That frosty, blood-curdling evening of 9 September is a day that I can never forget in my life. This is a day which I think is an eye-opener for all you skeptics [like me!!!] out there who query the presence of ghosts and evil spirits!!!! Ghosts indeed hover, skulk, laugh, screech and live in this world, people!!! And who knows, they can also be an indiscernible ghost next to your layout!!!! And if you flatly refuse a phantom lingering in your layout then I hope this revelation can persuade you to think otherwise. Read on……………
Like I said it was the 9 of September and the time in the clock read 7:00 pm. Shreyas, Varsha and I- the teen trios, were the only ones bereft of in Shreyas’ palatial bungalow. Shreyas is my cousin brother and Varsha is my sister. All our other relatives who convened at his abode yesterday, had today left his domicile at wee hours so that they can reach Domlur [my grand aunt stays there.] on time and can be present on the occasion to remember my late grandfather on his 44th death anniversary. We were also constrained to go along with them, but one look my mom had at our reluctant faces, she deciphered that we were teens and we like any other teen wanted to spend most of our limited time to the fullest and that too alone. So she thankfully approved over our staying here.
Now, to a share a bit of information on the layout where my cousin resides it is H.S.R layout and mark my words clearly it is H.S.R layout- the Bermuda Triangle of South Bangalore!!!! You can envisage the clear picture of this sobriquet when I elucidate more about it to you. Situated in the vicinities of a national highway, you can evidently etch out a place that lives in the constant jeopardy of murders, thefts, accidents, robbery, mugging, abduction etc. and more etc. of the interminable list of woes. Not a very avuncular environ to live in. Nevertheless, to evade such blood –scintillating circumstances almost half of the layout is encompassed with pet dogs beaming in each and every aristocratic facade. Fortunately or unfortunately, [actually fortunately, because I am quite scared of dogs.] Shreyas’ posh house is not in favor of dogs though he has a fetish for them. So this dog maniac often plays with many stray dogs near his abode with his group of friends. He is very well aware of my trepidation for dogs and so deliberately commands a servile dog or even an endearing pup to chase me. As I run up the stairs that lead up to the house in a jiffy, he along with his acquaintances and Varsha burst out laughing. “Shame on you Shilpa, you’re so scared of a little pup,” Varsha says with difficultly as she engages herself in a rib tickling mirth. “He’s not a pup, he’s a fiend,” I retort back with exasperation from the balcony. “Chummi, Chummi,” Shreyas beckons the pup and he yaps contentedly and darts towards his master who gives him a bear hug, embraces him and brandishes him towards me and daunts me amidst the titters from his worthless gang. This ‘hilarity’ at least persists each and every time we pay a visit to his house.
But not anymore. This has become a matter of history and a matter of unfathomable nostalgia when we or rather Shreyas remembers it.
We were in the terrace at 7.30pm when Varsha enquired to a very concave Shreyas, “What’s the matter with you?? You were not like this at morn or noon. Why is there a sudden caprice in you now? Your despondency is clearly perceptible in this despondent night. I really know that your character never intermingles with your sepulchral layout. Why is it so this evening???? “Well nothing serious, I actually get my mood swings when I mull over about Chummi,” he replied hollowly. “Chummi, now what about him???” I quipped tentatively. “Well, he’s sort of........well, he expired,” Shreyas faltered as Varsha and I gasped in unison. We did not expect such a rude kick in our teeth. “What!! Are you kidding? He was in the pink the last time we visited him. He was such a fit fiddle the last time he quarried me. What happened to him now?? Impossible, unfeasible, impractical!!!!” I bellowed stunned. “Why do you even care a wink about him??? I thought you reviled Chummi,” my sister raised a brow. “I was scared of Chummi, I agree, but that doesn’t mean I loathed him. He was so cherubic, so charismatic, so alluring so…………” words failed me. “Well actually two weeks back, to be precise Chummi acted very eccentrically, he was strangely feverish. Only after two days did we get a wind that he had rabies. We were dead scared to venture anywhere near Chummi. He became a pain in the neck for the slum dwellers who nurtured him at a tender age when, he was abandoned by his mother. What can we do if his fosterers themselves deem him as a menace? So we helplessly watched those people mixing poison with his daily victuals. We watched Chummi golfing down the food ravenously. After a few seconds, he had his forty winks out of fatigue. And he slept forever. The queer part was that he maintained his sangfroid when his last minutes approached that no other animal in its sanity could have done. Chummi was so hyperactive when he had rabies or even before that, I presume. Not even once had I espied him so composed and serene. He did not yowl in pain when the poison burned down his throat. He smiled, he groggily smiled, as if he had foreseen his death and was elated to die. At the same time, I thought his countenance presaged something gruesome is going to happen in this layout. And it did happen,” at this juncture Shreyas who had recapitulated the array of events shuddered with convulsions that I had for the first time seen in my life. “What happened???” Varsha interrogated and broke the eerie silence. “Well the dogs or rather the stray dogs keep howling day and night incessantly and they never come near us, they look daggers drawn at us as if we were some malevolent spirits. They are howling, I know, and it is disconcerting me, not because that I am not able to sleep at night but because I cannot interpret their howls. They start howling like barmy wolves during odd intervals; sometimes during day sometimes during night.” “
Yes!!!! I do remember some dogs hollering yesterday night but I just admonished it as a customary exercise of these hounds during 12 o clock [the Yamaganda or the God of Death’s idyllic time] to ward of evil spirits.” I exclaimed. “Actually the death of Chummi was not a natural case of ageing nor was it due to some diseases. It was also not a sheer road accident. It was a well-planned, atrocious massacre by the slum dwellers. In such cases the ghosts and spirits of the exploited victim, flit around the place they were cremated till their retribution is avenged……” Varsha said as Shreyas interrupted her, “But it is only a mere dog’s death.” “So, you mean to say that dogs do not have emotions or feelings?? Shreyas, we as humans should learn to have compassion even for the smallest flea. Now where was I?? Yes, so Chummi’s ghost is hovering around your layout and the other dogs are construing information from him and are howling frantically to either ward of his’ evil spirits or to retaliate at Chummi’s killers so that they can rest his soul in peace,” with this
Varsha ceased her impassioned articulation. There was a small hiatus which we chose to lull over the terrace‘s hard and uncomfortable floor.
I took the initiative this time to break the silence that ensued, and bombarded with questions, “So whimsical, this is. Chummi died a very tranquil death but in authenticity he wanted to, I think avenge the brutality he was assailed upon. Do you possibly think he had rabies or was he just endeavoring to grapple against some thing or someone or for himself or for his whole pack???? He might have also behaved frenziedly to accomplish something but when he failed, he might have saddled the responsibility to his other members to achieve this unknown thing. This explains as to why he was inexplicably hyperactive throughout his life because he wanted to trail down something. He was calm during his last seconds because he thought his other members might pass with flying colors in this task. He felt that he should retreat from this task voluntarily and let others do it and so wanted to peg away. He might have hinted to you about the deep seas going to happen in an oblique manner, as you were his most especial master………” “Are you round the bend??? Where did you get these new fangled ideas from??? You read all these dim-witted horror stories, you nerdy birdie,” tantalized Shreyas as Varsha said, “I think she has a point Shreyas, you cannot defy it. Anyways let us forget the complicated hunches for now. First and the foremost, Shreyas where did you char Chummi’s carcass??” “Under the tamarind tree, round the corner of this main road.” “Oh!! My God!!!! Tamarind trees are known as an abode to evil spirits that take refuge under it,” I screamed, angst-ridden. Varsha ignored me and like a sleuth questioned “Next, did the slum dwellers really poison Chummi because he was rabid or with some other intention??? I think we need to inspect the tamarind tree where he was cremated, now.” “No ways. It is already 9:30 pm. Are you game for it??? And I do not believe in your mumbo – jumbo baloneys. I think it is only the normal howling of the dogs and I have been amplifying it, I suppose,” cried Shreyas as he disengaged himself from the head aching mystery when, suddenly the howling of the dogs ensued. “It is only 9:30 and not 12:00 as yet!!!” I screeched. “We really need to investigate,” said Varsha obstinately.
It was a heart throbbing moment for us and as we were busy coming to a decision whether to go out or not, suddenly a big soggy tongue licked me and I woke up startled. I screamed in terror as I saw Chummi’s honey eyes. I was sleeping in an auto that led me to Shreyas’ place with Varsha and my mom. Grandpa’s bereavement ceremony was not yet over. “I am sorry if I had scared you to your toes but that was the only way we could find to rouse you up from your deep slumbers,” apologized a very jocund Shreyas. “That’s okay, that’s okay,” I confirmed. “You are incorrigible, Shilpa!!!” my mother cried in steep antagonism and she continued, “Had it not been for Shreyas the auto driver would have even agreed to take you away with him!!!” Everyone burst out in peals of laughter as I bemused “Had it not been for Shreyas, I, entrapped in that hagridden nightmare would even have agreed to die in my sleep.” How flummoxing and real was that nightmare!!!!! Or, was it that the Eternal Dispenser foretold me these incidents for a purpose? Now, why should I squander my time thinking on harrowing nightmares??? Shreyas continued to intimidate me with Chummi and I felt it was better that Chummi died. “I am sorry children, but I think you have to convoy with us to periyamma’s house for Thatha’s Devasam. [Grandpa’s bereavement ceremony.] So do sleep early. Buck up,” my mother commanded after she had the consent of our other affinities on Varsha’s and Shreyas’ proposal about our secluded stay for a whole day in his bungalow. While the other two groaned unremittingly, I was the only one who chirped ecstatically, “At your behest mom!!!”