I am Gangaram

Written in response to: Write a story from a ghost’s point of view.... view prompt

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Fiction

I am Gangaram. I have been searching for a house for a long time. But it is extremely difficult to find a residence these days.

My choice is for an independent bungalow. There are many flats in high-rise buildings unoccupied for some time. But the noisy environment of the multi-storeyed buildings is very much a detracting factor in choosing a house. A quiet, serene atmosphere is what we prefer. An independent, small little house is favored.

So, instead of a metropolitan city, I like a town where small independent houses are many. A lot of them are as an investment and are left unoccupied for quite some time.

Now I have spotted a small, beautifully designed house in Nashik, a district-level town. Unfurnished, but very well ventilated. One can get in and come out of your free will. I am very much impressed and have decided to occupy this place.

I know, very soon it will be taken charge of by some human family. But I am not worried. I am in love with this house and don't want to leave it. If the occupant family is noisy, and untidy would I still continue here?

Oh! I have not told you. I am from a different category. My presence can not be seen by human beings. I am from a ghost family. An entity that is not tangible. Humans can not sense the existence of our community unless we interfere with their activity. And to live peacefully with the human, I am prepared for this restriction. At any cost, I don’t want to leave this wonderful house.

With this determination, I occupied this house and started living peacefully all alone.

But soon, one day, the lock of the house was opened and Patil's family of six persons moved in. An elderly couple, their son Prakash and his wife Pratibha, the couple in their thirties, and two school-going children – a boy, Aniket, and a younger girl, Rachana.           

With a skilfully selected set of furniture graced this beautiful house.

Having always spent my life alone, I found the company of this family enjoyable. I kept myself in the storeroom the whole day and would come out and move around in the house at night.

One day, I sensed that some delicious food was being cooked. I guessed that some special occasion would be celebrated. I understood that they were paying respect to their ancestors. In the afternoon, after performing some rituals, the young man of the family, Prakash took a plate and filled it with all the delicacies. He took it onto the terrace and kept it in the open for the crows to eat as the crows are supposed to be incarnations of their ancestors.

I went to the terrace. Watched the entire ritual. After the young man came down from the terrace for the crows to finish all the food offered in the name of the ancestors, some crows gathered and feasted on the food. Satisfied, the birds left the place. I was tempted to eat the leftovers. I was satiated with whatever I had. In particular, I liked kheer made of rice and milk.

I came down and took my place in the store room.

I could sense the gay mood of the family.

In the night, I could not keep myself from having more kheer. When everyone was asleep, I went to the kitchen and explored the fridge. I located a big vessel full of kheer. I lifted the vessel and had a big amount of kheer. Without making any noise, I restored the vessel. Quietly, I came back to the store room and relaxed there.

The next day, the reduced amount of kheer in the vessel, created a big commotion. The old man of the family, who had to follow restrictions in having sweet food, was alleged of having consumed kheer in the night. When he denied it vehemently, the doubt shifted to the young boy, Aniket. One and all doubted him to have consumed the kheer in the night. Aniket was sad that no one believed him. When I realized this, I felt bad. For no fault of his, Aniket was held guilty.

I decided to be careful henceforth and not to disturb the harmony of the house.

I was behaving myself and the days were passing smoothly.

One day, the old lady opened my room and kept one nicely packed box there. She left immediately.

Looking at the nice box, I got curious. I wanted to know what the box contained. In the night, after everyone was asleep, I lifted the box. Tried to guess the contents, but could not conclude anything. Decided to open it. But needed scissors to cut open the box. Went into the kitchen. Picked up the scissors and brought them to my room- er, the store room, and slowly cut open the box. Oh! There was a nice game of chess. The coins were made of glass with a magnetic base. So nice. We did not have such an improvised game of chess during my time. Otherwise, I would have played chess whenever I traveled long distances in my youth. But alas!

I decided to watch these children playing this game.

Carefully closing the box, I went into the kitchen to keep back the scissors. Before I could keep them in the right place, someone entered the kitchen. I was scared. Without making any noise, just put the scissors on the kitchen platform, before the person could switch on the light. After drinking a glass of water, the old lady saw the scissors on the platform instead of its proper place.

“These children don’t have any discipline. Used the scissors and left them on the platform instead of the drawer. What nonsense!” saying this, the lady kept the scissors in the drawer and went back to her bedroom. I was relieved. I went back to my room and relaxed.

The next day, the birthday of the girl, Rachana was celebrated. When the box of the game was presented to her, everyone was a little upset that one member of the family had lost their patience and out of curiosity had opened the box. In the afternoon, the children played the game of chess. I also watched the wonderful game and remembered how I had won many a tournament when I was in school and continued my winning spree in college till finally, I won the Inter-University trophy.

Slowly, I started watching the games played by these children, regularly.

And on one occasion, when the game between the siblings was going on very well, I realized that the sweet girl, Rachana had made a wrong move, which exposed her defence, and the boy, Aniket had a chance to checkmate his sister. I could not bear this situation. I did not want Rachana to lose the game due to such a simple wrong move. I tried diverting both the participants’ attention by dropping the box of the game which was kept on the table. “Who put the box of the game so badly that it fell on its own?” one of the players said.

I used this opportunity and moved the knight from Rachana’s coins to an advantageous position.

After putting the box properly on the table, the game resumed and Rachana used the knight to her advantage. Wondering how the position of the knight was not taken note of by him, Aniket conceded his defeat to his sister. Rachana was jubilant. I was happy that the sweet little girl had won the game. 

 The chess playing between the siblings was increasing and both of them were getting more and more proficient in the game. Rachana started participating in various chess championships. I started attending the games and advising Rachana about the next move. I was slightly shaking the coin to be moved. Rachana started taking the hint and making further moves. Slowly she turned to be an unbeatable player.

 But she kept wondering how was it that she got the hints to make the next move. Anyway, she was enjoying her success. More so, I was delighted with Rachana’s achievement.

The days were passing very fast. The children were growing.

“Aniket, tomorrow, you have to get ready early in the morning. Your interview for the National Defence Academy is at 9. You iron your clothes yourself before sleeping. I am busy with my work. Your Baba will drive you to the institute at 8. So plan your things and get ready before 8.”

“But Aai, I am tired. I am very sleepy. Why don’t you iron my clothes?” Aniket pleaded.

"Nothing doing. You have enough time and you must iron your clothes yourself. I am not going to press your clothes. If you don’t want to do it, go unkempt. So, you will surely get selected in your dream academy.” Mother said.

“Don’t be sarcastic Aai. I am very sleepy. So, I am requesting.” Aniket requested with teary eyes.

"Nothing doing. I am not going to do your work. No one else will do it." Mother was implementing her school discipline.

Aniket remembered that his mother was a principal of the school and she never compromised on discipline.

Bawling Aniket entered his room, and dolefully, he fell off to sleep.

I could not bear the little Aniket getting harsh treatment from his mother. Maybe, it was necessary for the proper grooming of children. But I could not tolerate it. When everyone was asleep, I entered Aniket's room. Using the electric iron, I quietly ironed his clothes. Kept them on the table and left the room.

Aniket got up when the alarm went off. Still in a grumpy mood, he finished his morning duties. Thinking about ironing the clothes, he came to the dressing table. And how delighted he was to see his dress well ironed and kept neatly on the table. In mind, he thanked his mother. But he was so much angry with her for her harsh treatment, that without uttering a word, he got ready and waited for his father to get into the car. 

Aniket’s mother, Grandfather & grandmother came out and saw Aniket neatly dressed. He came close to them and sought their blessings by touching their feet. All of them wished him “Yashasvi Bhav”. (’Be victorious’).

I, standing near the car, wished Aniket all the very best.

In the evening, Prakash picked up Aniket from the admission center and came home. All of the family were awaiting the result. Getting admission to the National Defence Academy was Aniket's dream. And everyone in the family wanted it to come true. I was very anxious that my loving child would get on the path of his goal.

And the car entered the compound. All family members rushed to the entrance of the house. The car door opened. Aniket rushed out of the car and hugged his mother.

“Aai, I am selected. I got the admission.”

“So nice! Aniket, I am exhilarated. Heartiest congratulations.” She said and hugged her child once more.

Grandfather, grandmother, and sister Rachana all were jubilant.

I also was so happy that I did not know how to express my elation.

“Aai, thank you so much for ironing my clothes well in time" Saying this Aniket rushed to his room. Mother was confused. She was surprised and looked at her husband and nodded with a pleasant smile. She thanked him with a gesture for helping Aniket with his dress.

Father was perplexed. With great satisfaction, I went to my room- err the store room.

Soon there was commotion in the family. Aniket would be leaving the house in about a month. Every member of the family was taking care that he should not find anything short in the hostel.

I was wondering, about my contribution. What should I give him that he would use regularly? After thinking for a long time, I nailed down to electronic alarm clock. I felt Aniket needed it to maintain the timing with the hostel schedule.

One late evening, I visited a mall. Looked for an electronic alarm clock. Checked the price tag. When I found it affordable, I picked it up. Added into a customer’s item list. When it was checked out, I followed the person pushing his trolly. When he was dumping his goods into his car, I lifted and threw the clock in one corner of the parking lot. I left the exact amount of the clock on the seat of his car.

After the car left, I managed to enter the house with the electronic clock. I hid it in my – err the store room.

When Aniket’s baggage was being packed, I shoved it into his bag which wouldn't be noticed till it was emptied completely when reached the hostel.

Finally, after a month Aniket left for the hostel. Everyone bid him by with a heavy heart. I could not come out aloud with my bye to him.

I was very sad and missed Aniket immensely.

After a week or so, Aniket called his mother. Quickly, he comforted her and his father by letting them know his safety and his wellbeing.

In a day or two, they received a letter giving every detail of his daily routine. He also mentioned that this letter Rachana should read out to his grandparents as they might find it difficult to read it.

Rachana read out the letter to her grandfather and grandmother. I was all ears. I wanted to know whether he had taken note of the alarm clock.

After reading the entire letter, Rachana read the last line of extending regards to his grandparents. I was disappointed. But then Rachana continued, “ Oh, there is one additional note from Aniket. He says the electronic clock given to him is very nice and he finds it very useful.”

“Who gave the electronic clock?” Grandfather asked.

“His friend must have given it to him," Rachana said and rushed to her room.

I heard the additional note from Aniket and had no bounds of exhilaration.

I jumped and went happily into my room.

After a few months, the entire family was getting ready to go to their village to attend a family wedding. After packing their luggage, they locked every room and every cupboard. They locked the main door using a big lock and they left in their car for their village.

I decided to be the caretaker of the house in their absence.

One night passed peacefully. I was enjoying the entire house to myself all alone. Was missing Rachana and the other members of the family.

The next night, at around 1:30 there was some noise breaking the lock of the main door. Before I could think of some action from me, they entered the house. Four of them with masks on their faces. Quickly they entered the bedrooms and started handling the locks of the cupboards. I did not know how to stop them.

They broke the lock of one cupboard. They opened it and started taking out the clothes and throwing them around looking for some jewellery. I picked up the clothes, put them back in the cupboard, and started closing the door one after the other. Each member doubted the other member for undoing their process of ransacking. In the dark, they could not see each other. One member bending looking deep inside the cupboard, was pushed by me inside the cupboard and force-closed the cupboard. The other members came running from other rooms but they found the cupboard locked.

They all had sharp knives with them and I had nothing. I was contemplating how to drive them away, I got the idea of carrying the scissors. I went to the kitchen and picked up the scissors. The robbers noticed the scissors floating in the air. As I was invisible only the scissors moving in the space frightened them very much. Holding each other's hands, they called out for the fourth person. But as I had locked him inside the cupboard, they did not hear his response. Again, they searched all the rooms but they could not find him. Panic stricken, they tried to leave the house. But using my invisible leg, I toppled them one after the other. Using some cloth which I found in the kitchen, I tied their hands and legs. Using still smaller clothes, tied their mouths that prevented them from escaping leave alone even speaking or shouting.

At 9 in the morning, the younger couple with Rachana arrived. Mr. Patil was shocked to see the lock broken. He quickly called the police. The police arrived immediately. They all entered the house. They found three persons tied with a small cloth lying in a pathetic condition. Police took charge of them with handcuffs.

The Patil family entered and surveyed the entire house. They found the clothes from one cupboard scattered around the room. But the cupboard was locked. When the police opened the cupboard, they found a person half dead inside the cupboard.

The police pulled him out and tried to find out how he got locked in the cupboard.

The police concluded that some outsider had entered the house and he locked him inside the cupboard and tied up the three of them.

But Patil's family confirmed that no valuable was missing from the cupboard.

The police could not explain how an outsider entered the house when the house was locked from inside by the robbers.

I smiled and entered my – err the store room.

October 25, 2023 08:39

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