The Semblance

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Chapter 2

The shocking and heart-wrenching news of her Grandmother’s death arrived after 5-6 days when the floodwater completely receded. The telephonic lines were not properly revived that time so they couldn’t get the whole news properly. Amidst the mourning, all were impelled to arrange the mess in their house. Along with this, the preparation of going to Kolkata was also being done simultaneously. During that time Mishka used to cry for the whole night and kept on praying and expecting to see her beloved grandmother for at least once. That incident happened on a similar night. As it was a small suburb, night used to come very early there. The roads and the surroundings would become bleak and dark around 9 to 9:30 pm. As a result, most of the houses used to sink in darkness very early. Only the continuous buzzing of cricket and the twinkling of the fireflies were heard and seen all around. However, the nights after that flood became more silent and sombre. The glinting lights coming from the houses far away and the relentless croaking of frogs often made the ambience of the nights spooky and creepy. It seemed that the heavy air was creating a suppressed weeping all around. It might be analogous to the mental and emotional condition of Mishka. Although like other neighbours, Mishka’s family also used to sleep early in the nights. However, during those days they often got delayed to hit the sack. It was obvious for the arrangement of their very soon Kolkata visit. That day also they went to bed around 12 am after dinner. There were three bedrooms in which her parents used to sleep in one room and Mishka used to sleep in another with her elder sister and the other was for guests. That night Mishka was tossing and turning in her bed as usual. Her grandmother’s loving face was flashing in front of her eyes again and again. Being tired her sister fell asleep after some casual talk with her. It was around 1:30 or 2 am in the clock. The bed seemed to Mishka as a bed of thorns. After some tossing and turning, she eventually got up from the bed. She thought to go to the bathroom to get fresh and drink some water. Maybe it would be helpful to catch the zee after that. Mishka was not a timid girl at all. She never used to call anyone to escort her to the bathroom. Even that night, she didn’t call her sister to accompany her. She got down from the bed and tip-toed to the dining hall. Her eyes were burning due to drowse. She was rubbing her eyes while approaching the washroom. Just then the hair-raising sight caught her attention. A lady clad in a white saree was standing in the corner of the hall. Her body had no movement and boisterousness. In a glimpse, it seemed her grandmother to Miska. She always saw her in this type of immaculate white saree. But the difference was, that day her entire frame was covered with this. Even the hands were not visible. Her face was equally obscure in the gloom. Miska doesn’t have any superstition. Neither she has any belief in ghosts or spirits but that moment the only thought came in her mind was, her grandma will never harm her. Still, her heart came into her mouth due to some unknown fear. She had never been so scared in her life. Her limbs were numb for a while. She strained her eyes peering into the gloom to judge her eyesight but the view remained the same. She tried to yell to call her dad but her dried throat only could produce an impalpable sound. She might faint if she couldn’t realise her mistake in the next moment. The white silhouette whom she had been thinking for so long as her grandma was none other than the same bookcase which was mantled with clay. It was exactly looking like a white human structure in the partially lit dining hall. Mishka immediately switched on the light and realized that her conjecture was absolutely right. Dad’s bookcase was gleaming like a white statue in the room corner. Mishka was angry with herself. She was feeling even embarrassed for her cowardness. That night he couldn’t sleep after that.

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In the next morning on the breakfast table, Mishka asked her mother about the almirah that when it will be cleaned. Though her mother didn’t tell her about the exact time she assured that it will be soonish, within 2-3 days. Along with this, she even asked Mishka about her curiosity and eagerness. Mishka might have given some excuse which she can’t remember properly now. However, she didn’t tell anything about the incident to anybody. She feared that everybody will find her stupid and milksop or crass. For the next 2-3 days, Mishka couldn’t ruminate over this matter because she was tied up with her studies. Although her school was closed due to the flood condition her exam was at the end of the next month. Though her books had been saved from the flood water she couldn’t find out some of her copies. She spent almost two days to search those lost copies. That night she was too tired. So she went to sleep early. But in the midnight she woke up being thirsty. She didn’t know what the time was but it may be a very late night because her sister was in deep slumber in the adjacent bed. The entire house was sunk in silence. The continuous monotonous buzzing of cricket was coming from the bleak outside. Mishka got down from the bed and came to the dining hall. She didn’t switch on the light as her parents might awake. The almirah was still standing in the same way like a white statue in corner of the room amidst the shade. Mishka glanced for a moment and took a decision that if Jagannath and Mahesh won’t start to clean it from tomorrow she will come forward and take the charge. She quenched her thirst and came back to the bed for that night. However, that night she didn’t realise that she actually considered the big truth as a lie. She came to know to the next day. In the morning after getting up she straight went to her Mom for asking about the bookcase but when she didn’t notice the piece in the hall she understood that Jagannath and Mahesh have started their work. Being satisfied she came outside and observed that both were rubbing it with full dedication. However, she was surprised to see that 90% of the almirah was already cleaned. Only the doors are left to be washed. She felt happy that they worked so fast. Mishka became relaxed to the thought that she won’t have to face the almirah again at the night. Until now it was quite a discomfort for her. In lunch, her Dad raised the topic. Actually, he wanted to send some books to the college library before all the books will be kept again in the almirah and he gave this responsibility to Mishka and her elder sister. They only had to sort out the books according to his list. In the context, Mishka also asked her Mom how Mahesh and Jagannath cleaned the bookcase so neatly within a morning. And if they could have done this then why didn’t they do it earlier? But Mishka was not at all ready to hear the answer. Instead of her mother, her sister informed that Mahesh and Jagannath had been cleaning the almirah for last 2 days because according to them, this furniture was the dirtiest. For a while Mishka was numb. No other words were penetrating in her ears. She was dried throat and choked. Yet she asked to be sure that when the almirah was shifted from the hall. As expected the answer was, the almirah was shifted to the varanda 2 days back. There was nothing left to know for her. Till then it was crystal clear to her that last night whatever she considered as an illusion was actually the biggest reality. But now she didn’t feel any goosebumps or fear rather tears pricked her eyes. Even today she thinks, did her Grandmom come that night to fulfil her wish? To meet her one last time? Who knows?

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