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Sunday, 5 August 2012

This is the third part of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's excellent Indian ghost story "That Night". Lakshmi has a large following in India, both among his students and the general readership in India. His latest book Marriages are Made in India", an acclaimed collection of short stories is available on


                                                                 THAT NIGHT (part 3)

Now that I have mentioned Manoj, I must tell you that Manoj is a nobler ghost. He has never insulted me or made allegations of any kind against me. Manoj is a very pleasant ghost, you always see him smiling and promising to be helpful. When I am fed up with Pran’s rudeness I find myself complaining to Manoj. He always hears me out and promises to set Pran right. But I always a
sk him to avoid that as Pran can be dangerous. But how can he be dangerous, Manoj once asked me. He is so revengeful and psychotic! He can commit suicide, I said. Manoj laughed at the word ‘suicide’ and I remembered that these two were already dead. I am hardly involved with the living now and my mind has settled here with the dead to the extent that I have actually become a part of the dead community of living spirits. Why am I spending all my time with these more than dead things? Only for one reason; I still continue to think of Sonali, decades after her death. The lovely Sonali!
I think it was 1963. I was about 28 then. I had been a student of philosophy and I was seized by a desire to write something new, propound a new theory of existence. I was doing research on Existentialism and had started taking the “Individual” very seriously. I did not want to accept society’s moral codes without questioning them. I was drifting towards an idealism of sorts. In the university my friends started calling me Sartre. Most people who did not have a close relationship with me forgot that my actual name was Sanjeev Raghuvanshi. I liked to be called Sartre and when the odd person called me Sanjeev, I wasn’t quite happy; it was like a coming down to become myself again. In that year a girl called Sonali Singh was admitted to the Philosophy Department for a master’s degree. She had obviously not been a student of the university in BA because someone as striking as her would have been noticed most definitely. She had come to study from somewhere and disturbed the general atmosphere of the university. Students (boys) would come even from the Science Faculty to see who this newcomer was. Girls came to make a note of what she had decided to wear on every other day. The colours she wore came into fashion; her hairstyle became the hairstyle of the season and her mannerisms became the models of imitation amongst the butterflies of the Arts Faculty. The Science girls were too hard pressed for time to butterfly themselves into a Sonali existence. But there were some male butterflies too. Pran was one of them.

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