Mr .Raghav seemed to be in his late sixties. Yet,the number of wrinkles on his face was significantly less.
He was tall,looked sturdy and well built. The thread across his torso made it clear that he was a Brahmin by caste. A faint scar below his eyes made him look scary a bit. Although we were younger to him, we were no match for his physique.
We stood still,not knowing what to do next.
Mr. Raghav on the other hand was shivering, his hands clasping the knife tightly.
We looked eye in eye.
But no words came out.
At last, he broke the awkward silence.
“Why are you here? Looking out for someone? ”
“Err….we wanted to meet Mr. Raghav and.. and.. in all probability this is the correct place.. I hope.”,
the sharp knife edge which shone brightly in the evening darkness made me stammer.
“Yes. You are at the right place;and I’m Mr. Raghav.”,he replied calmly.
But why is he still shivering? Old age,perhaps.
“Actually,we are here to discuss about some things..”,Madhav pointed out.
“Oh I’m sorry! I forgot to tell you! My memory is playing tricks now.. Well,
come inside”,he welcomed us.
But we couldn’t. The sharp knife didn’t let us accept his proposal of going in.
And he was wise enough to understand that quickly,for our weird tensed expressions made our thoughts clear.
“You all seem a bit terrified with this knife perhaps..”
“Actually.. to be frank…Yes!”,Vishnu smiled sheepishly.
“To be true,when you called out to me,I was in the kitchen,chopping onions. And that explains my red teary eyes and this knife of mine.”,he smiled.
We let out a breath of relief and proceeded inside.
His house was traditionally built,painted white from inside. Loads of books-the sacred Bhagwad Gita,the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana adored his book shelves.
There wasn’t any TV, refrigerator..not even a radio in his house! Maybe,he didn’t like technology as such.
We were admiring the murals on the wall when he called out to us.
“Liked those paintings?”he smiled.
“They are just fantastic!”,we replied in unison.
“Looks expensive”,Madhav stated the obvious.
“I received it as a gift,years ago.. from my son who resided in California ”
“Where is he now? ”,I asked.
Mr. Raghav didn’t reply anything, but just a word.
We were shocked.
“I’m sorry….I didn’t knew about..”
“It’s fine..”,he cut me short.
We fell silent.
“I still remember that day vividly..
He had returned from California, for a small vacay here. Due to the heavy workload, he was constantly stressed. So this vacation should have helped him out..but..”
A lone tear trickled down his eyes.
“but..he lost his battle to depression and left me forever..alone..like his Mom who was diagnosed with blood cancer..”
We felt pity for him,but couldn’t find a way to console him. We preferred silence over words.
Quickly,he changed the topic.
“By the way,why are you guys here?”
We looked towards each other.
“To know some things regarding the “haunted house” near the playground. ”,Madhav kept it direct and simple.
Those words startled him.
“What!?”,he couldn’t believe his ears to what Madhav said.
“Yes. We want to be clear about the haunted house and the rumours surrounding it,and we approached you since you are one of the few people that lived when that incident took place and people even say that you are connected to the case.. ”,I continued.
“And we are sure you know what happened that fateful night Mr. Raghav. Please co-operate”,Vishnu requested him.
“I..I don’t know…All this is rubbish!”
“You know what happened. Rumour even has it that the owner of that house, met you before he fled off after the brutal murder. Ain’t this true Mr. Raghav? ”,I made the perfect point.
And that did the trick. His eyes were wide in terror.
“Who the hell told you this crap you idiots?! ”,he lost his temper.
“This ain’t crap Mr. Raghav. It’s the truth!”,Madhav corrected him.
“You bunch of fools! What do you want to prove?!”,he shouted again.
“If you aren’t involved, then why are you losing your temper so badly”,Vishnu spoke sternly.
He kept quiet since he understood that we are not going to leave him so easily. He was trapped. Trapped very badly by the adamant trio.
“But why do you want to know about that house? Want to buy it?”,he asked us after some moments of silence.
“Nope..that’s a long story ”,Vishnu replied.
“But I have the right to know! ”,he argued.
“If and only if you agree to tell us the mystery behind the house!”,Madhav demanded.
And in the next 10 minutes or so, we explained him in detail about why we are so head over heels over this case,how we were been targeted by the creature,and how we decided to get to the root of this issue through him.
“So..that’s pretty complicated stuff right? ”,he smiled.
“Yes..and we need your insights..on how it all started.”
But he seemed sceptical.
“I hope you know that even talking about the house is considered an ill omen here. The spirits are too evil”,he spoke cautiously, as if we were surrounded by those spirits.
“We just don’t care about the aftermath Sir. Just let us know the truth”,we were clear in our thoughts.
“For the first time I’m seeing a bunch of people who are so excited about that damn house. Well..I’m a bit happy too..since the truth behind it will be shared by me to someone before I breath my last..but..”,he stopped in between.
“Be ready for the consequences guys. You are invoking the spirits.”,he said in a low tone.
“We are ready.”
“Fine then! ”
HE WAS ABOUT TO START WHEN SUDDENLY, THE LIGHTS WENT OFF AND WE HEARD A LOUD CRASHING OF GLASS AGAINST THE FLOOR.
And then there was a faint light near the window.
THE VERY CANDLE THAT WE SAW AT THE HAUNTED HOUSE MADE US TREMBLE IN FEAR.