On a summer Friday evening, Sanjeev , a smart 6’3 tall with straight hair was coming back from Pune to his home town which was 7 hour journey , he used to go home on weekends every 15th days. He was wearing a costly Rolex watch and dress in formal as he is coming directly from office.
Sanjeev as a child thought of studding with Fine arts then as it always happen mostly to all, he start his career as copy-writer in a small company, then shifter to advertising and then finally into Marketing Then he thought of turning marketing into a Fine Arts, he become the Marketing Zonal Manager for enter Maharashtra Region. He has made a good name and fame for himself in a short span, his manager’s always praise him for his achievement in such a small age of 28.
Last month he bought a Maruti Swift Vxi, and for the first time he is taking his car to his home town to show it to his parent. In home he has his Father, age 69 but always remain sick, mother 68, He has his younger brother studding BBA in Delhi, Sanjeev, is still a bachelor, his parent has always tried for wedlock but he always refused and keep the discussion incomplete.
It’s around 11.30 PM , he is felling little drowsy , as he is driving for nearly 5 hours moreover had a lot of work in office today and since he has taken leave for two days till Tuesday so he need to complete some extra work also, further he don’t have a habit of driving such long distance constantly.
As he drives, he remember regarding a short cut path, which was rarely used by other public vehicles as they don’t get much passengers in this way, and this roads meet the high way near the toll gate, moreover this road is bare and he can drive fast, this road will make his journey short by almost 1 hour.
So in the next turn he turned towards the short cut way, after going for half an hour or so, his car suddenly make some weird noise, that was very unusual for a new car only one and half month old.
Sanjeev, stop his car is was dark outside as purnima had just pass and nights are dark with no moon beam to support. He open bonnet of his car and keep the head light on, as he has no knowledge of car repair, he kept look into the engine try to get some hint .
But all effort in vain can’t able to identify the problem.
With fret in his eyes, as he know it’s hard to find help in this road and the time is around 12 pass 10 by now ,he thought of walking ahead, if he can find any help or any Garage nearby he started to walk. He lighted his cigarette with new lighter , he don’t smoke much, but as he known’s it will be a long journey so he bought a pack of Gold Flake.
After walking few yards, he found a house with low bulb glowing outside, this brings a smile to his face because he hardly fine a fist of people In this entire short cut road he crossed.
As he walks towards the house, he saw someone is sleeping outside as always happen in India during summer.
He reach near the person , he is short guy hardly 5’4, with dark complexion wearing a grubby cloth with lot of black stain, he is sleeping in a Charpai , a small bed made up of Ropes.
He is having a sound sleep look like a good sleep after long day work; Sanjeev, awake him , “Bhaisahab” means Brother.
The man woke up hastily, give an annoying look at Sanjeev, and asked “Who are you?”
Sanjeev, told him about the glitch with his car and asked him if there is any Garage nearby, the man told him that he is a car mechanic, and this an only garage in this road.
Sanjeev took a deep breath as he can reach home by today, Sanjeev smiled and asked his name. He told “Hari, Sahab”.
Sanjeev told, “Hari, you have to fixed the problem immediately as I have some 150 km more to go, I will pay you some more on top.
Hari asked about the car, Sanjeev showed him the car which was standing few yards away, Hari, took all this equipments and start walking towards the car.
Sanjeev is now relaxed, took out one more cigarette from his pant pocket and search for his Lighter but, he can’t find it, he might have kept it in the car.
So, he asked, Hari whether he has got any light, Hari took out a match box and give it to Sanjeev. Sanjeev, light up his cigarette and gave one cigarette to Hari as well.
The head light was still ON , Hari, quickly examine the car and said “Sir, there is problem with the radiator it will take around 30 min, and asked Sanjeev to sit inside the car, or can have a cup of tea in a nearby tea stall that not far from the road .
Sanjeev saw a small house, with a muddy banner hanging outside, he can’t read as it was dark. He wonders how he missed this house when he first stops his car here.
Anyway, Sanjeev thought of having a cup of tea will worth in such a situation, so he told Hari to call him once the work is done.
As Sanjeev start walking towards the House , he saw one villager walking towards him, as the person came nearby, Sanjeev, saw a man in his 50s with Lanthan , a kind of night lamb, in his hand.
The man asked “Where are you going, sahab” , on reply Sanjeev told, to have a cup of tea in that tea stall, as his car is being repaired and will take some time.
The Man told, “Gayatri’s House” now ,are you crazy ‘Babu’ Go back. Don’t go there. And, the man left.
Sanjeev got stunt and can’t understand the reason why the man told not to go, But he quickly get rid just what happened, and walked towards the house.
He knocks the door,’ a voice of aged women came” Who is it?”
I am stranger said Sanjeev, want a cup a tea, “can you please open the Door”.
Women said “Sorry we are closed come in the morning. We don’t open door for Stranger’s at night.
Sanjeev said ” My car had a problem, and it is being repaired, I need a cup of tea, sorry for bothering you. Thank you anyway I am leaving.”
Wait! Sahab, a voice of a young lady came, Sanjeev heard voice of two ladies whispering “Mother, that gentleman seems well-mannered; he really might need some tea”.
Then again, came the aged ladies voice,” Sunita, you know your Brother and your Father, they don’t like any strangers coming to our house at night, you still ….”
Sunita” No mother they are not here and also it will take just few minutes, I am opening the door you make tea for him”
Sanjeev heard sound of the opening Door, he saw a Girl in her 20s, long hair well tied, slim figure, beautiful eyes, wearing a salwar quite old threads started to come out of her dress but still sparkling, came out.
The girl, asked sanjeev to come in, with a smile in her eyes. Sanjeev, thanked her for her kindness and goes in.
The house has two room cleanness welled maintained, but by the first look anyone can say, they are deprived.
The Girl greets Sanjeev and close the door and offer him a chair, Sanjeev, got charmed by her first appearance, He asked “Your name is Sunita” she nodded her head, says “yes”.
After a while the Sunita’s Mother came with a cup of tea, and give it to Sanjeev, she told “My husband and my son don’t like visitor’s at night, and often create trouble”.
As the discussion was going on suddenly sanjeev heard, “Open the door now, we want the stranger we will kill him how dare he “. Sanjeev , heard cacophony of voices a outside the door, among them two voices are prominent.
Again the door bang continues, “Let him out”, otherwise we will break the door”.
Sunita’s mother whispered “ I knew it will happen, God help us, please not again “.
Sunita’s Mother asked sunita to take sanjeev to the next Room. She told “I will take care of them”.
By saying this, she shouted “ He is a good man , he had a problem in car , so I called him to have some tea, please you all leave, not again anymore”
A husk tone came from outside,” You Fool , His sort of High society people, always make fool of us, they come , and with some sweet talk, make relation with our Daughter’s and then Disappear forever, he bamboozle you ,Don’t you remember “Megha”, she had to commit suicide.
Sanjeev could not understand anything, what’s going on, So he asked Sunita.
Again, the sound came , “Let him out” voice of young man . Sunita told Sanjeev, that the persons outside, is her Father and Brother along with some other Villagers, they often comes at night and if they find any strangers in their home, they kill them.
Sanjeev asked “ what about the police , these people are murderess and should be punished, why don’t police take any criminal proceedings ”
Sunita,” Police sahib, Punishment, but they have already being punished, my father and my brother was hanged six years back”.
Sanjeev , stood up “What! they are dead?”.
Sunita once again nod her head, By the time Sunita’s Mother came in, and said “ Sahab, you please stand inside the Circle, she showed Sanjeev a circle inside the room, again she added, you will be safe here, they can’t attack you , This is the place where their bodies were kept before the rituals.
The Banging of door continues, hard and hard, Sunita mother said” I think they are going to break the door today, God help us”.
Sunita’s Mother asked sunita to take sahib, from back door to Banwari’s uncle House, she will try to stop them here, Fast bete, and she added “Before anything wrong happens”.
Sunita hold Sanjeev hand in her hand and ran towards the back door, It was small 3’’ feet door, Sanjeev had to crawl down to get out.
It was dark outside, Sanjeev could hear the bang in front of the house, and they both ran towards Banwari Uncle’s house.
On reaching there, Sunita knock the door hard, a sound came from inside “Kon hai” a sound a elderly man came . Sunita replied “ Sunita, uncle please open the door.”
Banwari Uncle, “Wait, I am coming” He opened the door.
He said “what happens to you, is your mother ok “Who is he? He asked by look at Sanjeev .
Sunita replied,” he is a stranger passing by, stop to have a tea in your house, but my father and brother came, you know the rest; please help him allow us to stay here for sometime”
“No, you can’t stay , I don’t want to plunge into it ” Sanjeev saw a lady may be Banwari’s Wife came out, and shouted at Banwari “ You Know all , but still, I can’t allow this happen”.
Sunita requested Chachi, means aunty, please help us.
And then suddenly, the horde sound came outside Banwari’s house, a voice “ Banwari, you was my friend , please don’t allow us to hurt you, let the stranger out.”
Sunita said,” Father is here, what do I do”?
Banwari said, “Bete, I can’t stop them, I better you take Sahab to the Kali temple, the pandit kaka will be there , asked him to give Maa Kali’s tilak to both of you, Once this is done that sprit can’t do anything, God is still greater than the Ghost.”May God be with you”. Now don’t think hurry up.
Sanjeev , don’t understand what to do he was Scared , he has never in such a situation ever, He prayed to God to save him, He also started to be fond of sunita, and her efforts to save him.
Banwari open the back door and said “ Sunita , take care, now hurry”and give an axa
Sunita again hold Sanjeev’s hand they ran, sanjeev followed sunita, he don’t have habit of running, his breath fastened. He still ran fast as he could.
They reached the temple; it was closed as the clock says 12.45 AM by now.
Sunita knock the temple door, “ Pujari ji, she shouted “Open the door please”
After few loud shout by Sunita “ Pujari Ji, replied “Wait I am coming”.
Pujari ji open the door and says “ Sunita, you now what’s wrong” then Sunita showed Sanjeev and narrated him the whole story, and asked pujari ji to give Maa Kali’s Tilak to both of them.
Pujari ji rush inside the temple and brought some Sindur, a kind of red powder considered as holy in the Hindus.
He put the Sindur in their forehead , and spell a Mantra, a prayed to god. And then says “ Sunita , Babu, your both are safe now, no evil spirits can’t do any harm to you, God is with you now “
A small relax smile came in both their faces, a feeling of relax, Sanjeev hold Sunita’s hand and thanked her for saving his life, and also told her there he will never ever forget her. Sunita replied him with a smile.
As they turn back to return , Sunita shouted “Baba!”, Sanjeev saw a group of people with Axe and Stick waiting outside the temple, and laughing at them, One of them shouted Sunita, “Move away from him”.
Sunita told Sanjeev that this person is her brother and asked Sanjeev to hold her hand tight, she said” Sunil Bhaiya, You can’t do anything to us now, we are in the temple with Maa’s Tilak on our forehead, and you don’t have power to fight with God.”
After Hearing Sunita, they all started to laugh loudly saying “ Temple, A place of God”.
Sanjeev could not understand why they are laughing neither do Sunita, Sanjeev looked at Pujari ji , and find him laughing too, in a strangely manner.
Then Sunita father replied “ Look Darling where are you standing”, to a utter surprise they suddenly found them near a bamboo bush, surrounded by Ghost villagers, the pujari ji turned into a Pale villagers with no eyes.
Sunita shouted “Sanjeev, Run, this way”,
They ran , and the ghosts followed them, they ran into the bushes , suddenly a men came in front of Sanjeev with Stick in his hand, Sanjeev couldn’t understand what to do, he took his axe give by Banwari kaka, and hit that men on his head, Spring of blood came out, the man fall down.
Sunita Shouted Sanjeev “What have you done, he was not among them, he was a living villager came to help me, and your killed him”
Sanjeev stood still, saying “ I Killed a person, I am a murderer, I should confess this to police”
Sunita said, “No time to think now, just run save yourself”
And Ran again, suddenly sunita called Sanjeev “ Sanjeev , look there is a bicycle you take it, and ride as fast as you can get out of this village”
Sanjeev denied saying “No , Sunita, I cant live you all alone here like this, you have to come along with me”.
Sunita “ No, that is not possible, I can’t come with you, beside I don’t have any threat they wanted to kill you not me, I am safe here, you run and save yourself, I will be fine,” she added “ there is police station half a kilometer from here, you can asked them for help, now please go”.
Sanjeev hold sunita’s hand a told her I will come to take you wait for me. By saying this Sanjeev ride the bicycle fast as he could.
After riding for a while he saw a signboard “Police Station, Kunda”
He parked the bi-cycle, and when inside the Police station, the police station was old with lot of black patches in the wall, sanjeev saw two constable and sub-inspector seating, and talking among themselves.
Sanjeev rush inside said “ Help me Sir, I have committed a murder”
Inspector stood up by hearing the word “Murder”
Inspector, said” Murder what, what happen, tell me in details”, the inspector asked his constable to give a glass of water to Sanjeev.
After having a glass of water, Sanjeev stared tell him the whole story.
Inspected shouted at Sanjeev suddenly“ Are you dunked, are you out off your mind, what you saying”
Sanjeev replied “ Sir, what you are talking about, it’s all true, I have killed one villager accidently”, and the girl Sunita life is in danger they might kill her, you have to help me”.
Inspector said,” Cool down, Sanjeev there is no village nearby, I am posted here for last eight years”
Sanjeev Uttered “ what” , then what was that, sanjeev can’t believe what he is hearing , he said to the inspector , Sir Sunita save my life, it is because of her I am alive she gave me the bi-cycle to run.”
Inspector told “Where is the bi-cycle can I see it?”
Sanjeev “ yes, I have parked it near the gate, I will show you ” they walked towards the police station gate where he have kept the bi-cycle”.
Inspector asked Sanjeev ” Is this the bi-cycle”, Sanjeev saw a old bi-cycle with no tier and no sit, not possible to ride at all.
Sanjeev asked inspector, to believe him, he just now came this bi-cycle it was good condition.
The Inspector laugh and asked Sanjeev to have a sit, then the inspector tells him the history of this place.
There was once a village there 10 years back, the villages always loves to do theater in their village all villagers participate in it, once while performing a play the village caught fire it was huge fire and almost all villages died in that incident.
But, now also they didn’t led the acting talent fail, they often design a plot and if any strangers come or pass by the play begins.
The Inspector added “They are not harmful, they will never harm you, take my word ,check your car it will be working fine by now”.
Sanjeev can’t believe the inspector at all , with contradicting to what he has seen, so asked inspector to please come along with him to the spot.
The Inspector agreed, they all went to the village in police van, Sanjeev got surprise , there was nothing no village , only few burn broken house, his hair stood up,” how it could happen” he think in his mind, he can still fell the smell of Sunita.
Sanjeev stood still for a while , then back to his senses , by now he understand the whole drama, he laugh at himself of being one of the lead character in their drama, He went towards his car and try to start it , Good God, it got started in one self only.
Sanjeev came out of his car, and turn to the inspector to say “Thank you” But strange there was no one, the inspector, two constable and also the police van all disappear.
Sanjeev understood that the play has not been ended; He drove his car fast ………. Until he reach home