There is this tragic horror tale that revolves around a house, about three houses away from my Kolkata residence. I had grown up there watching an old woman sit on the balcony of that one-storey house, everyday when I came back home from school. One day, she stopped sitting there, I never saw her on that balcony again. I eventually heard from mom that she had fallen drastically ill and under had to be in complete bed rest and because both her sons live abroad, they have appointed a nurse to look after her 24X7.

Suddenly one afternoon, the entire colony gathered around her house, apparently there were noises of the old woman screaming and shouting coming from the house. As our neighbours decided to intervene and called the nurse outside, she said that the old woman is a little delusional and refuses to do her daily basics and starts screaming when asked to do the needful.

From inside the house, the old woman’s voice was audible, “She hits me…save me…someone save me…she will kill me…can’t take the beating…get out you thieves…you two disgusting thieves…LEAVE MY HOUSE”, followed by the sound of loud sobbing.The security guard who lived in the garage of the house came out and started talking to the crowd, “Don’t worry please! I spoke to my sirs, his sons, she is okay, she just had a fit, happens often, she is delusional, says anything! Hey Sabita, go give her the meds, go! Don’t worry babu…”, he said.A little relieved, the neighbours asked the guard to keep them informed just in case there is any problem and left.

A few days later, the old woman passed away one early morning, they said she had a cardiac arrest towards dawn.I saw her wrapped body head out with the nurse and the guard and one middle aged woman, possibly a relative. Her sons never showed up. The house remained there, empty, abandoned, the nurse and the guard had left the job.I left home for another city two months later. When I went back home, around six months later, one night, around 2 A.M, when we were all asleep, there was a sudden chaos of people chattering outside, to which we woke up. My dad went outside to enquire, he came in and told my mom, “It is that same thing again tonight…last few times we thought it was the wind…Suresh says it can’t be the wind because the windows are latched from the inside…he…he checked today…Oh what mess…don’t bother, you all sleep now…”.

Noticing how both of them were visibly taken aback, I asked my mom about the incident next morning.

“That…That old woman…a few days after she died, the nurse centre informed that the nurse and that guard ran away somewhere…they said that the nurse had a habit of hitting patients, the guard had spoken to the centre for her job on her behalf…the woman’s younger son had visited, he said there was no money in the house, he also said it is difficult selling it so they probably won’t…although she died of cardiac arrest, some believe she was tortured during her last few days…what children she had…poor woman…about two months back, at random nights the house adjacent to that one and also the house across that one, they have been complaining that…that…that they hear weird banging noises from the house and sometimes even hear a woman sobbing at random nights…who can tell…thank god we don’t know…the banging…it…it had happened yesterday too…”.

Priyanshu Bharadwaj

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