Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Messages on the Mirror

Anurag woke up with a smile on his face. This was his first morning in his new apartment. Pristinely furnished and in a high-class society, Anurag had finally made it big. This house was not just a proof of that, but a monument to the hard work and dedication he had shown for the past fifteen years. He deserved the white marble flooring and the king size bed, all for himself.

He knew that this situation would not remain so for long. His girlfriend was out of town for a week on a project and as soon as she would come, this house would start to change as per her wishes. Anurag didn’t mind that but he wanted to enjoy the blandness that this house currently held. The house was newly built and had no previous owners to ruin it. The false ceiling was carved as per his wishes (or rather her wishes) and this house was the result of a search of almost two years.

Anurag and Esha had decided to shift together but a last minute snafu in her project forced her to go to client site. Unfortunately, Anurag’s rent agreement had lapsed so he had to move alone. In fact, Anurag had to shift Esha’s stuff as well. It was all still in the boxes and Anurag didn’t dare open them and arrange them in the wrong order. In fact, he had barely touched his own things. Esha had a whole image in her mind as to how their home should be and Anurag wasn’t allowed to tarnish that image. He could give inputs but this wasn’t a democracy. Esha had cleared that much.

Anurag hugged the blanket some more and decided to skip the office today. He had anyways taken three days of leave for shifting and today was the day two of that leave. He would go tomorrow, he knew that but today, he would simply enjoy the magnificent house. Anurag dozed off in the embrace of the blanket.

Unfortunately, the alarm didn’t know Anurag’s change of plans and it started to buzz at full volume.

“Huh! What?” Anurag said looking at his mobile phone. The alarm was going off in full volume. Anurag swiped the alarm to off and went back to sleep. In a few minutes, the alarm again started to shriek.

“Damn snooze!” Anurag said and shut the alarm. Anurag couldn’t believe that he had snoozed the alarm instead of switching it off. ‘First time in my life’, Anurag thought bitterly.

Mind wide awake, he got up from the bed and started to get ready. He went in the bathroom and a chill ran through his body. He was amazed that he didn’t squeal at the sight. His mirror had a message written in red color.

‘Remember!’

On close inspection, he realised that it wasn’t simply color but blood. His faced whitened. He left the house immediately and only after he was in his car did he take a deep breath.

“Remember! Remember what? Who was that message for? Me?” Anurag blurted out in the car and his heart started to beat normally again. It must have been a trick of the other building people, he realised. Breaking his thought process, his phone rang.

“H.. Hi..” Anurag said, scared.

“What happened to you?” Esha said from the other side.

“Nothing. Just a nightmare.” Anurag said.

“Sheesh! One day I leave you alone and you are having nightmares.” Esha said jokingly.

“Yeah. Something should be there to balance you.” Anurag retaliated.

“I hate you.” Esha said.

“Good.” Anurag said smiling. His heartbeat was back to humming. Esha had that effect on him.

“Please tell me that you have wished mom today.” Esha said.

“Wish her what?” Anurag said and it hit him. “Oh shit! I forgot. I will wish her right now. You wished her?”

“Last night. You really think I will do anything to get in the bad book of my future mom-in-law.” Esha said.

“Why didn’t you remind me last night?” Anurag groaned.

“She told me not to remind you, at all.” Esha said matter-of-factly.

“Of course, she did.”

“Now, wish her. I will talk to you later.” Esha said.

“Ok. Love you.”

“Love you.”

Anurag called her mom and apologised for not calling her last night and made elaborate promises to celebrate the birthday lavishly. He then went back to his house, morning incident forgotten and started to get ready. The day was long and he wanted to get the birthday right, even if wishing didn’t go as expected.

Anurag came back tired and completely worn out. He fell on the bed and kept snoring till the morning alarm woke him up. He went to the bathroom groggy eyed and remembered the last day and immediately checked the bathroom mirror.

“No message.” Anurag said to himself relief flooding his body. He decided to go to the office and started to get ready. While he was trying to get his tie straightened he saw a red speck on his cheek. He got closer to the mirror to check the speck and realised that it was on the mirror.

As soon had Anurag realised it, the speck began to move and a message started to form on the mirror.

‘Remember! Page 47’

Anurag screamed and ran from the house. It was blood. He was sure of it. He was at his office before he realised that he had broken all speed records today and had reached in almost half the time as usual.

The whole day, he kept thinking about the message on the wall and jumped whenever someone said the word remember.

“Anurag. Will you please take over the meeting today. I really want to get the client.” His boss said to him.

“I don’t know about the client Jai.” Anurag said to his boss.

“You will pick it up.” Jai said.

“In half an hour!” Anurag said.

“Please Anurag. If you wouldn’t have come to the office today, I was in half mind to cancel this meeting and run away. Please handle it. Only you can do it.” Jai pleaded.

Anurag said yes and started reading about the client. It was a 100 page report created by an associate which he was able to skim through 30 odd pages before the meeting began.

“It’s all good Anurag but I just want to know what is the crux of all this. You know I am not from a technical background. Simplify and give me a number.” Veer said to Anurag impatiently. Jai looked at Anurag like a damsel in distress looking at her hero.

“I don’t like giving a number before explaining how we reach there.” Anurag said while doing what he had learn throughout his studies till MBA. He jumped on the report and started to turn the pages while completely clueless as to say what. The associate was not present in the meeting else he would have been able to give that answer. Anurag turned a few pages here and there and saw a number.

He went through the page and with a triumph on his face started to speak.

“However, if I have to give you a number, it would be this.” Anurag said writing a number on the white board. Veer smiled looking at the number and spoke with happiness.

“I like this number. You get me that number and my business is yours for years to come.” Veer said and concluded the meeting.

“How did you do that?” Jai asked impressed.

“I knew where to look.” Anurag said with a calm demeanour while his innards lurched. “I will have to go now Jai. Got the unpacking to do.”

“Of course. You have done enough for the week today.” Jai said happily.

“Mind if I take this report.”

“Yeah. No problem.” Jai said.

Anurag opened the page he had quoted the figure from — page 47 — and kept staring at it. He knew it can’t be a coincident.

He went back to his house and saw nothing written on the glass.

“Who is here?” Anurag shouted. He knew he couldn’t call anyone for help. He was alone in this and he had to find proof if he wanted to get any attention on this.

He went to bed and promptly had nightmares. The morning was as the past two — uneventful until the glass started to have red markings in blood.

“Remember! Gym fees.” The message said. This was extremely clear. Anurag’s gym fees was due today and he had completely forgotten about it. He picked up a lipstick from Esha’s bag and wrote a ‘Thanks!’ on the glass.

The whole day went by with Anurag fixated on the glass. When he went home, the lipstick was gone and so was the message in blood. He went to the bathroom and another message was present there.

‘Remember! Joe’s gift.’ The message reminded him of the birthday that was coming this weekend. He had to buy a present for Joe and he immediately jumped on an ecommerce site to check the gift. It would require two days to deliver — exactly the time needed if he orders it right now. The mirror saved him again. Anurag wrote a thanks on the mirror with the lipstick again.

For the next two days, this continued. The frequency of messages increased to two — one in the morning and one in the evening. These messages reminded him of the most important thing that he had to do today. He also learned that there was a pattern to these messages. The morning message was an action he had to do sometime in the day. He didn’t know when but realised it when the time came. The evening message was an immediate action. He had to do that immediately. He still had to decipher them some because they were mostly in broken English. Whoever the ghost was, Anurag was sure that it wasn’t an English scholar.

Within 5 days, he had not only learned to like the messages but had become reliant on them. Every day, he would get the message and he would write a ‘Thanks!’ under it. He didn’t know how he will explain this to Esha. Will the messages remain only for him or will they be for Esha as well? Will they stop altogether when Esha comes? Anurag didn’t know and as the time for Esha’s return came closer, this worried him.

Anurag woke up and realised that Esha would be home tonight. He smiled. Keeping aside his worries regarding the mirror, he was excited for Esha’s return. He had missed her terribly. He woke up with the same excitement that he had on the first day in this house. Anurag got ready slowly and decided to buy a present for Esha before meeting her in the evening.

The scribbling on the mirror started. ‘Remember! Book flight Esha.’

“Aww.. Of course, I remember Esha’s flight today. Thanks for it though. I hope you continue to help me once she is here.” Anurag said and wrote ‘Thanks!’ under it.

He worked with an enhanced vigour in the office and came back bringing a necklace she had wanted. A couple of times during the day, the word ‘book’ nagged him but he ignored it. His excitement overflowed every other emotion. On his return, he found another message scribbled on the mirror.

‘Remember! Call Esha.’ Anurag’s heart skipped a beat and he immediately called Esha. The phone rang without any response. What worried him more than the fact that she didn’t pick the call was that the call went through. She should have been on the flight by now. He called again but to no avail. The phone kept ringing.

Anurag looked at the mirror at the words written in blood with horror.

“What happened to her?” Anurag shouted. The mirror stayed silent. Anurag remembered the words from the morning and flipped open the computer. He saw the latest flight and started packing his bags.

“I don’t have time to book a flight. I have to go now.” Anurag muttered at the mirror, his eyes brimming and his heart pounding in his chest. The mirror remained impassive but his phone vibrated. Esha’s name flashed and he jumped on it.

“Esha! Esha!”

“Hey love.” Esha said in a tired voice.

“What happened Esha? Why are you not on the flight? I was so worried.” Words poured out of Anurag.

“I am sorry to get you worried. I fainted at the office and they had to take me to the hospital. I woke up some time back and saw your call just now.” Esha said. Anurag felt that Esha was hiding something. Her voice had a strain of incomplete information on her.

“Esha! Something is wrong. Tell me the truth. I am coming right now.” Anurag said, panic creeping in his voice.

“There is nothing wrong Anurag. I am completely fine. In fact, better than fine. But, I do want you to come. Book the flight for tomorrow morning. I am going to be at the hospital in the night anyways.” Esha said.

“Esha. I am coming right now.” Anurag said strongly.

“Oh gosh! I am pregnant Anurag.” Esha said excitedly. “Now don’t be a doofus and book a flight for tomorrow morning. Your face should be the first one I see when I wake up. I will message you the details.” Esha continued.

Anurag was stunned.

“Really!” He said.

“Yup. We are going to have a baby. I love you so much.” Esha said speaking very fast. Now, that she had spoken it out loud, she couldn’t hold her emotions.

“I love you too.” Anurag said and put the phone down. He looked at the mirror again. The words were still glimmering on the glass. He stood up and picked Esha’s lipstick.

‘Thanks!’ He wrote and said at the same time. The words shimmered and vanished.

“Book flight Esha.” Anurag said and smiled. He opened the laptop to check the morning flight.

Random Tales

kpwrites #2

Sunaina decided to kill everyone involved in her murder. It was the right thing to do. The only thing stopping her was her kid – Rohan. Rohan had unwittingly helped plan her murder and Sunaina couldn’t bring herself to kill her little boy. She had hardened herself several times but Rohan’s face would melt anything resembling anger, hate or resentment she could muster against her baby boy.

Sunaina decided that once she went on her killing spree, it would be easier for her to kill Rohan. Rohan thus found a place at the end of Sunaina’s kill list. She went through her list quite swiftly. The advantage of being a spirit was that while one person on her list was in Mumbai while another was in Delhi, she could still reach them in the same night and finish them off. Moreover, she wasn’t worried about the walls and other things as well. Sunaina had killed her husband, his parents, her parents and her doctor. Now, the only person left was Rohan.

Sunaina looked at Rohan and closed her eyes. She had to kill him. He was the last alive person responsible for her death.

“Mumma,” Rohan said and waved her hand at Sunaina. The hand passed through her but Rohan kept trying. At 1 year of age, his understanding of ghosts was limited. Despite his failed attempts at grabbing his mother, Sunaina felt that she had lost any resolve.

She couldn’t kill Rohan. Even though it was him who had killed her. Her husband, parents, in-laws and doctor had simply made the decision – “Save the child over the mother.” However, it was Rohan who had actually lead to that choice.

But she couldn’t kill him.

“Dead, ghost, and yet, a mother.” She sighed and left the room. Rohan had dozed off after his trying attempts to grab her mother. He will be found sleeping next to his dead family tomorrow with no information about the murderer.

Over the years, he would forget his only encounter with his mother. All he would know is that anyone close to him died before he had a chance to be loved.