It has been 2 days since I locked myself in this room after coming back home. Every hour, every minute, every second, that incident still haunts me. Shiver runs down my spine whenever it crosses my mind. What happened that night!?
You know, sometimes the things that scare us the most are not actually things. We cannot see them but they can. We cannot touch them but we are afraid they can and they may even hurt us if they wish to do so. And all we can do is just feel their presence, somewhere right beside us. Observing our every move very closely. They are all set just waiting for the right time to show up. And I guess that is the most terrifying thing.
I neither believed in God nor in the existence of demons, unsatisfied souls or whatever you like to call them. But after that night I've begun to believe in both. It was the time of winter breaks. I was into my graduation at that time. Jodhpur is my hometown. Being a Rajasthani and having to deal with the scorching heat, hills and colder regions always attracted me. Whenever I had few days off, me and my sister would travel to Nainital. My elder brother who served for the Indian Army was posted over there. I used to have a great time at his place with my sister-in-law and their children. But this time, I'm here alone, without my sister. A year ago, she died. That accident left me behind and took her far away from us. She was the closest to me and we both cared too much about each other. Now when she is not here I just wanted to run from everything around me.
My brother called me here so that I won't stay depressed during my vacation. His bungalow stood on the slope of a small hill. And the other houses were very sparsely located. The ferns which used to add to the beauty of the place in the day time, made the surroundings look mysterious at night. This place was like my second home but this time it didn't make me feel like a home. This trip was not like the usual ones. Something was not same as before. Everything looked same, but without my sister, this place felt lifeless to me.
The guest room, where I used to sleep was more in the outer front portion of the house. I was half asleep; the state of mind when you are just about to doze off and at the same time your senses are partially aware of what is happening around you. That night was quite freezing. As I was very tired after spending the day with kids I didn't even care about my blanket, half of which was falling off my bed. Just then I heard the chiming sound of payal in the backyard. I could feel the footsteps approaching towards me. Slowly, very slowly. Then I could feel it enter my room, came closer to me. Took my blanket and covered me with it properly. I was literally very much comforted after that. Then again that sound of payal trailed straight towards the backyard through the same course from which it had come. Chan, chan, chan and the sound was lost into the darkness of silence. Must be Bhabhi, I thought and went back to sleep again.
Next morning, all of us gathered for breakfast. Bhabhi asked, "Morning dear, had a good sleep?"
"Oh yes, thanks to you, you saved me from the chills last night!"
Confused, she asked, "How did I save you?"
I was surprised, "Yes, of course you did! Didn't you come to my room around midnight and cover me up with the blanket?"
Not having any clue about what I was saying she said, "No dear, I was fast asleep by then!"
This whole thing started turning little creepy, "Impossible. I heard your footsteps and the sound of the payal which you were wearing."
She laid out her feet in front of me saying, "Payal? I don't wear any!"
At that very instance I turned blue. I stood up, went straight to pack my stuff and spoke to my brother about leaving back to my own house. He didn't understand what happened and neither I wanted to explain. Everybody was asking, "What happened, you okay? Is something wrong?"
But I didn't stay there to answer. I asked my brother to let me go back in the next bus itself and gave the reason that I'm not well to stay here.
When I was back home, I asked myself,
"Who was she?"
I was sitting on the ground while supporting my back with the bed. I saw the picture of my sister hanging on the wall, smiling like always and then I noticed her payal It was gifted by me on her 15th birthday.
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