The Stamp Paper Scam, Real Story by Jayant Tinaikar, on Telgi's takedown & unveiling the scam of ₹30,000 Cr. READ NOW
The Stamp Paper Scam, Real Story by Jayant Tinaikar, on Telgi's takedown & unveiling the scam of ₹30,000 Cr. READ NOW

Charmaine deSouza

Horror Tragedy Thriller


Charmaine deSouza

Horror Tragedy Thriller

Mother Is Watching!

Mother Is Watching!

13 mins

"When I die, I swear, I'm going to crawl out of my grave and haunt you for the rest of your life," my mother snapped as she watched me spread my food neatly around my plate while I held her gaze defiantly.

Seven-year-old me was both petrified and fascinated by the thought of the existence of the paranormal. What if there really was life after death? What if the mother's ghost haunted me? At least I'd have a scary story to tell my children. Perhaps they would be fans of a good horror story just like me.

"The fried fish is over," I whined in my meekest voice ignoring the thoughts in my head.

"You should have eaten the rice first and who asked you to drink so much water?" she glared at me.

"The curry was spicy," I deliberately kept my voice low.

"Nonsense!" my mother raised her voice by a few decibels. "You ate Caldinho and we both know that's not spicy."

The literal translation of "Caldinho" is broth but it's a non-spicy curry made from coconut milk. It's quite flavorsome.

"It's too fishy," I sighed, defeatedly. "And we both know that I don't like fish in the curry!"

"Well, then we'll just have to sit here until you decide to finish your meal," my mother gave me a look that made me feel like she was going to shoot fireballs from her eyes and burn the little flesh my frail frame possessed.

This soon became my mother's signature threat because which child didn't believe in ghosts and ghost stories? Adult me? Not so much! I did not believe in any sort of paranormal activity.

"When I die…," my mother would begin.

"I swear I'm going to crawl out of my grave and haunt you for the rest of your life," I would end her sentence in between peals of laughter. "Mum, do you actually think that's going to scare me? Now?"

She would give me a look of disdain as I'd flounce out of the room picturing a zombie mother crawling out of her grave and hunting me down.

Months turned into years, years melted into decades, mother got ill quite suddenly. The doctors said she had "Hemochromatosis", a rare disorder where iron builds up in your body. There's no cure for this disease. The doctors said it was hereditary. They did all they could to save her and after six harrowing weeks taking turns to stay with her in the hospital, we were told to take her home and make her as "comfortable" as possible. It was a gentle yet diplomatic way of telling us to mentally prepare ourselves for the final farewell.

Mother didn't live much longer after we got her home. The night before she died, she kept calling her mother to take her.

"Mae, mae come to take me," I could hear her all the way in my bedroom which was in another wing of the house. (Mae (pronounced as "my") is Portuguese for mother.)

I stepped out of the bedroom to check on my father and my brother. They were sound asleep in their respective rooms. I crept downstairs skipping the stair that creaked.

I peeped into the guestroom where my mother was being cared for by the night nurse. I saw the nurse sitting in a corner, rocking herself.

"What happened? Are you okay?" I asked her, gently.

"Your mother, we are not alone in this room right now," she glanced around, fearfully.

"There's just you and my mother," I assured her seeing no apparitions in the room. "And me now."

An owl hooted three times just outside the window and tapped on the pane. The nurse turned towards the window; fear written all over her face.

"Something is here," she rocked herself harder. "That owl. They come when there's going to be a death in the family. They hoot when the soul is ready to leave…"

"Those are all old wives' tales. Get some rest," I sighed and peeked at the owl perched on the ledge outside the window. A shiver ran down my spine when the bird turned its head to look at me. I felt like it was looking right through me instead of at me. "I'll watch her for a while."

"You should know that I could not detect her pulse this evening," the nurse was informative.

I nodded. "Get some sleep."

My eyes kept straying towards the owl outside the window. For some reason, it didn't seem like it wanted to fly away any time soon. It was only a silhouette, but it was creepy enough to make anyone's blood run cold. The temperature in the room had also dropped which was rather strange because summer had just begun. I sat there shivering in a pair of tattered light blue shorts and a faded Guns N Roses t-shirt. Mother would have been upset if she had to see how disgracefully I was dressed. She never allowed me to wear torn clothes for some obscure reason.

The night nurse fell asleep while I made myself comfortable by my mother's bedside. She sensed my presence and opened her eyes. Without any warning, she grabbed my wrist. It played out like a horror scene from a movie. I was startled. My heart almost stopped beating.

"When I die, I swear, I'm going to crawl out of my grave and haunt you for the rest of your life," she shut her eyes and continued groaning.

I pried her fingers opened and pulled my wrist away. I must admit that as skeptical as "adult me" was, I did feel slightly disconcerted. A cold wave of fear coursed through my veins. I woke the night nurse with a trembling hand and retreated to my bedroom for whatever was left of the night.

The next morning, my father woke me up. He had called a few close friends, family members, and neighbors. We gathered around my mother's bedside.

"I can't watch," my father muttered, irritably. "She can't leave me. Not now. What will I do without her?"

I tried to convince him that the mother needed him there, but he was a stubborn, old man. I shrugged and returned to my mother's side. She opened her eyes suddenly like she had the previous night, mustered every ounce of life she had in her, and called out to my father. She stared at the doorway until he entered the room. Their eyes locked for a fleeting moment, and my mother closed her eyes for the last time. A streamlet of blood trickled from the side of her mouth. I wiped it as discreetly as possible while my brother led our distraught father out of the room.

Several months had gone by since mother's funeral and there was no sign of "Zombie-mom" crawling out of her grave, no scary ghost, nothing out of the ordinary.

That sentence still haunted my mind, "When I die, I swear, I'm going to crawl out of my grave and haunt you for the rest of your life." The way it had been saying the last time sent shivers down my spine.

One night when I was working late, I heard some strange sounds on the stairway. I could have sworn they sounded like footsteps of someone trying to be sneaky. I opened my bedroom door and stepped out. My neighbour's backdoor lights lit up the long corridor albeit dimly. What I saw next made my blood curdle.

I stared in disbelief at the mother "float" up the stairs and reach out to switch off the staircase lights. She turned her face towards me and glowered. I admonished my feelings citing that it was the night playing tricks on my eyes. I watched my mother disappear into my parents' bedroom.

"Stupid imagination," I forced a laugh and returned to what I was doing.

It's been sixteen years since mother has been dead and I assure you there has been no haunting of any kind. My father, brother and I had long since left the house my mother died in and we went our own ways. Those moments and my mother's words never left the crevices of my mind.

A few months ago, I received a call from my best friend asking me to meet her urgently. I immediately began playing events in my head wondering if there was something I did or said to upset her. She's one of the few people who have immense patience with my erratic ways. I agreed to meet, of course. I had to find out what I did wrong.

We met over coffee.

"Hi Breanna," she stressed on my full name.

"Hi Kaitlyn," I matched her tone.

We laughed lightly.

"Okay, serious faces," she said, and we immediately changed the looks on our faces. This took years to perfect. "Coffee?"

"Yes, please," I grinned. "You know I never refuse a good offer."

Kai got the coffee ready and I made myself comfortable in my favorite corner of her home. I loved how tastefully she had done up her home. Candy orange walls adorned with pictures of her family. The hall felt warm and cozy.

We settled down.

"I have something to tell you," she dived right in.

"Steve has a girlfriend and you saw him," I joked. "Or… a boyfriend?"

"Be serious," she stifled a laugh. "It's not about Steve and we won't be talking about him either. It's about you, actually… it's about me."

"Okay," I frowned. "What did you do?"

"I had a dream, it was lucid, I felt like I was actually there," she began.

"Go on," I urged her.

"I was in San Francisco and your mom asked me to meet her at a little café overlooking the bridge," she continued. "I met her. She asked me how I was, and I told her I was fine. She suddenly reached out and grabbed my hand…" Without a warning Kai grabbed my wrist. I froze. That was the same way my mother had grasped my hand hours before she died. I tried to pull my wrist back, but Kai's grip was firm.

"Wait," she frowned. "Your mother caught my wrist and told me that you are feeling alone right now. Like you have no one. She doesn't want you to feel this way. She told me to tell you that you are not alone. She made me promise that I would be there for you whenever you needed me. She instructed me to say these exact words, "Mother is watching!"

I didn't know how to react. There was no way Kai could have possibly known about the mother's threat.

"You do, believe me, right?" Kai's hand was still gripping mine.

"I – I have no reason to doubt," I stammered. "The way you grabbed my wrist was the same way mother did hours before she died. There's no way you could have done that on your own but Frisco? That is bizarre? Why not Café Tato's? She loved the bhaji puri there."

Kai released her grip and controlled her laughter. We loved the food at Café Tato's, a veg restaurant in the heart of Panjim, that had been established during the Portuguese rule and serves the best Chana masala I had ever tasted and don't get me started about their mushroom bhaji. A trip to Panjim always meant a brief stop at Tato's.

"You are incorrigible," she said in mock anger. "Here I am telling you something serious and you go crack lame jokes about it."

I conveniently forgot about Kai's dream. There were no more incidents and life continued as normal until the pandemic broke out and we went into lockdown. Work got in the way then work stopped because of the lack of business everywhere and I was living every single day like it was the weekend. I would step out of the house for necessities and hurry back home.

A couple of months ago, I got a message from another friend. This time it was over Messenger. I was a little taken aback. I had not spoken to Milena in years. Not since I had moved out of my childhood home twelve years ago.

"Hey Brea," her message flashed on my screen. Right out of the blue.

My eyes almost popped out.

"I have…" and the message was deleted before I could read it.

"Hi Milena," I typed back. "How are you doing?"

"I have something to tell you and I don't know how to," her reply appeared on my screen. "Sorry, I'm fine, how are you doing?"

"I'm doing great too," I replied promptly and gave her a brief update on my life.

"I'm sorry if this might sound weird, and please don't feel bad," her words popped up on my screen.

"I had a dream…"

"Okay, don't worry, I'm cool," I hit the enter key.

"About your mom," her words kept appearing rapidly. "I dreamt about your mom. She asked me how I was doing. I told her that I was fine, and she told me to reach out to you. She made me promise to keep in touch with you and check on you from time to time. She also told me to tell you that you don't have to feel alone. She said to tell you that you are not alone."

I think time froze in those few seconds.

"She said to tell you that "Mother is watching!"

"What? Are you serious? Are you sure that was the dream you had? This is kind of crazy! My best friend Kai had a dream about mom, and she said mom told her the same thing, in the same words." I typed rapidly and sent my message. "This is too much of a coincidence now. Both of you could not have possibly had the same dream and not the same words. That's just a crazy coincidence."

Fast forward to right now. Last week, in fact, I received a message from a childhood friend, Corina informing me that there was mail for my mother. Sixteen years after her death and she received a letter. I studied the picture of the envelope and requested Corina to keep it for me. I went home the same day.

I picked up the letter. It was a cheque for the amount I had been thinking about. This was getting weirder by the minute.

I visited a few neighbours. There was barely anyone in sight due to the pandemic. I spent a couple of hours at home before returning to my residence. It was dark by the time I got back. There were no streetlights that day and I depended on the lights of the complex.

Something felt strange. There seemed to be some heaviness in the air. I got goosebumps. My hands began to tremble. I took a step forward and an owl flew away just beside me. I had never seen an owl on the ground before. I turned to follow its flight path. It perched on a branch of the almond tree and stared at me. There was a sudden chill in the air.

I could hear faint murmurs around me. The babbling seemed to get louder and clearer.

"When I die…," a voice was close to my left ear. 

"I swear…," another voice on my right side was clearly audible.

I'm going to crawl out of my grave…," a third voice was in front of me.

 "And haunt you for the rest of your life!" the fourth voice was behind me.

I was surrounded by the sound of sinister laughter. I started spinning around to see who was there.  

The owl hooted thrice; its eyes locked on me. I didn't know what to feel at this point. Should I feel spooked or should I just laugh it off as a crazy coincidence, an error in the system perhaps? A scene ripped right out of a Spielberg Horror.

I kept spinning faster and faster until I was not sure whether it was me spinning or everything around me. The world seemed to morph before my eyes, and I felt myself falling. That's when I felt it. A hand on my shoulder. It was oddly familiar. Heavy, yet not too heavy, and firm. Nearly reassuring. Somewhat comforting.

A masculine voice rasped above the sound of the wind. "Mother is watching!"

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