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Sunday, 19 August 2012

THAT NIGHT (part 16)

Part 16 of Lakshmi Sharma's acclaimed ghost story set in India.

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                                                                 THAT NIGHT (Part 16)

The feminine laughter soon melted into a male’s sardonic laughter. I was almost dead with fear when I felt the presence of the spirit very distinctly in my room. Before long I could see that this was not Sonali’s spirit, it was Pran’s.

‘And you thought I was Sonali? Hee hee hee! I know she’s more worthy of your attention. But you should sometimes think of me as wel
l.’

I now remembered that Sonali was to come in my dream. But this Pran had come even in my wakefulness and pretended to be Sonali. He had grown into a wicked ghost. I had to surrender to my fate and wait to see what was to happen next. I was shit scared. When Pran was alive I had felt bullied by him; now I felt scared of him. My blood pressure was shooting up and my face must have given out that I was dying of fear because at that moment Pran said something that revealed that he was not all bad.

‘What’s wrong with you? I haven’t come here to eat you up! You’ll get heart-trouble if you are so panic-stricken. I haven’t really hurt you, have I? Good God he is fainting. I think I’ll have to leave him today.’

Saying that he left and when I woke up it was morning. I had been lying unconscious on the floor. I found that all traces of his presence in my room had vanished. I realized that I had got into an awful mess. Who would believe me if I told people about what I was going through? They would think I needed to be admitted into a mental asylum.

Let me return to the fact that Sonali was coming in my dreams. She came only in my dreams and she never said anything at all to me except asking me to follow her. This pointed to two things: First, that she was my dream girl. I had been seeing her in my dreams both when she was alive and now after so many decades. Second, something was troubling her and she wanted to share that with me. It began to dawn upon me that there was something which she wanted from me and which also concerned Pran because of which both the spirits had decided to enter my this-worldly existence from the other side of Life.

Maybe they wanted to tell me something. But if that were so they ought to have told me that clearly and left me in peace. There was something really mysterious about their returning to me after so many years. I was thoroughly doubt-ridden in addition to being terror-stricken. I began to believe that things do not get any better after death. There is no, ‘He died and then lived happily ever after as a spirit.’ Even in the world of the dead there seemed to be politics and the struggle for power and acquisition. I was not far from death myself and the anxiety that I was heading for even more trouble than people who experience just death began to preoccupy me. The question, ‘What happens after death?’ also began to bother me to a great extent. I began to think of “death” and “the dead” a great deal of my time. Of course I thought of these in the time when I wasn’t troubled by the fear of when I was to meet one of the spirits. Then the tension and trauma of the approaching encounter made me forget everything else and the suspense of what would happen next began.

After the nerve shattering experience of the night in which I had the benefit of Pran’s company, I had become a somewhat more experienced man. I had seen two spirits, one in my dreams and one in waking reality. Though the idea of seeing them again was none too inviting, I did begin to think of completing the novel I had commenced more than forty years back. My novel would turn into a horror novel, and I into a writer of horror fiction. I had remained quite an ordinary novelist till now and it seemed that this was the novel that would launch me into fame. I would be telling people about what happens after death very authentically if I survived my rendezvous with the world of the dead. It was this optimistic feeling that made me see light at the end of the tunnel, the silver lining in the shady other world. However, in spite of the Promised Land towards which I began to advance, there was something terribly frightening for me to pass through on a daily basis

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