This post is written for #StorytellersBlogHop FEB 2021 hosted by Me and & MeenalSonal.
‘Parapsychology, University of Edinburgh.’ The Google search results were driving Jigyasa ebb and flow. Two weeks had passed since that fateful crash on Lucknow-Agra Expressway. That was the last time she saw her family. And that changed her forever. She often found herself spending time wondering if there are supernatural realms beyond our own?
She was convinced there’s a way to establish connect with people in another world. More than that, she wanted to believe that the other world truly existed. All the horror movie scenes flooded her mind. All unusual power the spirits possessed. Right from temperatures plummeting in their presence to hair tresses blowing up eerily with wind. All she needed was a figment of hope that she could establish connect with her parents. Who were now in a different world from her. Just one meeting, final goodbye & a prayer for peace. It’s important to look reality in its eyes. Sad reality of life is that, reality is far from expectations.
Jigyasa was a brat growing up. Absolute Tomboy. She was the biggest prankster in her college who always resented Goldilocks approach. Life meant celebration and she lived it fully. Her attitude was true to her name, Jigyasa. Always curious, rebellious but exceptionally gullible. It was hard to ignore her and dislike her. And one incident changed it forever. Now she was alone, unsure about what tomorrow would bring.
She shut the lid of her MacBook Pro. Raised her eyes to see the milling crowd on a Sunday evening as the barista punched red green buttons at Starbucks. . While she slid her laptop in a sleeve and walked out, she overheard a young lady talking on her phone “Mondays should be optional.”
The Delhi winters are one of its kind, and so are Delhiites. As the world was barely recovering from a prolonged quarantine period, with vaccination news round the corner, it seems Covid19 never happened to Delhi. People wandered around without masks, paid no heed to social distancing norms and had absolutely no problem with blowing candles on birthday cake again. Jigyasa secretly envied them. ‘Sad memories are bad but good memories are the worst’, she thought.
Her dad always used to push her every time she felt like giving up about a km from Half Marathon finish line. ‘Jigyasa, one step at a time. Inhale through nose. Exhale through mouth.’ Her father’s voice echoed in her ears. And after every race, they’ll open Budweiser cans in the backseat of car as Pawan drove them home. Her mother loved watching cuisine shows on internet and dish out delicacies for her. And how she ask her for OTPs every time she created Jigyasa’s profile on her phone. From Tinder to shaadi.com to Bumble. “Mom, you better stop doing it before we hit a bad turn”, she would scream. Bad turn, that’s what their car hit and in a bait of eyelid, everything changed.
The metro station gates at Botanical Garden had malfunctioned again. She had to walk past the third gate, one next to CISF personnel. She felt the gush of wind in her hair from incoming metro train as she waited on the platform. The headlights followed moments later and slowly the train stopped. She hopped inside the coach, mostly empty. She grabbed a seat and flicked out her phone. ‘Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.’ Her search for Ouija board on Amazon app returned this message. She had pondered over option of a successful planchette for a fortnight now.
Her melee of thoughts ran faster than the Magenta line metro sped. In last two weeks, she had done everything to put the pieces of paranormal puzzle together. Right from staying alone in the Bhangarh Fort overnight to walking alone in Kitchner lines in Lansdowne. She wished to see what spirits were capable of and how much of connect was possible between people on two sides.
“Next station is Hauz Khas, the doors would open on right”. The announcement broke her thoughts. A young couple standing right in front of her recreated an almost pole dance session as the train stopped at Hauz Khas slowly. ‘At least someone got lucky with Bumble.’ She disembarked from the coach and took stairs. The escalator was not working. As she huffed and puffed out of exit gate, she could spot only one Autorickshaw at a distance. 10pm. 8550 steps. Neon readings shone on her Fitbit.
As she craned her neck inside, the driver snored with Neha Kakkar blaring through his headphone. She tried to give him a nudge, then a shaky-wakey! ‘Kumbhkaran is deep asleep!!‘ She got down from the kerb and tried to stop a couple of other Autorickshaws. But, no luck! She wasn’t sure if even one would stop and then decided to walk down to her home. The visibility was bad but that never slowed down the cars. ‘More than eighty percent of cars are driven under influence’, she thought. All of a sudden, a white Hyundai Creta almost ran her over as she tried walking past the zebra crossing. “Saale, Andhaa hai kya??”, she cussed as the taillights disappeared in fog at a distance. She had tripped over in the middle of Inner Ring Road and there was no one else to help her either. She picked herself up.
A ten minutes walk and she was standing at Green Park Market. The vendors were scarse and she definitely was not in mood for eating. Even the last of the Kathi Rolls cart was packing up. She longed for food that her mom cooked. Plain boiled rice and daal with ghee and achaar.
As she sat on the bench, a dog came up close, stared at her face and wagged his tail. She touched him behind his ears and gave him a cuddle. The dog stretched in an arch and touched his cold nose to her finger.
As she approached the porch of her independent house, all the memories filled up her mind again. Learning to peddle up her first bicycle with her dad running behind her. Her 10th birthday celebration when her Mom had decorated the entire garden. The newspaper wallah flinging the newspaper over the iron gates every morning.
And now, Jigyasa stood outside the window grill. She watched her Mom stirred some curry in non-stick pan that Jigyasa gifted on her wedding anniversary last October. Her mom moved around in quite robotic manner. Aloof & uninterested. Her passion for cooking now seemed to have turned into a chore that she just waited to get over. Her mom dabbed the tear trickle down her cheeks with her Duppatta. Jigyasa shifted her focus across the living room and saw her Dad sitting on the sofa, talking to Anu Mama over his mobile phone. “UP police recovered Jigyasa’s body from the abyss. I can’t believe our little girl is gone, Anu”, he broke down as he spoke.
All folklore about dead people is hoax. Dead people don’t just exist at particular places. They are everywhere. Even right now, between your screen and eyes, as you read this. And they are powerless. The iEnergizer BPO video on YouTube is hoax too. Dead people can’t even move a blade of grass. Dogs don’t get perturbed; humans can’t see or hear or feel them.
The swing in the park creaked as the wind blew. Jigyasa’s heart had exploded, looking at her own life size garlanded photograph in the living room. She just couldn’t muster courage to go further. Right on those stairs at porch, she curled up for the night. Still thinking of a way to communicate with her parents. And tell them about her afterlife. And That’s just the beginning…
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