[This is an old story I wrote back in 2010 and posted in a different blog. Unfortunately that blog site is not available anymore, hence posting it in my primary blog. It was an initial attempt of mine to write. Let me know how you like it through your comments and take the poll]
(Disclaimer: Based on a true event)
I am an atheist. I don’t believe anything that does not have a scientific explanation. It was always this way, from my school days when I was in 6th std, when I turned to an atheist. So I don’t believe in God, Allah, Devil or Satan or anything which does not have any proper, logical and rational explanation. Though I feel good about Buddhism and about ‘Gautama Buddha’, as he never shown or probably had any of divine supernatural powers like other religious pioneers claimed to have. He tried to define life and spirituality in simple words, in simple ways.
Anyway I am not here to discuss about spirituality or religious belief. I am here to tell you a story; or rather I can say a true incident happened long back in my life. An odd incident that haunts me even today. It left me all baffled, confused and unanswered.
Well, enough of the prolog, now let me start telling you the story, or may I call it an incident?
It was the year 1999, I was in 9th standard. I was literally a book worm that time. I mean I was not a nerdy kind of guy, I never liked the textbooks, always used read all kinds of storybook. By the time I reached to my 15th birthday, I have finished reading all the stories of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ by Arthur Conan Doyle. I was an avid fan of his. In Indian authors I always liked Satyajit Ray and all his creations. And that time I have just started reading Agatha Christie. During that period, all we friends in school and tuitions, used to exchange books with each other. That was real good time of my life. I used to read a lot of books, a lot.
One day a friend of mine trade his Bram Stoker’s books with me. I instantly became a fan of his greatest creation ‘Count Dracula’ and ‘Jonathan Harker’. That was the time I start getting addicted to the all supernatural stories. In few months I almost read all the famous horror stories. I was so crazy about finding all genres of ghost stories and was doing all kinds of research on them and the writers. Gradually I found out that almost all the great writers Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, in Indian authors Satyajit Ray, Rabindranath Tagore and many other famous authors wrote about ghosts and ghost stories.
I was always a great fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like every other fan of Sherlock Holmes I also always believed that he is a man of flesh and blood. I was overjoyed when I found out that Conan Doyle also has written some very good stories on supernatural occurrences. Back in that time, in my place we could hardly get these kinds of books in library. It was always full of textbooks and some very old classics which we have read few hundred times. My source of acquiring books was mainly my school and tuition friends, my cousins who have this big book vault in their place and book stacks in my grandfather’s place. Every year whenever it was ‘book fair’ time in my place, I used to spend all my savings in the ‘book fair’ buying almost all kinds of books. But the theme of year 1999 book fair was Ghost and Supernatural stories and novels. So I bought almost 5 to 6 books on that genre. We had this mutual understanding between we friends that whoever will buy any book, he will inform the other people so we don’t ended up buying same book. Later on once we finished reading our purchased book; we used to trade them among ourselves for other books.
So let me start with the incident that happened. It was time of summer mid-May of 1999. As it was back then, just after the exam, lazy summer holidays, we all have read our books already that were purchased from book fair so it was the trading time.
So I got this a omnibus from my friend Arnab and gave him two of mine. It was an old book. The last few pages were missing. As soon as I saw it I knew he did not buy it from book fair, as by the color of the pages I could assume it’s a pretty old one, say about 10 to 12 years. I did not say anything about it to him. The index was telling me it’s such a good book. A compilation of almost all the best authors creations. Anyway I brought it home and start reading. As I said it was such an old book. The pages were turned yellow and delicate. If I was not turning them cautiously, they were either getting torn or coming out of the binding. I checked the binding of the book, it became so weak. I was wondering how Arnab got such old book and how come he never gave it to me before. In 3 days I almost finished all the stories but one.
As I mentioned earlier, the last few pages of the book wasn’t even there. I mean they were fell off from the book I guess a long time ago. So that made the last story of the book an incomplete one. That’s why I was reluctant to read that story knowing I won’t be able to know the climax of the story anyway. But the Sunday of that week was so boring that I decided to read that incomplete story.
This story was completely different from other stories. Frankly I don’t really remember the entire plot but all I remember was, it was a story about a family who recently moved to their new house which was right next to the graveyard, the husband, wife and their son are devoted catholic. Once the small boy goes inside the graveyard and it is actually surrounded by a forest.
The boy found small girl wandering in the forest so he brings her to his home and then a series of mysterious incidents started happening’. The narration was so scary that even now when I am writing about it I can feel all goosebumps on my body. As said I couldn’t read the ending because the pages were missing, but I felt this strong desire to know the climax of the story. I thought it’s possible that Arnab might have the missing pages or he might have read the whole story.
So I went to his house that evening with the book, my intention was to return the book and if he has then read the missing pages, else I thought I would ask what happened next in that story. When I reached there I found his door locked, I assumed he went out somewhere with his whole family. Next day morning, I thought of going to his place again, but as I started a few of my friends caught me midway and took me with them. As it was the birthday of one of them and he was giving a treat I couldn’t say no, but couldn’t meet Arnab that day also. That I night I almost took an oath that next day morning I am going to return the book and also going to know the about the story.
Following day morning, as soon as I finished my breakfast I started for his place. When I reached I found him lazily wandering and brushing his teeth. He was always a late riser. The boundary wall of his house was really low and thick, we often used to sit on it and chat.
Today also we were doing the same thing, I gave the book back to him but I don’t know how I completely forgot about asking him about the story. Anyway as we chat for half an hour his mom started calling him to have breakfast, so we said bye to each other and I started for home. When I reached home I suddenly remember all the way I was actually carrying something. I looked at my hand. Holy shit!
I am holding the same book I went to return Arnab all the way. How the hell did this happen? Now I remembered as I gave him the book he kept it on that wall itself. What must have happened was I grabbed the book absent-mindedly and brought it back home again. I threw the book on the table. I felt so irritated and angry, how on earth I did such stupid thing.
The very next day, Tarun, another friend of mine came to my place. He found the book lying on my table; he asked me if he can borrow it for few days. As he was a mutual friend of both me and Arnab I had no reason to say no to him, it was also quite common that a book traveling through the chain of friends. I told Tarun to return the book to Arnab after reading it. I thought of informing the same to Arnab. But that very day dad came back with a surprise summer vacation tour plan.
As dad got it all worked out we had leave the very next day and in all these excitement I completely forgot to inform Arnab. But all the days I was in tour I could hardly take my mind off from that story. One of the pages of that story has a black and white hand drawn picture where a small boy is holding a small girl’s hand in a graveyard. I found myself often thinking about that picture. So as soon as we return back to my place I called up Arnab that very day. His phone was engaged.
I felt really annoyed. “What the hell is going on?” I hung up and thought. The phone rang. Ah! It must be Arnab, May he is calling me back. I picked up the phone. No, it was Tarun.
Tarun: “Hey, heard you are back. You know how many times I came to your place to return your book? You could have told me that you are going out of station.”
Me: “Idiot, I told you it’s not my book and I told you to return it back to Arnab. And by the way I even did not know that we were going for a tour.”
Tarun: “Oh! Ya ya. I remember you told me. Sorry yaar, I forgot about it. Listen, my cousin borrowed that book for few days, as soon as she will return it to me I’ll give it back to you… Sorry… I meant Arnab.
Me: “yeah, that’s ok. No worries.”
Tarun: “Hey, Ani, I wanted you to ask this. Did you read the last story of the book? Do you have those missing pages by any chance?
Me: “NO! (Shocked)”.
Tarun: “Oh! Even my cousin read that story and she was also asking me the same, if you speak to Arnab ask him if he has the pages or at least if he knew what happened in the ending. It’s such a spooky story. I am dying to know the last part of it.”
Me: “Amm! Hey Tarun, I will call you back in some time.”
Tarun was about to say something but I cut the call before that and dialed Arnab’s number. It started ringing. With every ring I was getting more impatient. At last he picked up the call.
Me: “Hey, Arnab. Where from you got that book?”
Arnab: “What book?”
Me: “The book you gave me. The horror omnibus. Remember?
Arnab: “Oh Ya, that book?”
Me: “Yea, where from you bought it?”
Arnab: “No, I didn’t buy it. It’s one of my friend’s book. I borrowed it from him long back.”
Me: “Let me guess, the book, it was an old book when you borrowed it and few last pages were missing.”
Arnab: “How you know that? Yeah you are right. I really liked the last story of the book, but couldn’t finish reading as the pages were missing. I even asked that friend of mine, he said he also didn’t have the missing pages and he liked that story too.
Me: “Why you did not give the back to him?”
Arnab: “Ahh! I tried to give it back to him few times, but whenever I went to his place, he was always out. So couldn’t return it to him. Anyway it wasn’t even his book though.”
Me: “WHAT??? (I uttered those words in complete disbelief)”
Arnab: “HAHA. That’s the funny part. That bugger also borrowed that book from someone else. That’s why he did not have those missing pages.”
I almost slammed down the receiver. The only thing running in my mind was that picture. ‘The boy, the girl, holding hands and the graveyard’. It means, that the book………………………………
(The above incident actually took place in my life. Later I tried to search that book in all bookstores I knew. I tried to search it in all the book fairs I have gone to after that. When I became familiar with internet I tried searching in online book portal and even tried to ‘Google it’. But till now I have not found any trace of ‘THE BOOK’.)