Thursday, 23 August 2012

That Night (Part 19)

Part 19 of THAT NIGHT, the acclaimed ghost story set in rural India by Lakshmi Raj Sharma.


                                                                     THAT NIGHT (part 19)

The night did come, and instantly appeared Sonali. Her presence made me feel rather anxious, even though I should have got used to her by now. The presence of a spirit, I have begun to realize, deadens the air around it. Anyone in close proximity to the spirit experiences a strange kind of lifelessness surrounding him. It is as though death is in the air and nothing is left anywhere near life. It leaves you sapped of your vitality and nothing seems to be right. Again Sonali repeated the ritual of taking me to the Bailey Road and there she jumped into the same well without uttering a word to me. I woke up and found myself perspiring, my pillow absolutely wet. It was very disturbing for me to be deprived of some part of my strength every time she came to me in my dream. She was there next to me as I slept and in my dream I was conscious that even as I was dreaming there was a parallel living (for the lack of a better word) presence there, quite close to me. I felt that if I opened my eyes I would be surrounded by a ghastly whitish light, very unlike anything one experiences in real life.

The tantrik suggested, and I agreed with him, that Sonali wanted some kind of help from me which I was failing to understand. My nephew, Umang, who I had telephoned a couple of days back and asked to come from Shahjahanpur to stay with me, suddenly arrived. He, like a real foolhardy, got excited at the idea of seeing a spirit but his excitement only irritated me. He just wouldn’t believe that Sonali came only in my dream and I could not make him a part of it. He was optimistic that he would somehow jump into the scene and see her. He was just twenty, a typical boy, who was yet far from wisdom. I was relieved no doubt that now I had someone with me and I was not alone. But the fear of his coming to some harm began to disturb me.

After having our evening meal we sat in my study. Umang tried to persuade me to go to sleep so that something could begin to happen. But then there was a rattling of the doors, which greatly scared Umang, and there she stood before us in a visible form and in his presence she began to speak for the first time. He sprang up from his chair and came running towards me. There was that whitish ghastly light that I had been imagining about. She stood close to us and spoke to Umang.

‘Umang, you wanted to see a spirit, did you not? Look here I am ready to show you myself.’

Umang was very upset at the sight and clung hard to me as my study table began to start shaking and making a noise with the floor. Then one of its legs began to rise higher and higher tilting the table oddly. Everything on it including my laptop began to slide and fall off. The scene became further horrifying when Sonali came up to Umang and held his hand as he yelled out in fear.
‘Come close to me my boy and let me give you a kiss,’ she said as Umang began to faint and I tried to rescue him.

Umang was soon unconscious and when he fell on the ground, the spirit changed its form. It became Pran and laughed loudly at me.

‘See I fooled you again! How stupid you are Sanjeev. You never learn from your mistakes. Old fools are the real fools. Sonali can only come in your dream. She is a less evolved spirit than me. Understand that, you blockhead! I’m off.’

The moment he left the atmosphere normalized and I felt like a real fool. I sprinkled water on Umang’s face and he gradually opened his eyes. I wiped off the perspiration from his face and then found that my own face needed the same treatment.

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