Tag Archives: Dr Akhil Mitra

Offspring….

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Akhil was sitting near the lake with his Kashmiri shawl on, looking at the light green water of it. Most of the ponds, lakes and other waterbodies turned light to dark green as the days go by, because with no much maintenance and cleaning, the algae and water hyacinth slowly take them over turning the water greenish.

Akhil could see few of fishes were swimming under those water plants, small fishes, they looked like few dark shadows swaying through the shallow water. He sighed, it’s the month February yet the chillness of the winter is evidently here in this part of the country, although in rural areas winter stays a little longer.

As he tried to get up he felt his weakness is still there. Akhil suffered from Jaundice last month, not an ideal start for the new-year. As he recovered, he was weak and feeble after the yellow fever.

“Why don’t you go for a change, take a vacation and regain your health.” His family physician Dr. Dutta advised. “But make sure you’re in good hands, do you have any kith and kin in any hill station?”

Akhil shook his hand, he hates being a burden to somebody. But his students from the university were aware of his condition and eager to help. One of them was Abhimanyu, a brilliant student of psychology, doing his PhD under Akhil.

“Sir, you have to say yes.” Abhimanyu almost pleaded. “I wish I could come with you, but I’m so stuck with my thesis, but I have spoken the caretaker of my farmhouse there, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Everything will be taken care of.”

Abhimanyu Baruah, hailing from a small village of northeast, but he hardly lived there, he was born there, but brought up in this city, though he and his family visit their ancestral village time to time, they are well settled in the city.

Akhil was not so sure, he never liked to take favors from anyone, let alone be from his students. As he was considering to decline the offer politely, Abhimanyu spoke, “Sir, you won’t be disappointed if you visit my village. You might as well meet a very strange yet interesting character.” There was something in his tone and way of speech that Akhil couldn’t say no, and now here he is.

Well, he can’t complain, he is here for 4 days and the caretaker Ratanlal’s treatment was royal. As he was specifically instructed by Abhimanyu. Strict yet delicious diet of Juices, fruits, vegetables and soups, maid Rashida and gardener Charan are always on their toes to serve him 24 hours, Akhil felt as if he is truly a royal emperor in this small, hilly village of Northeast.

 

 

“You are not from here, I know all the faces in this village, you must be an outsider.” A sweet yet sharp voice nudged the web of Akhil’s deep thoughts.

 

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A bit surprised Akhil turned his head towards his right shoulder, a girl most probably in her late teens was sitting beside him. Akhil has no idea when or how long she came and sat next to him. The girl was wearing a black and green Churidar, looking curiously at him. She got a scarf on her head.

Akhil couldn’t reply immediately, partially because he was surprised partially because of his weakness, he body response system became slow. As he opened his mouth to answer, she spoke, “Akhil Mitra. You are the guest of Abhimanyu, staying in Baruah farmhouse.” Her ringing voice was sweet yet piercing.

“Well, you already knew my name.” Akhil tried to smile and be easy.

“Naah! I just guessed.” She looked at the lake.

“You’ve guessed my name?” Akhil asked her foolishly.

“Yeah. I hope you like my village. I will come and meet you sometime in the farmhouse.” The girl stood up and walked away hurriedly.

Akhil sat there for some time, tried to think back what just happened. He noticed the girl was also wearing cotton gloves till her elbow, her scarf was hiding her head and good portion of neck. She was pale looking, must be around 18 to 19 years old. The only things noticeable were her sad yet glowing eyes and her sharp yet sweet voice. She didn’t smile as she was talking and claimed she guessed his name. And when she said I hope you like ‘My’ village, it was very authoritative, as if she owns the village.

Akhil started to walk towards the farmhouse, it’s breakfast time, he was sick of juices and fruits. All he wanted now to have deep fried Puri with potato and peas curry.

Midway he found the Rashida was standing, looking at him alarmingly. As he walked towards her she asked, “Did you meet Nalini?”

“Who’s Nalini?” Akhil asked in startled voice.

“The girl you were talking to.” Rashida replied with a hurried tone.

“Oh! I’ve no idea who she is. She just came and sat next to me. Asked me if I am Akhil Mitra, the guest of Abhimanyu, and walked away.”

“Alright, come along sir, your juice is ready. Rashida turned back and started to walk while mumbling something.

 

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Akhil was sipping into his glass of carrot juice and making faces. It’s been an hour he came back from the lake side. For last few days he started to hate all kinds of juices. A bowl of fruit salad was lying on the dining table, as per the strict instruction of Abhimanyu, Ratanlal is following the doctor’s diet chart word by word. Akhil sighed, how good it would be to have hot and puffy oily Puris with spicy potato peas curry.

 

“Witch!” Akhil heard the whisper and turned towards the source of that voice which was full of hate and disgust.

Rashida was looking steadily out of the window, the pale looking girl whom Akhil met a while ago is seen walking towards the farmhouse, she was holding something in her hand.

In few minutes she entered into the dining room, she was holding a something covered with newspaper. She placed it on the dining table and removed the newspaper cover. A plate full of deep fried Puris with potato and peas curry, the way Akhil liked them, dark brownish Puris and melted potato and peas gravy.

 

“It was so rude of me not to introduce myself back there, I’m Nalini, Nalini Dev Burman, daughter of Niranjan Dev Burman. Once upon a time our family was the land lord of this village. I hope you did not mind when I mentioned as ‘MY’ village back there, it should be our village isn’t it?” Nalini was smiling impishly now.

Akhil tried to be as normal as he could, “I am on a strict diet, I am still recovering from a prolonged illness, no fried or oily food.” Akhil cleared his throat.

“But sometimes you just crave for what is forbidden, isn’t it?” Nalini is sharp voice again pierced Akhil’s ears.

“Let me know whenever you feel good, I can be your guide, can show you around our village, there’s nothing much though, but you can visit my place, it’s a 200 years old bungalow. It might intrigue you.”

Nalini spoke those word causally and turned back to leave when she saw Rashida, “Why did you call me a witch?” Nalini voice was pretty normal.

Akhil was at his wits end, Rashida whispered those words when she saw Nalini outside through the windows, she she was good 200 to 300 meters away from the farmhouse, there’s no way Nalini could hear it.

“Answer me, why did you call me a witch?” Nalini’s voice is firm now.

Rashida suddenly held her head and sat on the floor as if someone pushed her down. “Never ever call me that.” Nalini spoke angrily and left.

Akhil saw Ratanlal standing in a corner hanging his head down. Rashida was still sitting on the floor holding her head.

“Ratan, take them away, it’s tempting.” Akhil pushed the plate and tried to speak in a normal tone.

“Sir, at least have one. Else she will be angry.” Ratanlal pleaded.

“How will she know?” Akhil asked astonishingly.

“She will know, she always knows.” Rashida whispered.

 

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At around 4 p.m. Abhimanyu called the landline. Ratan picked it up and passed it to Akhil.

“I met Nalini today.” Akhil started with that sentence without any small talk. There was a long pause from the other side and the Abhimanyu spoke. “Ohh!”

“Is there anything you want to tell me about?” Akhil asked in an assuring tone.

“I am ashamed to push you into something at this phase of your health, I am hesitatnt.” Abhimanyu sound embarrassed.

“You are my student Abhimanyu, and a teacher should and must help his pupil whichever way he can, so don’t hesitate and tell me.”

Abhimanyu took his time to arrange his thoughts and started.

“Last year, when I went to my farm house, I met Nalini at the market. She just stepped into eighteen and I was around 26. You can call it love at first sight.

When I was around 10 or 11 years old I had a babysitter, her name was Hiral, she was about 5 years elder to me. She loved me dearly and I was so fond of her, even I had a childish crush on her as well, I was too young and she was my fondest memory. When I was about 14 she died of snake bite. I was devastated.

The day I met Nalini I felt I found Hiral back, they were so alike. I was almost crazy for her and wanted to marry her. I fought with my parents, argued with her father as she was so young and tender to be married, but at last everyone came to terms and agreed for our marriage.

We got engaged soon and then there was a photo session, we got a photographer from the city. Before that we never clicked any photos of her or us. Once the photographer clicked the photos and sent them to me I was shocked. Nalini was a complete different woman in those photos, she is not even close to how Hiral used to look.

I showed those photos to my parents and other relatives, they argued that’s exactly how she looks in real, they were surprised and perplexed. I could swear on my life that she looks nothing like how those photos showed her. I was lost and depressed. My parents were worried and they were not ready to carry this relationship further, we broke our engagement.

After few days when I met her I was shocked again, she was looking exactly like Hiral, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She came to me and urged to get back together. Next day morning I stated for the city without telling anyone.

It’s almost been a year but everyday her thoughts eat me up. I don’t know whom to turn to, as everyone thinks I am crazy and I did her wrong. You are my last resort Sir, please help me.”

Abhimanyu took a long breath after finishing his story.

“Where are those engagement photos? Do you have them with you?” Akhil held the receiver tight.

I kept them in the cupboard of my bedroom, you can ask Ratan, he will give them to you.” Abhimanyu replied.

“Alright, let me look at them and see what I can do. Relax, I will do everything I can to solve this.” Akhil assured Abhimanyu.

 

After dinner Akhil took those photos to his study table and examined them closely under the table lamp. There are at least 20 photos of Abhimanyu and Nalini. Few of them are close up snaps. Nalini looked so happy and jubilant in all the pictures, with a shy smile in her face. But Akhil was unable to trace any abnormality in those photos, Nalini is looking as she looked today morning, though she had a scarf on her head.

Akhil gave up and switched off the lights, lying on bed he tried to take off his mind from all these.

As the time passed suddenly Akhil heard a sound of a gigging voice in his head, as if a girl laughing her head off.

“So you are going to solve the mystery, is it Dr. Akhil Mitra.” The giggling voice spoke. Akhil almost jumped off his feet and looked out of the window. There were no one, just a moonlight filled night and few trees are slowly waving their heads and leaves were making sounds.

“Who are you?” Akhil asked that question in his mind.

“Don’t you know?” The giggling voice answered with a question.

Akhil started to sweat even in a chilly February night.

 

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Akhil stood there for some time with his sweaty palms and forehead. Then he realized the voice was gone from his head. It’s 3 days since the full moon night, the moon was looking big and yellowish, the dark craters of the moon are visible. Akhil tried to calm his nerves, he wasn’t absolutely sure but he knew the voice he heard was Nalini’s.

 

Akhil couldn’t have a sound sleep the whole night. He had few dreams, the one he remembered was quite weird. He saw himself wandering into a garden, more like in a tropical forest. Akhil was walking around aimlessly when he saw a giant python snake. It creeps down from one of the tallest tree and hanged it’s face right in front of him.

 

“Oh yes Adam, I was waiting for you, for so long…” The python spoke in a female voice. “Come and take you prized possession, come and have bite, eat the forbidden apple.” The python whispered.

 

“And why should I listen to you?” Akhil heard his own words.

 

“Because if you have no knowledge of Sin and evil, how will you know about Virtue and good?” The snake was nodding its head and then climbed down onto the ground.

 

“For centuries, people thought of me as evil, what if I am just your inner voice? What if I am a part you? What if I am……Eve?” As the snake was whispering so, it was transforming into a woman.

 

To Akhil’s bewilderment the snake slowly became a woman, wearing nothing. And she looked so much like… Nalini.

Akhil opened up his eyes, he could hear the fazar’s namaz from a nearby mosque. “It’s already dawn.” He thought, “And what a weird dream I had.” Akhil muttered.

 

He pushed himself out of the bed, it was still dark outside. Akhil wore his slippers and came out of the farm house in his shirt and pajama. It was cold outside but Akhil did not wrap his shawl, instead he started to walk aimlessly.

 

After half an hour Akhil stopped near a playground, The east sky became red already and bird were chirping, the trees and grasses were wearing the dew drops like crown jewels. Akhil inhale the fresh and clean air of this country side, and then he saw a small hut, a man selling morning tea with fuming glasses.

 

He walked there and sat on the bench, made of bamboos, the traditional Northeastern households’ furniture. Akhil had two cups of tea back to back, after a while as he was about to pay for the tea he realized he left his wallet back in the farmhouse.

 

Embarrassed Akhil felt helpless, “I am so sorry, I forgot my wallet. I.. give me some time, I will pay you the double.” Akhil felt ashamed.

 

The old tea vendor smiled, he hardly had few teeth left in his mouth, “Don’t worry sir, you’re the guest of Baruah family. You can pay me whenever you want. Here sir, have another cup.” The old man offered another cup of tea.

 

Akhil did not want to have another cup of tea, but he felt it would be rude so he took it, “How do you know I’m Baruah family’s guest?” Akhil asked

 

“This is a small village, we know almost about everything around, beside I know Rashida, she told me.” He replied while serving tea to his other customers.

 

“Oh so you know Rashida!” Akhil felt relived.

 

“Yes sir, from the days she worked in Dev Burman’s palace.” The old man smiled.

 

“Dev Burman Palace as in Niranjan Dev Burman, the land lord?” Akhil asked astoundingly.

 

“Yes sir, there’s only one Dev Burman family in our village, that’s them.” Tea vendor shook his head.

 

Akhil finished his tea and started to walk towards the farmhouse.

 

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Once Akhil was back in the farm house he decided to ask few questions to Rashida.

 

She was in the kitchen making breakfast, Akhil walked in and sat on chair in the dinning room.

 

“Rashida, you used work for Dev Burman family once?” Akhil asked directly without any prelude.

 

“I used to, long back.” Rashida was caught off guarded but then she replied without fumbling, without looking at Akhil.

 

“You used to work there before Nalini was born or after?” Akhil was curious.

 

“After, they needed a baby sitter for Nalini, someone who could be with her 24 hours a day.” Rashida answered busily as she was making the breakfast.

 

“Was Nalini’s mother alive then?” Akhil asked.

 

“No, she died when Nalini was around 2 years old, her grandmother, Niranjan’s mother was alive then, she was taking care of her.”

 

“For how long you worked there? And why did you leave?” Akhil was feeling the uneasiness as Rashida was answering all the questions with one or two sentences, normally she’s a talkative lady but something of this conversation was putting her off.

 

“Around 4 years, I left once Niranjan’s mother died. I was not really comfortable there.” Rashida was cleaning the vessels as she spoke.

 

Akhil paused for some time and then he spoke again, “Rashida, I got a feeling that you’re extremely uncomfortable speaking about Nalini and her family, given the incident took place yesterday morning I don’t really blame you. But I really need to know if anything you know about her and her past. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you.” His voice was calm and assuring.

 

“She’s a witch, if she wouldn’t be the daughter of the land lord of this village, she would been burned on the stake. I don’t know whom to blame for it, her or her mother. Nalini’s mother Madhavi was equally weird and mentally unstable. She committed suicide by hanging herself in one of the tree in the jungle behind Dev Burman palace.

 

Even Niranjan’s mother was found dead in the jungle under the same tree. That girl is a curse. Where ever she goes she brings chaos, she can enter into your head and can play with your thoughts, give you severe headache as if someone is cracking open your skull with an axe.

 

When I heard Abhimanyu was about to get married to her, I urged his parents not to even think about. Thank heaven Abhimanyu and his parents realized it and broke the marriage.”

 

Rashida paused, she was saying everything with the bitterest tone.

 

“I know she can hear each of my words but I couldn’t care less. She has her due punishment waiting for her.” Rashida was visibly furious.

 

“Nalini’s mother, Madhavi, You said she had a mental condition?” Akhil tried to bring her back on the track.

 

“Yes, Niranjan’s mother Suhasini was dead against this marriage, but Madhavi was the only daughter of childhood friend of Suranjan’s, Niranjan’s father. In his deathbed he made his wife and son promise him that they will bring Madhavi as their daughter in law in in that palace.” Rashida replied in a tired tone.

 

“What kind of mental illness Madhavi had?” Akhil was uncomfortable as he could she Rashida is getting tired of answering his questions, but his curiosity dominated his mind.

 

“I don’t really know, people say she was often seen wandering naked in the forest behind the Dev Burman palace. Niranjan and his mother were very embarrassed because of this. Who knows some evil power might possessed her while she was in there. All I know that once Suhasini died an unnatural death in those woods I knew I have to quit. I was scared for my life. Witches feed on others’ lives. Akhil understood Rashida’s mind is clouded with superstitions and other village myths as Black magic and witches.

 

 

“Even she (Nalini) goes into the woods regularly. I saw her going in there. She had a habit of sitting on the terrace for hours. Even in the scorching sun of May she would sit on the terrace for the whole day. Once I remember, she was only 5 years old, I was trying to feed her some milk but she was resisting, I lost my temper and slapped her. She looked at me like she’ll burn me down with those fiery eyes, and I felt a splitting headache, as if someone is hitting my head with an iron rod.

 

She did that to many people, even yesterday. That’s how she hurt people whenever she wants. She’s pure evil.” Rashida was breathing hard as she was speaking continuously.

 

Akhil stood up and slowly walked into his room, he drew the engagement photos of Nalini and Abhimanyu and started to looking at them again, after a while he was lost into deep thoughts.

 

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Akhil was roving around the Dev Burman villa, or the people call it as Dev Burman palace. He could see a small yet dense jungle behind the villa. After a while without thinking much he went near the gate and knocked, a well-built man in his 40’s opened the gate.

 

“What do you want?” he asked in a rough voice. “Who’s there?” There’s another voice behind him asked the question.

 

Through the half opened gate Akhil could see a man standing with his while shawl on, his presence was aristocratic and authoritative, slender build, fair, tall, mostly in his mid-50 with salt and pepper hair and a thick mustache.

 

Akhil was sure that’s Niranjan Dev Burman, he rose his voice, “This is Akhil Mitra, I met you daughter yesterday. She invited me to see your palace.”

The man looked surprised as he walked towards the gate, “I am Nalini’s father, Niranjan, Nalini never spoke about you.”

 

“She must have forgotten.” Akhil smiled.

 

Niranjan was in double mind whether or invite Akhil over,

 

“I am staying in the Baruah Farm house. Abhimanyu is a student of mine.” Akhil spoke again.

 

“Oh! Well then you can leave, I have nothing do with that boy or his family, you must know how they humiliated us by breaking up the engagement. He came to my doors begging for her and then he just throw everything away. I hope you understand my rudeness.” Niranjan turned back started to walk as the doorman was about to close the gate.

 

“I am just interested in that forest behind your palace. I want to know the history of it.” Akhil again rose his voice seeing Niranjan was going to disappear behind the closed gate.

 

Astonished Niranjan turned back, “That was a garden during my grandfather Abhiranjan’s time, he always wanted a huge garden behind the palace, but after him no one cared and it became a jungle. Good day.” Niranjan threw his words at Akhil and disappeared inside the palace.

 

As Akhil was walking into the woods, it started looking unusually familiar, then he came across a tall tree and instantly he found why this place was looking so familiar to him. This was the exact place he saw in his dreams today morning. Possibly the same tree he saw the Python coming down from, it looked like a Banyan tree but it’s bigger and taller than normal ones.

 

He decided to explore further, as he walked deep inside, while occasionally moving the small tree branches which were obstructing his way, he came near a pond, a small one, almost as if rain water trapped in a crater. The bamboo trees and other unknown plants were grown around it.

 

Akhil almost had a mini heart attack when he saw a female sitting nearby the lake, she was not wearing a single piece of cloth, hair hairs are open and covered her face and upper part of the body, she was swinging and splashing her legs on the pond water. Akhil looked closely and got a jolt again, it’s no one but Nalini.

 

All of a sudden Nalini turned her head towards Akhil, with her piercing eyes which were only visible through her unkempt hair falling on her face, almost covering it. She giggled hysterically and then jumped into the water with splashing sound, few bids chirped and flew away with that sound. Akhil felt as if suddenly the temperature went down a few degrees.

 

Akhil felt he shouldn’t be there anymore so started to walk back, while he was returning he felt his lost his way, after wandering around for few minutes he was back next to that Banyan tree. He could smell a wild scent. Something of a smell when the grass were mowed or if a tree branches were cut, a strong and powerful odor.

 

Suddenly he heard a voice in his head, it was giggling again, “Akhil Mitra, what are you seeking?” It asked.

 

“Nothing.” Akhil sighed.

 

“What are you thinking now?” The voice asked again. Akhil was silent this time.

 

“I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking If only you were half your age at this time, you would ask Nalini’s hand and get married to her. Leave the city life and get settled in this small beautiful village.” The voice laughed again as it finished.

 

Akhil felt a jolt, he wasn’t thinking that at all, but he after the voice he felt like the thought was been pushed inside his head forcefully. The strong wild smell was getting stronger. Akhil was feeling dizzy, his felt week in his knee, with half open eyes he felt like the tree was weaving it’s leaves, and as if it was talking to him all these time.

 

The smell was blinding all Akhil’s senses now, he started to feel as if the shrubs and hedges near his legs were creeping up taking over his legs, hands and body. He was about to fall down when two strong hands held his shoulder.

“Akhil sir! What are doing here?” The startled voice spoke.

 

Akhil open his eyes with all his might and whispered, “Abhimanyu!!??”

 

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Akhil hardly remember how he ended up in his bed from the forest. He vaguely remembered Abhimanyu was literally carrying him on his shoulder when Akhil was leaning in his shoulder.

As Akhil opened his eyes, he found Abhimanyu was sitting next to him on a chair, he was visibly worried. Rashida was standing near the door looking at him sadly.

“I should have never brought you here, it’s all my fault, I pushed you into this situation for my selfish reason. You’re not even half fit to carry on. I have arranged the tickets, we will travel to city by tomorrow” Abhimanyu was shaking his head remorse.

“What time it is?” Akhil asked weakly.

“It’s almost 9 o clock in the morning. You were sleeping from yesterday afternoon. Why did you even go there in that forest all alone? You could have taken Ratanlal with you.” Abhimanyu had a slight anger in his tone.

Akhil was about to open his mouth to answer when he saw something and his mouth was left open. It was Nalini who walked into the room, she was wearing a maroon Saari today, with a long single plait, her face look sad.

Abhimanyu turned back and saw Nalini, he was speechless as well.

“Sorry to be here unannounced, but I heard Akhil sir is sick. So I couldn’t wait to inform you first.” Nalini came and stood next to Abhimanyu.

“Amm sure, why don’t you sit next to him for some time, I need to arrange few things.” Abhimanyu got up from the chair and left the room in a hurry, as if he trying to escape from her, Rashida too left the room with a scared and disgusted face.

Nalini sat on the chair, her sad face slowly turned into an impishly smiling one, “So Dr Akhil Mitra, how are you doing now?”

“I.. amm.. I am kind of ok.” Akhil stammered while replying. Suddenly he felt he was looking a complete different girl. It took him back in his memory lane. Almost 15 years ago when Akhil started his career as a lecturer, he had student name Vidhya, she was calm and silent type of girl, used sit in the first bench. Something of her always attracted Akhil towards her, as if he had a crush on this student of his. In her second year she left college and Akhil had no trace of her again.

As Nalini was smiling devilishly at him, he suddenly felt Nalini is looking quite alike, as if Vidhya sitting right in front of him.

“Do I remind you of someone else Dr. Mitra?” Nalini asked.

“Yes you do.” Akhil murmured.

At that very moment Rashida came inside, she had a glass of orange juice in her hand. She came and placed the glass on the tea table next to the bed.

“Have this glass of juice, you will feel better. Nalini, I think we should let him rest. He is already weak and feeble.” Rashida spoke those words with a stone face.

“Sure, for once you are right Rashida. I will see you tomorrow Akhil sir.” Nalini got up from the chair.

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Akhil drank the full glass of juice and called Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu came and stood next to Akhil. He was looking pale and uncomfortable.

“Abhimanyu, how did she look today? Did she look like Hiral or someone else?” Akhil asked in a easy tone.

“Every time I see her in front of me, I only see Hiral. When she came in today I rushed out and checked our engagement photos again, she looks a complete different girl in those pictures.” Abhimanyu answered robotically.

“So I thought, I too saw a different woman in her. By the way I hope my ticket to the city is arranged already you told me, I am going tomorrow.” Akhil answered while looking out of the window thoughtfully.

Abhimanyu looked at him with disbelief and then replied in a calm tone, “I guess that will be good for all of us, there’s no need for you to stay in this godforsaken village with such health condition. Let us move from here tomorrow.”

Akhil looked at Abhimanyu and smiled, “Only I’m going to the city, you need to stay here and have to collect few information for me. Don’t worry, I am not leaving this case half way. I have to meet my doctor for my check up as well as I have to do a little research. So you don’t worry, I will be back in another 2 to 3 days.”

Abhimanyu looked surprised now, “What information?” he asked curiously

“I will give you list of people you and you have to find as much information you can, don’t worry, they all resides in this village here, a few are no more but I need as much information you can gather about them. By the way you haven’t told me how and when you came here and found me in the forest?”

“I was restless after sending you here all by yourself, so I finished my thesis as soon as I could and submitted it and took the next train here. Once I spoke to Ratanlal, he told me you probably went to meet Nalini. I was looking for you everywhere when I thought of entering into that forest.” Abhimanyu answered.

“Did you see or feel anything unusual or saw someone except me there?” Akhil asked absent mindedly.

“No. Why?” Abhimanyu asked.

“Nothing, let me pack, the train is at 8 AM tomorrow if am not wrong.” Akhil sounded as if he is in a hurry to leave the village.

 

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Once Akhil is back in the city the first thing he did was he met his physician Dr. Dutta.

“You told me to go for a change but you didn’t tell me I am so weak to even walk around, I was bed ridden for half a day after I took a hike in a forest.” Akhil spoke with mock anger.

“Really, lie down Dr. Mitra, let me check. Last time I saw you, you were weak but not so much that you’ll be bed ridden because of a little walk.” Dr Dutta said playfully.

Akhil told him about the incident in the forest but except the part where he saw Nalini or felt how the hedges and shrubs tried to grab him.

“Hmm! But Akhil if you are taking all the medication you wouldn’t be feeling so weak. In fact after initial checkup now I hardly find any of such. You are almost 90% recovered.” Dutta spoke in a worried tone. “Let’s run some more test and see.”

Akhil was about to tell him how even he felt weak when he was sitting near the pond and tried to get up his own feet, his head spun. But he did not mention it as he remembered something else.

 

Additional director Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS) in Berlin was surprised to see a mail from Dr. Akhil Mitra, the renowned Indian Parapsychologist, he once met him in a seminar in New Delhi. They had quite a nice chat. Dr. Mitra in the mail requested his half an hour for a discussion in Skype. Friedrich was curious and was looking forward to have a video chat with Akhil. They started their session at 4 PM IST, the supposed half an hour chat turned into almost a 4 hours of intense discussion.

 

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Abhimanyu was waiting in the station. It’s almost 5 days that Akhil has gone to city, he promised he would come back in 3 days but something took him longer. Abhimanyu has collected almost all the information Akhil asked him to, he was quite surprised by himself after knowing things about the people in his own village.

Akhil got down from the train, it was around 2 PM, Abhimanyu carried his luggage to the firm house.

“So, what did you do in the city?” Abhimanyu asked interestedly.

“I’ll tell you, before that, let know about your findings.” Akhil Asked. Abhimanyu gave all the details he found in last few days about few persons.

“Hmm, is it possible for you to arrange a meeting with Niranjan Dev Burman by tomorrow at Dev Burman Palace?” Akhil asked Abhimanyu after listening to him.

“I can sure try, but not sure how Niranjan will react, after all he doesn’t like me.” Abhimanyu replied thoughtfully.

“Alright, I will go to Dev Burman palace tomorrow, you come along with me, I hope Nalini will be there in the evening.” Akhil spoke.

 

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Niranjan was looking at both of them suspiciously, Akhil was showing no sign of discomfort while Abhimanyu was looking uneasy.

Half an hour back Akhil and Abhimanyu came and knocked the gate of Dev Burman palace, as the door keeper opened the gate Akhil asked for Nalini. As the door keeper informed her, both Nalini and her father came out.

“What are you doing here?” Niranjan asked in an angry tone.

“I am here to talk to you and Nalini.” Akhil answered calmly.

“Regarding what?” Niranjan demanded.

“Maybe I can help you find some answers of few questions which are yet unanswered.” Akhil replied.

“We have no such questions. Good bye.” Niranjan barked and turned around.

“Nalini?” Akhil looked at her.

“Please come in, both of you.” Nalini spoke while looking down at her feet, digging her nails.

“Why are you inviting them?” Niranjan roared at his daughter.

“Because they are our guests.” Nalini answered firmly.

 

Now all four of them are sitting in the drawing room, a huge one right in the middle of the palace, the ceiling is as high as 10 meters from the floor, the double stairs went up to the first floor, the palace really looks royal. A huge chandelier was hanging from the ceiling.

The tea and snacks were already served on the tea table, Nalini took the tea pot and started making tea.

“1 spoon or 2?” Nalini asked to Akhil.

“Do I really have to answer that?” Akhil smiled. Nalini put 2 spoons of sugar in the tea.

“Tell us, what would you like to tell?” Niranjan was impatient.

“Are you aware of the rumors around in the village that they think Nalini is some kind of a sorceress, that she possess supernatural power?” Akhil started.

“Those illiterate villagers, they make stories all the time, I have no time for all those rubbish.” Niranjan made a face.

“On the contrary, I do believe Nalini possess some power and I’m sure you and Nalini both know it. It’s my student Abhimanyu who told me the astonishing story of him and Nalini falling in love and then falling apart. All I need is sometime to tell you the surprising tale.”

Akhil cleared his throat and started.

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“Since the first day of my meeting with Nalini, I felt a strange power within her. In a very normal way we can describe it as her telepathic ability. But there is more of it. As I tried to understand her abilities the more surprising it felt.

Most of the people know or believe that telepathic power or ability is all about connecting minds with thought frequencies. But Nalini also possess something called ‘Emotive telepathy’ in Parapsychology research. It is the power to control emotions, thought process and even compel a mind to do something as she pleases. She also can communicate and also can inflict pain on her targeted mind or person.

Nalini also have developed something called natural hypnotic ability. As we all know hypnosis is about human mind or consciousness controlled by another person or mind. We often see the act of hypnotism in magic shows where magicians make any of their audiences to do as he/she pleases by hypnotizing them. Those are forced hypnotism by using mind control methods. But the natural hypnotic ability uses natural means, like continuous eye contacts, body fragrance or touch.

If I am not wrong Nalini started to feel her powers at her early ages, when she sensed she has the power over others mind and she can control, punish and manipulate others thoughts, she started doing so.

When I spoke to Rashida who worked here for some time, she told me all the servants including Niranjan were afraid of her, but for strange reasons they were not able to make up their mind to leave their jobs in the palace.

Now Nalini’s enhanced telepathic ability is rare but not unheard of. Few years back an autistic Indian girl Nandana Unnikrishnan stunned the researchers by showing that she can read the exact thoughts from her mother’s mind. It’s often seen that the autistic children or the children born with rare physical or mental deformity often has special powers. And Nalini too… is a special case…”

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Akhil paused and sipped into his tea cup, the tea was already cold. Abhimanyu was sitting like a statue on the sofa just opposite to Nalini. Nalini was looking down at her feet and digging her nails. Only Niranjan was looking impatient.

“What are you getting at Dr. Mitra, so my daughter has powers and you yourself said that it’s rare but happens, so what?” Nirajan asked in an irritated tone.

 

Akhil took his time, got up from the sofa and encircled all of the members sitting there, he stood behind the sofa, leaned on with both elbow resting on the top of it and looked at others intensely.

“Before I go ahead speaking more about the abilities of Nalini, let me tell about someone else, about a family member of yours. My student Abhimanyu collected a lot of information about you and your family members, of course about the deceased ones as well.

Remember you have told me about the forest that grew behind your palace, which was once a garden of your grandfather Abhiranjan.

Abhiranjan was a botanist, he had a degree from ‘University of London’ and his area of research was Paleobotany, studying plant evolution and fossil plants, or the plants and floras which were extinct or assumed extinct from the earth. He was a globetrotter and collected many rare breed of plants and seeded and sowed and grew them in his backyard, which has become his ‘Garden of Eden’. He had also wrote many journals for few British research facilities and magazines during pre and post era of British India.

He was a disciple and a great admirer of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the greatest mind of India who established that plants have lives too. Abhiranjan was deep into the research of evolutions and physical changes of plants from dawn of this planet’s life.

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His son Suranjan chose to be a lawyer and thus after Abhiranjan’s demise his garden was hardly been taken care of, as the days went by it slowly turning into a jungle.  The high wall of the palace hid it behind and people of the palace slowly started to forget about it.

Niranjan’s father Suranjan was married to Suhasini, a very superstitious woman, Suranjan himself was a very open minded and rational man, probably he had the trait of his father. Suranjan gave his word to his childhood friend that his daughter Madhavi will be Suranjan’s Daughter-in-law someday. Madhavi was manglik, as per ancient Indian astrological chart she was supposed to be the cause of her first husband’s death. Perhaps because Surajan was above all these superstitions and knowing how hard it might be for his friend to marry off his daughter he vowed to make her his daughter-in-law.

Suhasini did not like that a bit, she never wanted her only son to get married to a girl could be a threat to her son’s life. Suranjan was adamant and he was a man of his word, because of his illness and early demise he couldn’t see it off that his son and Madhavi was getting married. But in his deathbed he made his wife and son promised that they will honor his words.

Niranjan had a profound effect of his mother on him, maybe because he lost his father in tender age. He is also quite superstitious. So the mother and son decided to take suggestions from various astrologers and as per their prescribed remedy, Madhavi was set to be married to a tree and then with Niranjan, another old ritual where it was believed that being the first of a manglik the misfortune will befall upon the tree.

But even after all these, the marriage between Niranjan and Madhavi never was consummated. Niranjan had this insane fear for his life which was fueled further by his mother and he never copulated with his wife. In fact they used sleep in different rooms. But being a rich son of a lawyer and landlord with his biological needs, he did have many lovers and concubines.

Madhavi, being married too early and pushed into a loveless relationship was always an unwelcomed guest in the palace, her husband’s indifference and her mother-in-law’s taunts were completely broken her down. Maybe people in the midst of the conversation, taunted of suggested her that, her actual husband is the tree got married to but Niranjan.

She was under immense mental pressure, perhaps she did not want to bother her family with her marital problems and keeping everything within her, resulting her subconscious mind actually started to believe that the tree she got married to, was actually her real husband.

A few villagers saw her wandering naked in that forest, that’s actually half true. Rashida and few other servants followed her and found she stood there hugging a tree in the forest without wearing anything.

Yes! Madhavi’s ritualistic first marriage was with the banyan tree or what it looks like I stumbled upon where Abhimanyu found me. She used to stand there embracing, holding the tree for hours together. Rashida is actually one of witness of this, when I spoke her for a long time, I found this details.

Here, my theory gets divided into two……”

Akhil took a long pause and looked at everyone again. And everyone else were looking at Akhil with probing eyes.

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Akhil sat on the sofa and started again….

“The first theory is fairly simple and provided some answers, the second theory is complex and little far-fetched, nonetheless that provides a lot of answers.

Theory 1:

Madhavi, being a young and married woman, who was completely ignored by her husband, unfulfilled desire of her body and mind forced her to take a paramour or a lover. But I doubt it if in her mental state was it really possible, what I feel is someone who knew her mental state and knew that she goes alone, unprotected, in the forest took advantage of her mental vulnerability.

Thus Nalini came into her womb, when she gave birth to Nalini, Niranjan knew it wasn’t his child. When I saw Niranjan for the first time, I was surprised to see there is hardly any resemblance between Nalini and Niranjan, Abhimanyu also found some old photos of Madhavi, they both were tall, fair and with sharp features where Nalini is short, petty and dark.

Madhavi believed it’s the tree who is the father of Nalini, and she also kept telling her daughter so. Nalini grew up knowing she is the daughter a tree. Madhavi even took her time to time in the forest to show her that tree. Which created a very complex situation for Nalini, already she was an offspring of a mentally instable mother. As it is known, such abnormal situations make the offspring exposed to a very complicated mental state which might causes her acquiring such powers.

 

Theory 2:

There is a paranormal activity which comes under the research of botanist or plant scientists. It’s called Plant perception, Plant perception or biocommunication is the paranormal idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP(Extrasensory perception), and that they experience pain and fear, that it can see, smell, talk or respond. The idea is not accepted, as plants lack a nervous system.

The main difference between human and plants is the central nervous system or to be precise, human or animal has something called brain but Plants don’t.

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the brilliant mind of India, known for his amazing contribution towards the invention of radio and also the man who discovered and knew more about lives of plants, always believed that irrespective of no nervous systems plants can behave like any other mortal living beings. He dedicated a good portion of his life researching on it. Recently it was in the news again. Which actually says, “Plants are just very slow animals.”

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Abhiranjan Dev Burman, Niranjan’s Grandfather was also researching on similar ground, in lot of his thesis he mentioned the true evolution takes place in deep forests like how a lot of unknown species breed in the deepest part of the sea. He mentioned his travel in deep jungle of amazon and Congo and founding many unknown trees and plants the modern world is unaware of. Many carnivorous plants and one among them the legendary ‘man eating tree’ are carrying the evidence that plants have their weird ways to live in this world.

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I am quite sure that a lot of those rare breeds of plants were sowed and grown in his garden turned forest. The tree in the forest which was thought of a banyan tree and Madhavi was married to, is not a banyan tree. When Abhimanyu found me and took me with him, there were few leaves of that tree were stuck on my body. I took them to the city and tested them the botany lab, also shared the details of the DNA and molecule structure of them with Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences in Berlin. He had a thorough investigation on them but yet determine the actual species of plants it belongs to.

We have also discussed about few very diverse and out of ordinary topics. Like reproduction similarities between plants and human, how plants communicate and it’s defense mechanism. And most out of ordinary, if at all it is possible to have offspring if a human mated a plant.

If we look at the cell structure of Plants and animals or human, it is not very different in fact there are many similarities.

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What if an evolved plant or a tree capable of mating a human produced an offspring and that offspring is Nalini. As many of Nalini’s powers can be explained. Her controlling telepathic ability, it’s is proven that plants and trees use unknown telepathic channel to communicate each other.

plants-comm

I remember when I met Nalini for the first time, I was about to get up from the steps near the pond when I felt dizzy and my head spun, cause senses were blinded by a wild scent, same I experienced in the forest when I was rescued by Abhimanyu. I saw Nalini there as well. At first I thought it was all happening because of my weakness but as I consulted my physician he declared me almost recovered, I realized the reason is something else.

It is a part of plant’s defense mechanism where they produces chemical signaling which they produce time to time every occasion they are threatened or harmed. Like when you pluck a flower, tear a leaf or cut a branch of a tree, you can smell that strange odor which can be sometime toxic and harmful. When Nalini attacks her victims telepathically they also can sense the odor and that makes them dizzy and nauseous, they experience the splitting headache.”

chemical-signalling

Akhil paused again. He could only see 3 faces with dumb and response less expressions

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Akhil sighed and continued…

“Let me spare you all the complicated scientific explanations.

In simple words, my first theory establish that Nalini is having powers and abilities that can be only explained as a freak accident of nature. Where she is influenced to be delusional by her own mother that she is a daughter of plant, of a tree.

And my other theory deduce that Nalini is indeed an offspring of a human and plant. Which awarded her this magical capabilities as mutant, a mutation between flora and fauna. Which only can be established if we make scientific tests and experiments on her.”

Akhil started to feel tired, he sat on the sofa leaned on.

 

“If you are finished with your cock and bull story, you can now leave.” Niranjan got up on his feet edgily and was walking off.

“There is more to it.” Akhil found his voice was strong and hard. Niranjan turned back and looked at him.

“Madhavi’d death was not a suicide. During my long conversation with Rashida I came to know the night she was allegedly committed suicide, there was a huge fight between you and her. Rashida heard you and her screaming at the top of your voice and suddenly everything became quiet. Thought she claimed she left the job after the suicide of Madhavi, truth is she was fired with two other servants after that night.

My analysis about Madhavi tells me she might be delusional but not suicidal. It my strong belief that you killed her that night, probably by strangulating her in a blind rage. I believe it was almost impossible to bear the fact that your wife is staying under the same roof with someone else’s child known as yours.

The cruel irony is, to prove that she committed suicide, her body was hanged from the branch of the same tree whom she considered as her husband. If my 2nd theory is true and if indeed the tree actually reciprocated to her love and fathered her child I could only imagine what it might went through seeing her lifeless body hanging from one its own branch.

After this incidents few of the servants whom Niranjan suspected might know the truth were fired, Rashida was one of them. And then one day Suhasini was found dead under the same tree, cause of death was speculated as choked to death. If I know I better I would say it was the revenge of the same mysterious tree.”

 

“How dare you? I surprised to see your audacity to accuse me of a murder in my own house. Enough is enough, GET OUT! Or my men will throw you out of my house.” Nirajan was shouting like a mad man, his eyes were red as rotten tomato, his whole body was shaking in anger.

 

“Father, you know what he is saying is the truth.” The calm voice of Nalini made Akhil, Abhimanyu and Niranjan turned their head towards her, in disbelief.

“Yes Dr. Akhil Mitra, my father is a tree, my mother gave birth to a half tree half human. I know this man whom the world know as my father killed my mother. My real father told me everything. I am speaking to my real father from the age 4. When my mother took me to him and told me everything. We speak through our minds, people can’t hear us.

And you know what? There is more. I sit in the sun for hours with my feel in the water, you know why? Cause I make my own diet, yes, what human know as photosynthesis. My real father taught me everything. Remember the day you saw me in the forest near the pond?

Niranjan Dev Burman killed my mother, I have no regret, no complains. The real villain is my foster grandmother, his mother who poised his mind. And she got what she deserved. I don’t expect humans to understand me. But I cannot control myself punishing them when they do wrong, call me names.

Yes Dr. Mitra. You have successfully drawn the conclusion.” Nalini was smiling as she was talking.

 

“Or you are dangerously delusional as your mother fed all these ideas into your head from the very childhood, making you believe that you are a child of tree and you can speak to it.” Akhil murmured. “We can’t be sure of anything till we run tests on you, and I fear that might make you a lab rat.”

 

“ENOUGH!!!” Niranjan shouted at the top of his lungs. “I am tired of this crap. Because of this I killed Madhavi. I know Nalini is not my child, not possible as me and Madhavi never had a physical relation. But I tried to forgive her, I tried to ask her who Nalini’s real father is. And she kept telling about this tree. ABSURD!! I couldn’t take her lies anymore, so I killed her and hanged her on her beloved tree.”

 

“And she was true.” Nalini answered in a calm voice again.

“I will finish this story for once and all today. I will uproot that tree and burn it to ashes.” Niranjan clenched his teeth, “Raghu, get your men, get the axes and saws. We will cut and throw that tree.” He shouted at his men.

“No you can’t do that, you won’t do that.” Nalini screamed hysterically.

 

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Niranjan was no mood to listen to anyone, as his men were gathering the saw, axes and other tools, Nalini ran out of palace. Akhil and Abhimanyu followed her.

When Niranjan walked inside the forest with his men carrying his double barrel gun, he saw Nalini was standing there hugging the tree, Abhimanyu and Akhil were baffled.

“You have killed my mother. I can’t let you kill my father.” Nalini was crying her heart out.

“Take her away Abhimanyu, else I will shoot her first.” Niranjan was aiming his double barrel at her.

When still Nalini did not move, Niranjan ordered his men to pull her away. As they did so, others advanced to cut it down. Niranjan, in his helpless wrath, shot few rounds at the tree. When his men started to cut it down, with each strike of axe, the tree was shaking violently. It almost felt to Akhil as if the tree is scream in pain and agony. But they were mute spectators, Abhimanyu was holding and trying to control the violent and hysterical Nalini as she was crying her heart out.

Akhil heard Niranjan murmuring looking at his men cutting and uprooting the tree, “Now from months to come you will burn in my kitchen and stable.”

It took almost 3 hours for Niranjan’s men to cut and pull up the root of it was in so deep. It left a big hole in there. The villagers heard the sound and gathered nearby, but did not have the courage to ask what was going on.

Nalini fainted in the arms of Abhimanyu. Tired Niranjan looked at them, “Take her upstairs and be with her.” He told Abhimanyu in a tired tone. “Dr. Mitra, I would be honored if you join me in dinner and stay in here tonight.” Niranjan sounded like a complete different man now, sounded like a warm welcoming host. Akhil was as his wit’s end, he did not know how to respond after all these. He just nod his head.

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The night was uneventful. Niranjan called his family doctor to check on Nalini. The doctor gave her a sedative injection to make her sleep, cautioned that she had gone through a tremendous mental trauma and she needs complete rest. Abhimanyu chose to be on her bed side. In the dinner Niranjan and Akhil sat together.

“I apologies for my behavior. But I should have cut down that poison tree way back. It was solely responsible for this ungodly situations.” Niranjan was smoking is pipe after the supper.

“Well, I am still not sure which of my theory is right so I don’t know.” Akhil spoke in a thoughtful voice.

“I don’t want to know. It’s true I never loved Madhavi and I killed her, but laws can’t do anything to me, I am the law here. But I raised Nalini as one of my own. I don’t want her to be turned a lab creature. Let her be. It would be better for us if you leave tomorrow. My men will see you off in the station. For tonight you can be my honorable guest.” Niranjan spoke in a very easy tone.

“Akhil went to bed with multiple thoughts in his head. He woke quite early in the morning when he heard so many voices making noise. He opened the door and found Abhimanyu looking restless.

“We can’t find Nalini, she was in her bedroom sleeping, I was in the couch and don’t know when I slept, when I woke up I saw the bed is empty.” Abhimanyu’s said in a chocked voice. Niranjan and his men were hurriedly moving in every direction.

Something struck Akhil instantly. He slowly walked out of the palace and stepped into the forest. He stopped near the big hole which was dug to pull up the root, the trunk of the huge tree was lying nearby. Akhil slowly passed by that, he started to walk towards the small pond where he saw Nalini here last time.

As he stopped by the pond, he looked around. Suddenly his eyes fell onto something. There was another tree, it looked so green, hardly 5 and ½ feet tall, it doesn’t look like any known trees. It’s two branches were looking like 2 hands held above, the leaves were like hairs and upper portion was looking like a very familiar face. The face of Nalini.

Akhil closed his eyes. Hoping that if it is truly Nalini, she might speak to his mind one more time. He kept his eyes closed for some time and then as he opened them, tears rolled down from them. Akhil murmured the famous line of the famous physicist, biologist and poet…

“They who behold the One, in all the changing manifoldness of the universe, unto them belongs the eternal truth, unto none else, unto none else.”

― Sri Jagadish Chandra Bose

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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,

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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.

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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.!!!!!.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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}