They entered through the door, the woman and her two daughters. With flowing white togas, clinched at their waist, they looked like the ray of sunshine. I did now know, who they were, but I knew that had been waiting for them, for too long.
“Mother, is this where we will live?” The younger one, almost five years of age, with golden locks, and the face of an angel, spoke up.
The woman looked around, her face a mix of sorrow and disdain.
“Yes, agape mou this is our home now.”
The girls ran around the small home, which took no more than fifteen strides to cover from one end to another. It was a stone house with low white ceilings and claustrophobic white walls. The only place divided was the bathroom with a cane door. The kitchen, bedroom and sitting area were seamless in this small home.
Another entered through the door, a priestess with religious symbols tattooed all over her arms and a shaved head. She walked around and crossed the length of this tiny abode. She stopped right under the roof, where there was a small hole to stream sunlight through. She cocked her head towards the right, looked up at the roof, let the breeze from top wash over her shining and tattooed baldness and looked at the woman.
“This place is cursed!” she said.
“Cursed? But we have to live here, there is no where else to go.” Said the woman, holding her two girls.
“I did not say that you have to move.” Said the priestess. “There is a restless spirit haunting this place, a spirit that once possessed great power, but now is reduced to the stature of a rodent. We need to get rid of it.”
“How do we do that?” asked the woman, her voice shaky.
“We prepare for the ritual now, I have everything with me. I will need your help to set things up.”
They then set about to prepare for the ritual, and while I waited for what seemed like an entire day, just at the brink of twilight; I decided to look for the restless spirit. How difficult would it be to find a ghost in a house that can be covered in just fifteen long strides? I looked in the bathroom first, nothing, went to the kitchen area, nothing, went to where they started the ritual, nothing. Just then I noticed something move in the far corner of the kitchen. Away from light, shrouded in darkness. I willed myself to move towards where the kitchen. I was not used to moving a lot and that is it took some mighty effort. As I neared the darkness in one corner of the kitchen my heart beat in the sporadic rhythm of someone who was terrified of what they would find. It beat like horse hooves; it howled like the wolf, it panted like a hound. My shaking hands reached out towards the darkness, near the watering hole. And there I saw her.
She was nothing I imagined a ghost to be. Yet, she made the smooth hair on my back stand on its edges. Her wretched appearance, bones that jutted out of her shoulders reminded me of razor blades. She was covered in what looked like a filthy rag, with holes cut out to accommodate her bone thin arms. Her face was partially covered in strings of matted hair, and the rest was hollow cheeks, big white eyes, and rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth. The deep red, almost stale brown blood matted around her mouth made me realise how she survived on gnashing rodents. Her eyes were sunken and blood shot, there were angry red scratches that covered her white, dry face. Her lips were drawn in a snarl, and yes, she was looking right at me. She looked withered with her bones jutting everywhere, and the rest of her floating within the rags. Her hands were covered with wounds that were similar to bites. I realised, she truly was the rodent here, reduced to a pitiful state of nothingness.
One thing became instantly clear, she did not belong, this house was now theirs, the woman and her two girls and she needed to go.
Yet, my heart beat faster at this abomination. The thought of that creature touching one of the girls with her grimy hands; smelling them, their floral fragrance with her pinched nose; tasting them, their supple skin with her filthy mouth. The thought appalled me.
I could hear the priestess chanting in the background, she had drawn strange religious symbols all over the walls and lit a fire in the centre of the house. She believed that only with the combustion of fire and water; will the spirit leave this house.
As her voice grew louder, so did the fire become larger and thunder rolled outside. I shivered. I do not know if it was because of sudden chill that had enveloped the house or the intensity with which that wretched abomination stared at me.
The priestess came over to the watering hole to fill up the round vessel. I knew that when she does the final act of pouring water over fire, this horrible being would disappear, forever.
A sudden thought struck me. Shouldn’t I ask her, if she was ready to go? I looked back her, in her state of pathetic existence. For a moment I felt pity, but then I realised that the dead have no place here. This house was for the woman and her girls.
I gathered courage and asked her, “Are you ready to go?”
She spoke is raspy whisper; barely audible “I don’t know. “
“You don’t have a choice, you can’t be a part of this. You are over.” My voice became louder and unyielding as my righteous belief grew stronger.
I looked behind me, the priestess was poised with the vessel to pour water over fire and vanquish this ghost.
But wait, shouldn’t I ask her who she is, and how did she come to be?
I looked back at her and asked, “Who are you?”
And just as I finished my sentence, I felt a tingling sensation all over my body. Suddenly the tingling turned in slow burning that spread from my heart throughout my body. And within seconds, I was screaming in agony as I burned and my entire being was listed high up in the air, halfway through to the ceiling of that small house. I felt excruciating pain in every single cell, like it was being stretched to the point of breakage, like someone was trying to rip my very essence into shreds.
The priestess finally poured water on fire, and the ghost spoke, “I am you.”
I woke with a start, not for the first time in the last eighteen months. These nightmares were getting too much to handle. And I think, I had peed a little too. Thank god, I was alone in a strange hotel room. My mom would have thrown a fit over a wet bed sheet.
I don’t know how many of you, dear readers, have felt cold fire scourge across your body, but I gotta tell you, it ain’t pretty!
So, here I am, awake from another one of those nightmares, where I am the bloody ghost. This was seriously getting old and annoying, but I had no idea how to stop these dreams. My therapist, Srinivas Ganesh, (who, might I add,is the Richard Gere of Bangalore) was fed up of trying to make me do boring stuff like meditation and yoga. Every time he would suggest any one of these, I would suggest a raunchy date with him. That usually shut him up for the next couple of weeks. These Doctors take the Hippocratic oath a little too seriously. Too bad for him.
Please allow me to introduce myself...
So, I have always felt I was different, like I didn’t fit in. Me, in this family, in this life, among these people was just a freak accident. Or maybe I was replaced at birth. Quite possible I tell you, considering how ambitious my mom has been. I have been make up..ed, photograph..ed, portfolio..ed, staged, drama..ed and practically everything else that comes with name and fame since I was a “doe eyed” 6 month old chubby. At least, that is how my mom used to describe me, until I became the fire breathing, mood swinging 16 year old hormonal wreck.
Anyhow, so here I am, and please be patient because it has always been a pain introducing myself. I am Tim, short for Timbuktu. I know what you are thinking. What kind of a name is Timbuktu?
What can I say? Maybe my parents were drunk with joy when they named me. That is mostly true for my dad, I am sure he was overjoyed to have a doe eyed chubby. But for my mom, it was holding, smelling and finally tasting the whiskey after nine painfully long months, earned me my name. Perhaps she wanted to punish me for depriving her of alcohol.
And yes, even though I am Tim, short for Timbuktu, I am still a girl. Very much so, if you were to go by curvy hips, small waist and well, a perfect bust. I was never hugely modest.
I have always lived in the, once upon a time, retirement capital of India and now the IT capital, Bangalore. And yes, as I write this I miss Bangalore a lot. My home, my friends, my dad, my dogs, my brother; Daniel (please note that my brother is not named after some ridiculous sounding city in Africa, if this doesn’t convince people I was exchanged at birth, nothing would); and yes very, very reluctantly my mom, who I quite suspect was single handedly involved in the aforesaid crime.
My suspicions of being different came to pass just weeks after I got engaged to the man of my dreams. The “Sean Fernandes”, six feet of hard muscle beneath Armanis and Versaces. And his voice was like Kahlua blended with chocolate liqueur. Yum!
Even though I didn’t know Sean that well, we were just kids when he left for New York. And now that he was back on and off, his mom and my mom started playing their childhood game of marrying their dolls to each other. Only in this case the dolls were me and “six feet of hard muscle” Sean. Not that either of us had any problems with that; we had enough passion between us to evaporate my mom’s swimming pool.
So yes, back to Sean, the conversations were good, the sex was great; and fashion labels inhabited my wardrobe that I used to only dream of.
“Six feet of hard muscle” Sean was a great bargain until I met ‘THE’ Treah Storm in Colorado Springs.