Purnima lay in bed, tossing from side to side. She was trying very hard to get some sleep. Her husband had expired a month back. Both her son and daughter had advised her not to stay alone, but to accompany them. No, she would not leave the haven which she and her husband had created. It was their paradise. It did not matter if her husband, Ronnie, was not there –at least his memories lingered on in everything in their abode. There was nostalgia in those memories. When they were together, she would ask him every now and then, how she would survive without him. They had been a very close couple. His reply would invariably be that he would come back to take her along with him. How could he be happy without her! Heaven would not be heaven if she were not there.
Now as she tossed about in her Double bed, all alone, her thoughts were only on Ronnie. She ruminated on the past few years, when her husband had become wheel-chair –bound, because of stroke. He had become absolutely dependent on her, and Purnima felt that the bond had become even stronger, as she knew he needed her.
Purnima and Ronnie had been married for the last forty-five years. Theirs was a love marriage; as they say ‘love at first sight’. She had to give a solo singing performance for the Annual Function, put up for their Postgraduate Reunion. He had been asked to play the accompaniment on the synthesizer. After that, there were many such programs, and finally, it had ended up in marriage. People said ‘they were made for each other,’ and they themselves felt that their love was for all eternity.
Purnima pulled up her quilt right over her shoulders. Perhaps she would feel more cozy and snug, but there was a flapping sound from outside. ‘Was there a bird trying to come in to avoid the cold outside?’ she wondered. She trained her eyes to see through the window pane. It seemed she could see the silhouette of a man’s hand trying to move the sliding window. A chill ran down her spine. Who could be there? Then she heard distinctly a hoarse whisper calling out her name, ‘Purnima come out! ’She had an uncontrollable urge to step out. “Come, come, come!” She heard the metallic urgent whisper. She gravitated towards the window, as she felt the strong pull of some current which was forcefully drawing her out like a magnet. She hit the metal frame of the window. Purnima came to a blind violent halt. Then she came out of her trance. Slowly she went back to her bed, terribly shaken and terrified. Sleep eluded her She kept the lights on an entire night and took out a book and tried to read. But she could not concentrate and spent her time looking at the clock every fifteen minutes.
The next day many times she was about to call her son and daughter, to tell them that she found it scary to live alone, but self-dignity restrained her. The following evening at about eight o’clock she got into bed. Her eyes were smarting and looked swollen and red for keeping awake the entire night the previous evening. She decided to retire early as she was not feeling too good. She must have dozed off when all of a sudden she heard her mobile phone ring. She got up with a start and put the instrument to her ear. Somebody was telling her, “Come Purnima, Come!” “We will be together forever!” She quickly put down the handset; the handset went whizzing across the room like a flying saucer. With the greatest self- control that she could muster, she closed her eyes tight, put her pillow on her ears, and tried her best to get some sleep.
The next evening, again she went through the same traumatic experience. After being unable to sleep for two nights, she had hoped that she would get some rest, as she was definitely not feeling well. Though she got into bed, she was ill at ease. She said her prayers over and over again. She told God that she was scared, and asked Him to spare her the experience of Ronnie communicating with her, though she loved him and missed him. She hoped her prayers would be answered by God. Now she felt more at ease. She finally fell asleep but was woken up by the rattling of the same window. She lay still for some time. But when the sound persisted, non-stop, she knew there was no alternative other than getting up. She went to the window with her heart thumping, and her hands icy cold. She looked out and there she saw a figure smiling at her. But that figure was disintegrating into similar figures, which were disappearing into the depth of the night. Purnima was awe-struck. The eyes and teeth were luminescent. They glowed in the darkness. Every rib was also lighted up. Ronnie was gesturing with his hands, and telling her to come out. She tried to tell him that she did not want to, but though she formed the words with her lips, no sound would come out from her throat. Then again she felt the pull as if she was being sucked out. She held on to the window frame in a tight grip. After motioning to her a few times without any result, the apparition melted into the darkness. Then for a few months, Ronnie stopped coming. Purnima knew it was the answer to her prayer.
Then one night she heard somebody calling her. First, she thought she was imagining. But again as she heard the voice, she opened her eyes. She looked around in utter amazement. Her bedroom was suffused with the aroma of flowers. An iridescent light gave the room a sublime ambiance. In front of her were gossamer-like, flimsy forms, which were floating in the air. Slowly one took the shape of her husband, Ronnie. The other remained diaphanous. She could make out that Ronnie was holding a lady’s hand. He then explained why he had appeared. This was his last message, “Purnima, this is Sabita, my wife from my marriage when I was born before. She had left me after thirty years of our life together when she had met with a car accident. I used to love her very much, but she left me for the next world. We have been united, and I am blissfully happy with her. As I discovered you are not ready to join me, I will wait for you till you are, and we will all be a happy family in heaven”.
Purnima looked on mesmerized as the vision slowly became fainter and fainter, and at last, could not be seen at all. She thanked God and knew that she had no reason to fear in the future, for Ronnie would not appear to her again, as he had found the happiness which he was seeking. Surprisingly she was not jealous!