The red brick house
Warning: a little amateurish
“You are invited. You must come.” The loud comment made in my general direction by that old man in a crushed kurta pyjama, silver hair matching it, broke my train of thoughts as I stared out of the balcony. “Yes uncle.” My sister managed to stutter, as I looked at her in despair. How could I tell him that I was not willing to. He would just brush aside my unfounded fears, so unexpected of someone educated. If I repeated the fact that years ago an old lady was murdered here in the kitchen, her throat slit, her body decaying when found, and that this repulsed me enough to never enter that house again, he would just give me a ‘you know better than to be scared of an unfortunate incident of the past’ look. But I couldn’t help it.
“There would be so many people around. Ghosts don’t lurk in crowds”, I chided myself. “It’s a moment of festivity and I must go”, I reasoned with myself, looking at the string of lights that decorated the ‘shaadi wala ghar’ right opposite my balcony. The vision of an old red brick house surrounded by complete darkness, with just one torch light bobbing up and down the kitchen, made me break into cold sweat. “I must replace that old vision with this new one. See the festive look, the gaiety, and the cheer. That episode is all over now.” I felt a little comforted.
The d-day came and I, trying to suppress my unfounded fears, put on a gorgeous lehenga and a plastic smile to go with it. I was welcomed to the sound of ladies sangeet with a dholak, all of them sitting on the floor. I was given a spot on the duree. Just when I was getting a little comfortable with the feeling that there was no ghost bursting through the roof, I realised to my horror that I was sitting at the spot at which the body had been found. The kitchen had long ago been refurbished and made a part of the sitting room. With an instant jerk, I got up and excused myself to go to the toilet. “Relax. Just stay for half an hour and discreetly pop in back to your house. After all it’s right opposite.” I looked at my own house out of the window and pictured a little girl, scared stiff – me about 20 years ago, looking at the murder spot with horror.
As I opened the tap to splash some cool water on my perspiring brow, I deliberated with myself, “Enough, for how long can you fool yourself. It’s high time this place got some justice.”
I walked purposefully to the pooja room where uncle was now doing his final prayers before coming out to join the ladies. It wasn’t everyday that his daughter got married.
I stealthily tiptoed from behind and shaping my dupatta like a noose, tightened it around his neck. My hand covered his nose and mouth, blocking a scream as well as the air his lungs screamed for. When I felt his body going limp, I let go. I walked out coolly as if nothing had happened, having sought vengeance at last.
With satisfaction I watched as the scene changed from celebration to mourning. No one could understand how the old man got asphyxiated.
“He met his deserved death if what we heard was true”, whispered one visitor to another. “It is believed that he murdered his old mother for the property. Curiously enough, even a little girl aged 6 in the opposite house was also found dead. The police were speculating that she might have been a sole witness to the incident from her balcony. Till date no one could prove anything against him.”