Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lady in Black - Part 2


This is a part of an ongoing story, if you haven't read Part 1, you can catch up with it here.


The next day dawned hot and bright. The Sharmas, delirious in their excitement for having found the right house, quickly checked out of the hotel, rented a cab and drove down to their new address – No. 6, 6th main road, Porur, Chennai 116. 

As Ramesh fiddled with the keys, he looked up at the house for a brief second.  “It looks as alluring as it did yesterday” he told himself, banishing from his mind the meeting they had with Lalitha that morning after leaving the hotel.

Lalitha had looked nervous to say the least. She had seemed on the edge as she handed over the papers for him to sign. He had asked her if she wasn't feeling well, but she had insisted that everything was fine. Though not convinced, Ramesh had not pushed any further, but the drop of sweat he saw rolling down her brow in the air conditioned room and the sigh of relief he was sure he had heard when the papers were signed, told him a different story. He had felt unsettled all through the drive to the new house. Komal had seemed to notice it as well but made no mention of it.

The gentle thud and clinking sound of the key bunch falling out of his hands and onto the ground shook him out of his thoughts. He opened the door quickly and they entered the house they would call their home for the time to come. 

The first few weeks saw the Sharmas busy settling down in the new home. But they seemed to face obstacles which were unusual and hard to resolve. Like the hunt for a domestic help. They left word with the local grocer and vegetable vendor but no one turned up for work. Even when Ramesh went personally to inquire about maids in the neighbourhood he was met with unfathomable stares whenever the door was not slammed on his face. Unable to make out what was going on but not one who would give such behaviour much thought, he dialed a maid service agency and hired a help to assist with the moving in process.

Cobwebs had created a thick coat across all ceilings while the bookshelves and inbuilt cupboards were layered with inches of dust. No wonder the dusting had taken more than a week, but finally the house was beginning to smell fresh and airy and things were falling into place, he thought feeling happy when the maid came running down to him, with a frown etched all over her face.

“Sir, there seems to be a problem” 
“What is it now?” 
“The painting on the landing, the portrait of the lady, it is rather dusty and…” 
“Oh yes!” said Ramesh cutting her off. “I have been meaning to take it down; probably the previous owners left it behind… take it off, now is a good time to get rid of it”
“But Sir, that is the problem, it cannot be removed” said the maid. The frown had turned into a look of fear. 
“Cannot be removed? How is that possible?” asked Ramesh as he made his way up the stairs to the landing area.

There it was, a life size portrait of a young girl who seemed to be in her teens, draped in a black sari, sitting on a chair. She had dark piercing eyes and a solemn look; an expression that seemed to want to convey a message to the person she must have been looking at. The painting was nothing special, nor did the artwork seem out of the ordinary. What stood out were the lady and her expression. They were enough to make a shiver run down the spine of anyone who took a good look at the painting.

Ramesh tried repeatedly, but the painting wouldn't budge. He brought out his tool kit and tried to wedge it off the wall but it stayed put. The lady seemed to be mocking him with that stately look, a look that suddenly made him feel all cold. A feeling that reminding him of what Lalitha had said the day before.. of the house being cold... had she meant this he wondered just as the sound of breaking glass reverberated through the entire house.

Quickly he and the maid ran off to the kitchen, that’s where the sound seemed to have come from. They found Sonia standing there with a stricken look, frozen to the ground.

“Are you ok Princess?” asked Ramesh, closing his hand around Sonia’s and giving her a hug. He had sensed from the look on her face that this wasn't the time to question the damage or what had caused it. He silently gestured to the maid to get a glass of water which he made Sonia drink.

“I don’t know Daddy, Mummy had asked me to wipe the crockery and arrange it in the cabinet. I was busy doing that when I saw a shadow loom over the wall but there was nobody in the room other than me…how could there have been a shadow? When I turned around I thought I saw a lady near the back door but she was gone before I could see her properly…it was scary!” her teeth clattered and she broke down into sobs as she clung onto her father.

“Shush…It’s ok Princess, it must have been your tiredness showing up. You have been helping out so much and have hardly had any sleep”. Ramesh consoled his daughter till she had calmed down. For how long they sat there at the dining table, he did not know…when he looked out of the window, the sun had almost set and the first specks of darkness had begun to make their appearance. Komal was yet to get back from the market and the maid had left for the day.

He got up to fix a quick snack for the two of them when on an impulse he turned around and asked his daughter “Sonia, can you tell me what you saw exactly?” he was hoping his question wouldn't make her break down again but her reaction told him that she had gotten over it, for now at least.

“I don’t remember much Daddy” she said after much thought. Ramesh decided to let it go and had just turned back towards the kitchen counter when Sonia called out frantically “Wait Daddy, I remember… she was draped in a sari, a black sari…”

To Be Continued...

Read on for Part 3

39 comments:

  1. Another cliff hanger :) Nice work here too. Piquing our curiosity and making us want to continue to read. Looking forward to the next part now :) Great job!

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    1. I hope its flowing fine, been racking my brains over it for quite some time now.. now need to build Part 3... and probably leave it with another cliff hanger??? :)

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  2. Brrrrr....I can sense a revenge saga. The girl in black has been wronged and she will not anyone forget it.

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    1. Now thats a thought, let me play around with it ;-)

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  3. Seeta...great piece...its time to end this curiosity :)

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    1. What's the fun in ending something has just begun? It should become a story right? :)

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    2. Seeta, i think you have taken my movie writing advice ;-)
      I hope its not the bad doings of Lalitha, which Sharma's have to suffer

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  4. I can't wait for the next part !

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  5. Can't wait for the next part... Do you hear a haunting melody playing in the background..."Anjaan hai koi..." :P

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    1. Hahahaha... now that will keep playing on mind all through out.. :P

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  6. Seamless narration, Seeta and completely gripping. This reminds me of those serialised stories which used to appear in Chandamama and other story books. We would eagerly wait for the next issue to come and now after many years, I am feeling like that kid anticipating the next part.

    Shall wait eagerly . . .

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. Thanks Susan for this and thank (you know what :) ). And I loved the analogy to Chandamama's, I grew up on a diet of those books, thats such a lovely thing to say!

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  7. Story nicely warming up. Wonderful narration. Only problem with these themes are movie producers and writers have beaten it to death and made it cliched and predictable. Have to see if you manage to sneak in an unexpected twist. Waiting for the next part.

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    1. You totally got my fear too Karthik, I am trying not to get there..

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  8. Ignore the comments about letting it get over.

    Post a "to be continued" every couple of days and let this roll on :)

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    1. Absolutely, I'll make you guys come back to my blog everyday this week :)

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  9. Is this going to be a novel? you must participate in A to Z challenge...and write a novella.

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    1. A mini novella I think... the A to Z challenge had always made me wonder if I could live up to it.. will look it up :)

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  10. U have left me hanging! Can't wait for the next part... just one word 'Great!' :)

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    1. Thanks Naba, tomorrow I promise :)

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  11. Scary! Am waiting to see if it moves on predictable lines. So far, so good!

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    1. I am hoping it doesn't move on those lines too :)

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  12. Great narration, Seeta! Hope the lady is a friendly ghost like Casper :)

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  13. Good writing Seeta. very intriguing. looking forward for the next part.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Anjali, hope to not disappoint you all :)

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  14. Good writing Seeta. very intriguing. looking forward for the next part.

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  15. Lovely narration and an even lovelier ending to Part 2, you sure know how to make your readers bite their lips waiting for the next part of the story...

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    1. Trying Jairam, trying real hard :) and thanks for the share, made my day! :) Have a personal exigency, so the next few parts might get a tad bit delayed for the next few days

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  16. That is excellent horror writing Seeta. Building an aura of danger around the portrait with small incidents and reactions of people. Looking forward to the next.

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    1. That's the idea, let's see if I can keep it going though :)

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  17. I just can't stop looking at the beautiful picture on the top of the post. She won't let me start reading the story. What to do? :) Will try a bit later after she is out of my mind!

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    1. Oh no, that picture is there just for the heck of it, the real lady in black is way different :)

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  18. Great Seeta....the next part..pleaseeeeeeeeeeee.....

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  19. Wonderful narration Seeta..:) just read this post and the earlier part..:)
    waiting to read what happens next..:)

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    1. Thank you! :) Will be posting it some time now.

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  20. Reading from here and going to catch up till four. :D

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