When Roger Came Back
When Roger Came Back9 mins 431 9 mins 431
Many say that those people who have had mysterious or disturbing deaths come back as ghosts to haunt those who were responsible for their deaths. Do they only trouble those who have wronged them or everyone else, including those who loved them, to whom they were related to in their human form? I think both the notions apply but the spectral beings are only harsh towards the former and they are just mischievous towards the latter. Only making their presence felt to their loved ones after bereavement so that they are sorely missed by them each and every moment.
Well, it so happened that one of my cousins, Roger, who was about two years younger than me died due to a strange illness. Nobody knew what it was. He was violently ill for a few days and then, all of a sudden, he perished in what the doctors' called a cardiac arrest. A period of mourning followed but my aunt, who was my mother's sister was inconsolable at the loss of her only child. She cried incessantly, prayed to God to give back her son but nothing could bring Roger back now. At first, we all thought that she would soon get over his death but when she started having terrible fits due to pain and bereavement, my mother got concerned for her. So, she sent me to live in their house in Agra for a few months.
'Be like a son to your aunt so that she does not miss Roger', my mother had instructed.
Even I had shed a few tears at my younger brother's death. Although, he was a naughty little lad always getting on my nerves, I had a soft corner for him in my heart.
For the first few days, I felt very lonely in the house. There were just four of us- my uncle, aunt and granny for company. I would get bored and remembered the days when Roger and I would go fishing in the pond, play hide and seek in the banyan tree of his garden and listened to the hair-raising tales of granny at night Together, we would play cricket with the other boys on the river bank where he hated being given out by the umpire and would refuse to leave the crease. I fondly missed his voice which filled the house with life and of course, his mischiefs which would upset me and I would threaten to return back to Delhi. He would ask for apology before playing another trick on me. Now, the house was utterly silent as no one was there to play pranks on me. Slowly, the days passed like that as monotony gripped not just me but all of us in the house.
Didn't I say earlier that people who die unhappily come back as wraiths? Well, our Roger too must have had an unhappy death. Or perhaps, he did not fancy the idea of us forgetting him so soon.
Therefore, he came back.
Yes, I first felt his presence in the house when he carried out one of his daily pranks on me. Every night, I would remove my sneakers beside my bed and by the morning, they would be gone. Then, I would turn the whole house upside down in search of my sneakers before eventually finding them in the kitchen dustbin. Of course, I did not inform anyone about Roger's sacrosanct mischief because I wasn't convinced that he had returned after all.
But, I did not had to wait long to be fully convinced that my cousin was back. One by one every family member got to know of his presence. The other day, when my uncle was fixing the defective bulb in the drawing room, somebody switched it on when the bulb was in his hands. Receiving a terrible electric shock, he fell off the stool he was standing on. Thankfully he was alive but when he shouted for the culprit, no one came up. At first, I was accused of the prank but I was outside in the garden with Ramlal, the gardener. Ramlal confirmed the same and I was let off with a warning.
Next-up was granny but Roger did not trouble her. He never did. Granny was so lovable and gentle that Roger loved her a lot. We were sitting on a mat in the garden and granny had just finished her story telling session with me when a shower of roses fell on her lap. She looked up at the blue sky but there was no one.
'Where have they come from?', she asked me.
'No clue', I said.
'Only my Roger presented me with a rose whenever he liked my story', she mumbled as tears came in her eyes. Then, she received an invisible hug from behind and I knew Roger was here.
He even made Ramlal, our gardener aware of his presence by creating a havoc in the flower beds which were recently laid by him.
'No wonder this house is full of naughty boys', he muttered looking at me. 'First, Roger baba used to destroy the flowers with his football and now, Dick baba has done that.'
'It's not me. It's Roger's spirit', I yelled at him.
'What? No one told me that this house is haunted!', cried Ramlal as he took to his heels.
Now, only my aunt was left. And, it was not long before she knew that her son had returned. On several occasions, when my aunt made delicacies for the evening tea and kept them in the fridge, they would be polished off by the tea time.
'Why I myself kept them in here?', she said as we all peered into the fridge.
'No doubt, I saw you putting the cake in her', exclaimed granny, adjusting her glasses.
'I think Dick must have finished them off himself', said uncle sternly.
They would all stare at me and would pay no heed to my protests of innocence. This continued for a few days. Once, I was out of the house for a whole day and the cookies prepared by my aunt went missing at the tea time. So naturally I couldn't be blamed for this one as I wasn't home at that time. Puzzled, everyone scratched their heads but where the cookies went, no one could tell and we had to make do with dry snacks available in the kitchen pantry.
'There is someone in the house', I pointed out to my family members. ' A mischievous ghost who is helping himself to our evening snacks, switching on bulbs to give us an electric shock and destroying flower beds.'
' No.. There can't be... any ghost in our house.', said granny.
'Well, then who is it that's eating our evening delicacies? ', I questioned her.
'I thought it was you who was doing it. But, who did it today?', wondered uncle.
'Maybe, there is a thief in our house', said aunt. 'And, not a ghost.'
Everyone agreed with her except me and they decided to catch the thief red-handed. Next day, a fresh batch of cookies was made and placed in the fridge. All of us sat in the kitchen and at tea time when the fridge was opened to relish the cookies, it was found to be empty.
'It.. It can't happen. We all were there in the kitchen today', said uncle, bewildered.
'Possibility of a thief ruled out', I announced. 'It is a ghost who is the culprit.'
' No, how can it be a ghost? Oh, what has been happening in our house, Mark?', cried granny.
'Don't know. Maybe Dick is right. And, there is ghost prowling in the house', admitted uncle.
There was more to Roger's practical jokes. Every time I would leave after cleaning my room, within minutes it would be found lying in a disarray. We would wake up in the morning to find huge puddles of water on the house floor which we had to mop up later. Whenever my aunt hung the clothes on the line to dry, a strong wind would blew up and the clothes would go flying in all directions. Once, Granny could not find her walking stick. So, the whole house went on a searching spree to locate it and my uncle found it in the umbrella stand.
Not only this, we started getting locked inside our rooms accidently. Windows, which we closed while retiring to bed, got mysteriously opened in the middle of the night, exposing the harsh, chilly winds that froze me to death. But it did not matter because I could not sleep a wink last night. A terrible clatter of pots and pans coming from the kitchen kept me awake all night.
And, today a major disaster struck. We had been sitting in the drawing room, completely oblivious to what was happening in the kitchen, when I went there for a glass of water. Entering the kitchen, I glanced around. It seemed like a tornado had hit the kitchen. I called the others and they came running to my call. The whole kitchen was complete mess with rotten tomatoes lying here and there, utensils thrown on the floor, the dining table cloth stained with sauce, vegetables compartment of the fridge was empty and whatnot.
'Who has done all this?', hollered uncle.
'I told you there is some mischievous ghost in our house for a long time', I said. 'Don't mind me, uncle but it's Roger only. His spirit, to be true.'
'No, not at all. It is not possible', said my uncle, looking sharply at me.
Then, all of a sudden my aunt broke down, ' I know its my Roger who has come back after all. He . used to do all these pranks. I know its him.' Something strange happened when my aunt said that.
Instantly, she received a flurry of rose petals on her amidst delighted laughter from the ceiling, We all looked up at the ceiling and there was the faint apparition of Roger floating the air. Roger's face was exactly same with his almond-eyes, a roman nose and thin lips chuckling with laughter and joy like they always did when he was alive. Amazed, we gazed at him waving at his mother who was weeping bitterly in his remembrance. Then, he came down to her level and put his hands on her cheeks to wipe off her tears. Was he telling her to cease her sob?
We all must have wanted to say something to him but we could only mumble a few words in our mouths which he did not understand. Without waiting anymore, Roger turned around and waved at me, giving his usual mischievous grin. Then, swimming in the air, he rose to the ceiling and went floating out of the kitchen door into the yard. Giving us all a last look, he flew away in the sky and finally left us forever.