I was sitting under a tree, having a burger with my friends when I noticed the mess, the bird above me had just made.
“Yeah, that is precisely what it is called.”
This was Suraj, standing beside me, enjoying even a larger burger, proportional to his size.
Me and Suraj are from the same place and had recently gotten admission to ICE. We were both Computer Engineering students, so hanging out together made more sense.
We finished our burgers soon and rushed to the classes. It would have been a shame to be late for the first class of our college life!
I rose up my hand quietly. I was more of an introvert student, not so keen to make my presence felt to the class, so I had preferred to remain silent throughout my school life.
My head spun to 2’o clock. Though I liked to keep away from the girls, I wasn’t so reluctant to notice them. So, there she was, sitting alone and looking into her books.
This time the pitch was slight higher. The lecturer was visibly irritated with no reply.
“Ye-yes Sir.” She stammered, but finally managed a reply.
The lecturer gave her a star-wars look and went back to his job.
“Sale, tu bas ladkiya dekh, himmat to hain nahi samne jane ki, fattu!”
I presume, my overexcited fatty had spotted me looking at her throughout the class, sometimes tucking her hair behind her ear, sometimes chewing on her pencil and sometimes just her face looking outside. She looked beautiful to me (so do have some girls in the past on whom I had secret crush), but I was kind of attracted to her eyes.
So, the days passed by and slowly we were loaded with assignments, test, quizzes (and CS in my case). I spent hours on my laptop carrying that gun, hiding behind walls and shooting at any given opportunity. Suraj had given up advising me, suggesting me, scolding me and finally yelling at me to stop that routine and get a life. Though a sane person, as I am, I went back to my one and only soul-mate time and again.
Finally, our mid-terms were round the corner. I didn’t have enough books to read from, so I went to the library. Soon enough, I was bored, so I went to the novel section and my retreat came to a sudden halt and the next thing I could feel was cold library floor.
“Oh, I am really sorry! I didn’t see you!”
Some girl picked me up. “Ah, It’s all right, I have an art of bumping into others.”
“Hi, by the way, it’s Nikita.”
A smug smile on my face, followed by dramatic lifting of my head and I could see a familiar figure that I admired every day during my classes.
“And you must be…hmmmm?”
“Actually, I was kind of asking your name.”
I suddenly found myself blushing. Let me give you a tip. Don’t ever look into a girl’s eyes while talking lest you want to fail in alphabet test.
“Oh, it is Aditya.”
“Hi again Aditya, sorry, did that hurt?”
“No, not really.”
“Ok then, see you around.”
She surely hadn’t noticed me in the classes. I felt she hasn’t even recognized me. I went back to my table but I found that my novel was no more in my hands. I went back to the novels section, searched for it on the floor, but couldn’t find it. I picked up another novel and went back.
Soon, I and Nikita became good friends. I had gone to her desk in the class, and had finally forced her to remember me. We started to have lunch together. I noticed that she had no friends. So, it kind of felt nice to be with her most of the time. The days passed by and so did the months. We got to know each other more. There were times when we couldn’t bear without seeing each other.
“I have to go home Aditya, its some kind of emergency.”
We were having lunch at the canteen. Suraj joined us.
“What kind of emergency?”
“My mother is ill. I have to go and see her.”
“When will you come back?”
“I don’t know, but most probably, within a week.”
I was disappointed of the thought of not seeing her for 7 whole days, but I knew her visit was more important.
I bid her goodbye, it was 5:30 in the morning and I didn’t like to get up so early. However, I came back to my room by 6. I thought of going for a walk (which I hadn’t done in my entire life). I put on my shoes and track-pants. I locked the door. I felt I heard something. It was early winter, so everyone else in my corridor was asleep. I looked back. It was dark, so I couldn’t see anyone.
“Rahul, tu hai kya?” I called out, but there was no answer. I got a bit apprehensive, and thought I was dreaming. I must have walked two steps when I heard rattling noise, and this time I was sure. I thought Suraj was playing pranks. I looked back but even now, there wasn’t a living soul to be seen in the dark corridor. I saw some movement through the corner of my eyes and saw that my door handle was rattling.
A cold shiver ran through my spine. I had never experienced anything like that in my whole life.
Suraj opened the door. I kicked his butt.
“You really think there was a ghost?”
“No re, obviously not.” I knew I was lying.
He had hid in my room when I had went to see off Nikita, he told me later, inviting few more punches to his butt.
I was in my room, busy doing my assignments. It was quarter to 3 already and I had so much left to be submitted the next day. I got up from my study table, and went to the bed to take a nap. My laptop was open with the CS screen open. I closed it to keep it on the table and saw my google page open. As far I had remembered I didn’t open my internet browser. I thought, maybe Suraj had opened it. Something clicked in my mind. I was tired after so much work, so sat down for timepass. I typed “Nikita Jain” in the search bar. It is a kind of fun, searching for someone’s name on google.
“17 year old girl suicides, a shame to Indian education.”
I ignored the first link. I scrolled through the page, and the word “ICE” flashed in my eyes. I opened the link.
“The city and the college is in a state of horror, as a 17-year old girl, Nikita jain, jumped from 7th floor of the college building, yesterday night. Her roommates are unable to say, she wasn’t the type of girl who would give up on something so easily……………….”
I read the whole report. It was dated 3rd March, 1973. I didn’t know something as such had happened in my college so long ago. I was amused that a girl with exactly the same name and same age once studied in the same college.
I typed http://www.ice.in and moved my cursor to the student’s search box. I typed “Nikita jain”
Student does not exist.
I remember looking at the laptop screen for 10-seconds without a blink. I was confused and yet frightened by the thought. And I saw her reflection in her mirror right behind me with her face without any colour. I shouted and my voice echoed through the corridor.
People came running to my room. My face was white with fear.
“Where is Suraj?” I enquired.
“He is not in his room, but what happened? Why did you shout?”
I couldn’t say anything to them otherwise they would have termed me another psycho. I told them I had a bad dream. I saw the clock. It was 5 minutes past 3. I couldn’t sleep in my room. And where the hell could have been Suraj at 3’o clock?
Suraj didn’t return to his room the whole night. We went to the warden in the morning who told us that Suraj was in the medical centre. He hadn’t spoken anything from the past night. I went to the medical centre in the evening to meet him.
“hey kya hua, tu yaha kya kar rha hai?? What happened to you?”
He didn’t say anything. His eyes were stoned and he was looking at the ceiling all the time. Meanwhile the classes went on, my doubts became true after I confirmed with the teacher, that there was no student named “Nikita Jain” ever in the class.
I got the contacts of the roommates of Nikita of 1973 somehow and talked to them over the phone. I told them about that night and they didn’t laugh. We fixed a meeting the next day.
“She was a normal girl. She used to be brilliant in the classes.”
There were three ladies all of them in their 60s.
“So, what happened to her?”
“One night as we were crossing her room, we heard her talking to someone in muffled voices. In those times, we didn’t have cellphones, so I thought someone was in her room. So, I opened her room and found her sleeping on the bed.”
“We thought, we had misheard the winds. So we didn’t bother, and even she told that she had slept early. But, as the days went by, we grew more and more concerned. I woke up Simmy and Rhea and we three opened the door. We thought we had caught a glimpse of something outside the window, but they were just leaves.”
“One night, as I was filling up my bottle, we heard a scream in Nikita’s room. We rushed to her room, and found her on the floor, crying hysterically. We called her parents and told her about this.”
“Nikita told us that while she was sleeping, she felt a cold touch on her hands. She woke up with a start and found herself on the floor and saw her body in a strange posture and she was weeping. But she says that she has no memory of being on the floor.”
“Nikita’s parents made her see a psychiatrist. Her parents heard her screaming in an uncanny language, calling abuses. And this grew more often. Her parents consulted a doctor and he said that this was the involuntary control of mind. But we knew that this was something else.”
———————————————————————————————————I woke up with a start. My head was paining like hell. The meeting with the roommates of Nikita had been a week ago, but the fear was fresh in my mind. I went to the water cooler and took my medicine. We used to turn off the water cooler because of winter, but it looked like someone had left it on, that night. I took the icy water and went back to my room. The corridor was numb. It was really cold that night. I bumped against something and fell.
“Sorry, I made you fall again.”
A chill ran across my spine. It was Nikita with that novel which I had left in the library. I blinked my eyes, and she was gone.
It has been 10 years now, and I am a successful person now. But, the uncanny moments have not stopped. Sometimes I feel someone is in the kitchen or in the living room. The life goes on. It’s not up to us to believe whether ghosts exist. But what I believe is souls exist and I can feel that. The rest is up to God.
BITS pilani Goa Campus