Were they humans?

Were they humans when

          they dragged me to the streets?

Were they humans when

          they tore my clothes to tatters?

Were they humans when

          they fed me their excreta?

Were they humans when

          they scalped me and kicked me and punched me?

What had they become when

          they called me a witch?

***

Had i been a witch

           wouldn’t i have pushed them away?

Had i been a witch

           wouldn’t I have stolen their riches?

Had i been a witch

           wouldn’t i have inflicted terror upon them?

Had i been a witch

           would i have prayed the Lord

                      to make them humans again?


Leave Me Alone-6

Previously on Leave Me Alone:

Ajay and Sasha go Sasha’s house to celebrate her birthday. Ajay sees a portrait of a woman on red saree. Coincidentally, a woman similar to that on the portrait attacks him and he runs to the police station. There he meets Dr. Shrestha, who tells him something about Sasha’s past. Ajay does not believe him. So he calls Parmila, Sasha’s maid to confirm his story.

In this last chapter of the story, we explore through the dreams of Sasha and find out the one responsible for everything the couple has faced.

Sasha was in a dream. She was in the study of Dr. Shrestha looking for something when she saw a small brown notebook with a leather jacket on his table. She thought she had seen it earlier but could not say where. ‘I am sure this is not uncle’s notebook. Whose is it?’ she said to herself and lifted it up. She turned on the first page and saw the name of the owner written in bold capital letters: RESHMA.

Sasha was shocked. ‘What’s my mom’s diary doing in uncle’s office? He had said that this diary was taken up by the court as an evidence of her insanity. Has he been hiding things from me?’ As she was busy contemplating, she heard someone coming into the study. She immediately managed to hide the diary. Dr. Shrestha came in and looked around. He looked confused. Sasha asked, “What are you searching, uncle?”

The doctor hesitated at first, but when Sasha asked again, he replied, “Have you seen a diary? It has brown-leather jacket. I thought I had taken it to my bedroom. I couldn’t find it there. I must have left it here.”

“No, I haven’t seen such a diary,” Sasha said calmly. The doctor was an expert in catching lies. She felt he had caught her. However, she was relieved when he said, “It’s all right, Sasha. I must have kept it somewhere else.”

Dr. Shrestha’s office faded. She was now in her hostel reading the notebook. As she read the accounts of her mother’s life, she felt she was getting closer with her mother. She came to know the details of her life Dr. Shrestha could never have given her. She was shocked the most when she read that Reshma had been sexually assaulted. She developed hatred against the manager and the lawyer when she knew that their acts had changed the fate of her mother and her own.

The girl had a feeling that the distance with her mother was decreasing. She could feel her mother’s presence around her. One evening before she went to sleep, she actually saw her mother. Sasha looked at her with awe and despair. She wanted to cry in her mother arms but she could not touch her. The woman told, “You can’t touch me because of those evil men. Avenge me, my child.”

“I will, Mom,” Sasha said though she was not sure how.

“Find them out and destroy their lives,” Reshma said.

Sasha knew the stories but she had not seen the manager and the lawyer. As she thought so, Reshma said, “You must find a clue that helps you find them.”

“Where is the clue?” Sasha asked but her mother had gone. She wiped the tears in her eyes, washed her face and came back to her room. She thought she had understood the clue. She picked up the diary and turned its pages. On the bottom of the pages in which Reshma’s tormentors were mentioned, Sasha noticed that Reshma had repeatedly written these words: ‘One stitch in time saves nine.’

Sasha had thought Reshma had written that because she had failed to understand the true nature of the manager and his lawyer. That she had to be cautious when her boss was offering her own auctioned house; that she had to understand the ploy he had made during the pay rise. This time Sasha had discovered the pattern of the appearance of the proverb. She took the words literally and looked at the jacket of the diary. She looked at the odd stitch which she had previously thought was a production defect. She looked at it carefully. ‘It must be a manual work.’ She took a blade and cut the stitch. She ripped the jacket to discover an old picnic photo encircling two faces at the centre.

On a closer inspection, she saw that Reshma had written an ‘M’ above the head of the one on the right and an ‘L’ above that on the left. She saw her mother on the extreme right. She also noticed a bespectacled man. ‘Dr. Shrestha,’ she smiled. Sasha looked at the man marked L again. She thought she had seen him somewhere, though she could not place exactly where. As she kept staring at the photo, her phone beeped. As she looked at the face of the caller, she remembered where she had seen him. ‘Ajay?’ she thought. ‘How is that possible?’

***

Sasha leaped space and time in her dream. She was at the hospital in Dr. Shrestha’s cabin a few days later. He was in his desk writing something while she said, “I have a problem, uncle.”

The old doctor stopped writing and gestured at her to sit down. Then he looked curiously at her. After a moment of hesitation, Sasha said, “I’ve been seeing my mom recently.”

“In your dreams?”

“I see her ghost.”

“Ghost?” Dr. Shrestha stroked his chin and said, “Tell me more about your mother’s ghost.”

“She comes in a red sari and looks like that on the portrait. She wants me to avenge her death.”

“Do you want to do it?”

“No.”

“You’ve lied.”

Sasha’s mind raced back to the incident a few days ago when she had lied that she had not seen the diary. ‘How could he not catch that?’

“Do you want to avenge your mother?” the doctor asked again.

“Yes,” Sasha replied in an angrier tone. “Those who killed her must be punished. I can’t let them roam around.”

“Do you know who they are? How do you find them?”

“Yes uncle. I know about the two that are directly involved. The bank manager has disappeared. So I don’t need to look for him.” Sasha clenched her fist as she said, “The other is a lawyer. I know him.”

“Where did you get all these information?”

“I used different sources.” Sasha did not want to tell him about the diary.

“Alright,” the doctor said. “I think I know your sources.”

‘He knows.’ Sasha’s heart paced. She said to herself. ‘He knows I have read that diary.’

Dr. Shrestha, however said, “You got that information from Parmila, didn’t you?”

Sasha was relieved but she could not convince herself that the old doctor had not caught her lies. The doctor thought for a while and scribbled something on his prescription form. He stood up and walked towards Sasha. Handling the paper, he said, “I think you’re getting hallucinations again. I don’t know what triggered it. But I guess it’s your source of information. I’ve written some medicines. They’ll help you get rid of your hallucinations.”

Sasha nodded, thanked him and went towards the door. The doctor called out, “Sasha.” As she turned towards him, he said, “Don’t tell anyone that you’re experiencing hallucinations. And don’t tell anyone about the medicines I have given you.”

Sasha nodded again and walked out.

***

Sasha was in her room. She saw two coffee mugs on the table. ‘I am not alone,’ she thought in her dream.

She heard a clatter in the bathroom attached to her room. She was scared. She slowly walked towards the bathroom. All of a sudden, someone came out. She looked like her mother on the portrait. But she was puzzled. She had said that her mother was a ghost. ‘Ghosts don’t use bathrooms.’

For a moment, Sasha looked puzzled at the woman who had gone her. The woman did not see her. Sasha cried out, “Hey …”

Before she said anything else she realized that the woman would not listen to her either.  Sasha’s courage increased. She then went closer to examine. She looked at her for a moment and then looked back at her reflection on the wardrobe mirror. A young lady stood on a red sari.

In a flash, Sasha realized in her dream that the woman on the red sari was not her mother’s ghost but herself. “Stop,” she shouted as her other self walked to the door. “Don’t go. You can’t kill Ajay. He has not done anything wrong.”

The woman turned back. Sasha thought that her other self had listened but she picked up the coffee mug and went away. She ran downstairs. She looked for Ajay in the living room. He was staring at her mother’s portrait.

Her other self was in the kitchen. She put down the coffee mugs and looked at her own reflection in the mirror. She ordered herself to kill Ajay. “I won’t,” Sasha shouted. The other self seemed to listen. She got furious. Sasha saw a steel rod in the kitchen she had brought for some purpose she did not remember. She picked up the rod and smashed hard into the mirror. She fell down. She had won. The other self remained no more.

But she was wrong. Her aggressive self woke up and attacked Ajay with a broken piece of mirror. Ajay ran away. Sasha ran after him for a while and collapsed on the road.

***

An hour later, her dream took her to the police station. She was walking towards Ajay and Dr. Shrestha. The old doctor looked at her as if he had never seen her before. She was about to ask why he was doing so when he walked up to her. The doctor produced a syringe and in a flash it penetrated her skin. At that small moment before she passed out, she realized that the doctor was not as good as he seemed. She shouted in her dream, “Leave me alone.”

Sasha woke up on a bed. The brightness of the room dazzled her for a while. A machine beeped on her right. On her left was a boy with a familiar smile. “Ajay?”

Ajay helped her sit. He looked at her with compassion and said, “You’ve been asleep here for months. Our lives have changed so much, Sasha.”

“What happened?”

He told her about his meeting with Dr. Shrestha and Parmila, his annoyance with his father and his father’s suicide. “Dr. Shrestha turned out to be your biological father.”

Sasha was shocked. She had always felt orphaned after the death of her parents. Ajay continued, “He was your father’s friend. He had seen your mother once when he had gone to their house. The doctor liked your mother, so much that it turned into an obsession. In his madness, he went to his friend’s one evening, put sleeping pills on his friend’s drink and assaulted your mother. You were born as a result.”

Sasha bowed her head. She could not look at Ajay. He put his hand on hers and said, “You don’t need to be ashamed. You’ve done nothing wrong. No one will judge you for your birth.”

“But why didn’t my mother write anything about your birth in her diary?”

“The diary you read was not your mother’s. It was the doctor’s doing. He said he copied your mother’s handwriting and produced another diary. He then gave it to you. He made you think you had hidden it from him. The doctor also confessed that he had killed the bank manager. He had pushed him over a cliff one day. His body has not been found, however. He also killed your father when he knew what the doctor had done.”

“But he said I had killed my father.”

Tears fell down Sasha’s eyes. Ajay consoled her saying, “No, you did not. The doctor killed him and fed into your mind that you had done it. That way he could give you medicines for mental disorder you never had. He kept track of everything you did. The medicines he gave you enforced hallucinations. Your mother’s ghost turned into your alternate personality and it attacked me. It’s amazing how he could have guessed you would attack me that night. He was an evil wizard.”

Sasha cried harder. “I can’t believe how anyone can be such an evil.”

“He was evil but he did one thing right. He kept his word by treating you before the police took him in their custody.”

Sasha wondered about the changes she had gone through in her life. But Ajay was beside her. There was nothing to worry about.

THE END

← Read Chapter 5

Leave Me Alone-3

Previously on Leave Me Alone:

Ajay and Sasha go to Sasha’s home to celebrate Sasha’s birthday. Ajay sees portrait of a woman on red sari who looks like Sasha. Ajay is attacked by a woman on red sari and he flees. He goes to a police station and tells what had happened. Let’s look at Sasha in this chapter.

Sasha felt cold. She had been lying face down on the frozen floor for she did not know how long. The cold hit her heart. She opened her eyes and sat up immediately. She was surrounded by darkness. She was stunned because she was not on the kitchen floor where she had fallen unconscious. She was on a street- cold, pitch-black street.

‘How did I reach here?’ she tried hard to recall but in vain. She had been attacked by her mother in the kitchen and had no idea what had happened to her after she fell down. She wanted to cry. She covered her face with her palms. They were sticky and smelt of rust. She peeked hard at her hand in the darkness. ‘Blood,’ she thought looking around. ‘But how did blood come up in my hands?’

Her hands went through her face. ‘There are some bruises on the corner of right eyebrow,’ she came to know and she formulated a hypothesis. ‘That wound wouldn’t have flowed much. My hands must have touched something bloody or smeared with someone’s blood.’ She feared, ‘Whose blood could it be upon my palms? Is it my mother’s or Ajay’s?’

She jumped up abruptly. What could have happened to Ajay? Her mother had wanted him dead. She hoped she had not been able to do anything to him but she was scared. ‘My mother can do anything,’ she said to herself. Her mother could have made a plan to murder Ajay and put the blame upon her. Sasha gasped, looked around through the darkness and realized that she was not too far from her house. She had to get back to her house immediately to protect Ajay from her crazy mother.

As she began running to her house, she noticed that she was wearing a sari. She clearly remembered that she had worn a different dress before her mother had hit her with a steel rod. She knew she had not chosen to wear a sari. She did not even know how to wear it properly. Her mother must have put it on her while she had been unconscious. ‘How did she manage to do that?’ Sasha could not understand. Nevertheless, she understood that her mother wanted to kill Sasha as well. A flimsy cotton sari would not have protected her from cold on a frosty night. ‘She really planned it well,’ Sasha thought. She also had several questions in her mind. ‘Why did she want Ajay dead? Was it really because of the revenge she wanted to have?’ However, she should have understood that he could not have harmed her at all. He had not even met her once. Sasha felt her mother had really gone crazy. Her mother had to answer Sasha’s questions honestly.

With an impeccable sense of direction, Sasha reached her house quickly. She was shocked by the fact that the gate and the main door were open. ‘My Mom must have fled already. She would have acted behind shut doors and windows. The lights are not yet turned off.’ A cold chill ran up her spines. Had she already taken Ajay’s life? ‘I should not think of such things,’ Sasha controlled her thoughts and ran in. Her hope that nothing had happened to Ajay increased when she saw a police van in front of the porch. There was a sound of people speaking and creaking of boots everywhere in the house. Sasha rushed into the kitchen, where the sound was bigger. The room was in a mess. Broken glasses lay here and there. The police officers were taking notes of what they saw in the crime scene. Sasha also saw a clean-shaven police officer giving instructions to his juniors. He noticed Sasha and stopped giving directions. Everyone started looking at her. The officer walked forward and asked her, “You’re Sasha, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” Sasha answered abruptly.

“Thank God,” the officer exclaimed. “Your boyfriend had told that you might be in danger. Do you know what he meant by danger?”

“My mother,” Sasha said, relieved that Ajay was safe,” she wanted him dead.”

“What? Why did he want to kill him? When did you know of that?”

“She did not tell me until this evening,” Sasha replied. She said that I did not understand; that I had been blinded by my love to Ajay. “She had even attacked me with a steel rod. I had fallen unconscious over there.”

She pointed to the floor before the sink. The officer looked at the rod with grimace. He did not seem to understand something. He asked her promptly, “If you had been attacked here, why weren’t you here when we had come here? Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” Sasha said plainly. “Even I don’t understand. I think she dragged me to the street and left me to die in the cold.”

The officer looked at her with distrust. He thought over for a while and said, “That’s very unlikely for a woman. But if she had someone to work for her or if she is strong, nothing is impossible.”

The officer’s phone buzzed. He seemed to receive some orders from the other side. When he cut the call off, he turned to Sasha and said, “I’ve been ordered to take you to the police station.”

Sasha trembled. “B . . . But I’ve not done anything. I swear it was my Mom. I can’t even think of harming Ajay.”

“You don’t understand, Sasha,” the officer said. “You’re not being arrested. This place is not safe for you right now. What if your mother attacks you the moment we leave? You’ll go with us for your own safety.”

Sasha nodded slowly. The officer was right. Besides, she could also meet Ajay and ask him what her mother had done to him. When the record taking was completed, the officer told everyone, including Sasha to move out. Within minutes, they were at the police station.

The officer led Sasha into the office of the Inspector. She saw three men talking with each other in one corner of the room. They were speaking in low voices. Sasha could not listen to anything but she thought they were talking about her. The officer who had brought Sasha with him said something to the trio. As Sasha went towards them, Ajay looked towards her. His eyes widened with fear. “You’ve been tricked, officer,” Ajay shouted out. “This is not Sasha, officer. This is the woman who attacked me.”

Sasha covered her ears with her hands. She could bear no more. Ajay did not believe him. Who would help her? Sasha had always loved her mother but she had got pain instead. Her pulse increased. She felt her temples were being seared. She clutched her head with her hands; howled out in pain and collapsed.

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