A Stranger at Night
A Stranger at Night
"Hey Lady!!! What are you doing here? Hey..Hey!!" shouted Laxman. There was no reply. "I am talking to you girl. Go away" he screamed again while walking towards her with a Cigarette in his hand. He could hear the girl sobbing as her approached her. It was dark and the only source of light was an old lantern that Laxman carried with him. "I said Go away. You know you are not supposed to enter this property. Go!" Laxman continued while trying to have a look at the girl's face through the light of the lantern.
"Leave me alone. I want to die!!" came the reply from her while still sobbing.
"Oh Lord!!! Not again" sighed Laxman who had witnessed a number of these kind of incidents in the past. "I will leave you alone. Don't worry. But at least tell me why do you want to die?" he asked while approaching her. "Why do you care? It is none of your business." came an assertive reply from the girl.
Laxman was the Watchman of an old, dilapidated two storey Villa located in a small town of Karnataka. He himself was an old man and had been at the Villa for sometime now. The Old Villa had a lot of rumors surrounding it and had been witness to few petty crimes and Suicide attempts over these years.
"Dear, Suicide is not a solution to your problem. You are a young lady and it is not safe to stay around so late in the night.Your parents would be worried. Come on, Go home." he said trying to calm down the girl. "My Parents!! They just don't care." came an immediate reply from the girl.
"Come, sit here and tell me what is the matter" said Laxman and sat on a bench placed nearby and lit another Cigarette.
"I don't want to get married. I want to study. I want to be a doctor and set up my own Hospital!!!" she said while again bursting into tears. "My parents want me to get married to someone in Mangalore. I tried talking to them, but they won't budge. I want to live my life on my terms and not their's." she argued while containing her tears. Laxman was silent. He just kept looking at the girl perhaps trying to understand her situation. "I was always good at studies and all my friends know I can very well be a doctor. Then why don't my parents understand?" she continued. "Eventually, it is them who will be proud of having a doctor as their daughter. When I treat the people of our town and give them a chance to live once again, they are going to bless my parents for letting me be a doctor." she continued to talk to herself. Laxman was just staring at her. "I think I should go and make them understand. I think they will. No...I know they will" she said with a bit of confidence. She stood up while wiping her tears and said, " Thank you uncle for not letting me do what I had come her for. Thank you so much." saying that she started walking towards the gate.
"Reach home safely." Laxman shouted and turned back to head towards his cottage. "Today's Parents I tell you." he whispered to himself while lighting yet another cigarette and with a grin on his face, he faded into the darkness of the night.
The girl returned next morning with a packet of sweets to thank Laxman for yesterday night.
It was early in the morning and the old Villa looked as deserted and creepy as in the dark. She tried to look for Laxman through the gate but could not find him. "What's the matter? What do you want?" came a sudden voice. The shocked girl turned back to find a lady walking inside towards the Villa.
"I want to meet the watchman for a minute. I have bought him some sweets. Can you please call him?" she requested to the lady. "Which Watchman are you talking about? There is no Watchman here. Go away!" shouted the lady and she walked inside the villa after closing the gates. "You are lying! I had met him the night before. He was guarding the place and had a small lantern with him too. Please call him." the girl requested. The lady turned back and said "Ahh, you are talking about Laxman!" The lady started walking towards the girl while trying to pick out something from a small purse that was tucked in her saree. She reached the gate and showed a picture to the girl "You are talking about him, Aren't you?" she asked with a smile on her face. "Yes. Him. It was him! Please call him. I have bought sweets and some good news for him." replied the girl with enthusiasm.
"He committed Suicide 5 years ago!" said the lady, now with a straight face and dead eyes.
"What??! How is it possible? I mean...." the girl was baffled and lost for words.
"Relax. You are not the first girl to come and ask for him. But the truth is that he is a Dead Man." the lady said.
The girl was flabbergasted and was staring at the old woman, perhaps searching an answer to her questions.
"Laxman's only daughter was a bright, lovely girl and was an apple of his eyes. She wanted to be a doctor and for higher studies, she had to move to another city far away from here. Laxman fearing for his daughter's safety did not let her daughter study. And that resulted in his only daughter committing Suicide! Laxman was heartbroken and he blamed himself for her death. He could not bear his daughter's absence and committed suicide about 5 years back." the lady continued, now being teary-eyed.
"Since then, a lot of girls like you have met him, talked to him, and come back looking for him." she continued. "But he is Dead!!" and turned back. "Go home now girl, your parents would be worried," she said and walked away.
"How do you know so much about Laxman?" shouted the girl to the lady.
The lady kept walking and suddenly turned back and smilingly answered, " I was his only Daughter!!"