Posted: 29 April 2009 at 10:45pm | IP Logged
She is really beautiful as the jasmine flowers she is plucking.hearing a noise she turns and smiles beautifully with loving eyes but then it quickly turns into shock and fear for she is pushed from the stool she was standing on and she topples and falls over the railing.We hear her pitiful scream as she falls three storeys down and slams into the metal tables below.Her final struggles to hold onto precious life is seen in her eyes mixed with a sense of shock.Blood flows and life ebbs out her dimming her eyes to the dull glow of death.
25 years later
There is a car slowly making its way up the hill and as we come closer to the vehicle we can hear a woman talking to a man.She is saying,i don't believe that you had a house here in this beautiful place and you hid that information from me.If your manager hadn't brought up the topic of disposing the house then i would have never known about it.I am glad that i was able to come with you to look at this place before it is sold.I dont understand why you would want to dispose such a beautiful place when we have enough money and especially when the market is down and we wont get a good price.
The man driving the car whose name is rajeev is quiet,deep in his own thoughts and not paying major attention to his wife manju.The car slowly comes to the top of the hill and halts at a tall metal gate.Rajiv honks and from a small outhouse an old man comes running and when he sees who is at the gates,he immediately pays respects to rajiv,sir it is so wonderful to see you after all this years.The manager sir told me that you would be coming but didnt tell me the timing.Rajiv and manju drive into the compound and get out of the car.The watchman comes and asks,sir this is a pleasant surprise for it has been so long since you came here and then he looks at manju wondering who she is.Rajiv turns and says to manju this is muniyandi who has been working here for nearly 50 years and he is more of a family member.He turns to muniyandi and says this is manju my wife.I am sorry that i couldnt invite most of you to my wedding for everything happened so suddenly.Muniyandi pays his respects to manju and says sir,madam you both must live happily for a hundred years and have lot of wonderful children.
Rajiv says,we have come here just to stay until the evening and then we have to drive back to town to catch a flight back to chennai.I have some important meetings lined up for tomorrow.I didnt want to come but manju wouldn't listen and forced me to come with her for she wanted to see the place where i grew up.Saying this he walks towards the house and looks at it longingly.Memories of time spent with his father flood his thoughts but are quickly shaken away when manju calls to him.She says we have such little time before we leave,come let us go into the house and see the interiors.Just as they are walking into the house rajiv notices that a chill has descended on them and the sun is quickly being covered by dark rain filled clouds.Rajiv hopes it is just a passing thunder storm and not something which would last the whole day for it would make the drive downhill slightly dangerous for the roads would be slippery with water and mud.
Pushing the doors open they walk into the hall which though slightly dusty still shows its majesty with teak pillars and ornate woodwork.Huge portraits line the walls and faces of rajivs ancestors look down him some of them with an expression as if complaining to him why he had abandoned his ancestral home.Manju excitedly calls to him and says i didnt know your mother was so beautiful when i saw her photos in the album but now looking at her portrait she looks like a goddess.Manju throws her arms around rajiv and says god so much tragedy in your life.First your mother dies during delivery and and then when your father remarries your step mother also dies in an accident.
Rajiv yes manju,my dad was so heart broken that he drank himself to death.He loved me so much,i really wish he was here to be with us.The times i spent with him in this house is still so fresh in my memory..Just as he is saying this he sees raindrops falling on the window panes and a sudden gust of wind rattles the windows slamming them with a loud bang.Manju screams in fear and realising it was just the windows she smiles shyly and says i will go to the kitchen and see if i can make some black coffee for us both.
Meanwhile rajiv switches on the radio and tunes into a local channel.An announcement is being made that the roads leading down the mountain has been badly hit by a landslide due to flash floods and that it will take two days to be repaired and that the army stationed nearby has been dispatched to do the work.Deciding he would go into town next day to find out about the situation,rajiv joins manju in the kitchen and tells her that they might have to stay in the house for a few days because of the landslide.Manju is very happy to hear it and says i am glad i packed a few extra clothes and toileteries in our mini suitcase and left it in the car boot.She goes to the car and comes back with the luggage.
The day wears down and quickly evening becomes night.After a light dinner rajiv and manu realise that they are alone away from the city with no work to disturb their privacy.the mood turns romantic and they end up in the bed.Just then manju sniffs the air and says rajiv what a beautiful fragrance.There must be a jasmine plant nearby for they bloom in the night and give out such beautiful smell.Rajiv says,i dont know about jasmine but we have lot of rose plants in and round the house.After having made love both slip into a deep sleep.Not knowing what disturbed her manju wakes up from her sleep sensing a presence and hearing someone walking around in the room.She thinks she heard someone crying and saying something.Sitting up she looks around the room and slowly getting out of the bed goes and looks out through the window.But she is not able to see much in the dark and as it is still drizzling she decides she must have imagined whatever it was that woke her up and goes back to an uneasy sleep.
Early morning sunlight filters through the lace curtains and the morning calls and songs of the birds arouses manju from her sleep.Not wanting to disturb her husband who is still fast asleep she goes into the bathroom.She switches on the heater and brushes her teeth while the water is getting hot.After that she starts bathing,while the bathroom fills up with steam resulting in the mirrors getting misted over.Finishing her bath manju steps out of the tub and come to the mirror and not being able to see her reflection she wipes the mirror with her hand and screams when she sees somebody else's face being reflected in the mirror.Frightened she turns around to see whose face was reflected in the mirror,but upon finding nobody there she quickly turns towards the mirror but there is nothing there except her own reflection.Stunned and not knowing if she imagined what she just saw or if it really was somebody standing there manju nervously comes to the bedroom to see rajiv slowly waking up.Not knowing to tell him what she experienced in the bathroom and unnecessarly scare him manju decides to froget the matter and goes about making breakfast.
After breakfast manju goes around seeing all the rooms and comes to rajiv's step mother's photo and just as she is passing it she realises the face in the photo has turned towards her direction while previously it was looking straight at her.Wondering if she was imagining things again she walks back and goes the other way and turns to see the photo again.She realises with shock that the face has turned from that side to this side facing her.Slowly but cautiously she goes towards the photo when she sees that the face instead of smiling is snarling at her in anger.jumping with fright she rushes back to the dining hall where rajiv is trying to tune the radio and stumbles into him.rRajiv asks what happened,hurriedly mumbling something manju asks rajiv you told me that your step mother died in an accident but never told me how or where.
Rajiv very hesitantly says manju it happened 25 years back,why do you want to know what happened or how it happened.But manju insists,so rajiv says she toppled over the terrace and fell down and died.manju exclaimed what she died here,in this house.yes,rajiv replies.That is the reason why father abandoned this house and took me to the city to study.That's why i didnt want to come here all these years for it brings back lot of painful memories which i have been trying to forget.
Then rajiv says,listen enough of this depressing talk,we are going to be here for just a little time so i want you to be happy and not think of things which happened in the past.Come lets go out and see if we can buy some fresh vegetables and fruits and it will also be nice to breathe some fresh air.The area really comes alive after rains and looks beautiful.Both leave the house holding hands but behind them it seems as if the house is stretching itself to hold them back from leaving.
Making small talk,rajiv and manju come into a small market square where they both enter a small departmental store.While manju is picking up some bread and milk,rajiv goes to another section of the store to pick up some batteries and a torch and also picks up some candles.The shopkeeper comes upto manju and says you look new to the place,where and with whom are you staying for i am familiar with all the people here and if necessary you can call me and tell me what you want and i will deliver it to your house.Manju says no that wont be necessary for we wont be here for long and then tells the shopkeeper where she is staying.on hearing the house being mentioned,the shopkeeper's expression changes and he says but madam that house,well nobody has ever stayed there.Manju asks why is that,but before the shopkeeper can say anything rajiv comes up to join them.Avoiding any further talk about the house manju thinks it is better to keep silent and after paying the bill they pick up the carry bags and return to the house.
An uneasy silence seems to hang in the air adding to the omnipresent chill which seems to pervade the whole of the house.even with the radiators generating maximum heat the house seems to be getting colder.Both of them pull up the rugs and cover themselves,when rajiv says listen dont worry about anything.We will be leaving in the morning and god knows when we will be coming back again to this house again.So just relax and sleep well.Saying this he hugs her and manju cuddles up to his chest and slowly both of them drift off to deep sleep.Whether it is instinct or a bad dream rajiv wakes up with a start with a sense of foreboding .The room is dark ,and he slowly reaches out to manju but does not find her in the bed.Getting up slowly he goes to the bathroom but it is also empty.Wondering where she was at this hour he sees the wall clock and it read 3.00 a.m.Calling her name rajiv comes out of the bedroom searching for manju.not finding her in the kitchen or the other rooms he slowly climbs up the stairs and finally reaches the terrace.He is shocked to find manju standing near the railing .He shouts out to her and says what are you doing here at this time of the night.Manju replies i am plucking some jasmine flowers.Rajiv says,are you crazy there are only roses her and how the hell can you pluck jasmine flowers.with her back still turned to rajiv,manju says no they are not roses,they are jasmine,cant you see them,cant you smell them.they are my favourite flowers.Just as she says this, a strong fragrance of jasmine hits rajiv and he reels in shock not knowing what to say or react.
Nervously rajiv says manju,step back because the railing is very old and rusted and it is dangerous to be so close to it.Manju turns and says no it is not dangerous,for i am not the only one here plucking flowers,she is also here.Rajiv stutteringly asks what,who is here,where.Manju says she and turns towards to rajiv.Her eyes are closed as if in deep trance or sleep walking.eyes closed Manju says,she has been alone all this while waiting for you and now she wants me to stay with her.Saying this she climbs onto a stool and edges closer to the railing.Rajiv screams, and mixed with his screams he hears the screams of his step mother as she toppled over the terrace railing.
Trembling with fear rajiv realises that there is something near manju and screams in terror when he realises it his stepmother.The ghost of his stepmother is standing next to manju and places her hands on manjus shoulders.Realising that she means to push manju over the railing,rajiv breaks into tears and cries.no,no dont so it please dont punish her for what i have done.I have spent 25 years of guilt and sleepless nights cursing myself for what i did to you.I should be the one to be punished not my innocent wife.
flashback 25 years ago
We see that rajivs father is really close with his son and that rajiv does not miss not having a mother to love him for his dad loves and looks after him so well.But everything changes when his dad brings home a new wife lata whom he has married after a very brief romance.Things were never the same after that for rajiv had to share his dad with lata whom he refused to see as his step mother.Too young to understand and still a child rajiv keeps barging into his dads room even after repeatedly being told not to enter without permission.But lata seems to understand rajiv's pain and tries to bond with him.But everything comes to an end when one day rajiv throws a tantrum for not getting enought attention from his dad and his father slaps him for being rude to his step mother.
The hatred for his stepmother multiplies into something more violent and evil which lurks in all of us and one day when his lata is plucking some jasmine flowers near the terrace railing rajiv deliberately topples the stool and in an impulsive action not knowing the consequences to follow.As lata falls to her death we hear her screams of her terrified soul.
The screams turn into sobbings of a guilt ridden heart and rajiv is on his knees begging for manjus life.I am sorry,i am sorry,i was too young to know that you were actually kind and loving.All i knew was hatred and i saw you as an enemy who was trying to separate my father from me.Now i realise what i did to you.I beg you please forgive me.spare manjus life.If you want to punish or take someones life as revenge,please take mine because i was the one who killed you.With folded hands he falls near the ghost's feet and says mother please forgive me,please forgive your son.Forgive and spare manjus life.she is also an innocent like you and you know what pain you have suffered waiting for me to come back.Please end this now by killing me but dont kill manju.
The ghost looks at rajivs face and slowly smiles and then turns and lowers manju to the ground and stands there for a few moments before smilingly she dissappears.The chill seems to vanish with her gone and with sunlight slowly slowly flitering through its early morning light,the house suddenly seems to have changed its mood as if waking from a deep slumber.Rajiv feels a weight has been lifted off his chest.slowly he lifts and hugs manju close to his chest and tenderly kisses her forehead.in his heart he says thanks mother.
Manju wakes up to the smell of coffee which rajiv has brought for her and says.I had a terrible nightmare.I dreamn't that i was floating and i was surrounded by jasmine flowers.You were yelling my name to come back.Rajiv says don't worry everything will be all right from now on and by the way i am not selling the house and have also decided to spend more time here every year.Manju hugs him and we leave them a happy contented family.
To err is human but to forgive is divine.The nature of forgiveness does not rest only with god and human beings but also with ghosts or spirits as we call them.For what were ghosts once but human beings.All of us look for peace of mind and in forgiving we not only free the other who committed a sin against us but also remove the hatred that burns our souls and not letting us rest in peace even when we die.