…continued from Part 2. The chamber was dark but there was a light coming from the right opening. There should be another chamber over there, he thought. Little careful he stepped in.
“What happened? Was the girl there?” someone asked with urgent curiosity.
“No”, Rishi continued, “She was not there. She had vanished. Or perhaps she sneaked from the left opening of the other chamber although she did not had any reason to do so in the grave circumstances of the storm. But there were people inside”
“So she was a spirit? Bhoot? You are making this up, Rishi!” they all grunted protesting
“No. Why would I?” he protested.
“Just like that. Just to make the night more amusing”
“Oh no! You think I am this creative. (pause) I can stop if you think it’s all fake” They all looked at each other and shrugged. “Okay”, they said, “Carry on”.
There were people inside, sitting against the wall. Light flickered from the lantern hanging from the ceiling. It was enough to introduce them to each other. There were two elders, one youth and a small kid, all tribal from appearance. It was difficult to identify the age of the elders but the young guy was bony and with slightest of fat. The kid must have been 8 to 9 years. Their body reflected day to day struggle for living and their eyes stared at entry of the new stranger. By their gestures, he guessed that they must have been talking but they refused to continue. They all sat silent. Quite odd, he think. He said Hello to them but it went unanswered. He talked in Marathi, the local language, be they shook their heads. They were all watching him, the elders with a questioning gaze while the youth with defiance and fire. Rahul acknowledged the flair and decided to keep distance from him.
They all sat for sometime with small conversations happening between the villagers. They were talking in their native and not a word was interpretable to Rahul. But Rahul was sure that it was not some small talk, with the intensity they talked that something much important was under cover and they were discussing and arguing and his entry had brought halt to it. But there was nothing that he could do. As he had a nutribar, he offered them some, only the kid accepted, others refused.
He wanted to ask them about the girl. But how would he convey it? With his hands, he made the curves of woman in air, but got frowns from them, their eyes narrowing. How stupid was he. He could be misinterpreted for worse. He gave up. With such an interesting subjects sitting in front of him, his mind urged him to take some photos. He played with the idea for sometime and then he took out his mobile and stood by the opening from where he could take a good shot. In a fraction of second, just when he clicked, all of a sudden the youth stood up with such a swiftness and ferocity that Rahul’s heart almost stopped. The others were quick to hold him back and make him sit. If not for them he would have been wailing on the floor.
They scolded the youth. Rahul understood nothing but he interpreted as warning not to act foolishly. The youth was not happy, fire shining in his eyes, hands restless, he was squirming in his seat. Rahul cursed himself. These guys were here with some reason, perhaps an important meeting. I was an intruder and had brought stop to whatever they were doing. It is only good for me to stop being foolish, mind my own business and leave with the first light, he advised himself and nodded to self.
He tried to sleep but the last event warned him against it. His propped his eyes wide but his body was too tired and refused to cooperate. His eyes closed and his mind sunk into oblivion, forgetting about the storm, the fierce youth, the photo and the mysterious girl.