The Mystery Of Hotel Mount Verghese
The Mystery Of Hotel Mount Verghese9 mins 372 9 mins 372
Part 1: Dangling references
Charu had a very uneasy feeling while walking back. The thoughts of Sheryl kept poking her every now and then. For a second, she thought that she might have been either fantasizing or hallucinating. But the face in the photograph could have been neither fantasy nor hallucination. It was a clear picture as if she had been going through her own memories.
She tried to make some logic out of it, trying to connect it to her past, but alas! Each time she hit a closed door. No compartment of her memoriam seemed to have even a mere mention of Sheryl. The sword, the code, the photo, Sheryl's desire for a mountain, and she herself …a dead ringer of Sheryl…all seemed bizarre and extremely unlikely.
She came to an abrupt halt when an auto driver passed by dangerously closely. She hadn't realized that she was walking absent-mindedly by then. Shaken, she hired an auto and went home.
She opened the gate of the front yard and went in. Everything was unnaturally calm. Darkness had started to take over. The cold blow of wind hit her, making her shiver. She felt someone's presence. An aura perhaps! Controlling her fear, she hurried towards the house. While knocking, she remained outwardly calm. The people inside did not need to know what was going on, at least not now. The maid opened the door and let her in. Depressed, Charu felt like going to grandma.
Slowly she opened the door to grandma's room. The nurse was probably going to feed grandma with some hot soup. Charu interrupted her, "I will do it." The nurse smiled and handed the soup bowl to her. Sitting near grandma, she began feeding her slowly.
"Grandma would certainly have enlightened me, had she been well." thought Charu. The memories with Grandma were enchanted with happiness. Smiling to herself, she kept the emptied bowl in the tray.
The Nurse came in and told her that dinner was ready. As Charu went into dining, a swirl of wind made windows shatter. Feeling aghast, she was immediately reminded of Sheryl. Remaining rooted to the spot, she tried to figure out the exact cause. Her thought process was disturbed by the maid, who came in and arranged the dinner on the table.
She said," Akka, please let me know if you need something more". Charu nodded.
This maid was new. Charu felt like talking to her.
She asked, "You are new here, right? When did you join here?"
The maid was probably one of those who liked to chatter. She started, "Yes Akka, I was appointed here after you left for the USA. The old servant-maid was not ready to continue." Her monologue continued to explain the 5W's(why, what, how, where & by whom). Tired of meaningless chatter, Charu interrupted her, "Okay, but how did you land upon this job?"
She answered, "I live nearby to Martha, your Uncle Vincent's caretaker. When the old lady had given notice to your father, he mentioned his need for a new servant-maid to Uncle Vincent. Aunt Martha happened to overhear the conversation and she asked me for the job. I was badly in need of one, so I was just very happy to say yes".
Charu was not interested to hear how this lady was hired thereafter at her house, it was a very obvious story. She now was awestruck with the fact of Martha being there in the picture, which however vague it seemed, had connected again to matter of Sheryl Verghese. Not ready to hear another long story, Charu sent the servant-maid in to fetch some Rasam for her.
"Here we come again. Back to Mount Verghese and Sheryl. This seems extraordinarily connected to each other. Like a chain. A chain, that is slowly dragging me towards Sheryl." Still engulfed in the mixed thoughts of fear and confusion, Charu hastily finished her dinner and went to the bedroom.
Part 2: A jigsaw puzzle
"Thoughts never cease to put you in dilemma," she thought. Suddenly, her sight felt over the same book lying half-open on bed. As she ran her hand over the photo, the lamp started to flicker. A cold shiver passed through her and heart started racing. She thought it would now jump out of her mouth. She instantly threw away the book. Regaining her control, she picked it up, closed it and pushed it in the closet behind. The flickering stopped!
Feeling surprised and more frightened, she tried to pull out all these thoughts from her mind. "Some questions are better left unanswered. Answers to such questions raise a series of new questions which then do not cease to haunt mind." She Thought. "I won't think about this for anymore. Let Sheryl's soul rest with peace." Concluding the matter for herself, she went to bed.
But her subconscious mind hadn't obeyed her head; it was still revolving around the same thoughts.
'She was now on the second floor of the Hotel Mount Verghese, standing in front of a closed door. The plate indicating floor number hung from ceiling at some distance. The door seemed to have some sort of groove for something to fit in. Distant and vague voices were able to reach her. She tried hard to hear the conversation. Someone was arguing over a code. But the details were not audible.
"Sherry, what are you doing here?" a voice came in. Startled, she looked back. A swirl of dark robes came and then everything went dark…Nothing but those dark robes were visible…A lady started shrieking in a loud screeching voice. Suddenly two hands came out from the dark and ……'
Charu felt choked. She suddenly woke up and was trembling badly. After a moment she realized that she was sweating profusely. The blanket had somehow engulfed itself around her neck. Her mouth had been dried up and the heart was pounding at a speed of racing bike. She grabbed some water with her trembling hands and drank it hastily, in an attempt to gather control over herself.
It felt very hot sitting within bed with droplets of sweat swirling down the nape of her neck. Getting up, she rushed towards the bathroom. It felt soothing when she splashed her face with cold water.
Much more relaxed now, she opened the window pane and walked into balcony. Swift cool breeze, whizzing through the ears, felt relaxing. Yet the dream wasn't out of her mind. Surprisingly, that voice had called her as 'Sherry'. The faint voices, were they from the locked room or from somewhere else? One lady had been shrieking. Who was she? The questions seemed to take her nowhere. She felt very tensed and depressed. The reins to control life seemed to have been slipping away from her hands.
"Everything happens for a purpose. The one, who understands this, usually tries to make correct choices instead of taking control." Grandma used to say.
She felt like going to grandma again. Careful enough not to wake up the nurse, she entered the room. Sitting near grandma's head, she took her hand into her own hand.
Soon she began to dive deeper into her memories with grandma. "Life is unpredictable, challenging and more importantly transient", thought Charu.
Grandma was a fierce lady; she had supported Charu through every bold decision. Grandma had always been preaching to the choir for her. Now she lay there on the mercy of machines for her own life! A jolt of all suppressed feelings hit Charu. She started sobbing uncontrollably.
"Grandma…What do I do?" She kept asking her. After a while, she thought, how would grandma have behaved in such a case? Would she have just feared off? No..of course not!
Grandma would certainly have gone to dig roots of all this uncertainty instead of letting fear take hold of her! This thought gave Charu some positivity. She stood up. The nurse was woken up and was looking at her inquiringly.
Charu replied, "Nothing…I just…sorry." Charu hurried off wiping her tears, unable to complete.
Charu had now decided to let go of fear and think logically about all. Accepting the facts seemed the only way to make pace with the emotional turmoil. She thought, "It seems like a game of jigsaw puzzle, however, pieces in the middle seem to have been lost in time. Who could have at least some pieces? Straight enough…'Uncle Vincent'..!!"
Part 3: Enigma darkens
Charu woke up bit late following morning. Looking at the time, she hurried to get freshen up. Hastily finishing the coffee, she hired a taxi and went to Uncle's house.
She rang the bell and waited impatiently. The person to open the door was Ruth. Charu stepped inside and immediately demanded to see Uncle Vincent. Looking at her with an expressionless face, he told her that Uncle had left for Egypt on the night before.
Charu was highly disappointed as well as surprised to hear this. The only person who could have shaded some light on the matter at hand was Uncle. But he hadn't mentioned anything about the Egypt trip in their last meeting.
"Was this planned earlier?" She enquired. Ruth replied with same expressionless face, "It was a sudden plan, madam."
"Did Uncle say anything more about this visit?" She continued.
Ruth, now puzzled, said, "No. But he said that something urgent had been reported."
Charu had to connect with Uncle at any cost.
"Do you have any contact details of him?" Please this is urgent. "Pleaded Charu. Surprised by this urgency, he said, "Madam, I don't have any details but mother may have. Let me go and fetch her. Please wait till then." He departed.
Charu sat on the couch skimming through a book placed on table. She was halfway through it, when Martha came in. For a second, she stared at Charu. Then her eyes widened with fear. She started trembling and shouting "Sheryy…Sherry you….you came back…Oh good Lord…You kept your promise…" She kept hysterically shrieking as if going through an excruciating pain. Charu was instantly reminded of her dream and the voice. After continuing to shriek for a minute or two, Martha fainted.
Looking at the expressions of stunned disbelief on Ruth's face, it was clear that he was just as much shocked as Charu was. Both remained rooted to their spots, as if petrified. Hearing this commotion, other servants rushed in and took Martha inside. Having nothing more that could be done, she left with a heavy heart.
Entering the home, she felt lost. Martha had never seen her before. Why did she call her Sherry? And what was the promise? Looking at the unfathomable expressions on her face, maid asked, "Akka, you look stressed. What has happened?"
"Nothing", replied Charu, not in the mood to discuss anything right then. Maid just turned to walk away when Charu remembered that she lived near to Martha. She could have known something about Martha's past. She immediately interrupted her, "I was wondering...if you knew anything about Martha, dear."
Looking surprised, she answered, "Not much, I was very young when Aunt Martha came in to live in the nearby house. She was never sort of an amicable lady. Always used to be lost in thoughts. But from what rumors had it, she used to work at the hotel Mount Verghese before."
"Whatt?" cried Charu in utter surprise. "Yes, and it is still a secret that what actually made her depart. I used to go around with Ruth to play, Mum never liked that so she…."
"Get me some Coffee dear, will you?" interrupted Charu as maid showed every sign to continue the discussion albeit in absolutely wrong direction. She looked unhappy at this sudden dismissal, but went inside without any word.
Charu's mind was racing. She was still not clear, but this was better than having to shoot arrows in complete dark. She kept pondering over this new development…while the voice in her head kept repeating, "You kept your promise…Sherry...You came back..."!!