Kaustuki felt strange as she entered the gates & advanced towards the main door. The creaking sound of hinges of the door pierced the silence that prevailed inside her house. There were so many people inside, both familiar and unfamiliar, but nobody made a sound. As she made her way through the crowd, no one noticed her.
She found Shivam lying on the bed, with his eyes closed. A part of her wanted to believe that he was playing a prank on her, involving everyone else in the room, but she knew better. She took hold of Shivam’s hand, in disbelief. As the coldness of his skin sent chills down her spine, she felt short of breath. She ran her fingers through his hair, something she always did to wake him up. She hoped for Shivam to hold that hand & pull her close, the way he always did. But it was too late for both of them.
“This can’t be. You can’t leave me this way. How and when did this happen?”, Kaustuki shrieked. “How will I live without you? Wake up. Please.”, she started crying. Nobody came close to comfort her. No one paid attention to her, the same way they did when she entered the room. Broken, she collapsed with tears on Shivam’s chest, wetting the white sheet that covered his body.
She looked around. Shivam’s parents were crying in the corner. She called them to help her wake Shivam up, but they didn’t listen. While her own parents were nowhere to be seen, & her in-laws being visibly ignorant, she pleaded others to help her. To her surprise, nobody paid heed to her. Scared, she turned to Shivam. “Wake up, please. Nobody is listening to me. I don’t know why. Maybe this has something to do with me. Have I done something wrong? Please, Shivam. Open your eyes & talk to me. Tell everyone to not be angry with me. I don’t know what I have done.”
Shivam didn’t move a bit. She felt a strange dryness on her lips & in her throat, but nothing made her leave Shivam’s side. Tired of her attempts to change the reality, she sat beside him, with her head against the wall. She felt a burning sensation on her neck, like that of an open wound. But her grief & despair made her ignore everything.
Kaustuki saw her parents enter through the door. As shock took hold of her, she felt her tears drying. However, they didn’t come to her & went to the other room. Kaustuki was surprised. Before she could question herself, she heard Shivam murmur her name. Her joy knew no bounds. “He’s alive. Look ma, he’s alive.”, she screamed in joy, looking at her mother-in-law.
“Kaustuki.”, Shivam whispered again, his eyes closed.
” I am here, Shivam. I knew this wasn’t true. But you scared me to death.”
“Kaustuki.”, Shivam said again, loud enough for everyone to hear in the room.
Shivam’s mother started to cry loudly. While some comforted her, some helped Shivam to stand up on his feet.
Kaustuki was confused at her mother I in-laws odd behaviour. “He’s alive, Ma. He was playing a prank on us. Why are you crying now?” But she paid no attention to Kaustuki’s words. She was annoyed by now. “Why is no one listening to me?”, she screamed. She turned to Shivam. “What is happening, Shivam? Isn’t the prank over yet? How did you faint? And why is Ma crying?”, she questioned, but Shivam was quiet.
Feeling stranger than before, Kaustuki stormed out of the room, to her parents. There were some other people in the room, staring blankly at something on the floor, & her parents were crying profusely.
“Shivam is alive, Mummy. Stop crying now. Why are you all…….”, she stopped in the middle.
The floor beneath her feet slipped. She couldn’t believe her eyes, as she looked towards the floor. “But how is this even possible?”, she thought to herself. Disbelief and fear bought tears to her eyes. She saw her own dead body lying on the floor.
“No. No. This can’t be. How?…”, she stopped again as she saw the ceiling fan in the room. There was a rope hanging to it. She saw her body again, this time, a bit more closely. There was a wound on her neck, like that of the strangle of a rope. She ran out of the room in fear, stopping in front of a mirror. There was the same mark on her neck. She remembered everything now. Guilt & remorse filled her up as she realised that she was just a wandering spirit now.
While Shivam & other family members took her dead body away for her last rites, the neighbours were heard talking about Kaustuki’s death by suicide.