Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.
Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.

Amitav Ganguly

Drama Romance Fantasy


Amitav Ganguly

Drama Romance Fantasy



16 mins


Unexpectedly my eyes flicked wide open when I heard that the radio of my electronic clock was playing, some devotional song was being sung. Moments later, it stopped. I peered at the luminescent radio clock on the side table.

It was showing 2.00 a.m., dead of the night!

I felt annoyed; why did the radio start and stop at this God-forsaken hour? I hadn't set any radio-alarm.

Then I glanced at the window; it was closed with the curtains drawn together, the AC was working silently, spewing cool air, and the room in the semi-darkness appeared the same when I had switched off the bedside lamp before sleeping.

Thinking that it was of no consequence, I turned on my bed.

Meanwhile, for no reason, I had picked up the radio clock and kept it very near my pillow, subconsciously touching it with the tips of my fingers.

Then I felt slightly dizzy and strange, but I closed my eyes again and slept off for how long; I didn't know when the radio switched on again, a song started playing and within seconds became silent. Initially, I hadn't opened my eyes, but somehow, I ventured to look at the radio clock again. That abruptly jerked me out of my sleepiness; what I saw was odd.

The radio clock was showing 12.00 midnight. 

That meant that the time now was about two hours behind what I had seen last. What was this? Was the clock malfunctioning? Or did I see the time wrong at the first instance, and this was the actual time? Thinking for some moments, I propped up on the bed, switched on the bedside lamp and picked up my Rolex watch. It was also showing 12.00.

Moving across the pillow, I picked up the radio clock and scrutinized it. There was nothing wrong with it, and it continued to show 12.00 midnight.

Not knowing why, I came out of the bedroom, switched the light in the drawing-room, and looked at the 'grandfather clock'; it was displaying a time of 12.00, the same as I had noticed moments ago.

Somehow, I was again feeling slightly dizzy and strange, and my eyes closed for an instant. Was I becoming sick? Was there some confusion in my mind?

Then I heard noises outside and, opening the main door, found that many people were moving around on the street; faintly, I could listen to their shouts, "Earthquake… earthquake…."

I stepped out with alacrity; people were huddling around at street corners, talking; they had experienced a significant tremor a little ago, at about 3.45 a.m. and, in fear, had rushed out. Thankfully there was no damage.

I was surprised. Peculiarly, I hadn't felt any quake at all.

And more importantly, what about the time?

Just before going out of the house, I had seen the time of 12.00 midnight. How could the earthquake happen at 3.45 a.m.?

Returning after about five minutes, I again looked at my 'grandfather clock', the radio clock, and checked my Rolex.

Everywhere the time was showing as 4.07 a.m.

Suddenly a tinge of fear started creeping into my consciousness; was there something unexplainable?

The rest of the night, I couldn't sleep. I was repeatedly checking the radio clock, my wristwatch and the 'grandfather clock'; they were in perfect synchronisation; nothing was wrong anywhere. And compounding this problem was my nagging thought; why didn't I experience that earthquake during the night when the rest of the people around felt it so clearly?


When I reached the office in the morning, my mind was heavy with the incredible and frightening experience of the last night.

During lunch, my colleague Sharmilee came into my chamber to share our food; we had been doing this for many years.

Office lunch was not only what we shared; for long we had also started exchanging our thoughts and more. It had always been a pleasure interacting with her; that lady's intelligence and attractive personality eternally charmed me. Over the years, we realised that we had many common likes and dislikes and, more importantly, understood and cared about each other. It would not be wrong to admit that I had begun to like and respect her to that extent that it could only be described as love. Her feelings, too, were likewise.

Sharmilee was saying, "Hardik, what's the problem? You look so tense!" Then leaning forward, she took my hand, "I know something is bothering you… will you not tell me? Believe me, you will feel better."

I said, "Sharmilee, last night I have had a very unnerving experience…." I then stopped and looked at my watch. Lunchtime was running out, and we couldn't discuss personal matters during office hours, so she offered to come to my flat that evening.


That day of 15th March, I was home early in the evening. Later during the nightfall, when the 'grandfather clock' was showing the time of 8.35 p.m., my doorbell rang. Getting up from my sofa and expecting her arrival, I opened the door.

I was surprised to see another woman standing there. She was of medium height and smartly attired. I must have stared at her for some moments, then she spoke, "Sorry to disturb you, I am Koel Handa, you will not know me, but I am a close friend of Sharmilee, she has sent me."

I stepped aside to let her in, "Do please come in, any message from Sharmilee?"

She walked in and looked around the drawing-room, not particularly well arranged and cleaned, and sat down at the corner edge of my only large sofa. I stood waiting for her to respond.

She said, "Sharmilee, unfortunately, had an accident in the lift of her building while she was returning today after office at about 6.45 p.m. Luckily, I  took her to the nearby hospital. While in some pain, she just managed to tell me about her evening plan to visit you. At that time, she couldn't call you as she seemed to have misplaced her mobile phone in the ensuing confusion … so, on her request, I have personally come to inform you."

I nodded; I was becoming worried about her. "What exactly has happened to Sharmilee? What are the doctors telling you?

She said, "Like I told you, it was a mishap; she fell down and hit her head badly inside the lift. She passed out then she regained consciousness. Fortunately, I was waiting outside the lift as it came up to her floor; as the doors opened, I saw her lying on the floor in a heap; there was nobody in the lift with her. By then, she had regained senses but was feeling extremely sick; at the hospital, the doctors said that there was nothing to worry about and released her after some first aid." 

She was not able to tell me anything else; she then took leave.

A little later, I called Sharmilee at her landline number.

When she came on the line, her voice was faint and indistinct.

"So nice of you to call Hardik, but I am…," suddenly, her voice faded away; she appeared very sick.

When I reached her flat without delay, I found that her condition worsened although doctors had said not to worry.

Soon she was taken in an ambulance to the City Hospital.


The next few days, she was in a critical condition and on the seventh day, I could meet her as a special case.

She looked like a skeleton, having lost considerable weight, and watched me with tired eyes. She wanted to speak, but the words couldn't come out.

She stayed in the hospital for the next twenty days, but her health was not progressing well. The doctors said that nothing more could be achieved by staying in the hospital and asked her to go home and have personal nursing care.


A couple of days had passed. I had returned from my office at 7.30 p.m. That night after dinner, I was sitting alone and feeling awful. Sharmilee was in my mind continuously throughout these days, and I couldn't understand how to help her. Would she live? By the looks of her, it seemed difficult, although the doctors had not given up hope. It was unclear how a mere fall and hit on her head could strike her down so badly. Should I take her to other doctors?

As I was pondering these depressive thoughts, my eyes suddenly fell on the radio clock, and I remembered the previous night's incident with a mild shudder. I was still not sure what had happened then.

But oddly, my mind was also veering to the possibility of that incident happening again.

I recalled the night when I was awakened both times by the radio playing, first showing 2.00 a.m., then revealing the 'back time' of 12 midnight.

How? Time did not go in reverse; it only moved forward. The radio clock, I was sure, was working perfectly.    

Then, my mind went into overdrive.

I realised that the entire process started and ended with the radio playing.

I understood too that at both instances, the radio had stopped within seconds.

The real question, though, was why and what was going on?

Another thought that also played into my mind was, why didn't I understand the earthquake that night? The rest of the public did!

An hour had passed when suddenly it struck me very plainly that there could be a bizarre reason for all this.

I had physically gone back in time to the past! 

Strange it might seem, but through that radio clock device, I was transported back in time. Was it the stuff of science fiction about time travel?

The radio clock was a Time Machine which had taken me to the past!

As I thought about it more, the jigsaw puzzle seemed to be getting solved.

Now I realised that when I woke up the first time at 2.00 a.m., which was the actual time, I had started to go back in time, without recognising and in an oblivious state. However, I did feel dizzy and strange.

And when I woke up the second time due to the radio playing and saw the time of 12 midnight, I was already two hours back in time. Inexplicably, when I had woken up again, it was a trigger for my return to the actual time, and I again felt dizzy and strange at that time. The whole process happened within a minute or so without my being any wiser.

Pertinently the actual time, then, it seemed, was 4.00 a.m. that night.

Next, I walked out of my house to enquire about the earthquake commotion, and that was another minute or so after 4.00 a.m., and when I returned to the house after about five minutes, all the clocks and my watch were showing the actual time as 4.07 a.m.

I also grasped that when I was back in the past, the earthquake happened around 3.45 a.m., so I hadn't felt it.

That was it!

My thoughts were now clearing.

This should be confirmed now!

I tentatively picked up the radio clock and checked the current time. It showed the actual time of 9.30 p.m.; I was in my bedroom and getting ready for bed.

Frowning and with silent prayers on my lips, I switched on the radio, and a song started playing.

Somehow, I was profoundly concentrating on going back in time by two hours.

At first, nothing happened, then the radio clock's time displays swiftly changed from 9.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. and abruptly stopped. The radio, too, stopped playing.

I also felt the familiar slight dizziness, strange, and my eyes closed for an instant.

When my eyes opened, I got up and looked around the house to see if anything had changed and found to my surprise, that everything showed that I had just returned from my office, my Rolex watch showed the time of 7.30 p.m., and so did the 'grandfather clock', and I was feeling hungry. My kitchen lights were switched off, and my briefcase was still on the sofa.

But the radio clock was still in my hand.

Walking out of the house, I surveyed around. There seemed to be no change. The time travel appeared to be happening to me personally, my personal effects and my immediate surroundings.

Coming back to the house, I picked up the radio clock and checked the display. It was still showing at 7.30 p.m. I then switched on the radio and waited. Within a minute or so, the time display changed to the actual time of 9.34 p.m. A song started playing, which abruptly stopped. Once more, this dizziness...

I had returned to the present time.

All this meant that the previous night the whole process had happened automatically without my understanding and in my sleep, but now I could voluntarily do it!

I then went a step ahead and tried to experiment by travelling back to some specific date and time in the past, at a familiar place, and found that I could do even that! Interestingly I was also wearing my Rolex watch, which travelled with me to the past and showed the new time too. 

Importantly for all these, I had to keep the radio clock with me.

I was now beginning to have a feeling of exaltation for my new power; how I obtained it, I did not know!

Everything was truly remarkable!

But I wasn't influenced unnecessarily by these discoveries, and in no time, my thoughts focused on Sharmilee and the danger she was in.

How could I help her? How can she be saved?

She was critical; I could not let her die when suddenly an idea came into my head! This could be brilliant!


The next day it was late in the evening when I reached Sharmilee's flat. It was on the 17th floor of a multi-storied building, "Skyscraper". It had three lifts, but I took lift number 2 as the other two were not working.

Her house cleaner opened the door. Sharmilee usually lived alone, but a maidservant and a nurse took care of her after the accident - 24 hours.

She was lying on the bed; her face was pale, and she looked very sick. Seeing me, she smiled, a wan smile, "Hello, Hardik, what brings you here?" She held out a hand which was trembling, which I held gingerly. She looked worse than what I had last seen. My heart was bleeding for her; never had I expected to see her like this.

With a slight quiver in my voice, I said, "Sharmilee, your health is going down rapidly; I fear for your life…. I am perturbed about you…. I don't know what to do…."

She softly pulled me close towards her and whispered, "Don't worry, Hardik, I will live…. I will be all right… your love will take care."

I turned away, hiding my tears, "Doctors are not able to cure you even after so many days."


A little later, after making some official mobile calls, I came back and sat on a stool next to her bed and drank tea. I wanted to tell her about my idea. God knew it was a spooky one, but I could try to implement it if she agreed.

I leaned forward and started speaking, "Sharmilee, the other day in the office, I was trying to tell you something about my strange experience, but I couldn't, this unfortunate accident happened. Let me now tell you about it and how I can take advantage of it; who knows, I may be able to help you." 

I spoke for the next half an hour; she listened intently; her face showed emotions of surprise and disbelief, but she understood and my concern and agreed with me.


The day was the evening of 15th April, and the time was 6.45 p.m., and I was again in her flat but this time with my radio clock: that Time Machine!

Now was the time to check whether my newfound idea would work or not.

I knew that it was on 15th March, last month, that while returning home from the office and after taking the lift number 2 of her building at around 6.45 p.m., she had met with that accident. Sharmilee's friend Koel had said that.

I held her hand as I had to make her travel with me to the past and then, keeping the radio clock on the table, switched on the radio with a silent prayer on my lips. I concentrated intensely on my travelling back to the past to the day of 15th March, the same time and near lift number 2 of her building. A song started playing on the radio.

Nothing else happened at first, then the song stopped abruptly, and the clock continued to show 6.45 p.m.

With that came the familiar feeling of slight dizziness and the closure of my eyes.


Opening my eyes almost immediately, I saw that I was transported back in time and was standing near lift number 2 of her building, waiting when I noticed Sharmilee was not with me anymore but walking towards me. She was returning from the office that evening, hale and hearty!

This day was 15th March, and my Rolex wristwatch showed 6.45 p.m. as well.

I greeted her, "So good to see you, Sharmilee."

She was slightly surprised as she had never expected that I would be waiting there.  

"Let's go and have a cup of coffee at the nearby coffee shop." I offered.

From her appearance, it was clear that she was unaware of the entire tragic incident which would happen in the future. Not that I expected her to!

So, I didn't let her take the lift at 6.45 p.m. That was the danger! 

When we came out of the coffee shop, it was 7.57 p.m. As we took lift number 2, it was close to 8.05 p.m. While the lift whirled up smoothly, I looked around. There was nobody except the two of us, and we reached the 17th floor without any incident.

The lift doors opened, and we stepped out; I saw Koel was standing at the landing, apparently waiting for us.

She smiled, "Good to see you, Sharmilee. I am happy that you are all right and didn't take the lift at 6.45 p.m. Am very glad, all the best to you."

Koel then looked at me and said, "Your radio clock is a very nice one; it is lying on the table; please switch on the radio again." With a wave of the hand, she entered the lift, the doors closed silently, and it went down.

As I heard her, I realised with a jolt that I had made a colossal mistake of not carrying the radio clock with me while travelling to the past.

But I didn't face any problem. The radio clock was thankfully lying on the table when we entered the flat, as Koel had advised!

I switched the radio on, a song started playing, I concentrated and, in a minute or so, it stopped; again, came that dizziness and my eyes closed…!


When my eyes opened instantly, the time on the radio clock had changed to 8.11 p.m., which was tonight, i.e., 15th April…. 

We were now in the present time, and I observed Sharmilee keenly. She was looking normal, and there was no sign of any illness. She continued to look hale and hearty as I saw her when returning from office on 15th March.

Now I knew my idea was one of success. I had travelled back with her, in time, to that fateful day, place and time and averted her accident by making her take the lift at a later hour. She had avoided the dangerous lift ride at 6.45 p.m. and therefore remained safe.


Later, Sharmilee and I were sitting on the sofa and celebrating her return to normal health, but there was a doubt in our minds.

She said, "How did Koel know about the radio clock?"

I sat there, thinking. Definitely, she had nothing to do with my time travel and the radio clock. Or was there? Perhaps Koel knew that I had forgotten to take the radio clock with me to the past on 15th March so advised me to find it on the table, but how did it reach there in the first place?

The best way was to talk to her and find out.

Sharmilee said although Koel was her dear friend of school days, she was not in touch with her for more than two years. She had met Koel only on the day of the accident when she had helped her. Sharmilee agreed that she would contact Koel; unfortunately, she didn't have her mobile phone number.


On another day, I was in Sharmilee's flat.

She said, "I have requested a common friend to give Koel's mobile number. Even my friend doesn't have her number. Anyway, she will find out and let me know."

As she was speaking, a call came to her mobile, and after listening for a few moments, her face turned ashen, and her hands started shaking.

I got up in alarm, "What is happening, Sharmilee?"

She kept her mobile down and turned towards me with tears in her eyes, "Koel is no more ... she died in an accident last year."

We were utterly stunned!! Stupefied! We had seen her and talked to her more than once during these days! She was physically present and helped Sharmilee. But the ultimate help to save Sharmilee's life; through this paranormal Time Machine cum radio clock; was this the handiwork of dead Koel - her spirit?

This world was a strange and wondrous place!


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