Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The sobbing woman

Mr. Roy, Mrs. Roy and their son Rahul were a family of three who lived in the city of Calcutta. Mr. Roy was a businessman while Mrs. Roy was a housewife. Their son Rahul was 11-year old and studied in standard 5 in a reputed school in the city. Mr. Roy owned two factories that manufactured garments. While one factory was in Calcutta, the other was in Jamshedpur. He had to make frequent trips to the town of Jamshedpur to manage the affairs there. He used to spend half the month in Calcutta and the other half in Jamshedpur. Mr. Roy was a tall man of good build. But he was a patient of diabetes and his hectic schedule was taking a toll on his body. Finally, he decided to shut down one of the factories to save himself the trouble of constant travelling. So, he shut down the Calcutta factory and the entire family shifted to Jamshedpur into a new house. Rahul was admitted to a local school in Jamshedpur and the family settled down quietly in their new surroundings.

A week passed uneventfully. Mr. Roy was now attending to his affairs at the Jamshedpur factory. He was glad that he was now exempt of constant travelling and could lead a more peaceful and quieter life.
One day, somewhere in the middle of the night, Mr. Roy woke up from his sleep. He got up to drink some water before heading back to sleep. He threw a glance at the grandfather clock and saw that it was 3 am. He was heading back to bed when, all of a sudden, he heard a sound. It appeared as if someone was sobbing. The sound seemed to come from the other side of the house. His wife and his son were fast asleep in the same room where he was standing. So, who was weeping at this time of the day? Stirred by curiosity, he went to examine. He left the bedroom, crossed the drawing room and cautiously approached the guest room. The sound of continuous sobs was now coming louder and clearer. It was the voice of a woman. He crossed the threshold and entered the guest room. It was immersed in pitch black darkness. And there he saw a figure standing by the window and facing the wall.
‘Who is it,’ he called. But the figure did not respond and continued to sob. Mr. Roy groped around the wall for the switchbox and turned on the light. The figure disappeared instantly. The blood flowing inside his veins seemed to freeze in terror. It did not take him long to realize that he had just seen an apparition. He did not want to trouble his wife and son. He quietly went back to bed. But he could not sleep. His heart was drumming fast. Was this house haunted?
It happened the next night as well. Mr. Roy woke up in the middle of the night on hearing a wailing sound. He was once again drawn to the guest room where he saw the pale figure of a woman facing the wall and sobbing. This happened for the next few nights. Mr. Roy would wake up to the sound of the woman sobbing. Even his wife woke up one night and shrieked in horror at the sight of a wailing woman in the guest room. The remarkable thing about this ghost was that it never made an appearance in any other part of the house. Every night, it would appear in the guest room, stand before a particular wall and sob.
Mr. and Mrs. Roy got increasingly worried. They were a God-fearing couple and were afraid of spirits and ghosts. Even the thought of living in a haunted house petrified them. Mr. Roy confided about it to a friend who suggested that they consult a local priest. The priest was called. Mr. Roy told him everything about the weeping apparition. The priest decided to pass the night in the guest room to see for himself how and when the apparition appeared.
So, as night fell, he lay down on the bed and waited. Minutes passed into hours. Darkness and silence engulfed the room. A mouse squeaked somewhere in the kitchen. Before he knew, the priest dozed off. And then, some time later, he was woken up by a sound. He rose from the bed and saw the wailing woman staring at the wall and sobbing. It did not take the priest long to understand that this spirit had some unfulfilled desire. She wanted something done and would not rest in peace until that was done.
The priest said aloud, “Who are you and what do you want? Why is your spirit wandering around? What troubles you?”
 The woman stopped sobbing and looked up at him. She was nothing more than a pale, translucent figure. The priest saw that her eyes were red with crying and she wore a sad look. He thought that the woman might say something. He expected her to confide her troubles to him. But the woman only looked at him with her misty eyes. And then, she raised her hand and pointed at the wall. The priest was perplexed.
“I want liberty,” the woman spoke in a barely audible whisper. “I am imprisoned. Free me. Please let me go.” And with these words, she evaporated in the air and disappeared.
Next morning, the priest said to Mr. Roy, “There is something behind that wall. She is a troubled, restless spirit. She is not at peace. She wants something done. We need to dig up that wall.”
And so, men were called and the wall was dug up. As the men pulled apart the top bricks, they saw something white glisten. As more and more bricks were removed, to their horror, they discovered a skeleton. Someone, in the past, had buried a dead body in that wall.
“This must be the body of that woman,” the priest announced. “It appears as if she was murdered and her body buried here. She is looking for salvation. We must cremate this body with proper rituals. Only then will her soul feel at rest.”
The priest then conducted an ‘anusthaan’. The body was cremated with dignity and all the rites performed.
One month has passed since then. The ghost hasn’t made any further appearance. The dead woman now rests in peace and Mr. Roy sleeps soundly. 

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