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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Black Box

It was not the usual morning for Chinmayee, kick-starting her day with the aroma of brew…but a day that was more sunny than usual, bringing in with the daylight the tensions that unsettled her.

She took a deep breath and let out a sigh…does this have to happen? She wondered. She thought of giving this a thought…the ongoings of the day that were brought in with the parcel she received along with the milk and newspaper in the morning.

Here it lay, right in front of her eyes, on the coffee table…THE BLACK BOX!!!

Isn’t a black box supposed to be a symbol of mystery? Well, not in this case. It was evident of its contents. The black box was more a symbol of her past, which she was desperately trying to bury deep into the vessels of earth.

She knew the sender as well. Vinay was not going to let her live, it seemed. Vinay and Chinmayee first met at a common friend’s marriage. Vinay had her eyes fixed on her. Chinmayee was the bridesmaid and looked gorgeous in her Indian gown. She was trying to find way amongst the crowd of women at the ladies sangeet, with her hands up in the air, trying to protect her mehendi, the color of which was yet to deepen into her hands. She was jovial, laughing aloud, carefree, beautiful. Her tresses were as giggly as her…they kept kissing her face on the pretext of the soft breeze, while she was having a hard time brushing those aside with her busy hands.

Vinay was an onlooker, just another baarati for her. Nature has its own weird ways of sending across vibes from one person to the other and enabling eye contact with the person, who is staring at you. Ever wondered how is it possible that you see someone looking at you, and you realize that the person has been staring at you since long…how do you know? Well, puzzling ways of universal laws, I’d say!

As if Chinmayee was forced to look towards Vinay, she found him staring at her, unblinkingly. She could see clearly through his side-smile that he was awe-struck of her beauty. Hesitating to look any further towards his direction, she looked away in embarrassment.

The function went on…the loud music, roars of laughter…giggly women…laughing fatso seths and sethanis…talks of dresses and tresses, good-looks and cosmetics, match-fixing and hot topics, and the buzz continued for a while.

Chinmayee was now finishing her last set of goodbyes and was about to get into a taxi. Vinay rushed and opened the door, displaying his chivalrousness…Chinmayee was not a woman to be impressed by men trying hard to impress her. "Uh-huh, you didn’t have to", said she in response to his gentlemanish act.

No soon did the taxi hit the main road, she received a call. This was Sanju, her best friend and her secret admirer. Well, not much of a secret though. I was just doing justice to the phrase ‘secret admirer’. Chinmayee was very well aware of it but had no intention of expressing her knowledge about his liking for her. She liked his flirtatious attempts that brought a smile on her face and she loved to be liked! Simple! Who doesn’t!

While speaking to Sanju, she heard some hushed voices in the background at the other end. She inquired about the voices and Sanju brushed away the topic saying, “It’s some friends tagging her with him and that teenage masti.” Well, Chinmayee bought this readily and responded in soft giggles.

She was receiving a call from an unknown number and it was on wait. She asked Sanju to hold the call, while she attends the other call awaiting her. Nobody spoke, while she kept saying “hello”. She disconnected the call and then hears the beep of the call again. This time she picked it up only to hear some loud, long breaths on the other end of the phone. Spooky, eh, she thought!

Well, hardly had she any choice but to disconnect. This continued for a while. At last, she was troubled and switched off her phone. She reached home and went for a quick shower to drain off the exhaustion she felt. Humming to herself, she dressed up and jumped on her bed to catch up on the lost sleep. And then in just 10 mins time, she heard her door bell ring. Ohhh, how she hated to be awakened. She dragged herself to the door but couldn’t find anybody out there. Just when she was about to close the door, she found a black box outside.

A black box!?!??! She picked it up, and without even having the patience to close the door behind her, immediately rushed to the coffee table to place it and open it quickly.

A sudden gush of wind blew through the door, while she was busy unpacking the black box.

It was empty!?! Empty! She wondered! Chinmayee had her eyebrows meet and the lines of confusion and terror both formed on her forehead, as she heard a loud noise coming from her kitchen, right opposite to her main door, which she had left opened. She was scared. She had reached her wits end. She simply brushed aside this whole episode as a prank of the rushing wind and simply closed the door and went to doze off.

She could still feel the air of tension around her. Unable to exactly point at a reason, she started thinking of good things about the day. She looked at her mehendi, which had now dried up, and had a dark blackish brown color to it. She smiled at the thought of it and repeated to herself…”don’t they say that the mehendi color deepens for the one who will be most loved by her husband in future.” With smiling thoughts, she closed her eyes. She could sense a shadow on her closed eyes, and she immediately came out of her reverie and opened her eyes to look everywhere around her. From behind the curtains, she sensed movement and a silhoutee of a man appeared through the shady curtain.

She slowly moved around the room, trying to figure out to whom that silhouette belonged to. The outline of the side-face seemed familiar. She thought hard who that could be. And as if to answer her, the image quickly sketched in her mind and the image thus formed was that of Vinay. Chinmayee was in tremor. Her hands stiffened in awhile and she was clueless. Th..That baarati...uh..a stalker!?!?!?

In utter shock, she trembled out of her reverie from her past and back…looking aimlessly at the black box now again in front of her, lying on the table with vicious intentions. She knew what this was.

Her mind was busy joining the dots. Her memory reminded her of the day before that friend’s marriage. She was sitting with Rashmi, the bride-to-be, along with two of their other friends, idling away, chit-chatting about Rashmi’s fiancé and teasing her endlessly and to some level, shamelessly. That’s what girls do to their friends before their marriage, don’t they!

In all their giggle and laughter, Sushma came up with this idea of doing a plan-chit. This was supposed to be fun. They wanted to know their future as well as Rashmi’s. Though it sounded scary at first and the immediate resultant expression of all friends was that of terror and panic, which was soon followed by Sushma’s pleas and finally an air of excitement amongst the girls. “So, be it! Letz have some funnnnn!” Screamed all at once! The preparations took hardly any time as Rashmi’s brother was a student of paranormal society and was studying ghosts and getting trained to be a ghost hunter.

So, everything was available in the next room. As soon as Kirit, Rashmi’s brother, was fast asleep, these girls tiptoed into his room, and robbed him off his belongings.

They called the spirits to come and answer their queries on future. Chinmayee was all thrilled about this entire fun activity and was the first to ask her question, in fact demanded that she get a boyfriend who is so possessive about her, who follows her wherever she goes and does not ever leave her side, someone for whom she meant the world, someone so charismatic, so much in love with her that everything else seemed unreal and unimportant around him.

The letters on the ooja board moved themselves voluntarily and formed the letters ‘GRANTED!” Chinmayee screamed in excitement like girls do when they find their Mr. Right or even something as trivial as meeting their friend after a long time at the mall. Rashmi’s mother heard the noise and immediately rushed to her room. She opened the door and the dark room was flooded with the corridor light and the girls were seen hushing their voices and secretly discussing something chirpily. Next to them, Rashmi’s mom saw the ooja board and yelled at them for getting involved into all this risky business when there is an auspicious occasion of marriage in this house. She, like all other aunties, of her age, believed that this caused bad omen and inviting spirits in the guests list was the last thing she wanted. She made the girls go off to sleep, not realizing that she had interrupted the session and had not allowed the spirit to return.

The girls slept off, after a lot of bubble of excitement in their hushed voices, awaiting to see if Chinmayee’s wish comes true.

The next morning was the mehendi and sangeet and there was Vinay, a stranger staring hard at Chinmayee…following her everywhere she went. It suddenly dawned on Chinmayee on the following night of terror that she was haunted by the spirit, whom she had invited foolishly into her life.

Nightmarish past! Huh! Chinmayee gasped for a fresh breath of air that this morning had deprived her of. She couldn’t help but think about the black box that had AGAIN visited her this morning, and was now in front of her eyes. It was more like the black box was looking at her and she was avoiding the sight of it.

Nevertheless, it was there. She wasn’t imagining this. She was thinking hard, frantically looking for an escape from that box. Her mind answered to her again. The first time this box appeared before her, she mindlessly had opened it and knew immediately what the contents were..err no contents but an unreal person actually. And she managed to get rid of the box, hiding it from the eyes of the world, with the help of Kirit, who had by then, mastered the art of handling spirits. But then, who released this black box from the depths of the earth? She wondered!

She decided to take matters in hand and confront this issue once and for all and not fear it anymore. She picked up her phone and dialed Kirit’s number on top of her phone book list. With no time for the usual greetings, as soon as Kirit picked up the phone, Chinmayee started blabbering…”its back, the box, help, I need you, you know, you remember, the black one, the box, the BLACK BOX!” she then paused, awaiting Kirit’s response…on the other end, came the reply: “Yes, I remember, I sent it to you Chinmayee, I am back to follow you, to love you, I am possessed…I am obsessed with you…aint I the one you wanted.”

Chinmayee went speechless. “Uh-oh…u…you…Kirit…” she hung up the receiver and started fiddling with her hands…she was restless…she couldn’t find a solution. Was Kirit dead? What happened to him? Where is he? Was that Vinay on the call..or Kirit? But he is my savior! If not Kirit, then Vinay..but why was Vinay at his home? She thought of something and again dialed, this time Kirit’s sister and her friend, Rashmi! The ring did not ring for long and Rashmi promptly answered the call. “Rashmi, dear, no time for anything, where’s Kirit? You know Vinay…you know the plan-chit we did before your wedding night…the…the black box…the…” and Chinmayee fainted. Rashmi was clueless on the other end, and kept shouting Chinmayee’s name from the other line. “Chinmayee, you there…babes! Hello, what are you saying? Wait, I am coming, I am coming, Chinmayee, Chinmayee, hello!” and with no response from Chinmayee, Rashmi put the receiver down in hurry, held her purse, picked up her car keys and rushed to reach Chinmayee’s residence, barely 15 mins away from Rashmi’s home.

She reached sweating profusely inspite of the AC in the car and using the elevator. Rashmi was immensely tensed. She kept ringing the doorbell and Chinmayee didn’t answer. Rashmi called the neighbor’s for help. Together, they broke down the door and someone called the ambulance, when they saw Chinmayee lying unconscious on the floor. Rashmi called out to Chinmayee but to no avail. Chinmayee seemed to be in another world.

The hospital wing was full of people, yet Chinmayee felt an eerie silence, around her. She woke up to find Rashmi crying by her bedside. Chinmayee tried to get up and adjust to her bed to sit upright…but her head started spinning again. She held Rashmi’s hand tightly and managed to speak…“Rashmi, what happened to me? The black box! Where is it? Vinay killed Kirit, you…you know the plan-chit…and” “Shhh...” said Rashmi to Chinmayee and continued “What are you talking about Chinmayee? Kirit, Kirit is alive…he is waiting for you outside…he aint killed by no one…whom are you talking about? Whoz Vinay?”

Meanwhile, the doctor intervenes…Dr. Mishra suggests that Chinmayee be shifted to a different ward. There was absence of any physical injury and the immediate cause was found in her brain. After examination and observation and a series of tests and interviews, the doctors concluded that Chinmayee was schizophrenic. She was hallucinating, imagining things. She could hear voices and see people, who were otherwise absent to the world. The doctors quoted that a schizophrenic always fears the risk of death and are suicidal.

Rashmi weeped uncontrollably on listening all of this. Chinmayee was alone in this world, with none but friends for family. Rashmi couldn’t help but sympathize with Chinmayee’s condition. Sanju shouldered Rashmi and promised to take care of Chinmayee, life-long. He confessed his love for Chinmayee to all his friends present there. Sushma, Kirit, Divya…all of them had rushed at the news of Chinmayee’s fate and stood there for help. Kirit with tears in his eyes, and a motivating smile, talked Rashmi out of the situation, while Sanju approached the hospital room, where Chinmayee lay, looking up at the ceiling, all blank with no thoughts. Sanju approached her, held her hand in his, wiped off his tears with sleeves. Chinmayee was all tears too, seeing Sanju, and tried to get up to hug him, when Sanju calmed her down and spoke in a hushed voice…"No worries, I am here now…I am back to follow you, to love you, I am possessed…I am obsessed with you…aint I the one you wanted.”

1 comment:

  1. Great Story Vyoma, and the end is super exciting! Thanks a lot for the story :)