The Devil comes at night
I lost it again, the keys of the garage. I was always considered careless, though I kept struggling with that feeling. That morning, dad gave me the keys of garage to give it to Ramu (our servant). After thunderstorms of last night, Garage was full of leaves from trees of our garden, so a cleaning was highly desired. While coming down the stayers, I noticed the door of the store room was open for some reason. I was asking mom from days, to find my automated wheel car. A fancy name for child’s creativity. I made that with ball bearing, I collected form garage. I shaped the cardboard to fit bearing as wheels, moreover my car had space for front driver and guest in the back. I also installed a fan in the back, one with twisted flaps, to give it an appearance of a super-fast car. I wanted to do more modifications, in future, but it was taken away, the very first day of use, as I almost broke my chin by falling from the balcony. I was so desperate and curious, especially for my own invention.
Visiting store rooms were always like treasure hunt for me, an opened door of the same, awakened the explorer in me. I ran down the stayers to store room, look behind to feel my escape, and to check if any discoverable traces I left behind. I wanted to find my utmost invention, at any cost. This treasure hunt rather became very scary, as I stepped inside, it was dark and dusty. The sound of the door and wooden stayers, like one in horror movies, further unnerved me. Every step down, in deep dark, I was imagining a ghost is right behind me, though I was too scared to look behind. Joy of finding my car, was way more strong than my fears nevertheless the feeling of being surrounded by ghosts, was frightening.
Light was helpful, but one could never rely on them, as they always burst at the right moment in horror movies. Finally, I reached the place of possibilities, started looking for my car. After some disarray, I found my car with shining wheels. I grabbed it in my hands and frantically ran towards the door. I wanted to make my adventurous visit to store room, unnoticed for my parents, but I found the door was closed. I was in big trouble, if someone found me there, I would be dead. I was too scared to knock the door, consequently I sat on the floor, thinking of probabilities and possibilities, to save myself, but it didn’t work. Before I could figure something out, someone opened the door….
“What are you doing here?”, dad enquired?
Aaaaa… nothing…… I mumbled, (attempted to hide the car, behind my back).
“what is that? What are you hiding from me? Show me your hand”, dad shouted at me.
I was steady, however every muscle from my heart to leg was trembling, stressed and shocked, but outwardly I was utterly stable and normal.
He jolted my hand, that carried me towards him, and my struggle of getting away was a useless thought.
“Why you can’t follow, what is said?”, he was infuriated.
As supposed, I failed in struggle of survival, and he discovered the car. He slapped me, drawn my ear, and dragged me to the living room.
My most loved cartoon characters inspired me to be strong, and optimistic even in odd situations. I was trying to use all of my wisdom, for my survival then.
“Why?……… what he did now?” (my mom came out of the kitchen).
Although I was just 10 years old, but I was not expecting mercy form any one, moreover I knew, it was my fault. Perhaps it was not that big, to get scolded like this.
After 2 slaps, some jolts and pushes, my listening senses malfunctioned, for that repeated question. I was waiting for the climax of this one-sided intimidation. A list of things, that I had to follow being child of my parents. Like it was “relationship and live in house together agreement”. Anyways, both parties finally agreed (as I had no choice other than saying sorry, followed by yes), that I will follow the instructions.
Now give me the keys, dad asked.
I checked my pockets and realized that I lost them somewhere during my treasure hunt.
I still remember that gaze of disgust, my father gave me that moment. As agreement was already done, no more thrashing was possible, so he locked me in my room, closed the door and yelled at mom, “no food for him today”. This was a common, but very effective and intense way to punish a child.
My parents had a fight later, and they left house to be with their friends and forget they had a son, locked in, alone in the house. I was literally locked in that room, for more than 24 hours.
First few hours, I was sitting and drawing something. I was optimistic, that in some time, mom will open the door and ask me for food. But after their fight, and sounds of shutting doors, I got scared. After 6 hours my imitated bravery flew away, and I gave up. I knock the door slowly, if someone could understand my innocence and give me some food, but It didn’t work. I took a walk around my bed, sobbing and swiping my tears, asking myself, “what should i do now?”. I checked cupboards primarily, drawers in my bed and my study table lately, to find something. Then I remembered, dad gave me pack of chocolates, 10 days ago on my birthday, it was doubtful, if anything left in that, but was worth a try. I found it in the lower column of cupboard. Unfortunately, it was empty, just some rappers of candies, I checked and licked them If could get something. Next idea was to check my lunch pack. That was a weekend, I remembered that I forget to give my tiffin for cleaning, and some of the chapatti was left on Friday. I ran furiously towards my study table, for my school bag. Blue colored tiffin box, with a picture of Micky Mouse over it. I had to cry to get that tiffin box for me, blue is my favorite color. I opened it with hope and found some dispersed pieces of chapatti but no gravy or anything that could help me to swallow those dry hard pieces. I was hell hungry, I tried to swallow them like that, my chewing efforts without water, scratched my pallet and tongue. Two morsels weren’t enough though, but something was better than nothing.
My small head was full of terrors, being insensible, I went to the door again, and started hitting it, as hard as I could, as fast as I could, shouting sorry, crying loud, with scratched throat. I wanted to cry out my mistakes, that I didn’t know, this bad they were. After an hour of this crying and hitting act, I started losing my senses, feeling of sorry took control over me, I started scratching the door with my nails, hitting my head, which eventually started bleeding. In that condition of shock, I teared the pillow that dispersed the cotton fibers in all over the room, took a blade and cut down the mattress into as small pieces as possible. I don’t know which hour it was, when my bleeding head and scratched nails or my gone over phycology made me unconscious.
next morning, I found myself in the hospital, with bandages on my head and fingers. I didn’t understand much, but my parents saved themselves and they let doctors think like I had some psychiatric issues. Could you believe that? My parents were so sure about it, and they left me there for 6 months. I had to go under so many testes and checkups, to be proven normal. Have you ever tried psychiatric drugs? They are itself a disease, as they reduce your senses, I felt sleepy most of the time, I was unable to respond properly, against actions of other people. They send me to mental childcare unit for 6 months, where I was tested by every possible way for mental illness. My parents visited me ones or twice, just to tell me, that they were not allowed to visit me frequently. Bullshit, that I never believed. Probably you got the idea, that my parents were crazy, perhaps they were, but still I don’t know why they did that to me.
“Child abuse”, I was unaware of this word before my visit in that asylum. My ward care taker, Rajesh, a guy with gigantic body, fluffy, scary face with big red eyes. Wrinkles in the skin and long cheek covering, spiral shaped moustaches made him even more scary. Kids are very soft in their body, and mind. They are considered as flowers, silky soft and innocent. I didn’t know some devils in this world likes to crush this softness for their pleasure. When I saw him, for the first time, he smiled at me with his ugly face, revealing silver teeth, in the lower jaw. As most of my childhood went in solitude, I nurtured a survival attitude in myself. His ugly, scary face, influenced me but didn’t add much in what I was already going through. He gripped me with his fatty, but stiff palm and dragged me to a big hall, filled with series of beds covered of white sheets. There were many other children like me.
“Bed number 26” Rajesh alluded towards my bed, by titling his head to right. His movements were sluggish, one could see his body part moving, forward or around, when he walked. His bouncing belly and heavy thighs, smashing each other for space, looked like slow-motion dance moves.
He bent towards me, pointed a finger, kept his face near my face, “look kid, I will be nice, if you follow the instructions”
A close observation of his face, showed me, his pierced right ear, a faded skin scar on right cheek, and some white hairs in his weird moustache.
Afterward, I sat on the bed, tried to feel the fabric of white bed sheet. Smell of naphthalene balls was so intense, that it made my lungs full of it.
I didn’t know what to do, what to feel, my inner-self was giving me a bad feeling for all this. I was asking myself, why this is happening to me? Why they left me here? Visiting store room or missing keys, was this much big mistake?
I was contemplating and asking same useless questions. I wanted to hear something, that could have relaxed me. I was missing the warmth of my own bed, the sound of wind hitting the leaves of plants in the garden, smell of the flowers, and colorful world that I created in my own room. Being dissolved in the thoughts, I shrank in very small space. I covered myself with blanket, to feel my absence from everywhere.
“Devil comes at night”…. Whispered Rahul, the guy next to my bed. Skinny, long face, shining two front incisors, that he was unable to cover by his lips.
What?………. I asked.
Rahul had a fresh bandage on his head, perhaps he got this injury recently.
Beware of the devil, …… Tin tin…. (Rajesh thumped the door by a black rod to inform us) …. Nothing …. nothing… Rahul got scared and he covered himself under blanket and became quiet, like dead.
(to be continue……… chapter-3)