I am, sorry, was an IT professional , as I call myself. “Let me tell you quite clearly that I don’t believe in ghosts!”, that is what I said when the watchman warned me before getting into the Inn. He warned me over a hundred times, I just didn’t care, thank god because that’s the reason that I have my most precious possession today, I would not spoil it for you, read on…
I got into the room; it was dirty and cheaply furnished. There was a bed with a white bed sheet (though the white wasn’t white anymore!) and floral printed pillows. The light was already on. There was an easy chair at one end of the room, where I kept my luggage. I sat on the bed. It was my thirst for adventure that had brought me here. The rest of the world that I was associated with was in the city, with cpp and Java and I was here, riding the thrill of life. I was thinking of all this when I remembered of informing my mother about my arrival at Pehelpur. I reached for my jeans pocket and took out the brand new iPhone which I had bought a few days before coming here (I had immense love towards gadgets).I opened the contacts page when I found out that there was no network. I swore to myself. I went to the balcony.
There was a room adjacent to mine which also had a balcony and thus our balconies were adjacent too.
I looked up at the night sky, filled with beautiful stars and a full moon. I was admiring these celestial bodies when I was distracted by a girl, the most beautiful I had ever seen. I stared at her, she didn’t look back, maybe she was used to people staring at her!
She was writing something with a lot of concentration on a thick notebook. The thought that pricked me was that what was this elegant lady doing here in the midst of an isolated inn? The next moment I thought, why do I care? “you are in love!” replied my mind…I didn’t give it a thought.
I gathered some courage and said “hi!” She did not reply. “Hello, my name is Aniket.” I said, “I am Neha.” She replied, not lifting her head from the notebook. “What are you writing?” I asked, just to keep the conversation going. “I am a writer” she said, “love story writer” she added. “So why are you here?” I asked, “My first story was a disaster…so this time I am writing a horror cum love story…and I’m here for the theme” she replied. “Oh!” I said. She wished me goodnight, that was the first time she lifted her head from the notebook, she had huge dark circles. I was about to talk again when she smiled at me and went inside her room…I stayed up late before I went to sleep that night.
Three days went by, we were “friends”. I got to know that she would stay here for about two months. She told me about her first book in details, how she had not gained much popularity, but she wasn’t giving up an was writing her second book which was named “The Devil’s den” for now. We would sit together all day, as there was no one to talk to and the network was never there.
Hari, the watchman who had warned me about ghosts on the first day of my arrival would cook us meals and deliver it to our rooms. We couldn’t give much choices about the food primarily because the resources were very limited and more because Hari was a horrible cook. Hari somehow did not like Neha and vice versa. They avoided eye contact. Hari would wear a weird look on his face whenever he would see Neha. I never paid much attention to this. Time passed by, on the nineteenth day I told her the three magical worlds.
She just smiled a mischievous smile, but said nothing.
We were patched up. She had given me her phone number and her address too. I didn’t want her when I came here, I just wanted some relaxation, destiny wanted something else.
We would have lots of fun, we would go out, enjoy nature, stay up all night…and I would help her with her new book.
I carried many ready to eat cup noodles, so Hari just had to bring hot water and we were done with our meal! She liked my company as much as I did hers.
Though I am an IT, I was passionate about writing when I was younger, my father forced me to pursue science….he wanted good but he never really got me…whatever, he’s no more so no point blaming him further. She promised that when she would get the book published she would put my name as the editor. We both loved Coffee and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
She was just a sweetheart!
We were made for each other, I would think every night before going to sleep, or were we?
Neha was very choosy about dresses; she had brought in her cupboard in six trolleys! She liked wearing jeans with a simple graphic tee; she also liked wearing caftans.
She was an android lover so my iPhone was always looked down upon by her. Surprisingly I never saw a phone in her hand, ever. I never really asked her why.
She seldom got angry with me, but when she did she would always say a patented phrase, “Life is short!”
Days went by, my holiday was over. She was crying beside me sitting on my bed while I was saying comforting words to her and packing my bags at the same time. I would catch the first train from Pehelpur to Kolkata, she would leave this place later this month. I was feeling sad somewhere in my heart.
“We would meet again…” I told her while getting out of the Inn, “and what if we don’t?” she asked… “We will” I said, with a hint of confidence in my voice and lot of love in my heart. “Love you…” she said, “Love you too” I asserted as I got on the rickshaw that Hari had arranged for me. The rickshaw would take me to the station, she was weeping. Hari was nowhere to be seen so I gave the tip I was supposed to give Hari to Neha and told her to deliver it to him whenever convenient. The rickshaw started.
Distance was growing between us, I waved until I could see her no more, tears rolled down my eyes.
I was back to Calcutta and my busy schedule was resumed once again, but my mind was all Neha. I dialed up the number she had given me… “this number does not exist” was all that I could hear. I was shattered. Had she faked the number? Played with me? Was all the “I love you” a big joke? All these questions were running in my mind like an Olympic marathon. My mother didn’t know anything about Neha or our relationship, and I decided not to tell her.
I had captured Pehelpur, Neha and me on my DSLR. I switched it on to delete all the pictures of Neha and forget her forever. It would be hard, but I couldn’t help. I switched on the camera only to see a blank blue screen…when I tapped on memory it said “Memory card not found”. I was taken aback, I opened the slit for the memory card and found it empty. What was happening? I didn’t have a clue!
I had an application where you could type in a number and you would get the real owners name. I put in Nehas number, and there she was, she had a profile picture wearing red lipstick and her hair was tied into a ponytail, the difference was that she looked younger.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I decided to go to the address she had given me – “43 M, Harrison Street, Kolkata”, I got on a cab, it was a long journey.
I got down, the house was quite big, it wasn’t an apartment, it was a bungalow kind of a house.
I pressed the doorbell.
After about five, long, minutes a middle aged women opened the door.
“yes?” she asked.
“Neha?I mean does Neha live here?”
“Why do you need Neha?” she questioned me.
I explained everything to her.
“Come inside” was her only answer.
“Listen”, she said, gesturing me to sit on the couch and ordering a glass of water to her made, “I don’t know what you are talking about, but I can tell you this much that Neha” , she broke, “my sister, she…she passed away a f…few…few months back”
“What!?” I said, my heart almost stopped beating…
“You heard me correctly-” she said, still crying.
I moved out of the house, I had the Inn’s number, I dialed it as I got on the taxi.
After dialing multiple times Hari picked up my phone, I recognized his voice at an instant…the first thing he said was… “I told you Sahib, there are ghosts in the Inn, now do you believe in ghosts?”
The phone dropped from my hand.My heart stopped.The taxi driver drove me to the hospital nearby…
“dead, heart attack” the doctor said.
My mother was crying.
Now I live in Pehelpur Inn, with Neha.
I have my most precious position now.
Do you believe in ghosts?