Every place in this world is haunted.
Haven’t you ever felt like something is watching you? Walking with you along an empty, dark alley? Never felt that someone is trying to tell you something, even in an empty room? We are so deeply engrossed in our busy lives that we tend to ignore anything that feels haunted. Even when we do, we just dust it off the shoulder and walk away.
After the end of the 10 year long court trial for the settlement of the family asset distribution disputes, Nirvan’s family was given his late father’s share in the property. It is an abandoned factory, 90 kilometres from Mumbai, on the road to Goa. It hadn’t been functional for the past 32 years. No body knows the reason why they shut down that drug manufacturing factory. Not even Nirvan, who planned strategically to get this factory as a part of that settlement. He had bigger plans in the place of that abandoned factory.
Nirvan wanted to take his mom and sister there and tell them what he was planning to do with that place. Naina, his 16-year old sister was super excited about going there, as if someone really wanted her to come there. And his mom was somehow feeling uneasy about going to that place, as if someone was trying to warn her from going there.
It was a Sunday morning and Nirvan convinced his mom to come along, who was still not sure about going there. After an hour long journey, they reached the factory. They left the car and walked towards the gate of the compound. Nirvan was also unusually calm that day, but with a wide grin on his face. It was a typical warehouse construction with an asbestos roof top. It was a single block of around 800 metres long and 600 metres wide. The abandoned equipment was lying around in the dust and rusted. They walked around for a while and finally sat down at the entrance of the building, in the verandah on the wide parapet wall.
Nirvan was explaining the new venture plans to his mom, while Naina was playing with his mobile phone. Something drew her attention and she found a small black cat staring at her from a distance. She left the phone in her place and started walking.
“Oy, Naina, where is my phone? And where are you going?” asked Nirvan.
“Next to you. Nirvan, see that cute little cat there. How cute!” said an excited Naina who was walking rapidly towards the cat. But Nirvan remembered that she hated cats all her life.
Nirvan turned his head around, but he could not find anything. He could neither find his phone nor the signs of a cat that Naina was talking about. His mom wasn’t paying attention to him, but staring at something in the distance and lost in her own thoughts. He could see that his mom is scared of something. He shouted at Naina to come back, who wasn’t listening and walking all along.
Nirvan started running towards her and started to pull her back. But she was resisting him and not even turning her head towards him. She was lost staring at the invisible cat. He dragged her towards the verandah, but only to find his mom walking away. He called her, but in vain. He started to panic and decided to leave the place at once. He walked towards his mom and caught hold of her too, with great difficulty. Naina and his mom were out of their control and walking with their eyes pointed at something at a distance, as if they were being lured into a black hole.
Suddenly, his missing phone started to ring. He turned back and it was in the verandah, where he couldn’t find it earlier.
“There is no sign of a signal in this place minutes ago and how could it possibly get a call now?” That was just the beginning of the horrors for Nirvan.
He decided to not to go back for his phone, dragging his mother and sister into the car and rushed to leave. He accelerated as much as his Land Rover let him in a hurry to leave that odd place. He looked into the rear view mirror of his fast moving car and found a bunch of men in factory uniforms standing at the gate, staring. Much to his horror, his phone started to ring again in the dashboard of the car. He could also see a black cat on the side of the road. Not just once, he could see the same cat after every 10 seconds sitting in the same place on the road, staring at them.
There was something else he didn’t realise. Everytime he crossed a milestone, it said Mumbai 88 Kms.
From the writer’s desk:
After I finished writing this piece, I needed to check my phone for something. I started searching for it. I remember leaving it on the bed, but it was no where to be found. I searched the whole house and couldn’t find it anywhere. I came back and searched my bed again. This time, it was exactly where I remember seeing it last. I was the only one awake at that time in the entire house to suspect any pranks.
Every place in this world is haunted.