crying helplessly. “I promise you I shall do everything in my limits to help you out of this situation.” He assured her.

“Do you know about Haimanti?” Akhil enquired. “Yes I do.” Riya answered in a quiet voice.

“Have you ever seen her around here?” Akhil was probing. “She’s dead, how will I see her here?” Riya answered with a puzzled voice.

Akhil felt uneasy, he shouldn’t have ask that question.

“Where is your family? Are they live somewhere nearby?” Akhil asked, “My dad is no more, It’s me and my mother and few distant relatives, I am from the nearby village, my mother lives there.”

“All right. You look exhausted, take some rest. I will talk to you later.” Akhil stood up.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

Akhil and Hiren was walking side by side as they were taking a round his tea estate.

“I have few questions Hiren, I hope you can answer them.” Akhil started. “Of course, ask me,” Hiren replied.

Akhil: “You said your mother died of cancer, do you remember anything odd or suspicious about her death?”

Hiren: “No, I remember nothing of that sort, once her cancer was detected doctor had given 3 months, she died on the 3rd month.”

Akhil: “And your father?”

Hiren: “The Airlines informed us about the flight crash and the death, as there were no survivors, everything was burned to ashes.”

Akhil: “About Haimanti, did you discover her dead body on the river shore?”

Hiren: “No, I was informed by the local police, I was hysterical and distraught, Misra uncle came at once as he got the information. He identified the body from her attire and birth mark.

Akhil: “Gokul Misra?”

Hiren: “He died in a heart attack when he was asleep, there was no mystery at all in his death.”

Akhil: “Hmm, and about the maids and servants, do you have any of your old ones?

Hiren: “No, as I said they all were grown so old, now all the servants working here are new, the oldest one among them is serving from 4 years.”

 

The uneven lines on Akhil’s forehead were getting prominent now. Something is not adding up. There are 4 deaths in this house yet Riya is seeing the dual persona of her husband but none of those people. Is she hallucinating? Or someone is trying to scare her and if so then why? Or is it really about some supernatural occurrence?

He bid adieu to Hiren for the day and hit the road towards the city, he need to have a word with Inspector Dubey.

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Akhil walked into the police station, a sub-inspector saw and greeted him, “Hello Akhil sir, Inspector Dubey is not here, he went out for a case investigation.” “Oh! When will he return?” Akhil was disappointed. The sub-inspector shrugged “No idea, he is gone for long I guess.”

Akhil thought about going to university at the second half as he had some classes to take, but he was too exhausted. He went home and slept for 4 straight hours. When he got up in the evening he tried to call Dubey for few times but his mobile was switched off. While sitting in the dark Akhil was trying to arrange all the events and incidents took place in Hiren’s life like a Jigsaw puzzle.

Hiren lost his 4 family members, his mother at the tender age of 8, then his father when he is college, probably after 10 years of his mother’s demise. Then he lost his first wife Haimanti and his manager and his father-in-law Gokul Misra in a span of 3 to 4 years. There are two unnatural deaths, Hiren’s father died in a plane crash, his dead body was never found or identified and Haimanti whose body was identified by her father but was unrecognizable.

The questions which are emerging now are, is Hiren’s father really dead? Was that Haimanti’s body? How loyal was Gokul Misra especially when he became the father-in-law of Hiren? What happened to Jiten who was humiliated and thrown away? Why Riya is seeing two Hiren, is it just an illusion? Or she is lying? Or somebody is trying to scare her?

Akhil went to kitchen and made himself a strong hot cup of tea, while sipping into his smoking hot tea he thought ‘coffee is just too overrated’. He got a headache while thinking of all those questions revolving in his head, the hot tea sure gave him a soothing relief.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

 

Akhil dialled Hiren’s number, after few rings Hiren picked up the call, “Dr Mitra, tell me.”

“I need few documents and photos, Could you get me the death certificates and the photos of your deceased family members? Pay me a visit tomorrow, I also have something else to tell you.” Akhil said in a serious tone.

“It’s kind of hard to leave Riya alone at home even if the maid is there, but I guess I can manage an hour or two. I shall be there by tomorrow morning.”

Next day morning Hiren came to Akhil’s residence and handed over the documents and photos Akhil asked for.

“I have only one photo of Haimanti, when she was 7 years old, I keep it in my purse. Rest all the photos were kept away by Misra uncle. After her death, he was not ready to keep any of her pictures around, he loved her so much. He couldn’t tolerate see his dead daughter’s pictures as it used to remind him of her.”, Akhil said in sad voice and kept the photo on the table.

Akhil picked up the photograph, it’s an old colour photograph which has almost turned yellow, a cute girl of 6 to 7 years is standing in red lehenga and a green dupatta, with her neck little bend towards the camera, she is not smiling instead looking at the camera with irritated eyes.

“I will return this back in few days” He said that while checking the other photographs, they all are quite old, by seeing at Hiren’s parents picture Akhil understood from where Hiren got his handsomely presence, both of them were tall, fair and had an aristocrat look. Gokul Misra was a short, dark and bald man but his eyes were saying he was a clever and shrewd personality.

“Hiren, do you have any CCTV camera installed at your place?” Akhil enquired.

“One at the entrance but it’s not working, I have to replace it. But why?” Hiren asked with a baffled voice.

“Would it be possible to install few CCTV cameras inside your house?” Akhil spoke absentmindedly.

“I sure can, I can get cameras in each room, but does that mean Riya is telling the truth? That it’s not her psychological issue but someone really is there who looks exactly like me?” Hiren is looking visibly worried.

“I am not saying anything. I am just wondering if we can have 24/7 electronic surveillance in your place for few days, I guess Riya will also feel secure.”

“Very well, today itself I will get some people to install them. But if I knew I have to do this, I wouldn’t have appointed a parapsychologist.” Hiren said those words angrily and stormed out of there. Akhil was still thinking something.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

It was Saturday, after Hiren left from there Akhil finished reading a half-read book, worked on one of his thesis, in lunch he brought some parathas and daal ghost from a small hotel nearby. The daal ghost was so very hot and spicy that it almost burned his tongue, but it was tasty as well. Akhil wondered when it comes about tasty food, road side shops are way better than the fancy restaurants.

After lunch he took a nap for 3 hours, then in the evening went to the park and sat on the bench as usual. He bought some sprouts and grams and spread in front of him, as the flock of pigeons landed on them, he tried to find the one with the polka dots, but it wasn’t there. It started to drizzle after some time and people started to leave from the park, Akhil didn’t move, he was expecting it to be a passing shower. But the rain didn’t stop and started to pour heavily when Akhil returned home he was completely drenched.

He made himself and cup of tea, as he was sipping it he felt feverish, a little throat ache, his eyes were turning red and his head started to feel heavy. Akhil went to bed and tried to sleep but the fever was increasing, not letting him sleep, he was slumbering.

He felt a hand on his forehead, he opened his eyes, it was Sakina. She was looking at Akhil with her sad big eyes, “You should have someone here to take care of you.” She spoke in her soft sweet voice. Slowly her face started to change, It was now Neela who’s looking at him and smiling. “You should have accepted me when I proposed to you in college, at least you wouldn’t be laying all alone here, with none to take care of you.” Akhil closed his eyes, his breaths were getting hot and heavy, he knew he is hallucinating due to heavy fever. He heard the giggling sound now from the corner of the room, he opened his eyes again and found Ayesha was sitting there. “Tell me Dr. Akhil Mitra, how come you never succeeded to save any of your female client’s lives? Every woman who depended on you, you let them down miserably, even that poor little thing Sakina. Do you think you can save Riya?” There were more giggles as she finished speaking.

Akhil could hear someone is continuously pressing the doorbell and banging the door, a voice is also calling Akhil’s name. He somehow got up from bed and switched on the light, there was no one in his room and he can hear the voice calling his name is getting louder. Akhil walked towards the door by weak steps and manage to open it. As soon as he opened the door he lost his balance and was about the fell on the floor when two strong hands caught his shoulders.

“Dr Mitra, what happened to you? Are you alright? Your body is burning with fever.” Inspector Dubey spoke in terrified voice as he was holding Akhil in his both hands.

Dubey admitted Akhil in the hospital within an hour, whole night Akhil was half conscious as he could see the faces of doctors and nurses in his room. Next day afternoon Akhil regain a little of himself, doctors told him there’s nothing to worry but it’s better if they discharge him after 2 days.

Inspector Dubey came in the evening to visit Akhil, “Sir you need at least a full-time servant to be at your place. You are a bachelor with none of your close relatives in this city to take care of you if you fall sick. I wonder why you never got married.”

Akhil weakly smiled at Dubey “That’s a long story, I will tell you some other time. Now take the keys of my house, there will be few documents and photographs lying on my table. Get them and try to find as much information about them. Also find the details of a person called Jiten Sappru, he should be a local person staying nearby tea estate run by Hiren Bose. He had also worked under him. ”

“Will do, but my sincere request to you, not to indulge into any case till you are fine.” Inspector spoke in a concerned voice.

“I have promised somebody that I will help with all the way I can. I have 2 more days to be here, meanwhile if you can run the investigation.” Akhil said those words while his eyes closed.

“Very well, I will get those things and run a check on them, but you take care of yourself.” Dubey took his leave.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

“Dr, Mitra, what a surprise? I just came to know you are admitted in this hospital.” Dr Sudheer Chatterjee’s cheerful tone brought back Akhil into this world, he was lost into his deep thoughts. He looked at Sudheer surprisingly, “You work here?” Akhil asked.

“I do. I did not have my duty last night, today when I saw the list of newly admitted patients I came across your name, heard you were admitted here with high fever.” Sudheer answered while sitting on the chair.”

“How long do you know Hiren? If you don’t mind me asking” Akhil asked again

“I know him for around 3 years now. We had a common friend, through him we met and we got along, he used to come to me for any kind of medical issues after that.” Sudheer replied.

“I need some information about him and his family. I guess I you have no problem as he engaged me solve Riya’s case.” Sudheer nodded in reply to his query and then Akhil and Sudheer had a long discussion.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

Next day Akhil was feeling better but he was still weak. He decided to call Hiren and check on him, he dialled Hiren’s number, Hiren responded almost immedietly.

“Hello Dr. Mitra, how are you? I have heard about your condition from Sudheer. Please accept my apology for that ill behaviour, all these while I thought it’s all Riya’s illusion, but when you suggested about CCTV camera, first time I felt Riya is telling the truth. It’s all fine for few days as Riya did not see anyone yet. I also started to feel there might be someone out there who looks just like me.”

“Good to hear that, I am still investigating from my side. You people stay careful.” Akhil replied.

“Today is my birthday, I want to spend some good times with Riya, last couple of months were hell.” Hiren was cheerful.

“Many happy returns of the day.” Akhil wished.

 

It started to drizzle in the late evening again. Inspector Dubey came back to hospital and found Akhil was half lying on the hospital bed reading a book.

“Here, the information about the people you needed are in this file. And yes you have asked about Jiten Sappru, he worked there in the tea estate long time ago, but was thrown out from there due to some issue.” Dubey gave the file to Akhil.

“So where is he now?” Akhil took the file and asked.

“Dead, he was humiliated in front of lots of people, he couldn’t take it, his dead body found hanging from a nearby tree after 2 days of that incident. I have checked on other people as well, there was nothing fishy except one, that’s about Haimanti.”

Akhil started to read all the case file information of each persons, by that time it started to rain steadily. Suddenly the power went off and the entire hospital sank in darkness, but in few minutes the lights were back as the backup generator was started.

“If it rains like this the power won’t come back before tomorrow morning, the outskirt areas of the city were sure out of power by now.” Dubey was watching the rain through the window.

Akhil almost jumped off his feet. ‘Dubey, we have to go to Hiren’s place now.” He shouted.

“Now?” Dubey asked in puzzled voice.

“Call the police station and ask for backup, I am going now.”

“I can’t let you go alone. And how will you go? I am coming with you. I am calling my sub-inspector to get the force there.”

Akhil and Dubey were rushing towards Hiren’s residence, during the whole journey Akhil didn’t not speak a word, Dubey was driving the police vehicle almost 100km/hour, he sent his driver to get the backup force.

In an hour they reached to the destination, Akhil ran inside and found the maid was standing there, baffled. She saw them and started to sob, while sobbing whatever she said was, just about half an hour ago the power went off due to rain, suddenly she heard Riya screaming from inside. Hiren rushed in and found Riya crying. She said the same fake Hiren tried to molest her and then when she screamed he ran towards the tea garden. Listening to this Hiren was mad and he ran towards the garden, Riya also followed her. The maid doesn’t know what to do and it’s almost 15 minutes now they are gone.

 

“Call the other servants from servant quarter and ask them to follow us.” Akhil shouted those words at her and fanatically ran towards the tea garden. Inspector Dubey followed him.

It was still raining, the tea garden at the midst of a dark rainy night was looking nothing short of a dense forest. Akhil did not care much and ran in screaming Hiren’s name. As he went inside around 300 meters he found Hiren was lying on the mud covered with blood. He heard another muffled scream and then a thud sound. He turned and saw Dubey is also down on the ground with blood oozing out of his head, behind there’s a shadow standing with a shovel.

“And this is for my father.” Riya spoke those words with enormous hatred and raised the shovel. The silence of that mute rainy night was broken with blistering sound of a bullet, Akhil stood there motionlessly as he saw Riya’s lifeless body dropped to the ground, Inspector Dubey was still holding the pistol right at her body despite of bleeding profoundly.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

Inspector Dubey was lying in the hospital bed with a bandage on his head, Akhil was sitting in front of him, Dubey’s family just left after seeing him. Hiren is also admitted in the same hospital and Sudheer is with him, his injuries are fatal but he will live.

“Riya’s full name was Riya Sappru, the only daughter of Jiten Sappru.” Akhil spoke as Dubey was looking at him with curious eyes.

“Well, that’s clear now, but what about Haimanti? As I showed you, I couldn’t find her birth certificate and her death certificate also looks like a fake one.” Dubey asked in perplexed voice.

 

“When I first saw Hiren the thing that strike me is a sublime feminine look of Hiren. He was the only child of his parents and very close to his mother. A lot of mothers like to dress their kids like opposite gender when they are small. Like sometimes they dress up their daughter like a son or vice versa. Who knows maybe Hiren’s mother wanted a girl child. So she used to dress him up like a girl sometimes, perhaps she only used to call him Haimanti when she dressed him up like a girl. Slowly the Hiren got that habit of cross-dressings, it might have been stopped by his mother but before that she passed away.

Hiren was weak and feeble in his childhood and was continuously bullied by his school mates, his father was always out of stations, during this time the only playmate he found was Haimanti, his alter ego. Gokul Misra was aware of it, to make a motherless child happy he also got into his game and became the father of his alter ego Haimanti. After few days maybe during any medical check-up Gokul Misra came to know Hiren is actually transsexual, one of the cruellest joke nature played here. Maybe Gokul informed the same to Hiren’s father, who knows maybe the conservative disappointed father started to keep distance from his own son.

The outside world was unaware of all these as Hiren used to be Haimanti only inside the four walls, he used to talk to himself for hours thinking he is talking to Haimanti and answered to himself as well. When Jiten was appointed, he kind of got an idea of what exactly is going on.

I am not sure if Jiten tried to blackmail Gokul Misra or was just making fun of Hiren, but he did a grave mistake. Gokul Misra was loyal as a dog to Bose family and when it comes about that family’s reputation he was ruthless. He handpicked all the servants who were also aware of Hiren’s situation.

When Gokul came to know about it, he threw Jiten out of the estate, but he knew Jiten won’t stop here, he would surely spread the words. So he sent his men after him to finish the job, but before Jiten got killed he told everything to his wife and daughter.

Then a new problem aroused, now Hiren wanted to marry Haimanti. I believe some psychiatrist must have given the idea to Gokul, that if he could make Hiren believe Haimanti is dead he will probably be able to kill that alter ego. He did the same, he produced a fake death certificate, made Hiren believe that Haimanti went missing and found dead and he went and recognised her body.

The idea worked, as in Hiren’s subconscious mind Haimanti was dead, he stopped his crossdressing habits. The photo of Haimanti he gave me was mostly taken by his mother when she dressed him up like a girl.

Now Riya and her mother was driven away by Gokul’s men to a distant village, Riya grew up with immense hate and loathness towards Gokul and Hiren, she was a struggling small time actress when she met Hiren. She recognized him immediately, but he didn’t know her. She trapped him into her net. Sudheer and Hiren both met her in a party and Sudheer had a soft corner for her. When she decided to marry Hiren, Sudheer actually warned her that Hiren is an incomplete man, but she did not pay any attention.

When I spoke to Sudheer yesterday he told me everything and I started suspecting Riya. Hiren never spoke anything about Haimanti’s mother, from your report I came to know Gokul was never married and he also never adopted any girl and lack of her birth certificate I was certain it was a case of dual personality.

Funny thing is Riya also chose to play the game of duality. Most probably her plan was to make Hiren believe of another Hiren and drive him to commit suicide or make it look like an accident while he fighting with his own alter image.

But with me in the scene she understood it will be difficult now, especially with CCTV cameras installed inside. When you said last night the power won’t be there in the outskirts of city, it came to me that without power the CCTVs won’t work. It was Hiren’s birthday as well, for a revenge seeking woman this might be an ideal situation that was my hunch and it paid off.”

 

Akhil stopped to catch a breather after speaking continuously.

“Dr Akhil Mitra, you are a genius.” Inspector Dubey smiled.

“Elementary, my dear.” Akhil laughed.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

After few months, one Sunday morning Akhil heard the door bell ringing. He opened the door and found a beautiful lady standing on his door.

“May I come in?” She asked in a husky voice.

Akhil moved away from the door, he was surprisingly looking at her.

“Do you recognize me?” The stranger asked.

Akhil shook his head.

“This is Haimanti.” She spoke.

Akhil was still looking at her with astonishing eyes.

She left a long sigh, “I went under the knife and changed my gender, I guess there is no point hiding the real me inside, already I was a woman trapped inside a man’s body.” She got up, “I will come some other time, I have to leave now.” She was slowly moving out.

“Wait, at least have a cup of tea.” Akhil asked, “Some other time maybe.” Haimanti smiled.

“Don’t you want that photograph back?” Akhil asked again.

“Keep it, at least it will remind you of me.” Haimanti smiled and walked away.

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{The Characters Sakina, Neela and Ayesha were appeared in my previous stories, She (https://anibhoot.com/2016/02/06/she/) and Hallucination (https://anibhoot.com/2016/01/22/hallucination/) respectively}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog of a poet…

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