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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

"THAT NIGHT"  Part 12

Part 12 of That Night, the acclaimed ghost story set in rural India by Professor Lakshmi Raj Sharma.

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                                                                                                   THAT NIGHT (Part 12)

The first thing I did was to go to where Sonali and her friend, Neela, lived. The doors of Sonali’s room were flung wide open when I reached there. Neela had gathered some neighbours and was in tears as she told them about her missing friend. It was quite a shock for me to learn that she was not to be found. Neela said that she had seen Pran knocking at Sonali’s door, from he
r own window pane, just when the storm was getting violent. But she had noticed that Sonali had not opened the door for him. Then the lights had gone out and it was then that she must have opened her doors. I was stung by what I heard. I ran towards Pran’s room and found that locked. Then I went to Manoj’s and so was this room locked. The three were missing. I searched, the university authorities searched, and then the police searched but none of the three could be found. I felt like crying my heart out. Sonali had come to me for help and I could not give her the help in time. I would never be able to forgive myself. But the three were missing at this point, and we needed to hear some good or bad news to learn more about them.

The newspapers were full of these three for some days. Others had been undone by the storm but not to the extent of disappearing entirely. For days together the mystery of the missing students occupied nearly every mind on the campus of the university but it did not occupy anyone more than it did me. I was totally shattered and lonely. I even began to find my fascination for Existentialism hollow and academic. I wanted to see these people alive, or at least get to know what happened to them. I had been very fond of Manoj. And Sonali, let’s not talk about her. The interesting thing that happened now was that I began to think even of Pran very fondly. All his tricks and wicked little acts seemed to amuse me. I decided I’d write a story on these three. By doing that my mind was bringing the three to life. The story stretched itself out into a novel and I began to write extensively. Then I understood that I was actually a writer more than anything else and so I continued with my thesis as a mere formality. My heart was in the writing, and the thinking, about my three companions that were lost. I tried to bring them back to life by painting minute details about them. But then came the point in the novel when they disappeared mysteriously. The novel had a beginning, and middle but its end was missing. I thought and thought and thought about where they could have gone on that horrible night. But everything remained at the level of thought, till one day when I had a dream. It was a morning dream. I saw a silent, serious looking Sonali inviting me to follow her in a certain direction. Her look was strange. She was Sonali no doubt but she was very different. The human body does make a difference. It provides the livingness to an empty soul.

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