“Could you please allot me a room, “Ashish enquired at the reception of Marigold hotel.
“Sorry Sir, all the rooms are booked, except room no. 28. But---“
“I would take that room.”
“But Sir, a young lad committed suicide in that room last month. We gave him the keys. Next morning, his body was discovered hanging limply from the ceiling fan. The youth of today are really---“
“I would take that room,” Ashish cut him short.
“But Sir, we generally don’t—“
“Give me the key,” said Ashish coolly.
The manager hesitated for a second before succumbing to his stern gaze. Ashish collected the key and trotted off confidently towards the elevator. Room No. 28 was on the 7th floor.
Ashish was a tall man of about 23. He was lean, had broad shoulders and a sharp, pointed nose and was devastatingly handsome. Stepping out of the elevator, he took long, confident strides and approached room no. 28. He inserted the key and pulled open the door. Immediately, a cold breeze of freezing chill swept over him. He tugged at his overcoat and stepped inside. He switched on the lights. The room was slightly dusty. It was apparent that nobody had used the room in the past few days.
Ashish pulled out his shoes and collapsed on the bed. His eyes fell on the ceiling fan on which that young man had hanged himself. Ashish lit up a cigarette and blew a puff of thick smoke. He smoked for a few minutes during which he fantasized of a Hollywood actress. Finishing off his cigarette, he rose and undid his tie, throwing a casual glance at the mirror. And there, for a split second, he saw the reflection of a woman. He spun around. But there was no one behind him. He smiled at himself. ‘I am imagining stuff’- he told himself. ‘Maybe I need to cool my head under water.’ He unbuttoned his shirt, undid his trousers and stepped into the bathroom. He allowed himself the ecstasy of standing serenely under the shower. And then he heard a small tap on the door. He pulled open the door but there was no one. Perplexed, he shut the door back and continued his bath. He checked himself in the mirror and froze. Three words ‘I WANT YOU’ were etched on the mirror with red ink. Were these words there from the beginning? But why didn’t he notice them earlier!
‘Ashish, you are going crazy,’ said a voice from within. ‘You are just imagining stuff. Maybe you are tired and your mind needs rest.’ And then another hollow voice from within told him, ‘I have fallen in love with you. I want you. You must kill yourself so that we can unite. I want you dead, o my beloved! Kill yourself! Go, kill yourself! Kill yourself and walk into my arms. You must act fast for I can’t wait long. I need you. I want you. I love you. You must die so that we may unite. You must die. I want you. Megha wants you….’ His head began to spin. The scene before him dissolved. He shut his eyes. The picture of a beautiful, young lady took shape in his mind. She was smiling at him in a largely seductive manner. And then she beckoned him with a soft whisper…..
The manager knocked at the door in the morning. There was no answer. He pushed open the door. The naked body of Ashish was hanging limply from the ceiling fan.