It was summer, year 1989. Unusually, this time, the climate was rather a bit cool. Even though the sun of April was shining above my head, the dark clouds would use to hide it pretty now and then. Due to the poor harvest in my grandpapa’s fields too, I couldn’t enjoy the juicy alphonsoes. My petty savvy mind was already rolled over with quirky thoughts by then. And I knew that something dark was approaching my life. I have this great adulation towards psychology and astrology and I strongly believe in the universe and the destiny.
That summer was a divergent one. I live in a row house, which is quite spatial and full of people. My life was never dull until that summer. Waking up late, enjoying at school, then playing in the evening and hearing to grandma’s tales- this is how my day goes on. Summers are usually filled with games, cousins, mangoes and swimming trails.
The Sharmas- my neighbor are of a good kind. Although they have shifted to their new flat now, I still have some good childhood memories with them. Their bungalow now, which lie besides ours, goes on rent. The renters till date have also been very affable and kind. The last one, Meera, I remember, always treated me with chocolates. And before them there used to live an old woman with her pup. I enjoyed a lot with them too. But in the beginning of 1989, a new man rented the Sharmas’ house.
At first I was disheartened as the goodies I used to get were at stake. Obviously I disliked Meera’s decision to move out, but I couldn’t force destiny. So I awaited cheerfully for the next guest to come by. I still remember the day he arrived. It took me two months to get to know his name. This was the longest I took till date for an introduction with a neighbor. I am convivial type of person, talkative and outspoken; but this man made me taste silence.
It was a lovely day on which he arrived. It was a new month, a new year and things were very fresh. The winds were heating slowly and the flora was burgeoning tardily. The birds had started chirping and the crickets stridulating. Spring was leaping and the summer had began to hum. I was sitting on my armchair, in my verandah, reading a sci-fi magazine. There, all of sudden, I heard a cacophonous sound of a horn. I closed my eyes tightly and kept the magazine away. I opened my eyes and saw a red car in front of me. I stared at its door, awaiting for someone to reply, but the door didn’t open.
I continued reading my magazine. After fifteen minutes, a truck loaded with furniture and other things arrived and was parked behind the red car. I kept my magazine away, and got up. The red door opened, and a man, stout and fat, with thick beard and curly shabby hairs came out.
“Wow!!..What!!” This were my first expressions when I saw him. He spoke something hastily to the driver and got all his furniture down in his new house. I was standing at my door, at a distance from him, and staring over the walls. He looked scary enough. He seemed to be a short tempered guy. He seemed to be in a rush. I could always hear his shrill voice piercing. He was always at the workers neck and his that attitude did pinch me.
I decided not to converse with him that day, he seemed really pissed off. I could feel some negative vibes from his soul, his face seemed disturbed. But next few days prove me wrong. The next morning I heard a chime ringing at the morning at five. At first I was feeling drowsy, but then the tune lightened up my mood. I opened my window and moved the curtains. There I my opposite window, I saw some incense sticks burning and flavored smell spreading all over. I heard a low voice, of some prayers entering into my ears. The atmosphere was heavenly and I was mesmerized. The same thing was carried on for few weeks. I was actually convinced that he wasn’t a psycho. But I couldn’t get time to interact with him in those few weeks. Our times hardly matched and my exams were ongoing. But as soon as March set its foot in, I was totally free.
I had decided to meet him. It was a Sunday afternoon. After playing football for a while, I was back home again. That night, granny was narrating me the tale of the ghost who resides in the shadows of the trees. Her story was quite amazing but it didn’t convince my scientific thoughts. But amusingly, as she ended the story that night, I heard a sharp voice. At first I thought it was my mind which was playing a game with me, but after a while I heard the same voice again. A sharp gargling voice, followed by a swift sound of spitting. When the third time I heard the same voice, I woke up and sat on my bed. I switched on my bedlam and went to granny.
“Granny are you trying to play with me?” I asked her very straightforwardly, but before she could answer, I heard the same voice again.
“Who’s that?” I said in a bedazzled way.
Then I heard the same for the whole night. The next morning when I woke up, I was welcomed by the same sound. I knew where it was coming from. I quickly ran through my verandah, passed by the common wall and knocked at the door opposite. I waited for a while and knocked again. After a passage of ten minutes, the strange man open the door. He was in his boxers and nothing on the top. His chest was full of hairs and so was his belly which was protruding out like a potato. I saw the look at his face. A drowsy, sleepy face with white liquid gathered over his lips and mouth and his unhygienic beard. I slightly peeped into his room. It was all a mess. A pungent smell tucked in my nose when I peeped in, and I ran away seeing his rolling big eyes.
The noise continued day in and day out for few days and at last I was pissed off. That mystery guy would use to spit here and there and everywhere. His appearance was pathetic and his voice was unappealing. One day he even tried to spit in one of my potted plant. I was fed up with his strange activities and I had complained about him to the Sharmas.
“His name is Alok Kumar,” said Mrs. Sharma “He is an IIT graduate.”
She told me all about Alok. His description was quite powerful and appealing. When I heard the word IIT I got calmed. Yes, I desire to be an IITian, but after seeing Alok, I was a bit confused. During the festival of Holi, I had seen him playing with everyone, very normal; but he actually never interacted with anyone. He was like an open mystery.
One strange thing that I had observed was that he would lock his door and keep the key in his window, all open. Also during morning times, I had observed him speaking, speaking in a different tone, a vulgar tone with someone. It seemed as if there was someone else residing in that house too. Every morning when I would go for swimming, on the way, I would hear two suspicious voices conversing in an unlikely language and tone. These noises made me inquisitive to know what’s happening behind the walls.
Alok always dressed up in a very formal getup each morning. I had observed him while he went for work; fully suited-booted with oiled hairs and a white imprint of God on his forehead. I could always hear is door hinges during odd hours. I could always smell his stuffy room while walking beside his door. I could always here his gargling voices throughout the summers. This man was really invoking the detective inside me.
One such afternoon I decided to get into his house. I knew where he used to hide his key. After he had gone to his office, I got the key from near the window and I opened his door. I could hear the hinges. The room was very dark. He hardly used to open his windows. I tried to switch on the lights, but not one was working. I didn’t dare to open the windows, because I didn’t want him to notice that someone had broken into his house. As I progressed each step forward, I could smell different types of smells, of rotten food, dirty clothes and what not. I knew the house well, but when I found it in this state, the vicinity itself felt to be anew for me.
There was intense darkness inside. I went to his bedroom. I turned back and saw, it felt as if I had travelled into nowhere. I couldn’t see anything behind me, except the tenebrous shadows. Nothing was visible. As I opened the door of his bedroom, a chime began whispering all over the house, the same one as I had heard only before during his initial stay. The room smelled floral, different from the other rooms. The room was dark too, but more likely foggy. I felt like I had kissed the firmaments. I closed my eyes and started contemplating. But then suddenly a strange sound clicked into my ears. I heard a laugh. I could see the fog breaking apart. I saw a big mirror in front of me. I could see myself in that mirror, but in that reflection, I could see the summer dancing. I closed my eyes and turned to my right. I again saw myself, but with strange things around, with galaxies and stars. I again turned back, and I saw huge weapons besides me. I turned round in a circle. The fog had totally disappeared. But the voices were still whispering to my soul. My head was literally paining. I turned towards the door and ran out. The fog inside had spread all over the house and so did the laughter. As I moved, I could hear the guns, the songs, the stars and the wicked laughs. The gargling sound too trickled my mind, and I ran hastily out of the villa, without even locking the door.
For the first time in my life had that house been so haunted for me. I decided not to glance at it since then. For a week, I was silent. My grandparents were really worried about me. They did try to communicate with me, but I couldn’t explain them I worries. When mom and dad came to know about these happenings, they forced me to tell them the truth.
I narrated them the story and they all rolled in laughter. I could sense the humor, but their laughs just made me remind of that haunted house. The next day, mom called Mrs.Sharma and told her about the happenings. Mrs. Sharma altruistically decided to help me out. But before she could, a lot did happen.
That night, I decided to knock at the door. I wanted to unravel that mystery. Those reflections, those images. I knocked thrice. I heard the gargle and Alok opened the door. He rolled his eyes over and widened them. He didn’t utter a word, nor did I. After a bit a staring, he grabbed my hands and dragged me in. I was so scared, that I couldn’t utter a single word. He took me in his arms and carried me away to his room. The room was dark. He dropped me down in the room. I could see the mirrors all over, but I didn’t find the weird reflections this time.
“What is this?” I asked him genuinely.
He remained silent and just smiled. He grabbed me again and forced me towards the mirrored wall. I could hear small whispers travelling through my ears. He almost drew me close to the mirrors. Suddenly the reflections changed. A vivid flash of light ran over my eyes. I could see scintillating stars all over. I could see myself standing amidst them, but I couldn’t see Alok. I turned back, and he wasn’t there. I touched the mirror and surprisingly my hand sunk into it. I was baffled and scared and so ran away.
I went silently over my bed and slept without conversing with anyone. I couldn’t sleep that night. My mind was always vagabonding over the reflections of my shadows. I was constantly staring at the ceiling in awe. The intensity of the darkness in my life had increased. I closed my eyes to lower its effect.
I was running through my thoughts as they were going wild.
I could see a dull reflection of myself in the wall. I got up from my bed and walked towards the wall. I tried to catch my reflection, but I failed. Then all of a sudden, I heard a door cringing downstairs. I knew who it was; and I swiftly ran towards the window. I saw the shady figure traversing towards my home. His shadow showcased his emotions, so dark and full of wrath. I ran towards the door and peeped through the eyehole.
I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…” And the doorbell rung. I didn’t open the door. It rung again. I remained still. I heard him spitting. He rang again. I didn’t open the door. I saw through the eyehole. He took some steps behind and ran towards my door in anger. I got aside and screamed aloud.
I woke up, and realized that it was just a dream. My parents were literally scared by the way I behaved. As soon as the sun rose, Mrs. Sharma was called by and we accompanied her to her house. She already told us that Alok had left early in the morning. She told us that he was suffering from a strange incurable disease. I was relieved. The windows of the house were opened after a long time. As the door was opened, I ran to his bedroom. To my surprise, the mirrors were still present there, but only in a shattered state. The walls seemed weird and I could see my broken reflections around, in a normal way. The mirrors made me think, judge my psychology and his.