This story is based on a vividly descriptive dream which I saw one night after knowing about the Delhi gang-rape incident of December 2012 and for a split second, everything in the dream seemed to happen around me. The brutal incident in Delhi stirred many disturbing thoughts in my mind, as I realized that girl could have been anyone’s daughter, sister, wife or mother. I have a sister and as a concerned brother, I care for her safety all the time, even more after that dreadful incident. This story also portrays that deep down in our hearts, we care for the well-being of our family and what the dream brought out were the deepest fears of losing a family member. This story has been published in the 49th edition of AECIAN, the annual magazine of my college, Assam Engineering College, Guwahati and I want to share it with you. Hope you like it!
It was a very cold December night in Saket, New Delhi. The year was 2008. Most people preferred to stay indoors, warming themselves by the fireplace; for those who didn’t possess that luxury, a cheaply lit fire on the footpaths served the purpose. It was a pitiful sight to see the miserable state of those who took shelter on the pavements. As the night approached the late hours, the streets grew deserted and the wind seemed to go a level higher on the ‘chill’ scale.
On Bylane 6, Jyotinagar, Saket lived Arun Dutta, a sales professional, working for Devon Pharmaceuticals, a reputed multi-national company. Arun originally hailed from a small village in Titabar, Assam and had been working in Delhi for the past 3 years. Hailing from a simple background, he, initially, had to struggle with the fierce job life the company offered, the sky-touching expectations from his bosses and overall, a sense of non-familiarity and hostility in the Delhi ambience. However, within a few months, work consumed him and he basically kept to himself. The employees hostel in Saket, where he stayed had well-furnished single rooms with all the modern facilities. But, he was not a happy man. He battled loneliness every day. He had lost his mother when he was just 9 years old and his only sister, Jyoti, had died in a terrible fire accident in her hostel, 4 years back, when she was pursuing her majors in English in Delhi University. She was found almost 80 per cent burned and the only thing that could be identified was the gold earring on her left ear. His father went in to a coma when he got the terrible news on 28 December, 2004. And within a few months, he passed away too. Arun had no family; for him, his work meant everything now.
It was 10.47pm. Arun had his dinner at the hostel mess and decided to take a stroll in the long corridors of his hostel. He usually took walks after dinner, visiting past memories of his childhood in his village. As he strolled through the corridor, he could see his co-workers retire into the comforts of quilts and blankets while some of their room-mates preferred to work.
Arun kept assessing the long corridor, which, on one side, ended in a balcony that offered a view of the deserted streets and on the other side, it terminated at the hostel library. He thought whether someone could actually be walking on the corridor late night and go unnoticed. He suddenly checked his watch and noticed it was already midnight. He realized he had kept himself lost in vague thoughts too long and needed to get sleep. All other rooms went dark, meaning the night-crawlers had taken to slumber too. He was the single man awake in his floor. As he walked up to his room, he felt someone behind and suddenly turned, only to hear a gentle rustle of the leaves of the neem tree near the balcony. It felt strange for him as he was 90 per cent sure someone stood behind him. Without wasting a moment, he rushed to his room and screamed in horror! His room was in a complete mess, with his belongings scattered on the floor. The bedsheet was completely wet and a bucket lay on top of it. He could not comprehend the scene. But it was the mud-stained writing on the wall opposite him that sent chilling waves through his spine. HELLO BROTHER!!! He was in shock. Quickly regaining his senses, he went inside the room and looked around. He crawled and looked under the bed. He even checked the almirah and behind the long curtains. No one was there. He looked at the wall again. He had no doubt that only his sister could write it, but how? She had been dead for four years.
Suddenly, he felt cold again and realized someone’s presence behind. Drops of sweat appeared on his forehead. He was scared now. Still, he turned back and could see only the door eerily opened, and staring back at him. Mustering enough courage, he shouted at the top of his voice, “WHO’S THERE?” Only silence answered him…
He then heard footsteps outside his room. He rushed outside and saw that his colleague, Mayur, who stayed in the next room, was shaving in the corridor. He was naturally appalled to see someone shave late at night and felt a strange sensation of fear. Something wasn’t right and Arun completely lost his mind. He stood stunned for a few seconds and then, suddenly rushed back into his room. Few moments later, he felt someone touch him from behind. It was an icy-cold touch. Slowly, he turned towards the source of touch and let out a deafening scream of horror. Standing in front of him was a girl, with burnt marks all over her body. She looked frightening in her burnt state. She was crying, standstill at her place. What he could make out was only a gold earring on her left ear. Her eyes were transfixed on him, who was crying out for help. Suddenly, the girl shouted at him “BROTHER, LOOK AT ME” and he stopped screaming. The watchman standing at the gate noticed smoke, bellowing out of Arun’s room and within seconds, a huge blaze erupted. He yelled and rushed into the hostel, alerting the others in the rooms, on the way to Arun’s room.
The next morning, the men’s hostel was crowded with media persons and policemen. Arun Dutta’s room was completely charred and his dead body was not found. Surprisingly, what remained unburned and completely intact, was a diary, in one of the corners of the room. When one of the policemen opened it, he found that most of the pages consisted of business notes written by Arun. But, one page caught his attention. It read:
Dear Jyoti, The day since you left me, life has turned all greyish, so lonely. Why did you leave me, sister? Rather, I should ask God why He took your life so early. Yes, God can be cruel sometimes, I wouldn’t doubt that. You know, every night, since I came to Delhi, I always try to feel you in this city. I never saw you after the accident; you were in such a bad state, doctors say. As your elder brother, I couldn’t be there to help you. What a curse on me! But I still longed to see you, in whichever state you were. Every night in this hostel, I walk through the corridor and look at the neem tree, because I feel you would climb it, like you used to when you were a child and come running to me. There were so many nights when I cried because you were the only sister I had and I couldn’t do anything about it. BUT TODAY, I MET YOU. I AM SO HAPPY. OUR FAMILY WILL BE REUNITED AND WE SHALL LIVE HAPPILY.
The last words were written in bold. The policeman also noticed a small golden earring attached to that page. He didn’t understand what the page or the earring meant until Mayur Dhiraj, Arun’s colleague briefed the policemen about Arun’s life story, which Arun had shared with him one day. This was no ordinary tale.