This is a short story by Ravi J Singh. For those of you who feel excited by fear factors, keep a lookout for the series.
“Do it fast guys, we are already late and the installations cannot be delayed more”. Vardha, the South Indian team leader almost shouted on his fabricating team. He nervously looked at his golden chained Timex watch tied to his left hand. Droplets of sweat were now visible on his forehead and temple area, though it was a cold night of Delhi in January 1998.
Work pressure and deadline can have this effect on the leads after all. But was the pressure really so much on Vardha Swami Narayanan, a 33-year-old recently married guy from Madras who immigrated to Delhi seven years ago, that he was sweating profusely in a cold night of January of Delhi. The minute needle of his watch touched the number 3 and the hour needle was on 12. A worried Vardha looked at his guys – Ghanshyam, Kishore and Surinder – all young lads in their early 20s, who were trying to assemble the signboards with their trembling hands.
They wanted to get over this ordeal before 12:30am, and so did Vardha. All of them were aware of the fact that a big showroom opening was scheduled of one of their regular clients, and all the signboards had to be installed before 11am in the morning. They still had good 10 hours to complete the job, which by industry standards, were more than enough to complete the job.
Despite this, they were in great hurry. Was it the long working hours? Probably not, because working in night meant 1.5 times extra regular income and free night meal! And 500-600 rupees extra was lure enough to keep any fabricating guy working whole night.
Everything was fine till last week when that incidence happened with Radhey and Kishore…
…The same incidence happened with Srinivas and Mishra four days back and with Sonu, Mangal and Vishnu yesterday.
And, it happened to all of them in the fabrication area and around 12:30am. The area which was a long covered passage connecting the 200sq. yard lawn to the back side of famous Kothi no.136 of Punjabi Bagh area in West Delhi.
Punjabi Bagh is an affluent upper-class area of West Delhi, primarily comprising kothis (villas) ranging from 1500 to 3000 sq. yards. And, of course, true to its name, the majority of the population is of upper business class Punjabis. Like the Bhallas, who were the owner of Kothi no. 136, many had their business establishment within their villa.
So, the ‘Bhalla Niwas’ which was the name of Kothi no. 136, was planned in a way where the front 2/3rd area was utilized for the lawn, car parking and residence. And, in the rest 1/3rd were crammed the reception, design studio, printing unit, fabrication area, finance dept, a stinking urinal and a big 50 years old Peepal tree. The thick Peepal, with its roots emerging from the branches, looked horrifying, especially at night. And it happened to be at the other end of the fabrication area.
Currently the trio was fighting against time to finish their work and escape the place before 12:30am. Vardha, yet again, looked at his bejeweled watch, which was a dowry gift. The clock struck 12:28. It was in no way they could complete the job in the next two minutes.
Suddenly Kishore shouted “wo aa gayi, wo aa gayi“, threw his tools and ran towards the reception area like a mad dog. Ghanshaym and Surinder stood on the spot clueless and so did Vardha. They looked terrified and unsure. Is this really happening to them…the incidence which happened to seven people in their organization in last 10 days on three occasions! And, Kishore was the only one who had agreed to work at night again despite going through the now-infamous incidence. This incident has been talked and discussed incessantly by the 35 odd employees of Bhalla Signworks, situated in the Kothi no. 136 from last 10 days.
While they looked around unsure, they suddenly heard the voice!
…to be continued