Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let me tell you a story…

I come back home from work each night at around 8:30, 9:00 pm. My apartment is on the 6th floor, the last floor. As usual, I said hi to Bheem, the watchman and asked him how he was. And he said in his usual, grinny way, “phine, madam.” At times I feel that he is truly delighted to see me. Well. I feel good when I see him too. The light on the lift switchboard said 4 and I waited for it to come down. It came and I opened the creaking doors and stepped inside. There is this mirror on the opposite wall and I stared at the person looking back at me. She was tired, disheveled basically a mess. I grimaced and then smiled in resignation. I looked up and I could see a light. There is no fan in the lift and this cavity on the ceiling is an uncomfortable factor. I remembered the short that a friend of mine had written on his blog. Ever since I read it I have been slightly uneasy in my lift. And the light which I would gaze at had actually the semblance of a destination that I was desperate to reach because of the rising fear inside me.

Suddenly the lift stopped. And so did my heart. It was the 4th floor. I held my breath and then exhaled when I saw this girl step inside.

“Hi”, she said. Sweet voice. Cute girl. Fifteen, maybe sixteen. I smiled back.

“My name is Nirmala,” this was said with a slight lift of shoulders and a sidelong glance.

I smiled again and said, “I am Preeti. Which floor?”

“Uhmmm, the last one…”

“That’s mine too…”

“I know…”

We got out together. She turned to me and said, “I live on the 4th floor. Number 4001.” Then she smiled and climbed up the stairs that led to the terrace.

This happened for one week. I met Nirmala every night and the same routine followed. The mirror was removed from the lift since an over-enthusiatic child had decided to punch it. Injuring himself seriously in the process and also leaving me without a distraction from the fear factor. Scribblers ought to be banned!!

One day I had company. He was one of those people whom you know lives in your apartment block and you nod at each other. I was speaking to Nirmala and he happened to get inside the lift from the 5th floor. His sister lived on the 6th one and he often visited her. That night he gave me a strange look. Then he turned to Nirmala and gave her a strange look too. We looked at each other behind his back and grinned knowingly. Men, can be so pathetic at times.

The next night, Nirmala had something to show me. We were inside the lift and suddenly the lights went out. We were stuck. The red emergency light went on automatically. We sat down on the floor. Nirmala was bathed in a strange red light and I suddenly realized that she had pitch black eyes. No light in them. None whatsoever. Maybe it was the power cut. I ignored it. She removed a book from inside her t-shirt. It looked old and dog-eared. She gave it to me. I saw poems inside the pages. Very beautiful poems.

“These are beautiful, Nirmala. You’ve written them?”

No reply. I looked up.

She was staring at me. She was smiling. And there was light in her eyes. But the light was strangely black.

“Yes. I’ve written them. I’ve always wanted to get them published. Would you help me, Preeti?”

I looked at her for some time.

“Yes. I will.”

Why on earth did I say that? I really don’t know. But I spoke to a few people and yes I did get her published. Meanwhile we met every night. She was quite a bundle of mirth and mystery. And there was something very unreal about her.

The day her book released I got a copy. I wanted to surprise her. And I waited for her to step in from the 4th floor. She did as usual and I said nothing, but just showed her the book. She looked at it. She looked at me. Her eyes turned blacker than black. And she stood speechless. Suddenly the lift stopped. It was the last floor. The lights turned red. And no, there was no power cut. I wondered what was going on.

I looked at Nirmala. She stood there with the book in her hand. Her book. Her poems. She was smiling. And her eyes were shining blackly. She stepped outside the lift and went up the stairs to the terrace. Without looking back.

I walked down the stairs to the 4th floor. To number 4001. I rang the bell and a middle-aged lady opened the door.

“Where’s Nirmala?” I asked.

She stared at me and I saw a man, her husband, come and stand behind her. They stared at me. Nirmala’s only wish was to get her poems published. She tried her best but her wish remained unfulfilled. One night, five years back, she stepped inside the lift and went up to the last floor. She climbed the stairs that led to the terrace and she jumped.

I stood there and images flashed across my mind. That man staring strangely at me. Obviously he would. For all that he knew I was speaking to myself, for God’s sake. The black light in the eyes. The unrealness.

I have stopped using the lift.

37 comments:

comfortably numb said...

eerie...yet so poignant...an unfulfilled dream kills you every waking moment!!!

Still thinking said...

You've got to be kidding me!
Tell me it's just a story, if not, then I've too toooo many questions to ask.

Phew! it was scary.

Paradox Philic said...

Really.... is it a true story??

Sree said...

wah.That was a good read.Well written :)

Banno said...

I liked the element of fear creeping in after looking into the mirror, and seeing a dishevelled someone. Lifts and mirrors in lifts can really be scary! Nice.

Preeti said...

NUMB...

it sure does...

thank you...i found it eerie too...

Preeti said...

STILL...

what do you think...?

Preeti said...

PARADOX...

:-(

*nods head slowly*

PS: :-)

Preeti said...

SREEEEEE...

thank you!!!
how have you been...?
have been reading severe thoughts..
hmmm

Preeti said...

OYE BANNO

BHELCOME ...
:DDDD

thank you. am glad you liked it!!!

Sree said...

hmm hmm?

shnkrnryn said...

yo i want to so use the lift to get to your place now

Rahul said...

WOW! nicely written ..

Am adding you as a friend.. :)

Running in circles. said...

Mmm, I really envy you to be able to be meticulous.
Oh and yes, how funny that I totally believe in supernatural things, though a non believer of blind faith :D

Oh and yes, I somehow cannot comment on your other blog, would you be kind enough to let me:P

dropdeadfriend said...

u have good talent of storytelling.
i like you for that.
read you more.

Che said...

omg you killed her?

Preeti said...

SREE...

hmm
:-)

Preeti said...

SHANKY...

go, use...
who's stopping you...?

:p

i knew you would say something like this...

Sree said...

arey...i was just reading ur other blog.

Preeti said...

RAHUL

thanks...

Preeti said...

SREE...

HAHAHA...

GOOD GOOD

Preeti said...

RIC...

thank you dearest...
and im in bombay....
and the pre-preps is my excuse for this delay...

the supernatural has always hypnotized me. maybe because there have been instances wherein i have experienced certain experiences so yeah...

blind faith ... hmm... i think i end up harbouring blind faiths on those whom i love with all my heart and soul...men especially...:p

and the other blog will now take comments...

:-)

Preeti said...

DDFriend...

thank you... :-)
welcome here...

and i will write more stories for you so you keep visiting...

:-)

Preeti said...

CHE...

hmm...
you're back...

*shakes head in resignation*

The Rat... said...

plzz say this is a fiction...

i presently have this fist clamping my heart... ouch.. that was creepy..

came here from Mithun's blog, ye Noted writer

Preeti said...

Welcome O Denizen of the underground...

i must thank mithun for that accolade. believe me i dont deserve it. he's ultra sweet for having said that.

what if i were to tell you that it is true...???

sanely insane said...

u want the serious comment or the guffaw comment?

here come both

the plot per se is not so new...but i liked the way u told the story...very fluid

now were her poems that bad :P

Running in circles. said...

Omigosh youre in Bombay , We should meet !!!
:P

Yes, the supernatural is ever so appealing that its so hard to nail.
XD

The Rat... said...

what if i were to tell you that it is true...?? u ll have a baffled Rat... :-|

Preeti said...

INSANELY SANE

appreciate the feedback.....

her poems were horrendous...the black light in eyes got me all suspicious and scared...so i had to lie about the poems being good and all...

:D

come back again ok...!!!

Preeti said...

RIC

omigosh... YES...
we must we must...
:p

it sure is. but the key is to remain detached and watch it from a distance...OR ELSE...
hmmm.....

PS: naughty girl....
:DDD

Preeti said...

RATTY...

awww...

no re baba...it is a story that is entangled inside reality...as in the lift exists, bheem exists, i exist...and thats about it...

:D

Preeti said...

RATTY...

oh yes...scribbler also exists.
:D

oo7 said...

that was scary preeti..

i thought she was Vampire...
i would have asked her to bite me...hehe

Zlaek said...

came here through mithun's blog too

i recently left a comment there saying "if I can ever trust someone to send chills up my spine, it'd be Mithun Mukherjee"

(pssstt... i've changed my mind)

Hell of a post, lady!
Way to go-- unrealness..

Zlaek said...

came here through mithun's blog too

i recently left a comment there saying "if I can ever trust someone to send chills up my spine, it'd be Mithun Mukherjee"

(pssstt... i've changed my mind)

Hell of a post, lady!
Way to go-- unrealness..

Preeti said...

hey zlaek,

welcome to the weird zone...
it gets weirder...:-)

yeah i've seen you often on mith's blog...

and thank you for those kind words, my dear...
:-)
and come again...