‘You rascal! Leave me! Leave me alone!’, Shalini was screaming.
Vijay went near her and tried to put his palm on her shoulder. But she firmly resisted and continued screaming. All of Vijay’s friends and other people stopped there and were utterly confused.
Now Vijay held both of Shalini’s shoulders firmly in his grip and shook her. All the people gathered in the room were staring at Shalini and Vijay with surprise in their eyes.
‘Shalini! Shalini! Please wake up! See for yourself! There’s nobody here!’, Vijay tried to make her aware of the reality.
‘Vijay! Look at that son of a bitch! He is trying to rape me’, Shalini continued to yell. Once again Vijay shook his sister holding both of her shoulders firmly.
In the meantime, Vijay’s mother reached the spot.
‘What happened my dear child?’, mother tried to console her.
Held in her arms, Shalini started crying vociferously while saying, ‘Look at that bastard! He cheated and induced me to come here!’.
‘It is fine! My child!’, mother tried to sooth her, ‘We will hand him over to the cops’.
‘That is what I had warned you’, Vijay annoyingly said to his mother, ‘not to take her with us. She has not only spoilt the whole function here but has ruined even my prestige!’.
Till then, even Priya had reached there and she calmed down Vijay first by patting over his shoulder. Then she tried to console Shalini by moving her palm affectionately over Shalini’s head.
‘Isn’t she taking the medicine course nowadays?’, Priya asked Vijay’s mother in a lowered tone.
‘What shall I tell you, my child’, Vijay’s mother tried to reply, ‘she doesn’t take the medicine nowadays’.
After seeing that weird instance, the discussions started among the people gathered inside.
‘Nobody is here! Why was she crying and screaming then?’, said one gentleman.
‘Is she affected by some ghost?’, another curiously asked.
‘No! It appears a typical black magic case’, yet another man expressed.
‘Don’t talk anything nonsense Mr. Shyam’, somebody reacted, ‘you are such an educated man’.
‘What education matters here?. What else is this to be called other than an evil effect of a ghost? This girl gets induced to come here alone and then the latch gets locked automatically from inside?’, Mr. Shyam tried to explain.
Some of the men there were looking at Shalini with eyes filled in hatred and disgust while few others were sympathizing with her.
‘She must be insane! She herself must have locked the door from inside!’, yet another opined.
‘Not insane! She must be suffering from hallucinations’, somebody rationalized.
‘Hallucinations? That necessarily means she is insane!’, the same man argued.
Vijay’s mother had turned furious after hearing all these remarks.
Priya requested all of them, ‘Will you all please go out of the room?’
Even then nobody was willing to move out of the house. Finally Vijay’s mother angrily reacted, ‘You fools! Why don’t you first get yourselves out of the room? Let some fresh air come inside the room. Can’t you see how perspiring my daughter is’.
After hearing this emphatic request, all the people got silenced and started slowly moving out of the room, assuming as if not only Shalini but also her mother might be to be indeed insane.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)