11:59 PM Wednesday
It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back and as soon as I was about to take a step towards the door, the dog which was lying down near the gate, suddenly started barking. The dog was staring at me and howling continuously. I tried to hush it but there was no change in its behavior. The breeze gained momentum and the fallen leaves of the mango tree were blowing all around. The door knocked once more. This time the knock was harder, with more force. I headed towards the door with baby steps, in a slow motion and peeped through the peephole. There was no one visible outside the door. I thought I may be mistaken. I was about to turn back, when the door knocked for the third time. My heart started beating fast but I gathered some courage to check once again. Again, there was no one.
I yelled, ’Who’s there? Who’s there?’
There was no answer. I decided to open the door to check. I stepped out to find, to search whoever it is, but there was not even a single soul to be seen anywhere. It was pitch dark outside. An owl was hooting from a distance on the veranda. I decided to go back inside. All of a sudden, my legs stumbled over something. It was a dog’s collar. Instantly, I picked it up. It reminded me of the same collar hanging on the dog’s neck, the one barking outside the balcony. I rushed towards the balcony to check. The dog was not there. I shouted for the security guard but no one responded. All at once, I felt something smooth in my hands. When I looked at it, the collar of the dog has been replaced by a silk scarf. Horrified, it fell down from my hands. It was flowing like a river in the breeze. Unexpectedly, it got stuck in the middle of the air as if draped over a silhouette. I turned pale, screamed and hurried inside and closed all the doors. With shivering hands, I somehow reached the Intercom. As soon as I picked up the receiver to dial the security’s number, lights went off. Slowly, I went towards the almirah and searched for the torch in the dark, which was supposed to be placed in the almirah’s drawer. I finally got hold of it and rushed to the phone again. I dialed the security’s number 500. It was ringing, but no one responded. I tried calling again, but no one answered the call. I tried for the 3rd time, but in vain.
With leaden steps, I unwillingly headed towards the balcony. There was nothing outside. No dog and no scarf with silhouette. I assumed this all to be a hallucination. I thought I desperately need a glass of water to calm down myself. I was sweating profusely. I went to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and took out a chilled water bottle. I started sipping the water with the sweat trickling down my cheeks, similar to the dribbling of chilled water drops down the bottle. There was a mirror hanging outside the kitchen in the living room. When I turned steadily sipping the water, my eyes fall on the mirror. I felt something strange. I stood glued to the position, gently rolled my eye balls towards the right side. I scanned from the corner of my eyes. I didn’t see anything in the mirror. May be it was dark. I tip-toed towards the mirror and stood in front of it completely. The thunders lightened the room. There was no one to be seen in the mirror. I considered it as my imagination. I came back and sat on the sofa, but something was haunting me. Something clicked me. On the spur of the moment, I got up and moved towards the mirror again. I was standing in front of the mirror completely, from head to toe, but I can’t see myself in the mirror. A question blocked my mind, ‘Where is my image’? I screeched at the top of my voice. At the very moment, the phone rang. To my utmost surprise, my husband, Rahul came running from the room to pick up the call. I called him but he didn’t respond. He picked up the call. It was on speaker mode. Before he could say anything, the person on the other side muttered something in an alarming voice. The message was very urgent. Hearing that, I collapsed on the ground. I was dumbstruck and soon a series of flashbacks flooded my memory.
To be continued…
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