Wednesday, 22 August 2012

THAT NIGHT (Part 18)

Part 18 of THAT NIGHT, Lakshmi Raj Sharma acclaimed ghost story based in rural India.


                                                                   THAT NIGHT

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 he
art for her some decades back.

In the morning when I woke up the first thought that came to me was that I should go to Bailey Road to see the site of the well. On reaching there I found that a sweet shop had been built on what was once a well. The construction was of a temporary kind and the shop, a make-shift one. The owner wondered what I was scrutinizing and asked me what the matter was. When I told him about the well he said that someone had mentioned such a thing once. But more importantly he said that he often heard voices when he was about to close shop in the night and the voices puzzled him. He had heard these voices in certain times of the year, not always. He had heard them at the time of Pitrapaksha, the time when our dead ancestors looked down upon us in remembrance, and in those times when there was a mal-maas (an extra month according to the Hindu calendar). These voices always had put the fear of God in the shopkeeper and he felt horrified when this happened. What was more, he was surprised to discover that in those phases the sweets in his shop would suddenly disappear even when no customer had entered at the time. Once, when he was calling someone to help him investigate as to how the sweets were disappearing, someone had slapped him hard saying, ‘Just shut up and make some more sweets. The empty look in the shop is very irritating.’ He had felt that the place was surely haunted. He did not tell people that he had received the slap as that would only make him the butt of ridicule.

From what I heard, I was reasonably convinced that Sonali and Pran were still somewhere there after so many years, or perhaps still returned to this place at times. On asking the tantric I was told that there are times in the year when spirits get more freedom to loiter about. Periods in which auspicious things are avoided, as they are during mal-maas, the dead become more active.
The next thought that came to me was that Sonali and Pran were visiting him in one of such periods. Which meant that he had to do his investigations before the mal-maas was over, and that was a mere nine days. It was too short a period but that is what it was.

Time moved fast in the day and slowly in the night. The day passed off and evening approached and with it my fears rose again. God knew what was to happen on this evening. I used to experience a very strange kind of emptiness in the atmosphere when some spirit was approaching me. Today as I waited for a spirit to arrive I had a vague recollection of something that I have forgotten to narrate to you. On the arrival of a spirit there was a sudden whiff of a perfume of loads of flowers which alternated with strange smells of bodies rotting. I had forgotten to ask the tantric about what the smells meant. Waiting for something to happen I was reminded of a song I used to hear in the 1960s, ‘Phir wahi raat hai, phir wahi hai darr.’

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