Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lady in Black - Part 4


Read Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3 if you haven't already!

It was a week since Mr. Subramanian had come home for dinner but it seemed just like yesterday to Sonia. The story from that evening was still fresh in her mind. Could it be possible that it was Durga she had seen that day in the kitchen? What did that mean? Was there a ghost living in the house? She shook her head with vehement conviction, no there was no such thing. Each time she crossed the landing, she felt uneasy, as if Durga had her eyes on her all the time. She got back to her homework but that nagging thought though pushed away was still there, very much there. While Ramesh and Komal had laughed off the legend, Sonia had not.

She was not herself anymore. Her absent mindedness had shot up and her interest in school down. She was forgetting little things like combing her hair, ironing her uniform, even washing her plate; things that were very basic and ones that she was habituated with. Both Komal and Ramesh had noticed the sudden quiet and the preoccupation Sonia seemed to have with the painting. They did their best to make her feel better but were never sure if they had succeeded. They firmly believed that things would fall into place and decided to let her be.

And things did seem to become normal in due time. Komal’s travel had increased as she was due for her leave in a couple of months. She was spending all her time in Mumbai now, leaving the house pretty much in the care of the domestic help. Sonia’s midterm exams were on in full swing and she was busy preparing for her papers, the painting had taken a back seat.

“Finally, that shadow Subbu cast, seems to have receded” thought Ramesh, as he saw Sonia bounce happily down the cobbled path on the last day of her exams.

After dinner that night, Ramesh retired to the library while Sonia headed back to her room. Just as Ramesh had settled into his armchair and begun leafing through his book he heard a blood curdling scream echo through the whole house.

Instinctively he ran towards the kitchen but it was empty. Turning back, he ran up the stairs, taking two at a time to make up for the time he had already lost. Panting heavily, he banged on Sonia’s bedroom door, almost toppling over through the unlocked door. Sonia was crouching in the corner of the room, terror written all over her face. She was shaken beyond measure and kept mumbling “Durga is here, Durga is here” with a trembling finger pointed in the opposite direction. Looking in the direction she pointed in, Ramesh saw the window wide open and the winds crashing against the pane causing a loud banging sound. He ran across to Sonia and reached out to comfort her but she shrank back screaming even louder “No! Don’t touch me Durga, I know you want to kill me, don’t touch me!” Then she fainted. Ramesh picked her up and settled her on the bed; next he closed the banging window and sung a lullaby to make her fall asleep. There was just one thought on his mind, she had failed to recognize him.

The night never seemed to end. After what seemed like eternity, the sun finally decided to make its presence felt. The darkness faded away but did not take with it the gloom that had set in the previous night. It was a Sunday, the maid’s day off. Komal had to stay back in Mumbai that weekend to get as much work done as possible. Ramesh wondered if he should call her and tell about the previous night’s episode but then he decided against it. Komal had enough to keep her occupied and worrying her about this would affect her health and the baby’s as well. No, this was best kept away from her. A sudden noise behind, shook him out of his thoughts; he turned around to see Sonia standing at the kitchen door. Before he could say anything, she took off “Daddy, Good Morning! What do we have for breakfast?” Did she remember the incident? Wondered Ramesh, but decided to shelve the discussion for now. At least till breakfast was done.
After a sumptuous breakfast of bread and eggs, he turned towards Sonia and asked her gingerly “Princess, did you sleep well?”
“Oh yes, I guess it was the relief of the exams ending that made me sleep like a log” she said, beaming at her father. It was as if nothing had happened.

From then on, Ramesh decided to keep an eye on Sonia whenever he was home. That day she wandered about, reading her books and talking to her friends on the phone. It was as if things were back to normal. But he knew they were far from it when he heard the second scream within twenty four hours. This time it was coming from the kitchen, he was sure.

Sonia was still screaming when he sprinted across and took her into his arms. “I saw her again Daddy, she was there in the garden, I saw her reflection in the pond!” she yelled. “She wants to kill me, doesn’t she? Why does she keep coming back?” He did his best to console and tell her that she had imagined it, but this time it took much longer to convince her. After an hour of cajoling and a hot mug of chocolate, her nerves finally seemed to calm down.

“You must be right dad, I must have imagined it” she said as she headed to her room. She did not come back down for the rest of the day.
* * *

Ramesh decided to work from home for a few days, at least till Komal got back the following Friday. He wasn't sure why Sonia was behaving so differently, so weird. But he did know that she couldn't be left alone. He wondered if he should contact a doctor, but then he decided to wait it out and see if the incidents would subside on their own. Despite their contemporary mindset, visiting a 'Shrink' was not an idea he could get used to.  

Sonia seemed to have quietened down. She remained flustered and on the edge all the time but nevertheless quiet. Her friends kept calling her out, to spend their break having fun but she showed no inclination to go. He worried about her but decided to give her the space she seemed to be silently begging for at the moment.

An uneventful day passed by. With the recent happenings, a day such as this was a dream come true. The thought that things were stumbling back to normal made way into Ramesh’s mind, but then each time he had felt some normalcy, something had happened. Maybe, this time things would be different he thought, walking up the stairs. Lost as he was deep in his thoughts, he did not notice Sonia standing on the landing staring at the wall. Only when he rammed into her did he realize that she had been standing there, stoic in her silence. She didn’t seem to have noticed him.

“She must be looking at that painting!” thought Ramesh, turning towards her, only she wasn’t looking at the painting, she was looking around it, once again the same look of terror plastered all over her face. He looked at the wall and realized what had affected Sonia to this extent. He gulped as he saw all family photos slashed through and the frames cracked all over. All the photos on the wall were beyond repair but the Lady in Black. She was intact, just as she had always been.

Ramesh was shocked. He had no idea how to deal with this situation anymore. He looked over to his daughter feeling numb, probably as much as her. Slowly she turned towards him with a distant look in her eyes and said “Daddy, you are right it is probably nothing” and walked up to her room, locking it behind her. Within minutes he heard that terrifying scream all over again. This time he did not move.

He would have remained rooted to the same spot all night long if the doorbell had not rung, breaking the eerie silence with its shrilling sound. After a long pause, he slowly walked towards the door, opening it to find Komal waiting outside, looking very happy to be home.

Ramesh relaxed on seeing his wife after so long. He quickly engulfed her in a hug and let out a sigh of relief.  “Is everything ok Darling?” As always Komal had sensed the tension running through his body. For a moment he hesitated, wondering whether he should tell her all that had happened. But then he decided to wait, she had just come in after a long week; she and the baby needed their rest. “Nothing dear, it’s just good to see you back” he said, hoping she wouldn't probe any further.

“Hmmm, I suppose Sonia is asleep, let me not wake her up now.” She tried to stifle a yawn. Ramesh jumped at the opportunity. “I think you better freshen up and sleep, you need the rest” Nodding, Komal went up to their bedroom, not noticing the slashed photos on the landing.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Ramesh carefully brought down all the frames from the wall. He retired to the library, trying to figure out what was going wrong, who could have done such damage? Would Sonia be fine? Why was she hallucinating so much? Or was it for real? Hundreds of questions attacked his mind, making him restless. It was only in the wee hours of the morning that he finally fell into a disturbed sleep, right there on his armchair.

Komal found Ramesh in the library, slumped in his chair, fast asleep. She had sensed that something was wrong the moment she had come home but had let it drop for the night. Sonia hadn’t stepped out of her room either. It was so unlike her not to greet her mum when she returned from her trips, especially a long one. Something was definitely wrong. She made two mugs of strong coffee and placed them on the table, seating herself opposite Ramesh. She knew he would stir within seconds; the aroma of hot coffee always woke him up. She was not wrong. In no time, Ramesh began to stir; he opened his eyes and looked up.

“A coffee, first thing in the morning! Komal you are such a…” He saw the nothing-you-say-will-work look and knew that he couldn’t get away from the conversation anymore. He had to face it.
“What’s going on Ramesh? Don’t tell me everything is fine, something has happened while I was not here, something that has shaken you up completely. Has Sonia acted weird again, the way she did that first week?” The perplexed look on her face told him that it made no sense to hide things from her anymore. She would stress over it and given her condition, that wouldn't help either.

He took a deep sip of the coffee and began the tale. He told her how he had noticed the change in Sonia ever since Mr. Subramanian’s visit. He told her about the visions Sonia had had in the previous week. He left out the photos part, lest it scared Komal. She didn't need any of that in her delicate state. He could always tell her that he had taken them off to get them dusted or something on those lines.
“So that’s what it is. I don’t know how to deal with it. Should we just let her be, or take her to a doctor or just talk to her… I really don’t know what to do”

Komal cringed as she watched her husband look helpless and lost. She had never seen him in such a dire state before. She had always known that Sonia was a sensitive girl, but this time things seemed to be getting out of hand.
“Let’s give it some time, I’ll try talking to her, in fact let me do it right away” Saying that she walked out of the library before Ramesh could stop her. Visiting the 'Shrink' was still not a conversation they were willing to have.

Komal knocked a couple of times on Sonia’s bedroom door, after a few minutes she heard the lock click open. Quietly she entered the room and saw Sonia sitting in the corner, crouched on the floor. Her hair was all tangled and eyes blood red. She seemed to have cried all night. Not letting her shocked feeling show on her face, Komal sat beside her daughter and held her hand. After a few minutes she started talking to her in a gentle manner, telling her that there was nobody other than them around. The Lady in Black was nothing but a folk tale, one that had no meaning in real life. She looked at Sonia for some response but there was none. At least she seemed to be listening to her, thought Komal. That was a good sign.

She let a few minutes go by before she got up and said “Everything will be fine, you are a smart girl, and you know all this is just a figment of your imagination. Now, freshen up and come down for breakfast, I’ll make your favourite Aloo Parantha “ She saw Sonia slowly nod her head, satisfied with herself, she turned towards the door but stopped when she heard a sound from behind.

“Durga, why did you wear a black suit today?” asked Sonia with a fearful look in her eyes.
Stunned, Komal looked down at herself. She was dressed in a black salwar kameez. Horrified, she looked at her daughter who had not seemed to recognize her own mother.

To Be Concluded...

Read on for the Finale...


  1. Oh my what has happened to Sonia..I'm wondering how you'll end it! hve got me hooked! :)

  2. Couple of things:
    A. I look forward to a detailed discussion once you end this. Have a few "running" ends in my mind :)
    B. You've outdone yourself, yet again!
    C. I love how the entire thing has come together, and brilliantly weaved story, capable of sending chills down anyone's spine
    D. I am going to hang up my fiction boots. A worthy successor has been found :) (unless you really mess up the ending, something which I Cannot see happening!)

  3. Wow, once again that cliffhanger of a last line left me breathless.

    Extremely well narrated and well paced, not for one moment did you let the tension down while keeping the story moving as well. Very well etched out characters in Komal and Ramesh. Can't wait to see how you wrap it all up. I can sense a juicy ending coming on.

    Let's catch up on Sunday at the bloggers meet to discuss this, Sid, you and me :)

  4. Oh now come on... Don't keep us waiting .... I am beginning to hallucinate seeing the lady in black.... This is good.

  5. Ah! What next? Curious and hooked like everyone else.

  6. Story cruising smoothly. Waiting for the concluding episode.

  7. You should get this published.

  8. This is getting very interesting...spooky but interesting. Waiting for the concluding part now...

  9. Gosh, this is so good. It gave me the creeps. Looking forward to the last part. Please let nothing happen to Sonia!

  10. Eagerly waiting for the next instalment

  11. Wow that is a wonderful story.....
    Waiting for the final part

  12. Wow that is a wonderful story.....
    Waiting for the final part

  13. Waiting with bated breath. Please let Sonia and Durga, both rest in peace :)

  14. Gripping,let me move to the final part

  15. It is getting spookier and spookier. Waiting for the conclusion!

  16. Scary one, dear! My heart was pounding so much!
    Please have a happy ending :)

  17. I hope Ekta kapoor sees this..She will grab it up for sure...
    Going smooth..waiting for part 5...

  18. Looks like I missed a lot. :)
    From the above comments I am guessing it to be interesting and spooky.
    Hope to catch up on these chapters soon.


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