4:30 AM


Spoiler Alert: Spooky, now that I know how spirits communicate.

‘Mayhem’ – a word so powerful, yet its ramifications can only be felt once the horror is unleashed on the hapless beneficiaries. The images so vivid, so lucid and surreal. No, this can’t be happening; this isn’t true. Oh Lord! Save me the ordeal. Have I been possessed by the dark ones? Else, how do I explain this – the Mayhem!

I was at my wit’s end, devoid of any more feelings and bereft of what one would essentially code-name ‘a human touch.’ And why wouldn’t I be! Right in front of me lay the motionless bod of my grandfather, although I could feel his soul hovering around somewhere not too far away from me. Did it rely on its instinct that I would be more than eager to complete the unfinished conversation we were having the other night? I guess so. Even if it were not for the unconcluded heart-to-heart, I still would’ve vouched for his constant gaze on me, both during his lifetime and beyond. After all, I was his favourite grandchild, the eldest of our generation.

The shackles around my hypnotic trance were broken by the familiar tone of my iPhone. Had it not been for my best friend calling, I would’ve chosen to ignore the call. With a dolorous heart and trembling hands, I somehow managed to pick up the call, hoping to convey the news that had me devastated.

“Chirag,” I received the call with a heavy heart.
“Dada it’s me, Sujoy,” I could feel Chirag’s younger brother’s sobbing tone at the other end.
“Yes Sujoy, tell me,” I answered, still wondering why would Sujoy call me up from Chirag’s number. “Dada, I’ve some bad news for you.”

These words didn’t seem to weigh on me much. What more can affect me drastically once I’ve had the painful experience of losing my grandpa? Still an afterthought crossed my mind. Could it be … had it something to do with … Chirag?

“Is Chirag okay?”

The other end went mute. “Sujoy … Sujoy!”

The sob now had turned to a full-blown wail.

“Dada, we lost Chirag in a bike accident yesterday. It was …

The rest of the conversation was all Greek to me. My mind just filtered out any more inputs. It’d gone into a shell and refused to entertain anymore feeds. The words Chirag … Accident … Grandpa … Death kept rotating inside, forming a circular pattern. I went numb.

My eyes opened. It was a dim light that had pierced through the netted curtains signaling the onset of an eventful day. The drizzle was still on, hinting towards an overnight heavy shower. Birds chirping nearby, made it quite evident that the time shouldn’t have been much. Characteristically, my eyes gazed upon the cup-shaped designer wall-clock in my room. 4:30 AM, it showed. Bemused and bewildered, I lay on my bed wondering what might’ve just happened. My wife and younger son sleeping peacefully beside me answered my inquisitiveness. It was just a dream, I thought … a horrible dream nonetheless. Me, who usually doesn’t believe in such escapades with dreams, went ahead with the notion that it was all a farce and better to sleep it off. Anyways, it was too early to run errand.

Livid with the brooding memories which were still raw and fresh, as I tried making sense of the nightmare; my phone rang.

Who could it be at this point of time? 5:30 AM in the clock confirmed my assertion. Sanket it was, my brother. He is a medical practitioner posted at Barak Valley, some 350 Kms away from Guwahati. My initial impression was he had travelled overnight to our place and on finding the boundary gate locked, rung me to fetch the keys.

“Yes Sanket,” I said. “Have you reached?”
“No Dada, I’m still at my hospital quarter,” he sounded a bit tensed. “So, what makes you call this early then? All okay?”
“Dada, I’ve some bad news for you.”

“Dada, I’ve some bad news for you.” The words seemed familiar, as I recalled Sujoy conveying the same to me.

“Go on Sanket, I’m all ears,” I could literally feel my heart skip a beat.
“Dada, I got a call from my friend who stays in Hilltop Colony. Last night’s heavy downpour caused their boundary wall to collapse and, on its way, took down Mashi’s house.”
“How severe is the damage?”
“Well, nothing’s left of the house. It’s in shambles. All the three children are hurt, with the youngest one having injured himself the most and is currently admitted to the hospital. And …
“And what?” I interrupted, the gravity of the situation getting onto me now. “Mashi … she couldn’t make it.”

Mashi’s house was a mess. The disaster had caused a chaos and confusion in the entire area. People thronged to see what had once been the abode of a happy family. The contrast was quite evident though. The patio which had me being associated with so many fond memories was strewn with bricks all across, blood accompanying them at some places. I moved inside to have a glimpse of the shattered building only to find some news reporters randomly clicking images of the dilapidated building and interviewing some locals. On the remote corner, I observed a broken bed with big boulders on it, only to learn later that in between the bed and the boulders, lay the motionless body of Mashi.

Unperturbed with the developments though, I tried finding solace in the fact that my younger cousin who was undergoing treatment in the hospital, had survived the onslaught without much internal injury, although the damage to his soul was irreparable. My elder cousin was minimally hurt and I thought it best to console him.

“I’m very sorry about your loss Sanju da,” I held on to a weeping him. “Wish I was near; could’ve saved Mashi.”
“You weren’t, but I was,” Sanju replied. “Still, I couldn’t help mom.”
“I can understand your pain. But you need to be strong now to support your brother and sister.”
“Yes, they’re all I’ve. Had it not been for the Almirah, which shielded them from the impact, I would’ve lost them as well.”
“Absolutely true,” I nodded.
“And this damn rain,” Sanju continued. “Mom anyways was an early riser. If only, it didn’t rain today, mom would’ve been alive … perhaps.”

I couldn’t agree more. If only it didn’t rain today … if only the wall didn’t collapse … if only Mashi as usual woke up early for her household chores … if only. Between so many ifs and buts … the fact remained that Mashi was no more.

“What time did the incident happen?” I enquired. “4:30 AM.”

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