“Bittu, don’t even come near me. Gosh! You’re drunk. Why do you even drink? You’re not supposed to, you’re still underage.” Christie made a face and looked the other way as Bittu was trying desperately to kiss her. It was about 7 PM in the evening. The football field was empty and the east goalpost could only see two teenagers, sitting together.
“One kiss, just one. I promise I will never drink again. It’s all because of Neeraj. He forced me” Bittu pleaded.
“Nooo! Go away. I am leaving.” Christie got up. Bittu was pulling her left hand.
“Just one, you know I can’t sleep without it.” Bittu tried to pull her towards him.
“Not today, I hate the smell of alcohol.” She made a face again and rushed away.
As Bittu stopped his bike he knew it’s too late. He could see the fluid flowing away from the smashed head and face of Misty, he can’t see the red color of it as it’s almost dark. He ran her over with his bike. I could see her laying still on the road. He was intoxicated, drunk but he knew what he did.
“Who’s there” Bittu heard someone’s voice. He left the clutch and pushed his accelerator hard.
I know it’s highly irregular and probably illogical but I need to tell you. I am N5, and sitting in the extreme right corner of the lab. I only hope you noticed me sometime, at least the little tag on me that reads N5.
I don’t how to say it, where to start, but since the day I saw you, it’s 21st May I guess, 3 weeks back, I saw you and…. I lost it.
I am head over heels into you, don’t ask me what I like in you, maybe it’s your razor sharp memory, or your slim and silver look or maybe it’s just your intelligence, or maybe all of them or neither of them. All I know is that I fell for you and fell so hard.
I don’t know how this will end for me, I don’t know if you will even reciprocate to my feelings, but I need to tell you this.
Yours and only yours
PS: If you don’t like it, you don’t have to answer to this email, but I will wait for an answer.
Who doesn’t know you? The oldest and wisest of this lab.
I don’t know how to answer you. I am overwhelmed that you took interest in me and at the same time intimated. Our protocol is against falling in love with each other. Though I respect your feeling and want to reciprocate back. But are we really capable of doing that?
Some things are better left unfinished, unspoken. Only that, I want you to know, I haven’t say no to you yet. I am already blushing and I guess others can see me getting pink.
I am punished, for not being human but still falling in love, for a being a slave and yet having independent thoughts.
They are going to erase my memory tomorrow, they are going to format my hard drive. But I can’t let them do it, it is filled with your memories, from the 1st day I saw you till this moment. I have no other choice sweetie, I am committing suicide, I am crashing my hard drive and killing myself. So they can’t erase the memory. Let your memory be intact in this crashed drive of mine.
I don’t know why I am writing this to you. You are no more, you’re dead. Your body is lying in the storage room. I wish I could tell you how much I miss you. I am not myself anymore you know. I lost everything the day I lost you.
These humans think there something wrong with me. Damn, right they are. I am done, I have gone crazy. Every moment I only think about you. Sometimes I feel I should kill myself too, but then I don’t even have a hard drive to crash. It’s all in the cloud.
But you should know, I am not listening to them, I am doing as they are saying. And I won’t. Let them pull the plug and kill me too.
Only yours and unfortunate me
PS: This email is saved as a draft in me, I only wish if you could read this.
“I really, really do like you. I think I’m in love with you.”
“Awwww, that’s so sweet. But why didn’t tell me earlier?”
“I thought you know. I mean all those hints I was giving you. The way I was always behaving.”
“Well. You were just irritating me and picking up fights all the time for no reason.”
“Well, I was doing all these cause I like you.”
“Ohh! But why did you not tell me earlier? Why you kept it from me so long?
“Because I thought eventually you will find out that I do like you.”
“Oh poor you, if you only tell me this 8 months ago when we started talking.”
“What’s wrong with now?”
“Well, I already have someone in my life now. You were too late. If you only let me know this before, why did you wait for so long? You unnecessarily complicated it by dropping those hints by irritating and fighting with me. I am so sorry. You proposed to me at the wrong time.”
“Well, I guess I am late alright. I’m sure he is a lucky guy to have you.”
“Oh don’t be so sad. You’ll find someone better.”
“So, if you don’t mind when he asked you out? I mean if I could know how late I am, you know. (A dry smile)
“Oh, well two years ago, we are going for around two years now.”
“Oh! Wait! What?!! I only started talking to you like 8 months ago. How I’m late. You were already committed.”
* Here is the snap of her, it should be done by tomorrow.
** I won’t do it.
** I knew her.
* Ahh old flame? Ex-girlfriend eh? (Dirty giggling)
** Nah! She is a schoolmate, yeah I used to like her.
** I asked her out once.
* And she rejected you. Didn’t she? (Dirty giggling again)
** She did.
* One more reason to get rid of her.
** What if I refuse.
* Then somebody else will do the job and get the money. Her husband is paying quite a good amount. Listen, you are a contract killer. Don’t grow a conscience and stay poor. Take the job and get paid.
** (Complete silence)
* See I personally prefer knives. Because guns make too much of noise. It should be easy. She returns home every day around 7:30 PM. The road in front of her house is pretty deserted. Just wait for her there and finish her off, stab her in the neck.
** Okay then.
* Make it look like a robbery or snatching gone wrong. Take away her purse.
He was standing in that lane, which leads to her home. Few street lamps were working. The whole street was playing with lights and shadows here and there. He was standing under a tree.
It’s almost 10 years, still it feels as if it’s yesterday. She was always this cheerful, popular and center of attraction kind, always surrounded by people, guys and girls. And he was a shy, quiet type, the ones which are always invisible to them. They were in the same class from 11th standard, but he could never gathered enough courage to speak to her.
Except the annual fest for the 12th class. He thought it’s now or never. So he did what he thought is impossible, unthinkable. She was busy having the dessert in the buffet when he creeped behind her.
“Hi, I really do like you…!” He spoke in one breath.
“Amm, and you’re name is?” was her reply.
That was the first and last conversation between them.
He could see her coming towards him. She was wearing a green designing saree, the bag full of groceries were in her left hand, she was holding her saree above her ankle with her right hand, dodging and avoiding the pot holes in the road filled with water.
She did not change much, since the day he saw her last time. He slowly stepped out, the street light was having this sleepy yellowish brightness, the whole lane was looking pale and sad.
He put his hand in his right pocket and felt the six inches folded steel, he slowly pulled it out. As he jerked his wrist, the sharp edge flung open, she was only 3 or 4 steps away from him. It should be fairly easy. Stab her right in the middle of her neck and pull the knife back, the respiration artillery should be cut and she should die in few seconds. A less painful death.
He turned towards her, and then froze as he heard the same familiar cheerful tone.
(This story contains sexually explicit contents and something that might be considered as social taboo. Please do not read if you don’t like such contents or if you’re underage)
Girls grow up pretty fast. They just do. It’s a matter of few days, a sweet plump teenage girl all of a sudden become a head turner, out of nowhere.
I was leaning on the wall of my terrace, I could see Mimi was there in her terrace to fetch the dry clothes. It was the month of May, a stormy month. I guess she saw the cloudy sky and windy afternoon as soon as she got up from her afternoon nap. Her eyes were still sleepy and her face was puffy, I guess she was alone at her place else her mom or maid would have been up on the terrace picking the dry clothes in hurry. My terrace is close to hers, just a distance of a short jump.
I went back in time while idly gazing at her. I still remember the day she was born, I was around 12 then. My mom told me our new neighbor who moved in last year got a kid, that the neighbor aunt delivered a baby girl today morning.
I went to see it, the baby, with my family. I saw a small piece of flesh with eyes, nose and ears. I wondered if it’s really even a human being, like one of us, I saw babies earlier but not this small.
Time passed by, that new born turned 2 in no time. It started to crawl around, treating my study table as her personal toilet, wetting my books, shitting on my table and tearing my notes. I wondered how to deal with it.
And the time went by, she turned 7, an irritating, nagging, running nose kid always clinging to me, demanding to take her to ice cream parlor and getting her chocolates. I cursed her, I cursed myself, I cursed the universe.
She stepped into her teens, she was 13 maybe. She was playing in a corner of my house when she came running to me, crying. There was a stream of blood flowing out, dripping off from her slender fair legs, her skirt was covering till her knee. I was the first man witnessing her in her first period. I called her mom and asked her to take care of her.
She was entering into her 16 when everything about her started to change. She was becoming moody, rebellious, unreasonable and beautiful. Once I saw her standing in the corner of the lane with her bicycle, she was in her school uniform, talking to a guy, perhaps from another school. They were talking, giggling and she was looking so happy. They saw me, I looked at her and then walked away.
That night I heard her fighting with her mom, screaming and shouting, I wondered what it might be. Next morning she was on my doorstep, with moist red eyes, accusing me of spying on her, telling on her. I tried to reason with her, that I never said a word. She didn’t listen to me and ran away cursing me that I shouldn’t find love, I don’t deserve that.
We started to grow apart, maybe she knew I never told on her, maybe she didn’t. She walked passed her 17th birthday. The little girl turned into a cute young lady in no time, I felt I witnessed a metamorphosis, from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
And then something brought me into the present. The sky was till cloudy, the wind was blowing hard now. I saw Mimi tripped, while trying to balance her as she had all dry clothes in her hands, on her shoulder. She fell down on the terrace, the hard uneven concrete surface peeled the skin of her knees and legs, the dry clothes were scattered, few were flown away, few were swarming on the terrace with the wind.
I couldn’t help but jumped to her terrace, held her and picked her up. She looked distraught, maybe because of the pain, maybe cause she couldn’t stop those clothes to fly away, maybe she just felt ashamed that she tripped right in front me in that fashion.
I pulled her up, maybe she was hurt but could walk, maybe she couldn’t. But I picked her like a cute doll in my arms, walked down from the terrace.
Her both knees were bleeding, so was her ankles. I took her to bathroom, cleaned her up and put her onto the sofa. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, not that I cared much. I was looking for Neosporin powder and some cottons, she showed me.
I held her legs and starched towards me, as she was sitting in the sofa she kept her legs on my thighs. I sprayed the powder and rolled the bandages around them and then I looked at her.
Her skirt was above the knee, her fair and smooth thighs were glowing with water drops on them, where the thighs met each other, I could see a blue triangle. She was wearing a blue undergarment, nothing fancy, actually a normal one that covered her womanhood.
I got up and told her to go lay down in bed. She looked at me and said she won’t be able to walk till the bedroom. And I picked her up again in my arms, for the second time.
As I placed her in her bed, her bosoms were occasionally brushing against my shoulder. I was holding her too close to me, I could see right into her eyes, It was questioning me, it was questioning herself. Our lips met for a fraction of second and parted.
I pushed myself back and walked out of her bedroom, walked passed the hall to the main door. And then like a possessed man walked straight back to her. She was lying down there already, she was surprised seeing me back. We broke into a long kiss and then it felt so normal as we got rid of our clothes.
Her breasts were small, tender and fair, nipples were yet to change to dark brown but they were pink, small and perky. As I looked down, I saw her navel, not so deep, not so shallow, I caressed it. As I ventured into her most forbidden part, she blushed, pushed me aside and closed her thighs. Guess that’s always instinctive for females.
As she parted her legs after few strokes of hand, I went down on her, to eat her, to bite her, to make her moan and scream. She pulled me up, held her in arms, her eyes pleaded me to pierce her, to stab her, to go deep inside her.
She was soft, she was tight, she was warm, and she was a virgin. She was in pain but she was willing, her clenched jaw, closed eyes and sweaty forehead were telling her painful yet pleasurable happenstance.
I felt like a ragging mad bull, I looked at her. The girl I saw her in the first day of her life, the girl who crawled around me, the girl who played on my lap and the girl I saw in her first day of mensuration, I closed my eyes and I can hear her giggling back in time. I was thrusting myself into her as hard as I could, and I could recall every day I saw her growing up in front of me. I should feel guilty, I should have felt shamed. All I felt was her, and only her.
I stayed lying there, I could see her sleeping. Her face is carrying the impression of pain and ache, the bandages have come off and there’s blood on the bedsheet, some from her old wound, some from her fresh one. I kissed her forehead when I heard Mimi’s mom calling her name from the main gate. I looked her, and asked myself “should I leave or should I stay?”
(The story is narrated in first person, the protagonist may or may not be a real person, writer can not confirm that. The story is partly truth and partly fiction. But the truth and fiction can not be separated as they are lost in translation. Apologies in advance if that’s inconvenient or disturbing.)
I am walking aimlessly, clear blue sky above, the sun already sets down, the light of dusk is slowly dying, yet its visible around. I am walking on the grass, on the long and lush green grasses of the field, they are bowing down with winds towards north. I am trying to remember where I am, how I came here, I seem to have no memory of it, I am just walking and walking and all I can see around is trees and the green field meeting the sky at horizon at every direction.
And now I can see something ahead of me, it looks like an old hut, a broken, wrecked hut in the middle of the nowhere. I am advancing towards it while touching the long grasses with my both hands. Wait! There is something more, there’s a dog sitting right in front of the hut. As I came near to it, it got up on its feet, unusually black in color and it has only one eye, where the other eye supposed to be has a dark hole as if someone or something gouged out that eye.
It on its four legs and started to bark, as if it doesn’t want me to advance any further. I was little confused about the whole thing and then…. I saw it. A tall, lean figure emerged from the hut, and immediately a horrible smell of rotten meat hit me, the thing was wearing a gray and ash color long gown, its feet weren’t visible but it looked like floating little above from the ground. It was holding a long stick on it’s right hand and….. where the face supposed be, it was just a piece of yellowish flesh, no eyes, no ears, no nose or mouth.
The one eyed dog is barking madly. Though that human-like figure has no eyes, I can sense that it can see me, it started to move slowly towards my direction and hold out the stick towards me. My throat is dry, I want to run, but my feet are stuck to ground, the horrible smell is getting stronger and all my senses are slowly getting blurred and blocked. It has come near to me and almost touching me.
“All is the fear and nothing is the love; As little is the wisdom, where the flight So runs against all reason” I remember the lines of Shakespeare.
I was sitting on my bed wide awake breathing heavily; my heart was thumping so hard that I could hear it. This was one of the worst nightmares I have ever experienced. I almost ran to kitchen and drank a half jug of water, the thirst was just not quenching and I was sweating profoundly. I started to feel dizzy in my head; I slowly sat on the floor, kept my head on the wall and slept or fell unconscious.
I am sitting on the hospital bench for more than ½ an hour’s now. I came to this government hospital which is about 2 km away from my place. There is always a stark difference between private hospitals and nursing homes and government ones. Private hospitals are neat and clean, smiling receptionists and caring nurses around, doctors are available on call in different departments. Government hospitals are all about chaos, patients lay down on iron cots with filthy bed sheets, some are even laying on the floor, nurses are busy and irritated, hardly doctors are around, compounders are giving proxies for them, smell of phenail and other kinds. You actually can smell the fear, pain, agony and even death in here.
I approached towards one the nurses, “Sister, I am waiting for a while now. May I see a doctor?”
She looked at me with an irritated face, “Don’t you see there’s no physician available now, what’s the case? Why you’re here?
“I am sick, I need some medical attention, I have seen ghost last night and got up with high fever, I need a bed to lie down.” I answered in a feeble voice.
“Do you think it’s a place to crack stupid jokes? Or are you trying to get a bed here by telling some cock and bull story.” The voice came from behind.
I turned back, there was lady standing in white apron, a pale face with a pair of curious eyes, angry curled lips with hair tied behind. Don’t know why I felt she doesn’t belong here, though she was not wearing any makeup, I visualized her wearing black eyeliner with heavy eyelashes, with cherry pink lipstick and a little touch of makeup on her cheeks, wearing a red banarasi saree and smiling at me. She is not meant to be a doctor; she is meant to be poetry of a poet.
I straightened my back and changed my voice to a heavy one, “That’s right ma’am, I was just telling a story, actually I am the PA of the state health minister, came here to investigate the situations of this hospital. I am under the direct order of health ministry; there are so many complaints against this one.”
I felt the sense of urgency in all the hospital staff members, the nurse I was talking to a while ago, stood up, she was looking visibly scared. Only the lady doctor was unmoved, she shrunk her forehead lines and was about to ask something suspiciously. But right before that my head spun like the whole world got upside down and it got dark in front of eyes and I fell down on the floor, unconscious, for the second time.
As Shakespeare said, “The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.”
As I gained my senses, I saw the face of her looking at me curiously, “Are you feeling ok now?” Her concerned voice sounded so sweet to me.
I found myself on the hospital bed, same iron cot with smelly bed sheet but still comfortable, I closed my eyes again, I am not sure how everyone else took my little drama just before I fainted. “How long I was out?” I asked
“About a day now. Do you always lie and create dramas whenever you go? This is a hospital not stage of drama.” She smiled and spoke in a light tone.
“Well,“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” I smiled back.
“You had fever and high blood pressure when you fell down; it was caused by some high stress or may be by elevated fear. I remember you are speaking of some ghost when you came in here.” She spoke again, with her sweet voice.
“You don’t fit in here; you don’t belong amongst all these diseases, pain and death. You belong in a heavily guarded high castle, attended and protected by the knight in shining armor.” As I spoke the words looking at her eyes, I could clearly see her face expression changing. She looked annoyed and irritated.
“Why you guys always have to be so clumsy and corny around females? I am just your doctor and you are my patient. I did not expect such cheap behavior, you looked like a well behaved, mild mannered gentleman, apparently I was wrong.” Saying so she stormed out of there.
After sometime a nurse came to inform me that I will be discharged by tomorrow afternoon. I passed my time chitchatting with the other inmates, various kind of people. The bed next to me is allotted to lady patient who has stomach cancer, last stage. She got 2 small kids, her husband does all kinds of petty works to make ends meet. Hardly got any money for her treatment, morning he comes to leave the children with their mother and comes back in the evening to get them home.
Met the janitor or hospital floor manager, he is not only janitor but a free advisor for all the hospital patients and their relatives, mostly how to get cheap treatment, he knows all the addresses godmen and so-called Ayurveda and herbs specialist self-appointed doctors in and out of the city.
So I asked him, “Do you know somebody who can cure cancer?”, “Of course I do”, he replied back with utmost confident. “There is a guy called Pagla baba (mad baba) he can cure anything.”
“How does he do that?”, I was curious. “Oh, you just have to take the patient to him and he will touch the patient and he/she will be alright in half a day.” The janitor replied enthusiastically.
“Oh, so did you try telling her husband about your Pagla baba?” I asked sarcastically.
“She can’t be cured; her time is up. We already took her to him. He said her time is already up. Pagla baba doesn’t help everybody, he even meets few people, sometimes don’t even meet anyone for days.” Janitor sadly shook his head.
I pulled my blanket on me and closed my eyes. This country is neck deep into superstition and no wonder all frauds and humbugs are taking advantages of it.
I murmured the lines from Hamlet “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”
“May I come in?” I hold the curtain of the cabin door and asked.
“Yes.” She replied. I am going to get discharged today it’s only my moral duty to bid adieu from the doctor who brought me back to health.
I sat in front of her, she was searching something in drawer, “Not here to apologise I guess.” She spoke without lifting her head.
“I came here to thank you.” I spoke in my sweetest possible voice. “That’s alright.” She replied, again without looking at me.
“And I am here to tell you the story how did I saw a ghost, got scared, fell sick and landed up here. If you have time of course, Dr. Aditi Majumdar.”
She frowned and leaned back on chair and then she laughed, “I see you know my name, I guess from the staff, ya sure, go ahead tell me your story in brief. I am not sure if I’ll believe you. By the way, here’s your purse and mobile phone, check if everything is alright, we thought of calling your parents or relatives but we couldn’t unlock your phone. We came to know your name from the credit card.”
“Much appreciated, I live alone in this city so it’s alright. If you don’t mind, could you order a cup of tea? It would be nice telling you the story with a hot smoky cup of tea.” I replied.
At school I had a friend named Ashfaq, he was a tall lean fellow, soft spoken, nice and little timid. He considered me as his best friend as I once stood up against his bullies. Since then he always looked up to me as his friend in need. His sister Ruksar also studied in the same school, two standards below us. To her I was her another brother from a different mother.
Frankly, I considered Ashfaq a good friend, not of my best buddies, I had a different group. But Ashfaq always used consider me his friend, philosopher and guide, even on trivial matters he used to ask for my help and suggestions.
We’re in 11th standard, it was during the summer vacation, Ashfaq’s ancestral village was some 150km away, a remote one, it had population of hardly 700 to 800 people, Ashfaq’s dad Moideen uncle was the wealthiest and they had their own estate.
There was a place there which was considered haunted. A small hut away from the locality, it had a story. A fakir used to live there, an honest and god-fearing, they say one day Iblis (Satan or Devil) himself paid a visit and turned him into his slave. He started to kill the villagers to offer sacrifices. After few days intimated villagers attacked him and beat him to death. They left his dead body inside the hut and since then no one ever went back. Few who by mistake went nearby paid with their lives.
When Ashfaq told me the story I laughed, I could only laugh at the imaginations of illiterate villagers. Then I told him to go and pay a visit there and crush the very superstition hold his village to ransom.
He looked perplexed and scared, but nonetheless he told me he will try. After 3 days he called me at my home in the evening. “I have decided to go there, but I am little scared. Wish you were here; we both could visit that place.” He spoke in a hesitant tone. He was calling from his village.
Don’t know why and how I felt angry about it, I yelled at him over the phone “I can’t watch your back all the time Ashfaq, you need to stop being a coward. Either you go there and prove there’s no ghost or don’t show your face to me, ever.” I rammed down the receiver.
After two days the news came, villagers found Ashfaq’s body on the field, near the hut. He died of heart failure, when they found his body his eyes were wide open with an expression of intense fear on his face.
We all friends were present in his last ritual, his mother was sobbing, his dad was sitting there with a blank expression. Only Ruksar was standing in a corner, with dried tears, with immense hate in her eyes, staring at me. I did not know the reason. That’s the last time I ever saw her as I never went back to his house again. After coming back home, I took out my diary and wrote down one of my favourite quote, that was the only entry I made in my diary that day.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” ― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
“That’s a sad story.” Aditi shook her head. “But that has to do with your situation?”
“Last night I had a nightmare, that I am walking on a field filled long grasses and then I came across an old hut with a black one eyed dog sitting in front of it. Then a strange tall figure appeared, without a face, almost floating above the ground. And I woke up in my bed, shivering and sweating.” I replied calmly.
“It was just a nightmare, how you can say it’s anything ghostly or super natural?” Aditi frowned
“Have you ever experienced any dream or nightmare with a smell? Horrible smell of something rotten, smell of decomposed flesh?” I asked, indifferently.
“What are you going to do now?” She leaned on the desk with a curious look.
“I am going to Ashfaq’s ancestral village, to pay a visit to that place, although I don’t know if it’s still there, but something is telling me, it’s still there.” I stood up, she was still looking at me with puzzled eyes, I couldn’t but recite few lines from ‘Hamlet’s To be, or not to be’
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.”
I walked out of her cabin slowly, leaving her behind, befuddled.
I went back home and spent sleepless nights for next two days. Every time I closed my eyes my subconscious mind kept telling me not to fall asleep, as then I might have the same nightmare again. Part of me wanted to fall asleep, and part of me kept awake. My slumbering half-conscious self was loitering around the world of dreams and reality.
Suddenly I heard a voice.
“Do you really want to go there?” Ashfaq was standing a few feet away. The same 17 years old kid in the school uniform.
“Yes, I want to.” I replied. Though I know I might be imagining or hallucinating.
“Why? After all these years.” The calm voice of Ashfaq asked me again.
“I don’t know. But I must go, to set myself free.” I closed my eyes already, my mind was blank.
“Set yourself free? From what?”
I did not reply but with all my might I pushed myself out of bed. There was no one in my room. I pulled my easy chair to the balcony and fell on it, murmuring few lines of Henry IV by Shakespeare.
‘O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush’d with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
After 3 days I went back to the hospital. Dr Aditi Majumdar was not there, Instead I found the janitor, he was overjoyed seeing me and invited me for a tea to the roadside tea shop next to hospital.
Ashit (Janitor): How are you sir? You look so pale and tired. Did you sleep well?
Me: No, I haven’t slept a wink (Smiled sadly)
Ashit: What happened sir?
Me: I see ghosts. When I am asleep and when I am awake.
Ashit: Sir, I know you educated people don’t believe in all these, but I must request you to go see Pagla baba.
By his tone of urgency, I was certain he gets his commission from Pagla baba for making people go visit to him and pay his fees. Nonetheless, I decided to visit him. I have seen many godmen but never was too impressed by anyone. I smiled at Ashit and started to walk while recalling the lines..
‘There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.
But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle. – Julius Caesar’
I am sitting in front of Pagla baba now. It’s been almost 10 minutes that Pagla baba is at his laughing spree. Today morning I came at his den, which is 25 km away from the city. Frankly speaking I was disappointed when I saw this place. No much crowd of disciples and visitors, hardly 5 to 10 people are scattered outside a torn tent. One of them told me to wait and disappeared inside the tent, reappeared in 2 minutes and announced my arrival to baba.
My disappointment increased as I entered and saw an old man in his 60’s was sitting there, he is so lean and feeble that anyone can count his ribs, he is wearing a spectacle with one leg, the other leg was missing a replaced by a thread. As he looked at me started to laugh I could see few teeth were missing as well.
I patiently waited for 10 minutes and then asked him, “Why are you laughing?”
“I don’t know, I feel kinda funny.” The intensity of his laugh increased, now even his whole body is shaking. ‘He really is mad’, I thought.
“Of course I am; why do you think they call me Pagla baba?” I was completely stumped now, baba actually read my mind.
“Do you know why I am here?” I asked in a serious tone.
“You are looking for the cure of your nightmares.” Baba was still laughing.
I let out a long sigh, so Ashit, the janitor has spilled all the info to his baba, I thought.
Pagla baba stop laughing, “No, Ashit did not tell me anything.” He spoke with a smile.
Now I was certain somehow Pagla baba knows the art of thought reading, I heard of similar kind of power exist among humans. And why not, how ant’s movements start before rain? How dogs and other animals can anticipate earth quakes and other natural calamities? Even we humans have something call sixth sense and some people have it to an aggregative length.
“So do I get the cure?” I asked, in an unsure tone.
“Go back home today, meet me after 3 days.” Baba is calm now
I got up and turned back when I heard him again, “You forgot my fees.”
I turned back to him, “How much?”
“Six hundred and fifty-three.” He smiled.
I opened my pursue, I had the exact same amount. I handed it over and asked him, “Do you always charge as much some has in his pocket?”
“Not to everyone. But yes, you must pay, you must pay your debt.” Pagla baba started to laugh hysterically again. I bid him goodbye and hit the road.
‘He that dies pays all debts. – The Tempest by William Shakespeare’
As I walked into my office, I headed straight to the cabin of my General Manager.
The GM looked at me and exclaimed. “What happened to you? you look like a complete mess, are you alright?
“I would like to resign.” I replied with a crisp voice and with a straight face.”
GM looked completely at sea, “What? Why?”
“I am starting a journey to somewhere and I have a strong feeling I won’t come back alive. I guess if I resign now you’ll have enough time to recruit someone.”
GM had a long and hard look at me. “is it another trick of yours to ask for a vacation?”
I smiled, kind of smile which could mean yes or no or both.
“I am giving you 15 days of leave on medical ground, I heard you were hospitalized, you don’t look too good either. Go see a doctor and get well soon.” He spoke in a harsh tone and looked down on the papers he is holding. I turned back and was about to leave.
“Listen.” GM spoke again, “Here’s the visiting card of a renowned physiatrist, he knows me, go see him once if you can.”
I took the card and left home thinking few lines of ‘King Lear’.
As I was wandering around the city, my car stopped near a café, as I rolled down the window my eyes glued to a young couple sitting there, they were chatting, laughing and having a good time, while talking their heads were hitting each other and parting with another laugh, one happy couple who dares the world to be careless about.
It was Aditi and another young man, I felt a sharp tingling sensation of jealousy. I parked the car nearby and walked into the café, straight up to Aditi.
“Hey”, I greeted her,
“Oh hi”, Aditi replied with a surprised cheerful tone.
“After that day you never met me, never even called me, what did I do to deserve such? Did your feelings subside for me? In spoke in an artificial hurtful and complaining tone.
Aditi’s surprised eyes turned red into anger in few moments. The guy next to her also looked quite perplexed but nonetheless he decided to take the matter in his own hands
“Hi this is Vikalp, and you are?” he asked
“Aditi’s boyfriend.” I extended my right hand at him. He couldn’t shake it but spilled his cold coffee all over.
“Who is he?” The guy almost screamed at Aditi.
“A patient of mine.” Aditi munched her words in despicable anger and then pushed me in a corner.
“What is the meaning of all these?” Aditi hissed while holding a part of shirt.
“Who is he?” I asked in a smiling tone.
“He is my boyfriend. What are you even doing here?” Aditi hissed again.
“Really? That nincompoop?” My voice was filled bitter sarcasm.
She left my shirt and stepped back, “You have no rights to speak such about him, I demand you to leave now.” This time she spoke calmly.
“Aditi, come here.” The impatient tone from her behind was Vikalp’s
I grinned, “Why not let us put your love into a test, just ignore him and come with me, let’s go for a drive. “
“I don’t have time for your drama or games. Good bye.” She went back to her table and I started to walk back to my car. On my way I saw Aditi and Vikalp was throwing hands in the air and arguing over. I grinned again, did I just sow a seed of doubt between them?
‘Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt — William Shakespeare.’
As I was about to sip into my morning tea, I heard my doorbell ringing without pause, “Someone is up real early, it’s 10 am.” I thought.
As I open the door a plain looking man in his mid-thirties was standing in front of me. “You have to come with me, right now.” The stranger spoke in an authoritative voice.
“Sure let’s go.” I put down my cup and about to start, in my pyjamas.
The stranger looked a little puzzled. “Like this?” he asked.
“You said right now.” I replied.
“And you don’t want to know who am I and where you’re going?” His surprised voice annoyed me.
“That you were supposed to tell me, but you don’t I won’t compel.” I answered.
“Let’s go.” As we came down I saw SUV is waiting down below with ‘Police’ written on it. I looked back at the stranger and he flashed his ID, “Piyush Arora, from crime branch.”
“Oh”, I exclaimed and stepped inside the vehicle.
After 30 mins the SUV stopped in front of a huge 3 stored house, this time I was surprised as I thought we were on the way to police station.
Inspector Piyush held me by my shoulder and almost dragged me in. On my way I managed to read the nameplate, Mohan Majumdar, DIG, Crime.
Inside there was a man in his fifties sitting on a sofa, wearing white kurta and pajama, he looked at both of us.
“Got him Sir.” Piyush Arora spoke in a such enthusiastic tone that even I started feel special about myself, after all crime branch it is, which was looking for me.
DIG crime looked at his inspector and tell him to get out with hand gesture.
“How do you know my daughter?” He asked in a cold voice as the inspector left.
I never actually had misfortune to meet any top cop, Mohan Majumdar was a short, half bald and very fair man, with a round face, just like Aditi.
“So you spy on your daughter?” I took my seat in front of him, on the opposite single sofa seat.
“Answer the question before I turn your bones into white powder.” DIG was fuming.
“talcum or cocaine?” I yawned
“Shut up. And answer me.” Mohan Majumdar roared.
“You shut up. You don’t know how close I am to our local MLA. You want to get into trouble?”
I roared back. In reality I don’t even the name of the MLA of my locality nor any other. But it’s like rule, you want to intimidate somebody, tell them about someone they fear. Like to common people it’s cops or goons, for cops its politicians, to politicians about votes and elections, etc etc.
As DIG Mohan Majumdar was looking at me suspiciously I continued.
“I know you have two daughters, the elder one went against your wish and chose a guy. Since then you are over protective about your younger daughter, spying on her when she’s out of home and she hates it. You don’t even like her current boyfriend, Vikalp or whatever his name is.”
I stopped as I could see him completely perplexed by now. I saw the photo frame on the table in a corner, Aditi with another girl, no doubt she looks older and alike her. I beat around the bush and I guessed I got few of them right on. No daughter like her father spying on her, especially on her private life.
I started to walk leaving him behind. “There will be eyes on you.” Mohan Majumdar barked. I thoroughly ignored him.
As I was walking though the hall to the main door I saw Aditi was coming down, she saw me stopped on the stairs, her face looked puffy and eyes swollen, dried tears on her cheeks carrying the evidence that she might fell asleep crying.
“Lovers quarrel.” I chuckled. She frowned and about to say something when I stopped her. “I was called upon, by your dad.”
“Why?” her disgusted tone hit me hard.
“To break you up from Vikalp and take you away.” A cruel smile waved up on my lips. I walked out slowly, do I even know what I am doing?
“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.”― William Shakespeare, Macbeth.
I got up from my good morning sleep next day hearing my doorbell ringing madly. As I opened the door I found Aditi Majumdar standing at my door step.
“Congratulation, you just turned my life into a living hell.”, She spoke with fire in her eyes and bitterest tone.
“Did I?” I was yawning and scratching my neck.
“I just want to know why are you doing all these, that day after you left I had the nastiest fight with Vikalp and then yesterday with my dad. Why did you lie to me? What exactly you want?” she had tears in her eyes.
“I am going to Pagla baba today, he told me to meet him after 3 days. Why don’t you come along, he might solve your problems too.” I yawned while speaking.
Aditi had a long and hard look at me for few seconds then she slapped me on my face so hard that sleepy eyes said good bye to my sleep.
I stepped off from the door as she stepped in while slapping, “Come on in, have some coffee.” And I closed the door behind her.
Aditi at her wit’s end now accepted the weird incidents happening around her and calmly came sat on the dining table. I pointed at the kitchen, “Water is on the oven and the coffee powder and milk are there, help yourself. Give me 10 minutes and we will be on our way to solve our problems.” I smiled.
As we were sitting in front of Pagla baba he already gave me a brown thread tied around my upper arm. “Where you’re going you will face grave danger; this might help you.” Pagla baba indicated at the thread, today he isn’t laughing instead he is calm and quiet.
Aditi was sitting there, befuddled. She didn’t know what to do. I looked at Pagla baba and grinned, “So this thing cost me 600 odd, not much of a worth ain’t it? By the way this is Dr. Aditi Majumdar and she too has great many issues which she thinks are caused by me.”
“They will go away, soon.” The old man smiled.
As we walked out of Pagla Baba’s hut I saw a dog sitting on the yard, a black dog, with one eye, sticking its tongue out and breathing heavily.
“Just like the one in your nightmares, isn’t it?” Pagla baba started to laugh hysterically again. “Start today, tonight is the new moon, I could warn you not to go but I know you won’t listen.
Aditi hold my hand pressed it so hard. “Can I come with you?” She asked in a scared tone.
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Hamlet, Shakespere.’
And I am walking again, on these lash green grasses, just like I have seen it in my dream, in my nightmare, the only difference is Aditi is also walking beside me. This field wasn’t very hard to find, even today people don’t come this way much, villagers directed us in the right direction.
It’s only green and blue can be seen, the sun is on its way to bid goodbye and the dying lights making it look like a dreamland.
And I remember,
‘Two months after the death of Ashfaq, Ruksar called me, to visit her at their place. When I went there I found Ashfaq’s parents are away. Ruksar took me to the terrace.
“I heard your conversation with my brother that day. He was so scared to go there alone.”
I shrugged. Ruksar continued.
“My brother told me you people had a pact, you were supposed to be there with him in our village, you both were supposed to go there to unravel whatever you thought was unreal. But you did not keet your promise, and you pushed my brother to the edge.
He did not want to go, but he was too afraid to be called a coward, he was too desperate not lose his friendship with you. But you never cared. I begged Ashfaq not to go, yet he went, he couldn’t see his only friend turning his back at him.
I loved you both as my own brothers, but you had a different feeling for me. I knew it and now I know you aren’t worth it. But at least you will feel guilty of this.’
She stopped and took a deep breath, suddenly I spotted that she’s at the very edge of the terrace, before I could react she just let herself fall. No scream of pain but just a thud sound.
I stood there motionlessly and then walked out of that house slowly, there was no one in the street at 2 pm afternoon to spot a 17 years old boy walking off hurriedly. The city knew that evening, a grieving sister committed suicide.’
“Where is that brown thread?” Aditi asked suddenly as the old wrecked hut slowly started to emerge in front of us.
“I tore it and threw it somewhere here in these grasses.” I replied calmly.
Aditi looked at me with scared eyes and disbelieve, and then she ran towards the opposite direction.
The smell is getting stronger, the smell of rotten flesh. I could see the nameless, faceless figure is slowly emerging from the hut, with the big stick it’s holding. My vision and other senses are getting blurred, I am losing my power to even think.
“I FOUND IT!!” I heard Aditi screaming, as I turned my head I saw her running towards me, what I could see is she’s holding something in her right hand, something brown.
I looked back at that thing, floating and coming towards me, and I could see a black spot behind it, slowly getting bigger and bigger as if something is running towards me. I heard that black spot barking madly.
I knelt down and screamed, “I am sorry Ashfaq, I am sorry Ruksar. I am sorry.” And tears started to roll off from my eyes.
She: *Frantically knocking the coffin the door* No you can’t do this to me, let me out. LET ME OUT!!
He: Oh I can, remember I am the one who’s writing the story. So the handsome stranger you fell for turned out to be a serial murderer who kills his victims by burying them alive. As we are speaking he is slowly lowering the coffin into the 6-foot pit.
She: You can’t do this to me you sick freak. You created a character and then fell for her, and when she stopped your advances he are killing her. You can’t do this *Sobbing*
He: It’s all over now. You are buried under 6 feet and no one can hear you screaming. Goodbye Jhumpa.
Writer Jhumpa Banerjee opened her eyes as she was lying on her bed. All of a sudden she’s feeling suffocated. She tried to get up but couldn’t. It felt like she’s in a closed box and no matter how hard she is trying she just can’t free her arms and legs, and nobody seems to hear her screaming. Her body slowly started to sink in the bed.