I sat down with my laptop just booted and a large cup of steaming coffee by my side. It was a long day at work. I sipped the coffee and opened my mailbox. Damn! Offices don’t allow us to access personal mailing sites or social networking sites.
‘Loading your inbox…’ was displayed with the progress bar. I took the time to gulp down few more sips of the coffee. I placed the coffee on the bed and reclined on two pillows piled up, inclined, on the wall edging the bed. I picked the laptop and placed it on my lap. Finally, I took the posture I’d sat all my life. I focused on the mailbox. The first mail was, as usual, a spam marked as important by the site that’s coded by top cream intelligent developers and tested by amazing testers of the world. I reported it as spam and returned to my inbox. I read the second email, and I froze.
‘What the hell!’ I shouted, unable to contain the shock. My eyes widened, and jaw dropped open. The coffee mug near me felt the vibration I felt within and toppled on the bed, leaving the coffee flow free all over the bed. I had a horrible thing to tackle, and the coffee stains or the spoiled bed did not matter much to me, at least at that time.
The mail was from Bhia, a name I had heard very often. I read it again, aloud, to make sure if what I read was what actually was written in there.
‘I died in the room you are in now. I hung myself from the fan that’s circulating right above your head.’
I started sweating before I read further. I looked up at the fan and could visualize a female hanging from it, like in the movies- tongue stuck out of the mouth; Eyeballs falling out of the face, attached to something inside the eye hole of the skull with a thin layer of flesh, pink flesh, which could break any moment. I was terrified. I did not want to read further, but the next line threatened me to read.
‘If you don’t read this fully, I will break open your throat and take out your intestines digging in through the broken throat.
I loved this room. This room was all I had, my world, my house. I had cried here, laughed here, played here and slept here. I had even felt the deepest of love my Chris had through his deep kiss on the bed you are sitting on now; right here.’
I looked around to ensure there was no one. I moved a little and gave a second thought about continuing to read. I felt a lump in my throat and suddenly started coughing continuously. I reached the bedside table with my right arm extended and got the bottle. I opened it in a hurry as the non-stop cough did not let me concentrate on anything. I lifted the bottle in the air and tilted it to drink water. I drank just the air that filled it; it was empty and dry. I had never had my bedside bottle empty. I made it a point to fill it every morning before leaving for the office and every night before going to bed. The fear in me took a new dimension. I started believing the mail.
‘Maybe Bhia is giving me signs that she would break open my throat.’ I thought to myself coughing harder. My throat started hurting badly. I laid my eyes on the mail and started reading.
'I want to live here one more time, at least for a day. I want to sit at my table and read my favorite book. Good that you still have my book collection safe. I want to read Nicholas spark’s ‘A walk to remember.' I loved that book. I want to lie down on my bed. I want to dance and sing here, in MY ROOM. I want to feel the same security and privacy this room gave me, the warmth this room wrapped me with. I want to cry; right in front of my eyes.
Add me in the messenger and place a call, now. Right now. I need your help. Please.
Else you know what will happen. You will swing with your neck into a ring of thick rope, hanging from the same fan above, there.
ADD ME. You have no choice.’
‘Bhia’ ‘Bhia’ I kept saying to myself to recollect where I had heard this.
‘Oh shit.’ I said as I recollected the story I heard about her.
Bhia was the girl who stayed in this room before me. She had committed suicide for no reasons just like she had narrated in the mail. I did not know what to do. I did not know if I had to believe it or not. All I could think of was calling Nikil. I called Nikil, and his phone was ringing. I glided my fingers through my neck and patted it softly.
‘Pick up Nikil. Pick upppppp.’ I kept saying till he picked his phone.
‘Hello.’ The moment I heard him saying that I started narrating the entire story.
‘Don’t be so stupid, sweetheart. It must be the game of Jack. So forget it and catch some sleep. Dream just about me and no thinking about anyone else; be it a girl, Bhia, or a guy. Ok?’
‘Good night Dear’ he said and cut the line. He never understood how I felt at most times. So dumb!
I wanted to forget what I had read and continued with my routine. One part of my brain said ‘It must be all fake.’ Another warned me ‘Do as she says.’ I battled with the two contradicting thoughts. Again my throat hurt and I started to cough slowly. The fear in me won the battle, and the curiosity sat over my head governing my brain, along with every other organ.
I copied the email id of Bhia and added her to my messenger list. I got a ‘hi’ from Bhia almost instantaneously. I did not respond for a few seconds. ‘Call me or you see what happens.’
I did not call. I froze on the bed. My thirst and the dryness in my throat started hurting me even more. I kept thinking about a girl hanging from the fan. I closed my eyes in fear.
Someone touched my shoulder and pressed it hard. My lungs started shivering, and tears flooded my face. I couldn’t breathe anymore. I turned to see who it was. Shit! It was a girl, a little fat with teeth protruding from her dark red painted, bulged lips. Her face was fully white and had blood dripping from her eyes. Her fingers had nails that were sharp at the end and large. She brought her hand close to my throat. Before she could tear my skin off, I opened my eyes and turned again. She wasn’t there. It was just my imagination that budded out of fear. I wished the entire thing about Bhia was my imagination. I looked at the monitor.
No! It wasn’t imagination, she was online and still kept pinging me.
‘Call me now.’ She had typed.
I looked around, again and again, to ensure there wasn’t a female as I had imagined around me. I constantly felt a hand gripping my shoulders. I kept caressing my right shoulder with my left hand. I was dripping with sweat. I moved my mouse to the call button in the chat window.
‘Tring...Tring…’ before I could call her, she had called me.
With so much fear I accepted the call and waited in silence.
‘Hi, Maya.’ A robotic voice came with an echo that followed each word. It sounded exactly like the ghost voices in movies.
‘Hello Maya’ she said again.
‘He…he…hello..’ I managed to bring the voice that got locked into the voice box due to fear.
‘Do as I say. Will you?’
‘I will. I will.’ I said and kept nodding.
‘Take the laptop near the stove and make ginger tea now. I want to drink it.’
‘Ok ok.’ I hurried to the kitchen and lit the stove. I poured milk.
‘Anko me their ajab si ajab si…’ she started singing.
I placed the bowl over the stove and started smashing ginger.
A scary laughter followed the few sentences of the song.
‘I loved to make ginger tea in this room singing songs. Do as I say. If you cut the call, I will surely give you a scary death.’ Bhia threatened me.
‘Please don’t do anything to me. I will do as you say.’ My hands shivered as I put tea powder to make tea water. I filtered the tea water, hands still shivering and hence the water spilling all over.
‘Don’t you dare spoil my kitchen. Keep it clean.’
I rushed to pick my cleaning towel and in a hurry pushed a few vessels on the floor. I looked at the laptop and carefully placed the vessels back in place, without making even a little noise.
‘Is the tea ready?’ Bhia asked.
‘Yes yes.’ I placed the teacup in front of her, I mean the laptop.
‘Take me to the bed and bring the tea there.’ She commanded.
I picked the laptop and placed it on the bed.
‘Make it fast.’ She said, and a scary laughter followed.
‘Coming. Please wait.’ I hurried with the tea cup.
‘Drink it.’ I said as I placed it in front of the laptop. I was too scared to even imagine the ghost of Bhia coming out of the laptop and drinking the tea. I closed my eyes.
‘You think I am a fool?’ She sounded angry.
‘No no.’ I thought closing eyes had offended her. I opened my eyes and said ‘I won’t close my eyes.’
‘How do you think I can drink it? You drink it.’ She said.
I was confused.
‘What are you waiting for? Drink it as fast as you can.’ She said with a deep voice, full of anger in it.
‘Ok ok.’ I gulped down the hot tea. I did not bother it burning my tongue. ‘Life is more important than the tiny burns this tea would leave.’ I thought.
‘Good. Now play music with volume 75% in the laptop. I want to listen to something.’
I pressed the play button on the keyboard and ‘Why this kolaveri kolaveri di’ started to play.
A few lines after. ‘Stop It.’ She yelled.
‘Now lie down on the bed. I want to relax in my bed. ’
‘Ok. Ok.’ I quickly lay on the bed, still terrified.
‘Don’t you dare tell anyone about me. Don’t you dare cut the line now.’ She said and started giving me the same scary laughter.
‘No, I won’t. What do you want? Please go. I am too scared. I cried from the depth of my stomach.
‘Now get up. Take a saree or a cotton dupatta. Go run.’ She said almost making me a robot. I did as she said out of fear. I emptied my wardrobe on the floor and picked a new cotton saree. I thought she would ask me to tie it.
'Have you taken?’
‘Yes yes. Should I tie it?’ I asked.
I started wrapping it around me. The power was cut. The entire room became dark, and the whole hostel became silent. It was already 10.45 in the night. I was staying in a room in our university hostel. The sudden darkness and silence intensified my fear. I kept rolling into the saree.
‘….to the fan’ she said.
I was stunned. ‘Why to the fan?’ I asked myself but did not have the guts to ask Bhia. I unwrapped myself off the saree and ran to switch off the fan. I quickly pulled a stool and stood on it to tie it to the fan.
‘Tie it like I tied when I hung myself. If you don’t do it or cut the line I will come there to kill you.’ Bhia said.
I was confused, but my fear switched off my brain. I was trembling, sweating and feeling weak from within. My laptop chimed. It notified me that there was just 7% charge. I did not know what to do. I ran around the room to find the power cable. She was humming a song, and I could hear it from anywhere in the room. I, finally, found the cable. I ran to the laptop, plugged it to the plug point. Damn! There was no power and I had forgotten that. My laptop was about to get switched off, but the power resumed. I gasped. I felt life in myself only then.
She was still humming the song. Suddenly she stopped singing.
‘Is it ready?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘Pull it and see if it's strong. It should bear my weight.’
The moment she said that the picture of the girl hanging from here came back to my mind.
‘Is it ready?’ a stronger and louder voice asked.
‘Yes, It is.’ I pulled it and said.
‘Put your head into the hole of the saree rope.’
I did that.
‘Now fasten the saree around your neck. Make it tied.’ I did that.
‘Now push the chair under your leg.’ I pushed, and the saree clogged my throat. I wasn’t able to breathe. My throat hurt badly. I tried to undo the knot, but it was too tight. I kept pulling the saree-rope that was tight on my neck but I couldn’t. I was completely helpless.
I started losing consciousness. It started becoming all dark.
I suddenly opened my eyes, and Nik was there right in front of me.
I got up and hugged him tight. I kept crying. I thought it was a dream, but the coffee stain and the stench were still there. My throat was hurting. The saree still on the fan and the laptop open with my messenger logged on. I looked around and was left without words. I kept crying. There were police officers who were sitting by the side.
‘What's happening Nik?’
‘I will tell you everything. Come, let’s go to my apartment.’ He drove me to his place. I sank into the sofa and pressed my head. Headache. Nick massaged my head standing in front of me. I pushed him a little away.
‘What had happened?’ I asked closing my face with my palm and crying as hard as I could. I couldn’t speak properly.
‘Bhia.’ He started.
‘Her ghost haunted me?’ I asked.
‘No, wait. Almost two years back there was a girl in the same room where you stay. She was Leka. She was a loner, studious and the most intelligent student the university has ever had. She never moved with people but with books. She never freaked out but was always found in the research labs. She always locked herself in her room, the room which you are staying in now. She was someone who knew everything but never wrote exams properly. She scored average marks even in her 12th class and hence ended up with this university for engineering. Even for this unit, she had to give all the money her dad had saved. She still did not bother about marks but concentrated on researchers. She had an arrear and failed to pay the fees for a semester. University management kept warning her to pay the tuition fees the hostel fees, but she did not have any source. One fine day they gave her TC and restricted her from entering the campus. She, at least, thought she could work staying in the room she had spent three long years in. The room was her home. But even that happiness was not given to that true genius. Her items were thrown out; she was thrown out. After a week she was found dead on the road leading to our campus.’
‘What about Bhia?’ I interrupted.
‘Ya! Bhia. She was given Lekha’s room after her. Exactly a month after she took over the room she committed suicide too.’
‘But why?’ I asked.
‘Wait. Listen to me fully.’ He said as he sat next to me.
‘Ok,’ I said turning towards his side, pulling my legs over his lap. He continued as he pressed my aching feet.
‘Bhia failed in 3 subjects that semester. Also, she was addicted to drugs. The report clearly said she had drugs before she hung herself. The file was closed with the conclusion that she had drugs and was depressed about the results. Hence, she hung herself. Now you came to her room exactly one month before. Today you tried to commit suicide.’ He said.
‘No, I didn’t. Bhia threatened me too. Bhia’s ghost.’ I cried.
‘Ghost? Do you believe in all that Maya?’ He said as he pushed my legs down in frustration. ‘It was not Bhia but Leka who had tried to kill you. She was the one who killed Bhia too.’
‘Now, isn’t Leka dead?’
‘So the ghost of Leka tried to kill me?’ I asked.
‘Bullshit.’ He became angry.
‘Leka was a true genius. Her talent was not valued. People just valued the marks in papers. She was on the verge of discovering a robot security system for the university. All he dreams were shattered. She even tried explaining it to the principal. She did not even ask for a seat in the college, but just the permission to use the labs. It was denied. She was even denied of the room she lived in. She had paid in lakhs to the university to get this seat. She couldn’t pay just 1 lakh for the last semester, and they threw her out. She was angry. She got frustrated that all her dreams were crushed by these money minded people and marks driven education system. She became aggressive. She wrote a computer code robot that would hack the database of the university hostel and find the person’s email id who was assigned her room. The code would mail her the name of the person who stayed in the room before. The program would automatically create an email id in the name of the girl who lived there before and accept the request in the messenger.’ He said.
‘But I heard Bhia. I called her and heard her talking, singing.’ I said still taking the time to digest what he had said word by word.
‘That’s the intelligence of Leka. She had a voice synthesis system which spoke a pre-fed script.’ He explained.
‘But I spoke to her, and she spoke back in sync. As she said, even my throat hurt and I had a continuous cough.’ I said.
‘That’s human psychology. When we hear something, we try to believe it, and we relate everything that happens coincidentally, with it. Even most fraudulent astrologers work with this as the key.
If they say wear green to prevent any big problem, you wear green; even if you meet with a small accident you tend to think that it should have cost you your life but since you wore green you are alive. You will say the astrologer was right.
On the same day if they had said that your day would be bad and if you fall; you still tend to say he was right and the day was bad.
Do You get it?
The pre-scripted dialogues were spoken by the computer program and due to fear Bhia hung herself the same way you did. Thank god you called me. I thought I will come to be with you, but then I almost died seeing you hung on the fan. I immediately called the doctor. I saw the laptop open but shut down. When the doctor was treating you I opened your email and the history of conversations. Thank god you told me the story of email. I tracked the IP and did some computer work to find the program running on a remote system in our lab.’ He said as he ruffled my hair.
‘You are a genius.’ I said as I hugged him.
‘No. Leka was a genius. I feel bad for her even now.’ He said as he pushed me a little away.
‘She tried killing me, and you are supporting her.’ I said.
The usual fight of lovers followed.....