Eyes That See The Dead
Eyes That See The Dead12 mins 600 12 mins 600
Vikas and Meena had been married for nearly a decade. They were still in love with each other. Both of them were in their middle ages; while Vikas was around forty, Meena was around thirty-five. She had large, green eyes which could captivate anybody.
One day Niharika came into Vikas’ life. Niharika was a young girl, around the age of twenty. She was slim and tall with beautiful long hair and a bewitching smile. But there was something peculiar about her dressing sense. She invariably always wore designer sarees. Vikas found this to be strange; which urban girl wore sarees all the time in this age? Her perfume was simply irresistible. He could never figure out which one it was.
He remembered the first time he met her. It was an evening after sunset. The road was a desolate one. There were no shops nearby and there was nobody around. Only a black cat quietly crossed the road ahead. An owl hooted in the far distance upon a tree somewhere near the horizon. Otherwise, there was no sound at all.
She was sitting on a bench in a small bus stop near a coconut grove. She was weeping alone. Vikas was driving by when he noticed her. He stopped the car, out of curiosity. “This is a deserted place! What are you doing here?” he asked, in a concerned voice.
“I am waiting for a bus to take me anywhere but away from here,” she replied as she looked at him through her teary eyes.
“No bus will come on this route at this time,” he said. “Let me drop you to another bus stop. You will get buses from there. But it’s too far to walk to.”
She got into his car. Vikas found this odd. He was a stranger but she trusted him. “I actually stay on the way somewhere in between. It’s not too far away by car. I will show you,” she said as she wiped her tears.
They drove for a while along the road. They didn’t say anything. It was the girl who broke the silence. “I came to visit my fiancé. But he broke up with me today,” she said as she broke into fresh tears. Twenty minutes passed by. The bus stop Vikas was speaking of was another five minutes away. But the girl told him to slow down. “Not that way,” she said. “This way, to the left...”
Vikas turned into the road on the left. There were no houses or even vehicles on that entire road. Nobody seemed to live there or in the vicinity. After they covered some distance, she pointed out a single white house by the wayside. There was a cellar at the bottom and two floors above it. The entire place looked empty.
“Doesn’t she feel scared,” he thought. “No,” she replied as if she read his mind. He was taken aback. Did he actually say it out loud absent-mindedly, he thought. Otherwise, there was no way she could have read his mind. “By the way, I am Niharika. Thank you for dropping me,” she told him. The car came to a halt as Vikas braked before the house.
“I have a secret to tell you”, Niharika told Vikas as she opened the door to get out. “It’s about your wife. You will not believe me but it is true”.
Vikas looked at her in a puzzled manner. How she knows anything about me, leave alone my wife, he wondered. We just met.
“Do you really know your wife? Your wife has a past you are unaware of. I know what she was before she married you. Your wife is an old woman, not what she really looks like,” Niharika told him.
“What?!” exclaimed Vikas.
Then he laughed, “You must be joking. How can you have known about her? You are much younger than her.”
“There are some things I cannot explain. I am sure we will meet again soon, next time. Then I will tell you everything,” she replied.
She surprised him but what she asked next shocked him. “If what I say about your wife is true, will you marry me?”
He thought she was flirting with him. “You must be kidding! I love my wife! I have no intentions of separating from her! I am almost the age of your father!”
“Then how could you marry that old hag?” she shouted. “How can you love her? You both are as different as chalk and cheese.”
“What? What are you saying?” replied Vikas. “No, that is not true.”
She opened her clutch and pulled out a pair of goggles from it. “For now use this – these glasses have magic in them. They will reveal the real age of nearly anybody.” She handed it over to Vikas and smiled. He refused to take the glasses.
“She is the age of your grandmother – or rather your great grandmother. You don’t know her real age. You are not living with an ordinary woman. You are living with a ghost. Wear these shades when you go home today.” Saying this she placed the shades on the car seat, turned away to walk towards her home.
No harm can come from this, he thought as he drove away. He will wear them and see if what the girl said was true. The drive home was a lonely one. There were no streetlights. There was no moon or stars in the sky. It was a new moon day. The dark road ahead was lit only by the headlights of the car.
He reached home and walked to his front door. He wore the new glasses as he rang the bell.
“Hi babes...! I am home early today,” he said as the door opened.
“What is that you are wearing baby? New shades?” his wife replied from behind the door.
He didn’t answer. He gasped. It was true what Niharika had said. In reality, his wife had a scary face! Now he realised it. There was something spooky about her looks! She was a ghost!
Her face and arms were wrinkled. Her hair was grey. Her eyes were sunk deep into their sockets and there were prominent crow’s feet. A pair of teeth protruded from her mouth like fangs.
Vikas was disturbed. He flung his shades aside. He went to the refrigerator and gulped down a bottle of chilled water. Meena didn’t understand what was going on. He didn’t say anything. He went back through the front door again. He forgot to take the shades with him as he left. It was where he had left them, on the sofa.
Meena was upset by her husband’s behaviour. She picked up the shades and looked at herself in the mirror. She realised what had happened and grew angry. She watched Vikas from the window as he got his car out and drove away. The white in her eyes went red.
He drove straight to Niharika’s house. He was surprised to find her waiting for him outside her house. He slowed down as she walked towards his car. He rolled down the car window as she looked in.
“I didn’t believe in ghost stories...” said Vikas.
“But you are living in one big horror story! It’s just that you don’t know about it!” replied Niharika. “Yours is a house on a haunted hill. You are living with a scary ghost! Of course, you live in a haunted place. But you didn’t know of it. Come inside, I will explain everything.”
She opened the gate and they walked inside. She went up the stairs. Vikas followed her at a distance. She didn’t hurry – she took her time, going slowly. Just then the ends of her sari rose a little bit and for the first time, he saw her feet. They were turned around! Niharika was a ghost as well he thought. Niharika turned around and saw the look on his face. She realised what had happened. She should have been a lot more careful in covering up her feet. She lost no time in whacking him hard across the face. He fainted and dropped to the ground.
Vikas woke up dazed. He was tied to a chair. Niharika was seated on an opposite chair. They were in a large, sparsely furnished room, painted white and with cobwebs all around. There were a few appliances and travel bags which were covered over by sheets. These sheets had layers of dust over them.
“Do you have a cigarette?” she demanded. She searched his shirt and pant pockets until she found a packet even as he tried to free his hands. She pulled out a single cigarette from it.
By then he had managed to wriggle his hands out. “Don’t you try to escape,” she said. “I will be watching you.” She laughed as she said, “You don’t know many things about me.”
He held out a lighter which she pulled away and used to light the cigarette in her mouth. Then she took a deep puff, held it in her mouth as she sat still thinking with her legs crossed one over the other and then slowly made her mouth a round hole and let the smoke out. He stared at the place where the feet would normally be. But there was nothing under the drape of her sari. He wondered where her feet, that were turned around a while ago, were. His head was hurting, from the blow and from thinking too much. He swooned.
The next time he came around, Niharika was not there. There was the smell of roasted meat. He looked around him. He was in the same room and in the same chair.
Niharika emerged from what must have been the kitchen with a bowl of curry and a plate of rice. Her eyes were wide and crazy. Her looks had changed. Her mouth was cut from ear to ear. Her hair was messy. She was dressed in an unkempt old white sari this time. She seemed to have gone mad.
“Eat this!” she said as she thrust the bowl and plate to his face.
“What is this?” he asked meekly. He had resigned to his fate.
“You didn’t like my feet right? I cut them out and cooked them.”
She lifted her sari a little from the ground. There was nothing there. She was walking in the air.
“You are living a horror story. This is a horror scene. Look at my horror face... The horror of Dracula... This is a scary story. The end will also be spooky. I am a truly scary ghost.” She laughed in a wild, crazy manner. He got a severe headache. He began to vomit blood.
He fainted again. All this paranormal activity was too much for him.
The next time he came around, her face was looming over him. His shirt was wet. She had poured water on his face and mouth in order to revive him. She was holding a pair of large pliers in her right hand. He was strapped to a bed this time. With the same pliers, she hit his knees. He yelled. She had struck him with superhuman strength.
“Give me your hand,” she demanded. He pleaded as she pulled it to herself. “Please let me go.”
She gripped his middle finger with the pliers and twisted it rapidly. The finger came off and his hand bled. He cried from the pain. Then she began to chew the finger. He began to weep like a baby. Tears rolled down his eyes as he wailed. The weather was not hot but he was sweating profusely.
“You didn’t like my legs. Now that will cost you your legs as well,” said the crazed girl.
Niharika laughed, “I am no human woman – you are ill-fated.”
“I am a Mohini! I entrap men and lead them to their deaths.”
“Many years ago, my lover deserted me. I committed suicide by jumping into the well near the forest.”
“Nobody will be able to save you,” laughed Niharika.
Just then a cry rang through the air. “I will!”
Both Niharika and Vikas were taken aback. That voice was identical to Niharika’s. She turned around to face the speaker while Vikas craned his neck to get a better view. They were shocked to see Niharika’s lookalike standing there.
“Your twin sister is she?” Vikas asked Niharika.
“I don’t understand this. I don’t have a twin,” said Niharika who had come to her senses and had calmed down. Now she looked puzzled and afraid.
“Who are you?” Vikas mumbled in a weak voice.
“I am your legally wedded wife Meena,” replied the doppelganger. Truly, she changed into Meena. Both Niharika and Vikas were taken aback.
Meena had brought a piece of hard rock with her. She pulled Niharika by her hair. Niharika tried to run but couldn’t. Meena held her tightly by both arms and squeezed her hard until Niharika grew smaller and collapsed into a bundle of wrinkled skin. Meena held up what was left of the girl and pressed her further with both her palms. The mass compressed until Meena managed to push it with her right hand into her left palm. She held the thing, which was still moving, tightly inside her clutched fist. Not letting go of the strange being, she searched the house. Niharika’s voice was heard, emitting feebly from Meena’s palm. Niharika was pleading for mercy and she was asking for a chance to repent.
Meena went into the kitchen and found a large, brandy bottle. Then she pushed the compressed form into the bottle and closed the bottle with the metal cap. She screwed the cap back tightly. But Niharika was not finished yet. From what were her remains, Niharika regained her form within the brown liquid and filled up the space inside the bottle until she was a miniature of herself. Surprisingly, her presence didn’t increase the volume of the liquid. Niharika was truly a ghost. She appeared to be banging the sides of the bottle. But nobody paid her any attention. With the bottle in hand, Meena hunted the house until she found a piece of twine. With this, Meena tied the rock to the bottle.
She untied Vikas and helped him onto his feet. With his hanky, she tied up his hand over his finger stub to stop the loss of blood. He was stinking of blood and vomit. She helped him to the shower and held him under the shower-head while she turned on the tap. The water drained the waste off his body and his clothes. While he hobbled out, Meena rushed back into the kitchen and found another bottle of brandy. She made Vikas drink some of it and poured some of it on his injured hand.
Then, holding onto the Niharika bottle in one hand and to Vikas in another, she went out of the house. It was dark outside. They slowly made their way down the stairs and out of the gate to the car. Meena seated her husband in the passenger seat and she sat in the driver’s seat. She carefully placed the Niharika bottle on the dashboard. She drove the car away.
Vikas was too weak to talk. Meena broke the ice. “I am not 100 years old; I am 135 years old! But I am not a ghost. The one in the bottle is a ghost. There is a lot I need to tell you,” she said.
“Long before I met you, I was an ordinary female cobra. I lived in an anthill for a hundred years. Upon my hundredth birthday, in accordance with custom, I turned into an ichadhari nagin – a shape-shifting serpent with human form and powers. It is true that I hid all this from you. But I still love you.”
On the way, they passed a large tank of water. The surface was polluted and stinking. There were green algae growing on one side. Meena flung the bottle far into the water. It sank.
“What are you doing?” Vikas mumbled.
“That Mohini will not harm us any longer. Once we reach home, let’s pack up. We are leaving town.”