The Ritual Will Never Recur

The Ritual Will Never Recur

16 mins 10.4K 16 mins 10.4K

“Alright! I would be fastidious throughout my stay. You don’t need to worry. I am a grown-up.” This is how the conversation took the last halt. I gnawed my burger once again as the creamy bacon and cheese pleased me and my appetite. More than appetite, it was the lust that did not leave me brooding over the decision to call ‘YOUR meat’. This day was really an auspicious one for me as being alone at home is an opportunity to explore and learn about life. Being an adventure freak, the summer twilight acted like a bait. The sky was all plum with all the birds flying. My eyes caught Pied Myna and Indian Pitta, following their leader with the rays gleaming on their beak. Faraway, someone blew the sacred ‘Shank’ too. I could wait no more as I stuffed the rest of the burger into my mouth and picked my Orange T-shirt which had a Dodo on it.

I raced down to the ground floor through the stairs and had the key of my Hayabusa. I was still having the confused thoughts regarding my destination. There were locations in the city but my Orange should be roaring beyond those places too. I could not arrive at a decision, yet. But my feet were now at the parking lot and my Orange stood before me. It was always a tough decision between the better and the best. We have the fountains, statues, pork shops in our city. They can lighten up any twilight but beyond the city were rivers for fishing some Catlas and the traditional tree houses too. I would even have the chance to run at a hundred per hour. Just at time of contemplation, our new watchman came towards me.

A man of around 60 with the best behavior among the contenders and the simplest behavior, he and I had developed a good friendship. “So, you are taking some chances, Aditya?” He caught me immediately and knew my parents’ absence. “ Well! Just because of this twilight”, I said with a smile as I sat on my Orange. “Where will you be heading to?”, he asked me changing his uniform. It was the end of his part at five p.m. “ That is the confusion, Bamni uncle. I cannot take the decision.” He took a betel nut and started cutting it. “ You should come to my place, boy. Remember, I told you about it.” He put some thrust and the nut was broken. The proposal struck me. His home was in the most rural place of the city but it is a treat for your eyes and is the resplendence your very heart needs. The whole village is an avenue with a variation of trees. The betel trees welcome you, followed by coconut and then Rubber. Even after that, many other proceed. The dust of the village is golden with foxes roaming at nights. Thatched roof houses and huts are widespread there and the culture is followed with decorum. You can see hawks and vultures who can feed on infants and the lambs. Beyond the last houses, is the spacious field for grazing and fishing where the herds and cattle graze and the farmers constantly guard for the wolf packs are not rare. “I accept your proposal, uncle.” “That is my boy”, he said with a smile which ended with a grin. The grin was somewhat chivalrous but had a mysterious part too. I took notice of it and there was my sixth sense working but I decided not to stress upon it. He took his seat and I, the wanderer sped up.

Throughout the ride, he kept on repeating that the journey’s secret would be concealed in his minds. I was pretty sure that it would. He said that ‘Raganpar’, his place was even more pleasant now as the fields were not drenched in water and the nights always attract wanderlusts for the lunar light falls bright throughout the small place. The insects welcome with their eccentric sounds each of their new visitors. There would be the traditional food to complete my lust for meals. This included duck curry, fish fries, Basmati rice, a mixed vegan of brinjal, cabbage, potato and the onion pickle. The starter was promised as curd. My plans took the turn towards better and I was in awe of Bamni uncle. We crossed two police check-post and delved towards many corner points bounded by three roads. Ultimately I was driving through the exact picturesque description made by Bamni uncle. Some sweet fireflies made my mind even more happy. I drove in the village roads and the inversion out there was a bit lower than the city’s other places. In between the melodious voices and the cows’ return to their owners, bats flew and the street was vacant. Though, there sat a local behind me somewhere, I was feeling eerie.

“ Don’t you people roam at night? Is it only you returning?”, I asked riding. “ No! People, they avoid it at this month. Spring comes up with a lot of germs and at night, the wind speeds up.” I paid heed to his words and decided to fasten the speed for I knew his home. My eyes saw no human on the streets and after crossing the feeble bridge while pushing my bike, we reached his home. The place’s beauty was really of the immemorial villages. “ Will you accommodate me till day?”, I asked with a big smile on my face. Bankim uncle turned and nodded with a smile but said, “ Only if I am not caught”. His scorn comment left us laughing loud and he knocked the door. He showed me the cowshed and shared the benefits of cow dung as we waited. The door opened and it was his old wife wrapped in a white saree who opened the door. She was about to throw some skirmishes on the old man but stopped on seeing the unknown young boy. She rolled her iris once at her man and then on me. Bankim uncle broke the ice by introducing me. After the revelation of my identity, I got the traditional treatment and was given a plastic chair to sit calmly. His whole family was his wife currently as his boys were jobbers for a big company and the girl had a successful marriage as per the aunties of my colony.

I drunk the curd slowly for I still felt like a stranger before the Miss and took lame sips instead of the gnawing and the gulping. But, the wife quiet engaged me in some interested conversation of the 17th century paintings by his forefather that laid there on the varnished wall. I captured Lord Shiva in an extreme tide with high current holding his ‘Trishula’ with a face depicting demeanor. Abruptly, I had the nature’s call and the worse one. This has been my good habit of always finding out the washroom on my entry to any new residence. The hosts were busy changing and cooking respectively so I did not disturb them either. The washroom was at quiet a complicated phase of the house. It was straight from the parlor and then leftwards. The place was slippery. I took fastidious steps and then opened the door. It had the ancient latrine with the smallest space and somehow I managed to sit down. I started to whistle out of this solitude and immediately took a halt as there were arguments between the couple with the old man saying, “ I told you to clean the washroom”. This line was repeated and the woman’s voice in reply seemed totally different from the lady I met. It converted to some low-pitched vocabularies said at a pace.

I got worried and rolled my eyes to find something beneath. A piece of drenched paper caught my eyes and simultaneously I heard their kitchen door creaking . The eeriness which bounded me on my entry to the village seemed to tighten its grip over me. I picked up the photograph and the content was jaw dropping as the image had a girl with swollen eyes, marks of abrasion, cuttings and bruises indicating whips. My adrenaline rush and the heartbeats indicated the situation I was caught in. I remembered the Shiva’s painting and realized it was Jalandhara indeed. Bamni’s sentence “ If I am not caught” ran in my ears and the vacant streets increased the fear I had. The scarlet twilight changed to black lamentable night. My brain worked even faster and I realized the photograph got featured in our daily and it was a part of ‘The Unlucky 9’, the ten murders that take place every thirty years since the seventeenth century and has been doubted to be sacrifices in the name of Satan. I knew the killers but I could not be the victim. I immediately stood up and looked for ventilation but there were none.

Abruptly, the light went off and I was in for some scare as the fragile door had some constant blows from a probable stake. It went completely dark. And with a thud, the door banged open and what I sensed was a voracious run towards me. There was merely any space so I swung my leg at front which connected right. Bamni fell upon his wife and I, taking the chance, ran out of the washroom in that darkness. My eyes captured solely darkness and nothing, apart from it so I switched on the flash light and there were words accompanied by footsteps behind me, though from a long distance.” Nobody survived and nor will you”, the woman said. Bamni whom I always saw only with that club in the colony had a rapier and a whip with traces of blood in it. I turned and could glance at the locked door from that point of the house. Escape was the only option and the psychopathic couple paced towards me. Seeing the woman’s hands free, I ran towards the sofa and threw the large helmet directly on the face of her accomplice as he was equipped. “Ugh!!!”, shouted he and the old lady got involved. The lock on the door created problems and I had to tackle the catastrophe. Under the limited light, I searched on for something and noticed the nail that supported the painting. This gave me the hint I needed. I approached the old woman quite frantically and grabbed the fallen rapier. “ Where is your hammer? If ‘No’ is your answer, gone is his neck.” The woman saw the terror and pointed to the trestle table. I ran like a frightened toddler and grab the hammer with my eyes fixed on them. When I got to the door, I immediately began hammering the lock with utmost force. Abruptly, Bamni got on his foot and ran devastatingly towards me. The situation demanded a big blow with the sledge and I gave one on his head. The woman shouted looking at the scene while I got busy hammering again. Succeding at last, I kept track of my key, shouting, “Help! Help! Help!”. Shouting those words, I got my bike running at the fastest speed possible.

My shouts were persistent and when I finally crossed that isolated area, I saw life on those streets that seemed deserted. I was calmed by the villagers and after a wait of over twenty minutes narrated everything. This incident was followed by the arrest of the couple after a well executed manhunt and the dead bodies indeed were offered as sacrifices in a ritual followed by his ancestors. It was found that the photographs were a honor they gave themselves. The infamous village got its reputation back. Recently, the old couple had been sent to a rehabilitation centre and post the incident even I lived at a closet, two steps away from Bamni until my therapy completed and deaths persisted there until he died naturally.

Now, I am a family man, working as a Linguistic professor and my wife was the ’Child Development Project Officer’ who was at a village, hundred kilometers away to work on some stunted children. The calling bell and its pattern guaranteed my son’s presence at the door. The hired maid responded to it and came my son running. He was a sophomore and I had never been strict with him. I never turned stereotype unlike many of my colleagues and I was aware of his prom, his bad grades, the fights he had and all the other notorious doings of his. One thing I acted like a ‘father’ was regarding his long trips and it was his compulsion to tell me truth regarding it. “ Dad! I need to discuss something and await your prompt reply”, he said while wiping the sweat with his handkerchief. He still was panting after the soccer trials. “ How did your trials go?”, I asked him. “ Yes! Coach said the man was happy with me. But, Won’t you listen to me?”, he asked. “Good to hear that, son. Now, which trip are you going to?” , I asked. The last words stunned him and he gave a smile. However, the smile turned gloomy after some seconds. He turned his head down and begun brooding. He hardly becomes silent and the I began propelling him to a reveal the reason behind that makeover. Finally, his words made even me sad.

His childhood buddy Rohan had an accident and had asked Javi{my son} to stand beside him until dawn. I provided him a water bottle and asked him to extend the stay, if required. He took the mobile phone and left. I watched him till he drove his orange at a blazing speed to take my eyes’ leave. I was worried to let him go at night but respected his friendship at the same time. The clock showed seven post meridian and it seemed too early to sleep. Moreover, weekends are to relax so I switched on the Charcoal-Black LED and got engaged in the worst habit of switching channels. After completing half of the guide, I finally stuck to the news genre. The big headlines gave me the adrenaline rush I received back thirty years ago at an isolated mud house when I ran for life in a completely dark environment. “ Past haunts you!”, said a fearsome Bamni sitting in the sofa before me. This was the first hallucination in the last five years and I sweated with my tongue dry and serious convulsion. The fearsome Bamni came for a minute but the headlines were viewed by my eyes still with open mouth. The headline informed about the recrudescence of the ‘Unlucky nine’.

A devastated me started connecting the dots from the last event. An exact recrudescence of my worst personal experience has occurred since the last few months. Our colony’s old guard dies in an accident and the present one’s serious eye contacts with me was the scary picture that came to my mind. The bonding between Javi and the new guard left me in fear, trembling. I knew that it was the time to react and thus went for my phone. I called him with those cold hands of mine and luckily he picked it up. “ Javi, you are going to a place prescribed by Tamma, our new guard and nobody said that. Please come back or you will regret”, I said at a stretch. Javi halted for a moment and there was no response which raised my fear. “ All Right! I am returning.” Those words worked like tonic and I was calm now. Looking straight at the statue of Shiva, I took the most important decision of my life. After a five minute wait, Javi arrived and immediately apologized for lying to his best friend first time ever. I was taken aback by that response and immediately hugged him tight.

He said that Tamma’s words were eccentric and to very influencing. However, he dropped questions regarding my words over the phone. Keeping the reason conceal was a part of my plan and I promised him to tell the reason tomorrow. He was firstly reluctant but gave a go. He informed me that the place lied on the outskirts of the city near Bedati . He said that a big dome shaped tree was the landmark. He also revealed that Tamma was a bachelor and had lost his only brother last year in an accident. I was over the moon on receiving the last information. I asked Javi to inform Tamma that he would visit him at midnight with the aim of finding some pure adventure. I asked the maid to serve dinner at eight and did a ridiculous act of providing both the maid and my son some sleeping tablets at their food. But, it was me who created the plan and all these were part of it. I did not retreat and when the society slept at midnight, I woke up without answering the curious Javi.

Fondling his head, I took a sledge hammer and went to the parking lot. I wore a mask to hide my face and walked towards the guard. With some lazy steps, I took the gate’s keys and luckily did not wake him up. However, the gate was mammoth and screeched whenever it was opened. I took a stroll to build up a plan. My eyes saw the wall and the drain beneath it and I crossed the wall getting drenched in the drain water. Walking through the drain, I reached the streets and realized that I needed a vehicle but the road was completely vacant except an owl staring at my brows iris. I did not feel eerie and returned the stare. No trace of fear was present in my mind and the lunatic mind was ready to kill the avenger. I decided to walk those two hours for my feelings were in ignition to put a halt on the ‘Unlucky 9’ and stop the Satanic dynasty from their deadly ritual.

My joints gave up numerous times but it ignited the urge even more. The skin of my sole was falling but the anger was rising. The lunar light was the only light and my shadow was the only company. The cold inversion did not cause any convulsion and my sweat and panting took me farther and farther. I looked at the dome shaped tree with those eyes which had tears of hatred. The street today was vacant again and the bats were hovering today too. My last steps took me to a house with a cowshed beneath. This was not the same house but I smelt terror even today. With the sledge hammer which saved me thirty years ago, I broke the fragile door and stepped upon a corpse. The corpse was innocent and pale, white with fear and sadness. Jalndhara’s painting was hung even there and came toddling a man with a rapier towards me. I put my left leg at the front and stretched my hands as far as I could and gave a blow with ‘Herculean Strength’ to knock down the last practitioner and put a halt to the ‘Unlucky 9’ which never became ‘Unlucky 10’ yet again. “ You ended everything”, said Bamni. “There is no son of yours to carry on the ritual and I know none of your brother followed this practice either. The daughters of your dynasty are not allowed to follow this ritual either. And the best thing is no bride will ruin herself yet again. I have read all about this horrendous ritual of yours after my stay in that asylum. But, my fear strangled me to take steps. Now, it will never strangle me and nor would your dynasty strangle others”, I said those words to the black walls and swung the sledgehammer with full force as my hallucination evaded for ever after.


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