Tuesday, February 24, 2009
She hated the world. The results of her interview had come. And she hadn't gotten through. What could she do? Was the recession her fault? She had slogged for four years and had gotten her Computer Science degree. Now, all of it seemed a waste. She had applied for scores of jobs and had attended so many interviews. At the start of every interview, she would be hopeful only to see her hopes dashed when the rejection letter came. Her mom kept scolding her for no reason. Her father looked at her with pity. She ran to the Haunted house.
The Haunted house was actually an old bungalow in the corner of their street. Their house was on a side street and closest to the main street. Then came two houses that were being constructed followed by a few plots of land. Finally, there was the old bungalow. It had trees in the garden and was not used by anyone. It looked eerie from the outside. It was said that some great evil occurred in it when it was constructed. Anyone living there can never be happy. She loved going there whenever she was unhappy. The house seemed to welcome her and take her unhappiness into it. Everytime, she returned back home after spending hours in the house. But she never told anyone about it. She was sure her mom would scold her for that too.
As she neared the haunted house, she slowed down. The house had some rooms in the ground floor and first floor. The stairs to the first floor went from the center of the ground floor. The stairs were made of wood and led to a big ball room upstairs. The upstairs ball room and the small powder room and balcony were her favorite places in the entire house. From her teenage, she imagined that she was a princess waiting for her prince. The powder room was hers and after dressing up, she would wait for her prince at the balcony. He would come up the polished wooden stairs and sweep her away into a dance in the big ballroom. Her skirts would swish the cool red floor. This imagination always brought her a smile. She also imagined going up the stairs one day to find her prince playing the piano kept in the ball room. And her forgetting the world in his music.
This time, too, she imagined the same. But this time, she was frustrated with the world and didn't like anything. So she gave a wry smile thinking about her imagination. She was about to go up the stairs. Suddenly she heard piano music. She thought it was her imagination and went up the stairs. But it became louder as she went up. And there was a guy playing sheet music on the piano. When he saw her, he came near. "Sorry, I just happened to see this house and thought no one was there. I've always loved to play the piano and tried out some exercises. Ah! its been so long...". She gaped open mouthed. Remembering her imagination, she was embarrassed and turned red. Then, she came back to real world and asked about him. They started talking and one thing led to another and time flew away. "Man! I have to go home!" She got up after three hours. He was disappointed but said he'll walk her to her place. She thought "How charming!". This happened for a week and every day she felt he was becoming a close friend and started confiding her worries and frustrations to him. She felt that she became happier as she shared her story with him. He seemed an odd addition to the Haunted house. He said he was very unhappy and got attracted to the Haunted house. Coming there, he finally found some happiness in the piano music. Looked like the haunted house was a happy place for someone other than her as well. She smiled wryly thinking about their similarity. But, she also realized, with a start, that he seemed more a part of the Haunted house than her. That is strange, she thought. She had been coming here for the past ten years and he was here only for a week.
That morning, her cousins from Kolkata had come. She badly wanted to go to the Haunted house but also wanted to spend time with her cousins. She didn't want to take them to the haunted house for some unexplained reason. Her cousins stayed for a week's time. In that time, she also attended another interview. The day her cousins left, she went online to check her mails and clear all the spam mail that had come in for the week. She also got her offer letter. She was so happy and went to tell her mom. Though she wanted to go to the Haunted house and tell him, she couldn't imagine herself saying happy words in that house. Somehow, the house looked more and more ominous and uninviting as the days went by. She decided to take him to Cafe Coffee Day for a treat. But she had to join work in two days and had to get ready for it. So, she had to go shopping and then to the temple.
Her mom asked her to get jaggery from the corner shop to make sweets for her job offer. She went and brought them and was about to turn back when a photo stared at her from the newspaper. She took it with shivering hands. That... that was the photo of him. The guy at haunted house. It said that he had died two weeks ago in a car accident. The obituary was given by the company where she had got an offer letter. She didn't know what to make of it but couldn't get herself to go to the Haunted house. Finally, she willed herself to go but a big tree had fallen on the gate of the haunted house. She couldn't move the gate even an inch. Silently, she turned back to see the Haunted house and give it a farewell. She thought of all her imaginations in that Haunted house. But then, she realized that she always had a tear in her eye in those imaginations. She had earlier thought that those tears were tears of joy. But they were, in truth, tears of sorrow. No prince would sweep her to the ball room. She wouldn't listen to anyone's music.... A music sheet fluttered near her toes. She picked it up to see a message in it. She understood that the Haunted house can never hold happiness, it can only hold sorrow. The only time she tried to be happy there was the week with the guy. And, since she found happiness, she no longer had access to the haunted house.
As she turned back home, she heard the piano music and her heart lightened. The guy in the haunted house was there, playing his piano music for the world's heart to lighten. It is said that one can hear the piano music on some nights and that lightens the heart of anyone. But it is also said that one cannot go near the haunted house unless one has sorrow within them and have no way out.