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Friday, 24 August 2012

THAT NIGHT (Part 20)

Part 20 of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's acclaimed ghost story set in India.


                                                                    That Night (part 20)

The moment Pran 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.

When Sonali repeated the same act in my dream several times, I had no option but to find out what her problem was. I confided in the sweetshop man and he was relieved to hear that I wanted to get rid of my problem somehow. He too had been pestered by the spirits to the point that he was considering leaving that place and going elsewhere. I made a suggestion. We could pool in money to have the place dug up to see what condition the well underneath was in. That could provide some clue. The deal was struck and the project begun. It took about fifteen days for the diggers to reach the point where the water level must have been some time back. Everyday some strange incident would occur with the diggers and we had to continuously keep changing the men who were digging the place. Then one day one of the diggers screamed when he saw the remains of a skeleton, the other diggers then began to dig further and discovered parts of two more skeletons. Then some rings and earrings were found. The earrings were the same that Sonali was wearing in the black and white photograph kept on my study table. The rings were probably those that Pran or Manoj wore. There was much excitement on Bailey Road but for me it was not a happy scene. The district authorities were informed. The home addresses of the three were traced out from the university records. Inquiries were made but with no result. Surprisingly no one responded to my letters at these addresses and then as per the advice of the tantric we performed some last rite ceremonies and prayers for the three. Umang left me and returned to his place after he found it difficult to adjust with the spirits. This was my battle and I had to fight it alone.

On the night Umang left, Manoj came in my dream. He stood smiling. His spirit was more rested than the other two. But even his arrival almost gave me a heart attack. He left behind an address on my table. In the note Manoj said, we rarely come to Allahabad now, it has become too populated and noisy. We have chosen a quiet and deserted place of residence where we want you to come and stay. If you don’t come we will be compelled to visit you here and keep taking away your peace. It was the address of a quiet stretch of land deep into a secluded setting of rural Gaipura. I had no option but to go there for now I had resolved to unravel the mystery. This would after all provide me with the second half of my novel. 

The people of Gaipura were simple and kind. They were hospitable to me because a much respected class fellow of mine from this village had become a country farmer there and had offered me a room in his house. I did not tell anyone here about the real purpose of my visit. I just said that I was writing a novel and needed absolute peace and solitude to write it in. The people cooperated and I would walk out of the house every evening and walk to where the spirits were. I walked there daily at the risk of never returning, being killed by Pran or any one of the other two. I knew that without risk nothing could be achieved and with a little risk I could become the author of a best seller novel.

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