Naina was a little girl of thirteen. But as far as Naina was concerned she was a “grown- up” girl! She was proud of the fact that she was the most mature & intelligent of all her school friends since her class teacher had mentioned it a couple of times! And that’s what she had started to believe. So whenever her “Amma” denied permission for watching those terrifying “horror shows” they had started showing on dish tv recently , scolding, “don’t be stupid Naina, it’s not good for you!”, Naina would laugh it off saying she was not stupid or a sissy! But these very shows were the topics of discussion among her group of friends at school during recess, and she felt embarrassed and rather foolish in front of her friends to admit she didn’t see them as she feigned disinterest. Oh how she wished “Amma” wasn’t so severe on her for watching those “stupid horror shows,” the biggest disadvantage being the telecast timings of these shows. They aired them late , close to midnight and “Amma” always made sure she was in bed by 9 pm.
The next day at school the very show was being discussed again at recess! Her BFF Smitha was describing to the large group of girls, how in last nights episode, the vampire beast was put to death by the brave and sole survivor Rahul, who killed the beast while it slept, passing a stake through his heart! But alas, it was all in vain, as Rahul had been bitten, he now had the mark of the beast and that very night, as he transformed into the very evil he killed, the show ended! The girls found it thrilling to see that how evil always emerged victorious at the end in these horror shows! Amongst themselves they agreed it always made them to look forward for more! All the stories Naina heard she felt were stupid and unreal and least bit terrifying! She as usual felt like the odd one in the group. She felt pangs of jealousy for them all! How could her own mother do this injustice to her! She didn’t want to feel left out anymore, and least of all appear immature for not watching the so called “horrror” shows when all her friends could!
As she thought more about it everyday, it struck Naina that she could take advantage of the late night timings of the horror shows as her mother, father and little sister were all sound asleep by 10:30 pm. It would be perfect as their three bedrooms were on the upper floor and the living room was downstairs. She would keep awake and tip-toe out to the living room where the tv was by midnight and have her little wish fulfilled. Then she would be the one to initiate the topic at recess the next day at school and prove herself once more! “Genius Naina” she said to herself and loved the sound of it! All she had to do now was to decide the appropriate night to commit the deed, she thought with a sly grin on her face.
Soon the day dawned. She decided it to be Wednesday night as thanks to her friends she knew a new story was being telecast then. She thought to start with a fresh story would be more ideal to her. That night as she crept into bed, her mother kissed her goodnight on her cheek, switched off the lights, turned on the night lamp and closed the door behind her as she left the room. Due to sheer excitement sleep eluded her! She would be the life of the group again at school tomorrow, she thought, and not only that, she too had always wanted to watch those horror shows since she had seen her friends talk about them with zesty and thrilled faces, and also because she wanted to feel the pleasure of having what was being denied to her by her mom all the more, she thought sheepishly. As time neared, her excitement knew no bounds. It was 10:30 pm now and all the noises in the house had died down. Just half an hour more she thought! The show was being aired at 11 pm and she would head down five minutes to eleven.
Naina slowly glided down the stairs towards the living room. The lower part of the house formed the living room which extended towards a small dining area for four. Opposite to these were the separate kitchen and bathroom. The other side of the living room was connected to the porch, a big glass door dividing them. In front of the porch was the car park and main gate. Naina didn’t turn on the lights for fear of being caught. She waited till her eyes adjusted to the moonlit living room and serenely floated like a cloud towards the sofa which she immediately checked for the tv remote. She found it and it was so quiet that she could hear her parents snoring! Suddenly feeling a high about the trip of pleasure she thought she was soon going to embark on she let out a giggle. Oh this is wicked, she thought! She immediately held her breath on fear of waking up her parents, and on no response she boldly planted herself in the centre of the sofa and turned on the tv which sat right in front! She adjusted the volume to just right and waited anxiously for the “horror show” to begin.
This time the story was about a class of 20 school girls going on a school trip to the village farmhouse. The protagonist was a 15 year old girl named “Meera”. The first half of the show was just introductions of the characters to the viewers and as the story unfolded, the truth about the farmhouse was revealed! It was haunted by a little girls ghost who had been killed in a fire accident in the farmhouse about 22 years ago! All this was new to Naina. It was her first viewing of a fright show! She felt fear gripping her as the story moved forward. Whenever the little girls ghost was mentioned onscreen they showed wolves howling in the nearby forest! Right then she heard a faint cry, “Aaoooooooooooooooooh!”
“What was that,” She mumbled to herself nearly jumping in fright! Then she heard it a second time, it sounded like a desperate cry! She consoled herself that it was the street dog crying out in hunger! What a bizarre coincidence, she thought! Her courage was but hanging loose by a thread! She managed to turn her attention back to the Tv. The scrawny little girl’s ghost whose skin was burned all over always appeared in the background wherever Meera went! She was a grotesque creature and seemed to be watching Meera closely! Naina’s hair stood up on her skin when the creepiness of that sinked into her head! Naina watched with bated breath as the first part of the new series was coming to an end. Her heart had skipped a beat every time the fear factor in the show increased. In fact it was racing madly by now and fear held her breath till she could wait no more to release it.
She got up as the 22 min show ended and dashed her way back to her bedroom. Once on her bed she congratulated herself on accomplishing her goal. It hadn’t been easy, she had been as scared as a cat right through the show but she had to face her friends at school the next day which kept her going. She wasn’t going to let herself down in front of them. This time she was going to join in on the conversation and then that made her smile. But she was scared enough to leave on the light in the room as she tried to get some sleep.
It had been a rough night for Naina, she had trouble sleeping but she did manage a couple or more hours of sleep. She couldn’t contain her happiness the next day at school during recess when her friends welcomed her inputs on the show and was delighted to be one with the gang again. They cheered her and this encouraged her to watch more!
Thursday night she tiptoed her way back to the living room again. Half heartedly she switched on the Tv. As the story progressed, “Meera” was having visions of the little girls ghost who appeared to be trying to communicate with her! The creepy little thing wanted to make its presence known, which freaked out Naina! Naina was so petrified that she covered both her eyes whenever the little girls ghost showed herself onscreen! It looked horribly burnt with blisters all over the face and body! She couldn’t take it anymore and when the advertisements arrived she hit the lights of the living room on! She knew that she had to go on or how else would she face her friends who had cheered her so much that very day! She after all, was as brave as any of them, if not more! And at least she was not alone at home. She could always run to her parents room if need be! With that she mustered some courage and glued her eyes back to the screen again!
Soon her blood curdled as she witnessed Meera being possessed by the little girls ghost! Meera was hanging halfway in the air!! Some invisible force seemed to have held her up there! Her arms were suspended sideways, her toes were pointing to the ground, suddenly her skin caught fire and burned down revealing ugly scars which later formed blisters all over the body! Then she opened those grisly eyes and they were blood red. Picturing this hit Naina hard in the head! Soon the focus was on Meera’s face which seemed to emanate wickedness through her bloody eyes! Her torn lips seemed curled into a wicked smile! With that the show ended and Naina’s heart leapt out of her mouth. She ran to her room without caring to turn off the lights. The last place she wanted to be was in the living room in front of that horrid tv! Naina was horrified by now! She was sweating profusely and scared to death! She turned on the lights in her bedroom n jumped on her bed! She didn’t sleep one bit that night! Meera’s burnt face was all she could witness when she closed her eyes! And when she opened them Meera’s grisly blood red eyes seemed to stare back at her watching her every move! She had a restless night!
The next day at school Naina joined her gang at recess. She mulled over the fact as to how on earth her classmates seemed so unaffected by those horror shows while her eyes were bloodshot due to lack of sleep! They seemed like twins of Meera’s grisly blood red eyes when she looked at herself in the mirror that morning! She dared not look at her “Amma” till she got to her school bus lest her eyes give her away!
Naina couldn’t sleep at all that whole weekend! Meera’s blood red eyes seemed to haunt her! The horror shows would only be telecast again on Monday night! And when her curiosity got the better of her, on Monday at school she learnt from her BFF Smitha that all her friends parents were avid tv viewers and they sat along with them during the “horror” shows. That most of her friends slept with their parents or siblings! Smitha herself shared a room with her elder sister and at most of the times she too was not allowed to view the show if it was too terrifying! But she would always hear the tale from her elder sister!
Smitha said she didn’t confess this to her earlier as she would be termed ” Uncool” among her friends when the current trend was to talk about these recently popular horror shows! Naina realized she shared the same fear as Smitha! Fear of acceptance amongst peers! Was it really worth it to mentally torture herself just to appear cool at school, she asked herself! She suddenly heard her Amma’ voice in her head scolding, “don’t be stupid Naina, it’s not good for you” and realized how right she had been. Naina realized how foolishly she had behaved and what the consequences had been !
How shallow all her beliefs seemed now! She decided to avoid the “horror” shows henceforth for her well- being, till she thought she was big n bold enough.Thus accepting her temporary folly Naina emerged as a more wise person!