"THAT NIGHT" part 17.
The seventeenth part of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's acclaimed ghost story set in rural India.
THAT NIGHT (Part 17)
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.
As a result of my slightly changed perspective towards spirits I went again to the tantric in Bairana and asked him the reason for the sudden appearance of Pran, in a visible form, and the reason for the silence of these spirits for so many decades. What the tantric replied was probably no more than his speculation on the subject. But he seemed to speak in a voice of conviction.
‘It is something like this: When spirits are about to take rebirth, they need to wind up and settle their accounts before beginning their accounts anew in the new birth. Any memories of the previous birth, unfulfilled desires, stresses and anxieties of the past life still weigh upon the soul. These need to be lightened and taken care of. They sometimes return for that reason. It is very likely that one of these souls is about to take rebirth and is therefore coming back to you as you were related with it in its last birth.’
‘But why are two spirits getting active at the same time?’
‘This I do not know. It may be a coincidence that two of them are about to take rebirth together.’
The tantric was merely guessing, it seemed, and my guess could have been as good as or even better than his, I thought. I returned home wondering what the coming night would hold for me.
I sat at my table writing the next part of the novel, writing and striking out the lines, not certain how to manage the supernatural parts. This was not like the earlier part of the novel that I had written in a register and preserved for over forty years. The paper of the register having turned yellow and brittle was beginning to pose problems. Now it was a different ball game. Writing horror fiction is so different to writing ordinary fiction, you always have the fear of sounding fake. I decided I would rewrite the earlier part as now my style had become mature and now I would do a better job. I made this decision, and then started working out the parts that I would fictionalize to make more interesting. I was totally engrossed and don’t know how I fell asleep in my chair. The sleep led to an immediate dream. I saw Sonali looking disturbed and now, having grown somewhat used to her, I asked her to sit. She seemed not to hear what I said. She pointed to the same direction that she had done earlier. She signaled that she wanted me to follow her. I did not feel like doing that. God knew where she would take me. Again my hair began to rise and I experienced a shivering sensation. It is difficult to describe the experience one has when near a spirit. It was like standing in a vacuum, on the edge of Time, though never crossing over to the other side. Then, suddenly, I felt as though I had crossed the Time barrier and was going along (moving without making any effort) with Sonali towards a place that seemed to be like Bailey Road as it had been when Sonali lived there. Close to where she had resided was a well, which is now nonexistent. It must have dried up and therefore filled up and used as a piece of land. Sonali had not said a word; she merely led me on to the well and then jumped into it. I woke up with a start and found myself still in my room. I was sweating and holding the arm-rests of my chair very tightly for a minute or so even after waking up. That whole night became very difficult to pass as I constantly apprehended that she would return. The dream girl had become a nightmare girl and I was trying to detach myself from the feelings that I had entertained for her. Swami Tulsi Das has said, of course in a different context, that without fear there is no love, but in this case I felt the opposite – with fear there is no love. Her terrorizing entry was taking away all traces of love that I had entertained in my heart for her some decades back.