This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
Today I am passing on the same haunted road again, and found that these demons are laughing at me, showing they have more power than the humans do.
In childhood I spent my summer holidays at my maternal uncle’s house in village of Almora. It used to be quite relaxing from hot and humid days of Delhi and provide chance to meet Saya.
Saya lived near to my uncle’s house. She was two year younger to me. We used to run together up and down the hills, scream and hear echo of our own voice, throw stones in valleys… – those were the non-expensive games we played in that remote village.
Was her real name also Saya?? No, but this was the name by which I always addressed her. This name was given by me… One day I was annoyed because of some silly reason and came back to my house by leaving our game incomplete. That day later I found her crying sitting at my uncle’s door for more than two hours. I opened the door and asked her to go back but she hugged me and replied sobbingly,
“I am your Saya (shadow); how can I leave you”.
First time ever I felt hurt by hurting her. Since then my feelings had been different for her – a special one.
When we were kids, we were scared to pass through haunted road to Hindu Cremation ground. People of village and nearby area always said,
“Don’t go there.. It is haunted road … many bad demons live there”.
To pray these demons, people offered food in clay pots along with symbolic masks of demons… hoping these demons of the haunted road would not trouble their ancestors’ souls and would allow the ancestors to rest in peace. We, Saya and I, also used to chant… ”Jai Hanuman.. Jai Hanuman” .. But in adolescence I started loving that haunted road because of privacy I needed to spend time with Saya. This road was only place in that small village where we could spend time together… only we two… My education in city made me not to believe in Black Magic, Haunted area, Upri Hawa, Devi Mata etc, but poor she, the Saya, though she believed in such supernatural and paranormal power, she simply accompanied me on that road holding my hand tightly closer to her body. Her ‘this’ innocent act always multiplied the excitement of staying alone with her at that deserted road.
When I turned 24, with our families’ consent, I got engaged me with Saya. I was overjoyed, almost flying in the air. My childhood love story was going to attain its happy ending like any fairy tale,
“… and they lived happily ever after”.
Next day of our engagement, we met on the same deserted, haunted road. It was drizzling – a perfect romantic evening. She was shyer than ever before. Her face was blushing red. Wet hairs were magnifying her innocent beauty. I found my hand closer to her waist. Suddenly, I grabbed her by her waist, and pulled her in front of me. Our faces were very close to each other’s. In coldness of that evening I could feel warmth of her breaths. I leaned forward my face to lock her lips with mine… Her palm crept between our shivering lips. She murmured,
“They are watching us!!”
I looked around but did not find anyone…
“I don’t see anyone” and hurried my attempt once again to kiss her but in vain.
She signaled, having fear in her dark blue eyes, towards pots kept with food and two demons’ masks on top of them. It was nothing new. This sight was very common on that road. But I got irritated by seeing those colorful demons who were then shining after getting their bloody dust washed away in that romantic rain. One was unaware of our presence keeping a laddu in its mouth as if it wanted to devour whole offering as ransom to rest our ancestors’ soul in peace. Other had the sumptuous late lunch and now seemingly enjoying free rain scene of B-grade Hindi movie. Its pinkish tongue was coming out due to excessive lust greed.
I went near those monsters, gave a deep look in disgust, and kicked both of them.
She shrieked, “Aaaaajjjjjjjjaaaaayyyyyyy….”
The pot and mask were shattered all around the road.. along with my motionless body that was swung in air by a speedy car… I could hear her voice coming deep from other hill getting reflected somewhere from our past…
When I woke up, I found my self on hospital bed. Nurse told me that I had been sleeping for last six months. Suddenly, I realized I could not move my legs. Later I realized I couldn’t even feel anything in my body under the waist.
Lot had changed in six months; Saya was unable to resist much against her family, and instead of marrying someone else she turned herself into ashes by committing suicide.
Today I, as I do on her every death anniversary, am going on wheelchair to that haunted road with pots full of food and with colorful masks of two demons to offer ransom to them to save my love from my sin and let her rest in peace.
I see these two demons laughing at me.