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After that rented room I have earlier narrated about; I shifted to a cheaper lodging as my younger sister, who was awaiting hostel accommodation, was also to live with me. Being what I am, I hadn’t even had a look at the new lodgings which Babloo, the guy I have earlier told you about – my man friday – had located.

It had started raining heavily while we were on our way to the new lodgings after vacating our old one. There was a small carrier vehicle transporting our belongings and my sister and I followed behind in an auto. Babloo led the way in front on my motorbike.

I was stunned to see our new lodgings. A small door from the street led to the front room. There were no windows to it. What lay behind the front room was like a cave. A small yard was there, with a tiny bathroom to the far side of it. Again, a small kitchen lay to the right; and a boxed in room to the left which was meant to serve as sleeping quarters. All this was in near darkness. Over the yard, there was a small rectangular opening on the floor above from which, hardly any sunlight came. The whole thing was stifling and oppressive.

It was obvious that the place wasn’t worth living in. The rain had stopped. I left my sister in the front room, and with Babloo, immediately set out to find new lodgings.

We came back tired without any success. The place inside was in darkness. It had come to be of evening time. There was no response when I pressed the doorbell. Apparently, electricity had gone off. I knocked on the front door; and as soon as I did, calling out my sister’s name, I found the door being immediately opened and my sister looking frantic. It seemed she had been crying also. Later, she confirmed that and told me that after we had left; a great sense of uneasiness and apprehension stole over her and that she had fervently started praying for me to come back.

It was an extremely uncomfortable night that we spent on that day. My sister refusing to be alone even for a minute.

Next day Bablool fell ill. It became so much so that he would vomit even if any fruit juice was put in his mouth. But what was worrying was that he started having nightmares where he would rant and rave. This had never happened to him before, at least not before me and he had been with me for some time. One nightmare which he frequently had, as he told to me, was that someone would sit on his chest and stab him repeatedly. He would have these nightmares even during daytime. Daytime is a wrong word to use, for inside that lodgings, there was no feelings of daytime.

By the third day, he became extremely weak and it started looking that we would have to get him hospitalised, which again was extremely worrisome, as I hardly had any spare money.

That night, since that sleeping room had been arranged; Babloo slept in the front room where it was most comfortable and my sister and I shifted to that tiny sleeping room.

We went to sleep around 10 and I immediately fell into a deep, heavy sleep. I woke up, inexplicably, all of a sudden, to total awareness. I couldn’t say what it was; but there was a kind of freezing fear all around. I say freezing because that’s what it was. My limbs appeared to be frozen with fear and my hair stood on its hackles on my neck.

By tremendous effort, I gathered myself to switch on the lights. I looked at the clock and I was surprised. It was 12 o’clock. Just two hours since we had gone to sleep; but it felt as if I had slept for hours at an end. I checked on my sister. She seemed to be in deep sleep.

I sat there in my bed and it came to my mind that I would have to fight this thing, whatever it was, if we were to continue living there.

I picked up a small torchlight that I had, and mustering everything I had inside me, opened the door to the small enclosed yard that I told you about.

First, I went to the bathroom and switched on the lights there. I willed this thing against me; putting all of me against it. Then, I went to the kitchen. As soon as I opened its door, my hair stood on its end. Even though I couldn’t see anything, there was no doubt that the air inside was laden with an overpowering, oppressive presence. There started growing, I clearly remember, a nameless fear and great apprehension inside me.

I fought with it, stepped further forward and, after some groping on the wall in desperation, managed to switch on the lights. After that, slowly the feeling lifted. In fact, the front room where Babloo was sleeping appeared to be perfectly normal when I went inside and put on the lights there also.

Gradually, everything settled down and started feeling normal; even inside the kitchen where I went to switch off the lights. In fact, I switched off the lights wherever I had put them on and went back to the sleeping room. Surprisingly, both the other two kept sleeping during the entire thing.

Not surprisingly, things were much more normal from the next day onwards except that, after about a week from that incident, around two o’clock in the afternoon Babloo called me to the kitchen and pointed to what looked like a heap of excreta just below the sink. It was a fairly large heap of some kind of inhuman excreta. We looked at it in silence. I told Babloo to drain it off and to put dettol over that particular spot after doing so; taking particular care that my sister saw nothing of it.

We inquired from the neighbourhood grocery shop and were told that no tenant lasted for any reasonable time there and that they all soon left but the shop keeper wasn’t able to say anything more than that.

We ourselves didn’t live there much long. Soon, my sister got her hostel accommodation, and I too shifted elsewhere. We, however, did notice marks and nails on the walls, particularly in the front room, which when described to certain knowledgeable persons in such matters, were informed that they represented a puja or rituals performed to drive away evil spirits.


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