Guardian of the Inheritance
Guardian of the Inheritance
Sarah looked at the peculiar pointed arch, the steeply pitched roofs and front-facing gables of the manor gave a different feeling in her mind, a burnt window hanged from behind the manor. She walked slowly over the pavement towards the house and reflected on her deserted surroundings. She had always hated the creepy Morrison Manor with its old Gothic look and lone surroundings. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel afraid. It was after 12 years that she was stepping in to this manor. The wind blew hard, making Sarah worried. It would rain soon.
Octobers in Aldona is not good at all, the onset of winter brings in storms and rains.
The area frequents cyclone. She knocked at the door with her feeble hands, "Knock, Knock" once, twice and the third times no one opened the door. "Alicia was supposed to be here to open the door for her. She must be inside, but why would she not open the door", thought Sarah. She pushed the door little hard, with a click sound the door opened, she opened the door wide, it made a horrible screeching noises as if no one had touched it since ages. She entered the manor. The room was dimly lit, but was warm. It was chilly outside Sarah felt the warmth inside and was relieved a little from the biting cold. She shut the door behind her immediately. She could smell fresh cookies being baked, "Alicia still bakes such beautiful and mouth watering cookies", she thought
"Alicia, Alicia where are you?" she called out. The words as if echoed back to her.
There was some clatter of dishes and soft whistle from the kettle. Sarah tiptoed in to the kitchen and peeped in. There was no one. Just the large kettle on the stove where the water was kept to boil for the tea. The cup and the saucer arranged and the tea bag dipped in ready to be served, on a dish there were fresh cookies that Sarah smelled of. "Alicia must have prepared them for me, but where is she?"She must have gone to the weekly market to fetch some vegetables and fruits, usually the weekly market sets up on the river bed of the Mapusa river. Localites look forward to the weekly market as the city was far off and to fetch any product from there would be tiresome and invest the entire day. She was exhausted and suffering from jetlag and a travel of almost 2 hrs from the Goa International airport to Aldona made her feel stressed
Things have changed since she left for her higher studies. The roads were concrete and broad now, the highways connected the towns. She did not had to wait for any vehicle at the airport, it was simple she hired a taxi direct to Morrison Manor. The only thing that did not change was this Manor.
She had observed that while entering. The manor stood still on a huge acre of land, no neighbourhood nearby. The building stood erect but was surrounded by swamps and wild hedges. The moss had eaten off most of the plasters on the wall and the bricks popped out in few of the places, giving it a look of a Gothic manor.
She was just 6 when she lost her parents and left this house. The memories were still fresh in her mind. Something hissed in the kitchen, the water had boiled, Sarah prepared for herself a cup of tea, it's soothing after a journey. She must take a hot shower, thinking she sipped the tea. It had started to drizzle outside, Sarah looked towards an open window, the drizzle was now turning into big drops and started to splash upon her face, it felt good, it reminded her of her childhood when she would make paperboats and float them on the water and used to be scolded by her mother for getting herself wet. She had been missing her parents, an itching pain brought out a drop of tear in her eyes, she wiped it and slowly took to the stairs to her room. The room was made well, she was so tired that she thought to lay down, but she needed a hot shower to lighten herself. She entered her bath room, hot water was made ready for her, Alicia still was so caring, she must have heated the water for her, Sarah thought. The bathroom still had the same fresh smell of Jasmine, she remembered her mother using the fragrance of Jasmine. Alicia had kept the house as it was when she left. She opened her clothes and dipped herself in the warm water, her eyes were heavy and she closed them.
"Sarah, Sarah, don't run away, you have grown naughty now. . "a tingling voice made Sarah open her eyes, she saw a little girl run all over the house in a little pink dress and her mom running behind her, scolding and pleading her to stop running across the room.
The door opened with a bang and someone barged in ferociously, huge men stood there gaurding the door. The little girl stopped all of a sudden and gazed at the men, the mother had strikes of fear over her face she gasped, the little girl counted the men, one two, three. . . . . There was fearful smile on the face of each men, they looked like demons. One of them had a scar on the face stood there smiling like devil, possibly he was the boss. The mother shrieked and within seconds another man flipped and held her by the arms so that she doesn't run away with her child.
The boss moved towards the scared little girl, who was now shifting towards her mom, trying to find shelter. The boss knelt down in front of the little girl and spoke, "I am your uncle baby are you scared of me?" The little girl looked at her mother with pale eyes.
"Don't you dare touch my daughter"? screamed the mother.
The boss burst in to a loud laugh, but this was not humanly. As if a fierce wolf was howling.
"Just leave or else I will call the cops"
The laugh grew louder. The huge man moved towards the mother now, "What did you say?call the cops?"he laughed again.
The laugh suddenly was interrupted when the third man who was in the position and gaurding the door fell upon his face. With a jerk both the goons look towards the door.
The villagers holding sticks, axes, screamed and warned the men to leave, they were ten or twenty and the men were three . . . but they had loaded guns, the boss sprang out his revolver and aimed at the little girl. He had grown mad like a wild dog, he gripped the little girl in his arm warning every one to stop where they were or he will kill the girl and backed up.
He was not aware there was someone waiting on him from behind. There was a loud bang and the man fell on the marble floor leaving the little girl, blood oozing off his head. "Alicia"
Sarah's eyes opened she was still in the bathtub, the incidents passed by as if they were happening to her now, when they happened to her twelve years back and she was the little girl in pink.
There had been dispute for this house for quite some time, a promoter and his goons had been bothering Sarah's parents, asking them to sell off the property with a good sum of money however Sarah's father Richard Morrison had always denied. The requests of the goons turned into threats, slowly and gradually they would attack the family quite often. The family had lodged complaint against them but no go, the cops had always supported the promoter and his goon, they were powereful.
The Morrison Manor was a historical structure for Aldona. The village was quiet with almost three thousand people. There were hardly any neighborhood near by, every house was at distance. This manor was built by Richard's grandfather, when they came to India to settle. Richard had never thought to give this house away to anyone. Sarah was young so he wrote his will that until Sarah grew up to be eighteen Alicia, Sarah's Nanny would takecare of the property if something happens to the husband and the wife.
Sarah remembered everything, she remembered how that evening Alicia saved her and her mother from the goons, hitting them from behind with a stick.
She also remembered how the house was set on fire that night and her parents killed. The goons had attacked the Morrisons and killed them with the guns. Foreboading, Alicia took little Sarah and ran out of the burning house from the back door, when the villager had seen the fumes and had reached out for help, they had caught the goons while they were trying to flee and had beaten them to death. Alicia with the help of father Patric of the local Church had sent Sarah to her Aunt in USA after fewdays to look after and she stayed back in the devasted manor protecting it from any evil activities and keeping it safe for Sarah to handover after she turned eighteen.
She had written just one letter in details to Sarah's aunt in twelve years. Explaining about Sarah's inheritance. And now when she was eighteen she had come over to Aldona to inherit her property.
After the bath, she got ready and went down stairs, dinner was waiting at the table, had Alicia returned?she called out"Alicia, Alicia, where are you?"Sarah felt a little quizzical since there seemed to be no one in the house but she felt the existence of someone.
"Had Alicia grown mute or deaf due to age?"
She had no power to think much, she must speak to Alicia in the morning as of now she should eat something and sleep she was tired.
She laid in bed but as if the sleep was taken away from her. She shifted on her bed to and fro, but couldn't sleep. She woke up and strolled towards the balcony.
She saw something. . . . no someone, who was bringing a pail of water from the well, a lady in apron, Sarah remembered, Alicia, there she was. She called out"Alicia, Alicia. . . "Alicia didn't look up.
Sarah could not understand anything.
She walked back to her bed and tried sleeping. When the door opened softly, the lady in apron came inside. The face couldnot be seen due to the dimmed light, a voice asked, "Are you not getting good sleep dear?"
Alicia quietly came up to the bed side and whispered, "let me put you to sleep"saying so she started to move her fingers against Sarah's hair gently with affection and singing a lallaby in a soft tone. Sarah didn't remember anything she felt asleep.
Next morning she woke up afresh but what was wrong?She was half laid on a dirty sofa, it was hard not as soft and cozy as she was on the bed last night. The room looked dirty, cobwebs everywhere, it seemed that noone had cleaned the room since ages, her sight shifted towards the dining table where she had her dinner last night nothing was in there except for a thick layer of dust settled on top.
The furnitures broken, the pictures on the wall were coated with dust and dirt hanging upside down.
Was she dreaming the whole night?Where was Alicia she came over to Sarah last night.
Sarah couldnot understand what was happening to her.
When her eyes fell upon few letters which lay on the table. She picked them up and started reading. The letter was dated back to her second year stay in USA almost eleven years back. It said. . . .
I know when you would get this letter I wouldnot be hear to hand you over your inheritance as promised to your dad. But since I promised so would I do it. I am suffering from blood cancer and the doctors had given me just the time of six months from now, the promoter had been hauching upon this house like wolves waiting for the hunt as soon as I die they would take a grip of this property at the moment there could be legal steps hence they are sitting back.
But do not worry my child I would guard this house with my soul. I had always loved you as my child and protected this house for you. Nevertheless these goons can take away my life or the deadly disease can but my soul will be here to guard the house and you.
Sarah could not believe her eyes below the letter was a stamp paper talking about Sarah's inheritance to the property.
She felt a drop of tear in her eyes, she ran out of the house shouting, "Alicia, Alicia where are you?". . . . . .
Somewhere in someplace a smile erupted on Alicia's face, from now on the Morrison Manor will no longer be Haunted. . .