WITHIN FOUR WALLS (Part 5)

The light from outside was blinding me!! I wanted to pull those windows shut against me. And more than anything was the sound of the child –screaming, crying and kicking up havoc. The baby is now four months old There never seemed to be silence in the house these days. It was either the child screaming or its mother speaking to it loudly in some crazy language.. She seems to have come to terms with living alone with me now.

Image result for images of Indian women cookingShe is in the kitchen now boiling milk. There is one more maid in the house these days. She comes in during the morning and leaves in the afternoon. Between the three women there seems to be a lot of chattering going on. One of them is sitting on the steps leading to the attic. I am shocked!!! No one had ever approached the attic without a sense of  fear in the old days.  They seem to take me so casually.

I want to make my might known! I decide to bang shut the door leading out of the kitchen area into the room where the child now lay.

She jumps as the door shuts with a bang.

“How did that happen I wonder” she asks the others.

“ I don’t think there was any wind. Why don’t you people put the stopper on the doors ..” she grumbled as she walked out to open the door.

I waited for her to reach the door. This was my moment! She tries to pull the door open but it refuses to budge. She braces her knee against one of the doors and tries to pull the other one. I laugh inwardly … It would take her more than that to pull an unyielding door open inside my four walls.

She calls out to the two others. All of them try to have a go at opening the door. They take turns and then pull at it together. The door knob comes out in their hand. I am hysterical with laughter. How were they going to open the door now without a knob?

The sleeping child wakes up hearing the noise and starts wailing. It causes her to panic. She starts banging on the door and pulling at it.

“Bring a crowbar from the store room downstairs.” she instructs one of the  maids. Neither of them want to go. They are scared of the dark rooms downstairs.

“Okay both of you go. I will wait here” she says angrily.

It is mid afternoon and the sun is beating down. Her face is bathed with perspiration. She continues trying to pull at the door with her hands. Her nail gets caught in the gap between the door and the frame and the finger starts bleeding. In sheer frustration she starts banging on the door.

The child is yelling loudly now.

The maids are here with the crow bar. She starts using it to pry open the door. With one knee braced against the door frame she uses all her strength to try and pull open the doors. Shoulders heaving she moves the crowbar and suddenly it opens with a bang as she falls sprawled on the floor. The maids run inside and pick up the wailing child.

As she takes the child from them she looks at my walls with sheer hatred. She raises her foot and starts stamping on the floor as though to injure me. I am amused. Did she really think that her stamping would have any effect on me ? The maids are trying to calm her down but she continues to stamp.

I begin shaking with laughter. But strangely the shaking continues, even when I stop laughing and  when she stops stamping.

“Did you feel something shake” she asks the other two women.

“No it was only your anger …” said the younger girl.

“No “ she says quietly.

I agree. It was not her stamping that had caused the shaking.

It starts again. This time more vigorous…!!

“Oh my God we are having an earthquake” she exclaims as she picks up the child and starts running downstairs. The women followed her screaming.

IImage result for images of earthquake damaged houses stand helpless. I do not know why I am shaking like this. It seems like there is some force that is trying to dislodge me from the depths of my foundation. The cracks on my walls deepen as they begin to bulge outwards.   I do not know what to do. I can hear parts of me breaking and falling.

So, this was an earthquake..!!! Did that mean my end was near? I refused to give up without a fight. My floors caved inwards but I held steady. I was not going to crumble and fall like a pile of rubble. The trees were now falling on me. I could hear the women scream and run about in the compound.

It was then that I made that decision. If I was going to die I was going to ensure that the humans who had planned for my destruction went down with me.

But rooted as I was to the ground I was no match for the mobile humans who had now moved far away from me. I could see them run towards the open playground on the other side of the road.

I got ready for death as each part of me began to be wrenched out piece by piece until I began to crumble downwards. The ground seemed to swallow me as I fell down into the same saline earth which had held me up for so many years.

I had lost the battle.

Even nature had turned against me…..!!!

Post script

The massive earthquake that had rocked the city was the front page story in every newspaper the next day.  Thankfully .Anita and her son were spared as also the two maids. Shyam who had rushed in from his assignment found them a week after his arrival , huddled together in a refugee camp. He sobbed with sheer relief.

When the aftershocks subsided and it was safe to travel, they moved to another city , far away from here. Shyam sold what was now a vacant plot of land to a construction company who wanted to put up earthquake resistant buildings in the city. There was no litigation regarding the land. You see, the other claimant to the property along with his family had perished in the terrible earthquake.

Today Anita is a very happy woman. She lives in the small house with wide windows and a tiny garden. Both the maids, live with her now. The younger one has  completed her school leaving exam as a private candidate and has enrolled for a vocational course. The older lady helps Anita bring up little Aditya who is now a happy toddler. Shyam has invested the money he has obtained from the sale of the land in a lucrative business . He does not want to ever leave his family alone –even for a single day!

( Concluded)

 

WITHIN FOUR WALLS- (Part 4)

It is a month since the storm. But my triumph is short lived.   I think I made a grave mistake. No, wait, I am not sorry. I think it was a error in judgment brought about by my rage.

Image result for images of spooky housesIt is not the girl but the old lady who has succumbed to my attack. The girl has survived and is back again in the house.

She now has the child with her. Her husband is here with her. The child was born prematurely and so they had to stay on for a month in the hospital.

I listen to their conversation.

“ Shyam lets move out  . I cannot stay here after what happened” she says tearfully.

“Anita, I know how you feel but you will get over it…” he says as he hugs her.

She pulls away.

“No Shyam it is not just about Aunty’s death. It is just a feeling of some bad energy here” she whispers fiercely.

He caresses her as he says “That is your imagination. It was a storm and both of you had an accident in the darkness. Thank god nothing happened to you and the baby !”

I keep eavesdropping on their conversations until they run into arguments. He is adamant about them not leaving the house. I wonder why considering he was anyway planning to leave on his ship in a month.

But it soon became clear. There was some litigation regarding the house. Since the old lady had died intestate there was a dispute about the property. There was a nephew from her husband’s side who wanted ownership while this young man felt that it was rightfully his. I heard their lawyer advising them to “stay put” in the house as it would strengthen their case.

I smile sardonically. Did anyone think they could inherit me?  I was more than an object that could be passed on from one generation to the next.

Image result for images of man and woman arguingThe fights continued between husband and wife. She threatened to walk out. He asked her where she planned to go as she had a child and no means to support herself. I watched with interest. I loved the way their relationship had turned turtle. There was no more tenderness and love in their conversations. There was a strain in their voices as they spoke.

The baby added to the tension. He hated waking up in the nights to its wailing. She accused him of not helping out with the child. The maid they had employed was unhappy too. She did not like  her quarters and wanted to quit. The girl pleaded with her to stay on. The maid agreed to do so at double the salary.

And  soon one month had elapsed and the nephew was getting ready to go on sea. She watched teary eyed as he finished packing.

“Don’t leave me alone like this Shyam” she said

“You are being extremely silly Anita. It is only a matter of a three months. I will be back again. And anyway if the matter is settled in court  by then , we will get ownership.  We can then sell this property and move somewhere else with the money we get. There are a lot of builders who have been approaching me. It would make an ideal location for an apartment complex” he said in a satisfied voice.

I listened to this piece of information shocked!! Was that what they had in mind ?

Was I going to be pulled down and a new structure put up in my place? So it was now a question of self  preservation … I had to fight with all my might to survive.

The taxi was at the door. He picked up his bags, kissed his wife and son as he got in. She stood at the doorway tears streaming down her cheeks as the taxi pulled away.

She shut the door and walked inside wiping the tears with one hand as she tried to balance the baby with the other.

I did not know much about the legal matters that governed a human’s life but one thing I knew for sure – if I could get them to move out quickly there was a possibility that I might survive. Whoever else it was who was laying claims to being my owner was not going to come and live here – especially not after how I planned their exit from here.

The girl was warming milk on the stove. She had partitioned one of the big rooms upstairs into a kitchen. The maid was also with her. She wanted to know if she could sleep in the same room as her mistress as she was feeling very spooked about sleeping alone in her room in the backyard.

Anita agreed. I think she is secretly relieved. I laugh to myself. Yes, I was beginning to finally have my influence on her psyche.

I watched her over the next few weeks as she turned from the confident, bold girl into a jumpy and nervous woman. She took the child with her wherever she went –whether it was inside or outside the house. The child sensing the mother’s nervousness kept up its wailing all through the day and night. I was irritated with the noise….!!

I continued to make life difficult for her. Every now and then I would let out the foul smell from the sewers under me fill the poorly ventilated rooms. I would make lights fuse suddenly and fill the surroundings with darkness.

Image result for sketch of woman holding her childBut she held on. She seemed more prepared now. She watched weather bulletins carefully preparing herself for storms. She wore a mobile phone around her neck that had a flash light. She rarely came downstairs unless she had to go out. She confined herself to the upstairs portion of the house. She had a standard stock of bulbs with her which she bought by the dozen and kept ready to change. She paid a man to cut and clear the over hanging branches of the trees near the window so that there was more light coming in.

I squinted in the light.  I wondered if she was regaining her old confidence. I hoped not .. because that would not do…!!!

( to be continued)