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Monday, August 3, 2009

I woke up early in the morning, gentle breezes brushing my cheeks, chilling my senses in the cold. It is a perfect day and I have strange feeling that today something odd is going to happen, I haven't a clue at that time that this will be a fatal change.

At night I waited for mom and dad to show up, so I could have a chat with them but when I saw them those odd feelings returned. They look more lively than ever. Mom is rocking with laughter.

It's time for supper and I waited patiently so that they could tell us the news. My Dhi's anxiety got better over her, "hey, are you going to spill the beans?"she asked eying us carefully.
  Pop asked "Radha, haven't u told them?"and without waiting for mom's answer he said "we bought new house "

That same instant my mind raced with many questions about our new home. Finally I managed to ask out of the hundred questions that formed "Where is it?"

Pop smiled, "It's in the outskirts dear, but don’t worry, it's clearly near to your colleges."
I admired him because it's the reason why I asked about the location, I don't know how he can read my mind but that makes me even more close to him. My sis started pouring out her questions now.

Mom waving her hand in dismissal ,said "honey, that has to wait till tomorrow, it's bed time but I will tell u one thing, the very day after your exams finish we will be moving, that makes it day after tomorrow, so, you will be having a hard time tomorrow."

While we are retiring to beds, she said that our cousins & Hema Aunt would be accompanying us tomorrow. Dhi kissed me good night and drifted to sleep. That night I had the visions of our new home, well built & well furnished. If I have mom's idea of a perfect home, I couldn't have imagined so.


   I did my exam well but I couldn't keep up the excitement, so I said to my buddies that we are moving away. They sneered at me when I said it's in outskirts but I thought it's because they don't have one.(That's what I like in me most, optimism).
  Dhi is setting up our lunch by the time I got back from college. We sat for a game, seeing that everything is packed well by dad's company servants. Before I got my shot, a cab parked in front of our house and Hema Aunt climbed out of it. I ran to her giving her a warm hug.

" Josh, you have grown taller, just,  what I was hoping for." she said after talking a good look at me.
I blushed, "Thanks aunt, it's been a long time since u last saw us." she nodded approvingly.


"Suzi still the same pretty gal" she said which was approved by our cousin rocky with a sneer, he is the eldest of all our cousins but the same boy who would stop at nothing if he picks up a fight. That night I felt restless, still that odd feeling lingered in my mind that today, is the last day for something in my life.

2

Next day there was a huge commotion moving the things outside the house. Each  of us were busy doing something, except for me. Mom was busy ordering the servants to handle things carefully, pop was busy with settling the accounts with house owner, milkman and the merchant. Rocky and sunny are trying to heave things up into the wagon (Though sunny was not strong enough to do, he always wanted to be big for his age. I kind of liked that idea).Aunt & Dhi are busy, preparing food. Pop was smiling at me, seeing me in the lawn idle. He is a strong person , well built, dark  brown eyes, that has a smile that can flatter anyone.
    We set of in our cars, elder ones in wagon-r and we in ceilo, so that we have a lot of time, to make further plans for summer holidays. In  trail followed a wagon containing our commodities. It took  us at least two hours to reach our destination, dad’s right!  It's only 20 minutes to our college, from here.

   My first view of the house made me dumbstruck. I could see the same shock in all other faces. It's nowhere near to what I have imagined, let me picture you the house, it's majestic, yes! that's the right word for it. It's an old building, but in good condition. The walls stand higher, as a ladder to sky, the walls are painted in blue, with a touch of different colors at carvings. Our workers have done really good job, coming closer I could see garden, a wide spread of different colors of flowers, adding beauty to that house. Our cars parked at the beginning of the path, where a dome of plastic is laid along the length of the drive way. A huge oak door, stood in front of us hiding the interior of the house. It took another fifteen minutes since we need to gather photos of god's, before entering our new home. Mom & pop entered first, followed by me & Dhi and then others.

   As soon as we got in, mom asked us to stay in so that we will not miss the pooja by wandering around, which took another 30 min. Meanwhile they started unloading the wagon, with rocky in charge. It’s dusk by the time we got settled. It was mom's idea to buy this house. Anyone could guess it, by looking at her, she is a serene woman, beautiful, with those alluring sky blue eyes, fragile arms & legs that danced gracefully when she moves around. I always pictured, “Helen in Trojan war” as  mom. The interior of the house is as beautiful as outside is. It's a big house, all the doors and windows are as huge as the entrance door, with wonderful carvings of nature on them. In the centre, a staircase, that leads to the upper rooms, as well as to the gallery, that has a view of  the complete garden. It would take at least half an hour to look every nook & corner of the house. I went for the steps when mom called it's supper time, so I left the thought of exploring the house until the next day. Mom made all special dishes, celebrating our entrance to the house. We ate heartily.

 It is decided that Dhi, Aunt& I should sleep in the bedroom, left to the hall, mom & pop will have next room that is beside us and the boys will be sleeping in the guest room where they made arrangements. Pop thought it’s wise to use upstairs, only after cleaning them. That's how my first day  has ended in our new home. I slept peacefully that day never knowing that this will be the most peaceful day of my life ever after.

  Sun rays started shimmering trough the windows lightening the entire room, I woke up as the sun's rays chided me, "Wake up lazy bones."
Without opening my eyes, I just groped the way and bumped into something strong, it hurt so much that I started crying, Rocky who happened to pass by, started shouting "Crybaby has started her work."

Mom fussed and applied ointment to the bump on my forehead. I was put to bed for the rest of the day due to my bad headache.

3

Next day, I felt very much alive, my head stopped hurting. Everything seemed fine but then I felt some oddness in the climate of my room, so I quickly opened my eyes. At the end of the bed, I saw a woman standing and watching me with intent eyes. oh, god! She is so pale that I can see  right through her body, all of a sudden the realization dawned me, then with it panic. I screamed "ghost, ghost" the lady seemed as horrified as I am. She screamed too, though of not panic, I'm certain about that and then she vanished.

  Pop placed his hands around my shoulder and comforted me. Though I told them the truth none of them believed in me. They thought I just had a bad dream. After sometime I even wondered if that  is, what really happened.

 That evening pop said it would be good if I get some fresh air,  we strolled aimlessly around the garden. I looked at every plant in the garden, marveled at their beauty. I found some creepers moving up. They covered the whole length of pole with their beautiful flowers, barely making the pole visible when I looked at the end of the pole something strange caught my eyes. I blinked hard to clear my vision, there is a boy standing bolt upright, he seemed to notice my gaze and looked at me and smiled , I smiled too, then two things happened at a time, the boy jumped from there and I cried "don't" and then everything went blank.

 When I woke up pop is rubbing my head with balm. I felt giddy, pop seeing me awake, he gave me a weak smile. I sensed something is wrong."Are you ok, my child?"

"I am ok, how is he? Is he hurt?" I asked lamely.

"Who?"pop asked blankly.

I got irritated, surely they would have seen him jump I thought."The boy who jumped from the top of the building"

"Josh, listen there is none up there you are just imagining things, get some sleep child" he said looking concerned.

I burst out with anger and cried out aloud, "I saw him, don't lie to me."

I could see everyone is shocked, to see my arrogance but pop stayed as calm as ever.

He said nothing but, to get some sleep. Mom slept beside me hugging closer. Though I was asleep, I could see her crying, in my dreams.

Dhi woke  me up next day to give me my medicines as I have low fever.
"Pop is thinking to move back to the town"

I stammered, "What.....what did you say?"

She added tentatively,
 "They think that you don't like this place, it's freaking you out to live in this place, so they wanted to give up living here”
I stored into the study room where pop is reading a newspaper. I cleared my throat to get some attention
"Pop, I want to speak to you." I said not looking away from his direction.

He replied calmly, "Josh, how are you?"

"I am fine, pop, I just wanted to talk to you,''
I continued without waiting for reaction "I heard that you are thinking to leave this place because of me, I am fine pop. I love this place and I don't want to go back, this is our home now, moreover you have put much effort to buy this home. Haven't you?"

Pop looked hesitant but he said "Josh, it's true that we have been saving all along to buy this place but remember both your parents are business people, we will think it as crisis, we value your health more dear."

I touched his hands gently, “I love this place as much as mom does and I can't imagine being away from this place. It's just the fever that makes me nervous."

Pop kissed my forehead and said in a whisper "I love you."

I smiled. In the evening I went for a stroll in the rose garden. I think, every color of rose present in the world is here. I was lost in the beauty of garden when suddenly I became aware of a presence at my back, I tried not to panic, I turn around. A woman stood there glancing at the garden and me at a time, I couldn't find words to describe her beauty, golden aura radiated from her body and when she spoke it’s in musical tones.

    “ Trust your heart, follow your instincts, nothing harms you as long as you won't.”
saying so she disappeared.

  "This is it," I thought any more strange people are welcome to scare me out of my wits but this person, hasn't scared me; rose my courage, her voice  still lingers in the air. Next day, at breakfast I couldn't find pop anywhere. Before, I could ask about father's whereabouts. Mom drew our attention by calling us.

"What is it? Are we moving away?" dhi screamed above her plate of Idli.

"No! There is a party, 2 weeks from now and it's organized, to celebrate on our coming home," Mom said.

All of us cheered listening to that, I felt happy since pop has taken my word. Mom thanked me later and said, she would have felt bad to leave this place. I said that, I feel the same too.

I asked mom "Where is pop?"

She smiled gently and said, "He went to Vizag to bring his sister's family here for the party. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem, they would be joining us, two days before the party, only Sid will be coming now, I think he will be back by noon"

"Oh! No, not him." Rocky mimicked me as if he read my thoughts.

"Well, I have to certainly put up some strength, to gain in fights" I said to everyone loudly they all laughed delightedly.

 After that we went exploring the house. Dhi took me into a room, opening the door, she said that we can use this room, if we like it. I peeped inside the room, it's really beautiful from the window we can have complete view of the rose garden, I took a liking to it at the first sight.

Dhi asked "Do you like it?"

I could sense her enthusiasm.
 "very much" I said.

"It's decided then, we will take this room" she said saying so she ran to mom to tell her news, she is always like that she couldn't contain enthusiasm. Dhi takes after pop but her feelings are as sensitive as mom. She is an adorable person.

 I stayed in there for a few a minutes talking a look at the garden. When I turned to go away, there it is again, another ghost sitting on the bed but this time it's not a woman but a boy about twenties.

  He saw me looking at him and smiled," So, you are the girl?"

I am feeling nervous with all these ghosts busting from nowhere than the woman's words came into my mind as a song, I took a step forward nervously and said "What do you mean?"(but not too rudely.)

"I mean that you can see ghosts, the ghost woman you saw, informed me about the incident." he said tentatively.

"Oh! Do you have a name?" I asked feeling foolish.

"Of course yes, my name is Raj." he said extending hands to shake.

It felt weird to shake hands with ghost but I did. I could feel nothing but a chill when I touched his, so called hand. This boy is looking handsome in his own way. I could have sworn, if he is real, I could have blushed though I'm not  that type.

"Don't you want to know my name?" I asked.

"What is your name, Josh?"he asked teasingly.

I heard our cars horn and hurried to meet pop. Pop was already in when I ran to hug him.

"How are you feeling, my dear?"he asked eying me carefully.

"I'm fine, how is your journey?" I asked him.
Before he could reply

"Hey, Josh," Sid said.

"Hi," I said with a plastic smile.

There are formal greetings between us. Than we were called to dinner.

 As usual, Sid started calling me some sort of stupid names. I got angry but I tried remain calm, I don't want, pop to see, how I take revenge on him but I could feel anger boiling through me.
A plate came flying over nearly missing him and landing in a thump, everyone stared at me.

"Jo, you are losing your head. It could have hurt him," Mom stormed.

I tried to argue but was unable to find words, none of them was convinced. I looked in the direction, from where the plate came flying. I saw Raj sneering at Sid. I left abruptly, into my room saying sorry to everyone. As soon as I entered, Raj is standing there looking at me with spiteful eyes.

"Why did you do that?"I stormed upon him.

"I couldn't see him offending you," he said lamely.

"Thanks for the concern," I said and added hastily, "I can look after myself."

"Please, can you do me a favor?" I requested without waiting for his approval, I added "don't interfere in my business."

He is hurt and added gloomily "Aren't we friends anymore?"

I felt sorry for my arrogance.
 "I didn't say that" I said.
Though this business of friendship with a ghost, seem to be really weird but then everything is so weird these days, I would even believe that magical creatures like goblins, giants exist.

"Can I have a word with you?" Sid said entering the room.

"Sure," I said instead of saying “no” as I always do but I wanted to tell, sorry to him for what raj has done earlier, so I let him in.

"How are you? I heard that you have been ill," he said.

"I'm fine, listen I wanted to apologize for what I did earlier." I said.

"I don't think that you should apologize for what you have not done," he said.

"What?" I said unable to believe my ears.

"I know who threw the plate, are there more here?" he said seeing my hesitance he added "It's ok, I can see them too, don't you think you are the only one with that ability"

Then pop called out all of us, we went into his study.

"The party is very much near. I will allot everyone with a task of cleaning up the house and today, I want you to go to the city and buy anything you need for the party,  we can have the vehicles to invite people to our party, Is it agreed?"he asked like a dictator.

"Yes," we chorused.

5

  We set out for the city.  Rocky sat behind the wheel. Normally, pop wouldn't have agreed, if it weren't for the lack of driver. He gave rocky many instructions about driving, before we left. I doubt, if rocky has heard even one of it.

  Dhi insisted on sitting in front seat, so that she could learn driving. Sunny sat with us. We have barely reached 15min of our journey, both sis and sunny fell asleep.

It gave us a good chance to speak."Did you see him?" I asked Sid.

"Who?" Sid asked.

"The ghost who threw plate towards you." I said getting slightly irritated.

"Oh! I saw you talking to him, in your room" he confessed.

"So, are you sneaking upon me?" I said teasingly.

He smiled brilliantly. I never had time to watch him this close. He is handsome, muscular, light brown eyes same as mine, his smile is alluring. I wondered how I didn't notice this before.

“Friends?" he asked extending his hands.

His palm felt so soft, tickles ran all over my body when I shook it. It took for us an hour and half to reach shopping mall and another hour to shop. We agreed to meet after an hour at the cafeteria. My appetite is bad. I couldn't eat anything.

During our return journey, Sid took the wheel and I sat beside him. No one argued with it since they all are tired, they slept merrily.

"Can you open it?" he said pointing to the cover beside my legs.

It is a pendent, in the shape of a flower with white stones embedded into it. It's very beautiful.

"Do you have a girlfriend?"I asked tentatively.

"Why? No," he said seeing my hesitation he added "It's for you."

I was speechless to say anything. I thought of rejecting it, instead I blurted out "Thanks, it's very nice."

"It would be prettier on you. Do me a favor, put it on now." he said.

I did it; this guy certainly knows magic I thought. Whatever he says, I found myself doing it without any further thought. When I woke up in the morning I'm safely tucked in my bed.

5

After breakfast I went for a stroll in the garden hoping to find that golden woman. When she said those words I thought those are some sort of riddle, I should solve but when I met raj is obvious, what she meant. She instilled courage in me with that beautiful verse of words.

Sid joined after a few moments of walk. We talked about different flowers present in the garden. When suddenly I heard a muffled cry and I went in the direction of sounds, Sid followed me quietly.

The moaner is a ghost; he is like “Casper the friendly ghost.” I smiled at him.

He is nervous and ready to disappear at any second; I extended a hand carefully stepping forward.

"Hi, I am josh and this is Sid," I said, "why do you cry?"

"I don't want to leave this place," he repeated that sentence several times.

"Then don't, what's the big problem in that."I asked feeling sorry for that poor one.

"Problem? You are the problem,” he said it in rude tone.

"Me?" I asked, "What did I do?"

"Master ordered us to; leave this place because he didn't want us to frighten you anymore." he said still angry.

"If that's the problem you can stay here," I said.

"No, master won't accept it," he said.

"I'll speak to your master, who is your master?"I asked.

"Will you?" he asked half delighted.

"Yes, take us to him."I said and Sid nodded in approval.

We walked for another few minutes before we reached clearing at the backyard of our home. There are about 10 ghosts, 2 female, one of which I knew already, 4 men and 3 children of the Casper's age. Another man stood with his back to our side.

Seeing the astonishment in the group; He turned to see what the cause is. I thought he is the master. Casper nodded towards him and said, "Master"

Now it's my turn to be surprised because he is none other than Raj.

"Hi," I said not to anyone in particular.

"Josh!" he exclaimed.

"Raj, can I have a word with you?" I asked.

"Oh! Sure," he said meanwhile Casper hovered away unnoticed into the group.

"Raj, I appreciate your concern but it's not necessary for them to move away," I said eying the group.

"But," he stammered for words.

"I'm no more afraid of them than I am of you," I said.

"Moreover, there might be some reason for them still to be here, you know what I mean?" Sid added. I felt that, I saw a little bit surprise from raj.

"Yes, let them stay here," I said.

"If it is ok with you, than its ok with me," Raj said and then he turned to the group and said, "you can stay here."

Everyone except the woman, I saw before cheered at the announcement. She seemed to be lost in thought. Feeling like, I achieved something great I turned to go back. Sid gently squeezed my hand and smiled. That is enough to say that he is impressed with what I did.

Casper hovered to us and said "Thanks, I’m sorry for being rude to you".

"It's ok, see you around," I said.

At noon pop allotted each of us a work. Rocky and sunny are to take care of the minor repairs and to clear the pipeline system since it is rusty. Dhi should take care of dusting and garden.

As for me and Sid, we are to clean upstairs and decorate the house. At once we set out to work since pop promised a gift for those who complete the work first. First we started with dusting the old furniture and replacing some of them with new ones.

"Hi," Casper said coming out of nowhere.

"Hey," we chorused.

"Do you need a hand?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said.

After a while other ghosts joined in helping us. I started wondering who all these people are. As if reading my thoughts

"We all once worked here." Casper said.

"Oh!" I exclaimed.

"He is the gardener and his family," he pointed to a stout man and a lean woman and three children alike, probably triplets but one of them is a girl.

"He is the guard," he said pointing to a well built person.

"They are the loyal servants of the master," he said pointing to the woman I saw before and a poker faced person.

"How come you are here? How did you all die?" I asked.

Casper became pale immediately, I felt stupid to ask such a question.

"I am an attendee to master," he said regaining his conscious.

"I will tell you the story some other day," he added after a while and quickly added "Be away from them" pointing to the loyal servants of master.

"Why?" I asked even before the word is out of my mouth, he vanished.

That night I shared my strange conversation that I had with Casper with Sid. His expression was grim.

6

Next morning, when I woke up raj was staring at me hovering over my bed. I felt embarrassed.

Concealing my emotions; I managed to ask, "What are you doing here?"

"Hi! Good morning." saying so he handed me a red rose.

"I heard; you like red rose." he smiled.

"Thanks," I said.

 I heard someone knocking at the door.

"Come in" I said.

"Good morning," Sid greeted.

Meanwhile raj vanished.

"Happy birthday," he said "a small present from my side"

I dressed up and got down where everyone is eagerly waiting. I took blessings & presents from everyone. This time, Sid gave me a bouquet full of red roses. Mom &pop promised to come back by noon. Dhi helped Hema Aunt with cooking. Rocky & sunny went out for buying groceries. I sat gloomily wishing that time would roll on soon to noon.

"I want to show you some place, will you come?"Sid asked.

I am ready to get out of home for a while.
 I said "yes."

I went into kitchen and said that I wanted to go to temple and that Sid would accompany me because I'm sure aunt wouldn't send me alone. She thought for a moment and said yes. When I waved at dhi she sneered at me, I knew the reason for it. (I have to face the mockery of rocky when I come back).

"Where are we going?" I asked when I sat beside Sid in the car.

He smiled alluringly, still no answer. After a while car slowed down I think we reached our destination. We passed through a dense rows of trees they formed like umbrellas over our head allowing the light to pass through small slits, when it came to the end I couldn't avert my eyes from the scene in front of me. Land was fully covered with grass; at length we can find tiny flowers mostly in red shade. There is a pond where different colors of lotus are present, beside it there is a small hut covered with creepers of flowering plants. Different species of birds are present, one pigeon landed over my shoulder.

"It's amazing," I said unable to find a right word to describe the beauty.

"I thought you would like it," he said gazing at me.

"Come in," he said and opened the door in a dramatic way as if I'm a princess

Inside the house was well lit with candles and there in the middle was a table and a cake was placed upon it. I shook my head unable to believe my eyes.

"Come on, princess." Sid said.

I blew off the candles and said "I don’t know how to say thanks to you."

“Give me the pleasure of a dance with you."

We danced a while but I'm clumsy at my steps because I got through only 2 classes in salsa, still he is at ease to dance with me.

"I love you." he whispered in my ear. All my nerves stirred at the closeness between us.

My mind is racing. I don’t know what to say now. I looked directly into his eyes hoping to find an answer. They are filled with love and affection.

"It's ok, take your time." he said peacefully.

After a few minutes of silence I asked, "Shall we go."

My heart longed to be there holding his hands and enjoying the serene climate around. I found myself moving away from the place with hard steps. When we got back mom & pop are already home; we slipped through the doors unnoticed.

"I heard that you went to temple, you haven't given the prasad yet." Sunny said with mouthfuls.

Everyone at the table looked at me, waiting for a response. I felt like trapped.

"We gave it to a hungry beggar on our way," Sid said saving me from blurting out something stupidly.

"Thank god, no, thank Sid," I thought.

That evening we had a small party and then we went to a movie. I sat between Sid & rocky.

"Josh, tell me the truth where did you go?" rocky asked.

"When?" I asked trying to avoid glances at him.

"Don't act smart, you and Sid went in the morning somewhere right, where you went?" he asked.

"We went to temple. Don't disturb movie is interesting." I said trying to hide my smile.

"Do you think, if you won't tell there is no way to know but I want it right from the horse mouth," saying so he turned to Dhi to chat.

Movie is quite boring so I dozed off, on Sid's shoulder.

When the movie is over Sid woke me up. We ate supper at restaurant and then headed back.

While I was getting ready to sleep; Dhi asked me the same question rocky had asked earlier. It is not easy to lie to a sis like mine. I braced myself and said everything. She listened to everything with an exclamatory face.

"Wow! That's really romantic." she exclaimed "what will you say to him?"

"I don't know" I said truthfully.

“Is there anything to say, no? He is definitely handsome, good, well educated & a sole inheritor to huge property," she added in hush tones "I also heard that pop promised to his sis that he would give your hand in marriage to Sid, anyway he wouldn't do it without your approval"

"If I'm in your place I would say, yes." she said and drifted to sleep leaving me to think over the matter.

7

"Hi," Casper said hovering over our heads. Sid & I greeted him cheerfully.

"Belated, birthday wishes Josh." Casper said.

I smiled and nodded. In turn he asked "What do we do, this day?"

"Decorate the house, first we will start with my room," I said.

"You said to be careful with that woman, why did you say so?"I asked adjusting the flower vases.

"They are up to something, I overheard them plotting against someone." he said.

"Oh! Why don't you say it to raj?" I said.

"Well! I must think of It." he said rubbing his head "do you want to know our stories; I will start with masters because he is the beginner of all this things."

Long ago this mansion used to be under the hands of Mr. Rao. Master is the relation of this man; he brought him here so that he would take care of his properties when he is not in town. He rarely stayed at house, Master used to love this house a lot; he used to keep the house always clean. And one day suddenly the owner of this house went ill and died. As per law this house is inherited by his brother who long ago eloped with a girl. The lawyers searched for them finding that the man and his wife dead leaving their only daughter not a penny. They brought her here to inherit the property. Master preferred to stay here even as a servant by persuading the new owner. When he had first seen the girl, he fell in love with her. Every day he persuaded the girl to marry him but the girl didn't yield to him. He was mad in her love and one day he could not tolerate to live without her, he jumped from that peak calling her love name. After that the girl lived only a few years, she too died of the guilt of seeing him killed. Later no one inherited this for many years until now. We all lost our jobs and our living until, I don't know what has happened that day but I found myself one day like this. I thought that I imagined it but later I came to know that we are dead.

    He drew a long breath after the story. I felt sorry for him I knew clearly that he didn't like to be dead. Casper glided away. I called after him to say some consoling words but what could I say here “Annapolis’s medicine” won’t work. There is no positive side for him.

"Let him be, he still wishes to be alive." gardener's daughter said pityingly.

After a while Sid gestured to have a word in private. I nodded and went down following him. We went into study room.

"I wish I could do something for Casper." I said gloomily.

Sid sat beside me, taking my hands into his, he said

“Everyone wishes to bring their dear ones back from their grave but there is no resurrection stone to do it. If life ends here, it doesn't mean that it is the end for him, another new life is about to begin for him. He is earning a new life that is worth of all these troubles. We just need to help him to move to his afterlife, which is the most favorable thing we can do for him. Trust me I'll find a way for that.”

   Those words warmed me. If Sid finds a way; I’m sure that I'll do it at any cost. I went for a strolling in the garden to calm myself. I found raj sitting on the bench in the rose garden.

"Hey, nice to see you." raj said.

I smiled and remained silent thinking about the story that Casper said. Suddenly I realized that my illusion of a boy jumping from the building was right and that in fact was raj. How did I see it? May be he has shown me? I wondered how love could take him to that extent of sacrificing his life.

"What was she like?" I said absentmindedly.

"Pardon," he said.

"Nothing," I said tentatively.

"She is like dawn calm, bright, gentle. The word beauty comes after her.”
 I guess he is exaggerating but every lover is the same way. They are full of praises for their love.

After a short pause of her memories; He looked through those piercing eyes into and added,

"In short she is exactly like you."

I blushed red. I didn't except this unexpected praise, I was saved from the embarrassment since raj went away. Something is fishy but I can’t point it out.

8

All the day my mind was stirring with some unpleasant thoughts so I thought I could talk a stroll in the garden.

"Know where the true love lies, for that is the only secret weapon you have."

These words are sung out of nowhere but I knew the voice so I turned around to find that lady in golden aura but in vain.

 That night I had a strange dream, I’m sleeping in a huge bed in my soon to be room. As I looked close to the person in the bed, It’s not me anymore, a different me in different clothes like long night gowns and all grownup.
"Good morning, Casper." I said arranging the antiques in shelves.

"Morning....What did you call me?" he said all ears.

"I'm sorry. I never knew your name," I said, "what's your name?"

"Never mind, I like this name better, you can call me that." he said.

I smiled as if to thank him. Sid is chatting with gardener’s family about the room decor and Casper is looking at the gardener's daughter and said

"Isn't she pretty?" he asked.

I couldn't see how she looks pretty when she is so pale. May be in real she was pretty. After sometime, she noticed our gaze and smiled at us. Then suddenly there was a huge commotion, yelling’s of a girl.

No.....

Its dhi, I bet it's her. We all ran in the direction of her yells. Dhi is shivering uncontrollably; rocky is trying to console her. I ran towards them. Mom is frantic. Aunt is trying to stop sunny from moving any further. Some of our servants were trying to haul something up from the well. My heart is racing. I could sense something is wrong.

  All the ghosts are hovering upon the well. Suddenly, Casper shrieked and ran away. Gardener's daughter and wife went after him.

    There are 9 dead bodies all together. Foul smell damped the air. Then suddenly I realized so these must be the ghosts bodies. As suddenly as I realized I began to shiver uncontrollably thinking of the fate of Casper.

Pop ordered Sid and Rocky to take us inside. We all gathered in hall to listen to the part of Dhi's story.

She broke into tears after every few words. She was allotted gardening earlier by pop. She thought, there should be a way to keep the soil always damp to grow the plants properly. She asked one of our servants to set a pipe from the well since the well is far away. When they opened the lid it ejected strong stench, they thought of cleaning the water but when one of them got inside he shouted and screamed. Dhi ran to fetch pop.

Sid was trying to watch the ghosts since they were still there but I didn't let him go. After a while I went into my room and fell faced to the bed brooding over the tragedy. Sid tried to console but I was deaf ear to his words.

"I want to see Casper." I said.

"They are in upstairs in your room." he said.

I went upstairs fighting back the tears. Casper is sobbing into the shoulders of gardener's wife. She is whispering some soothing words when I touched him he hugged me and cried "I didn't want any of this to happen."


I felt like sunny was crying hugging to me. I couldn't say anything to comfort him. After a while the gardener's daughter said, "Its ok, dear, we are still with you. At least we are never parted."

I am happy to hear her because she is the only one who could soothe him. She chose her words wisely since that showed the impact on him. I left them to talk. I ran to the window hoping I could identify Casper's body but that is a mistake that awful sight never left me for so many days. It was nearly dusk when pop came back and informed everything is going well. Seeing our gloom he insisted on going out for supper. Suddenly an idea struck to me. I gestured Sid to meet me in the upstairs.

"I want to take Casper out with us," I said determinedly.

"What if anyone like us saw him?" he asked.

"What if no one saw?"I asked, "Sometimes we need to take risks for the happiness of our friend's"

"You are plucky. OK, then." he said.

After some insisting; it is agreed that Casper and the gardener's daughter whom I later learnt as Jaya accompanied us sitting on the top of our car. Raj rejected by insisting that he should take care of them. I admired his attitude which I said to him later clearly no master would concern for his servant's feeling. Casper said that he is always that way kind and gentle. Casper is having a good time in identifying the places. He marveled at the construction of the houses while we stayed at the hotel for dinner.

"We will sit nearby that fountain when dinner is over call us back." Casper said.

By the time we reached home everyone's mood was cheerful. That night Jaya and Casper came to thank me, for the wonderful ride. After a few moments raj came and thanked.

"You don't have to do it really." he said.

"No, I couldn't see him like that he is like a brother to me." I said dragging the pillow covers on.

"You sound so much like her." he said gloomily.

"Do you like her?" I asked I knew it was a dumb question.

"I love her, she is my life I know she is born for me again." he said and vanished when the door opened.

9

The next two days, as part of mom's request pop called a Swami to perform Santhi Pooja. We are all delighted to have our hands off the chores. Dhi is much better now. I am happy because I got more time to spend time with Sid alone. I said my conversation with raj. He asked me for the exact words. I had no trouble in remembering them because there is something in the way he put it.

"Josh, did you think of what he said he thinks that the girl is actually reborn for him and he has seen her." after a pass he added, "He thinks it is you, Josh "

I was shocked to the core. I can't be her. This is eerie how can I be her? As if he read my thoughts.

"It may not be true Josh, maybe he just thinks it that way." Sid assured.

Warmth spread over me as a blanket. I'm not hey, I'm josh and I belong to my family as well as Sid. I smiled at myself for thinking that I belong to Sid.

"Just be careful, don't go anywhere alone." he said and went away looking gloomy.

When I am heading back to my room, Jaya appeared before me suddenly and she seemed to be in hurry.

"Josh, don't go alone anywhere." Jaya said and was trying to go away when I caught her by the arm and asked
"Where is Casper? I haven't seen him around."

"He is held captive, I should go now or else they will come after me too." saying so she vanished.

I am clueless to what she just said now. I tried to make sense of it but in vain. I told every minute detail of my talk with Jaya. He looked concerned though he said nothing.

"Just, take care." he said.

I left without saying anything. I fell face down on my pillows. Sleep crawled on me and I had a worse nightmare that I have been injured by someone and I wasn't at least resisting him. I woke up unable to sleep. I thought of walking up Sid but left that idea. I sat nearby the window gazing at nothing.

"Hey, haven't you slept?" raj asked slyly.

"Well, if you are not willing to sleep for a little while I would like to show you something. Will you come?" he asked.

I thought of resisting his offer remembering Jaya's warning but that is ridiculous she couldn't have meant any harm from raj but still something is pricking my mind.

"Come on, Josh you will like it a lot." he assured.

He led me through a pair of steps to the top of the building when he pointed to something. I was numb with amazement. It is full moon, close to the higher pillar of the building. It seems that everything near it is made of silver, even the leaves were radiating in the glow of the moon. One black cloud passed hiding the moon like a veil but still the light is shimmering, it is an excellent view. Suddenly two things happened at a time. As I moved to the farther edge, I lost footing by sudden gust of wind and fell over. I clutched to something like a rod to prevent from falling but fear is taking control all over. I screamed in panic for help but raj seemed to disappear. The rod I am clutching started to break off. I thought this is my last sec of life.  All of a sudden, a hand seized me and hauled me up to my feet. Blood was bubbling with tense all over my nerves.

"You, what are you doing here?" raj said.
I could recognize his tone even in the panic

"Me?  Spoiling your filthy plan." Sid said.

 I am sitting on the ground sobbing uncontrollably still an ear on the conversation.

"It's none of your business, she is mine and I'm going to have her." raj said.

"Oh, Really?  I doubt it." sid said and launched a heavy blow on raj.
He whimpered, cursed him and ran away.

Sid came running towards me and hugged. He planted wet kisses over my head. He acts like a great lover who thought his love is lost

"Are you okay?"sid said scrutinizing me.

"I'm fine," I said more in whisper.

He took me to my pop's study and bought me warm milk. I drained it all.

"Josh, get some sleep we'll talk about it later. Please." he said.

I slept clutching his hands dearly like a teddybear; I could feel the safe and warmth spreading over. Instead of the tension I slept peacefully.

10

At dawn I woke up in the sofa. At first I couldn't understand that how come I'm here, a flash of memories swept over, I shivered at those memories. Sid is kneeling right behind with his hands assuring, placed on mine. He woke up suddenly.

"How are you feeling now?" he asked with concern.

"I'm ok," I said, "I shouldn't have gone alone; I cannot think why he wanted to kill me."
I broke down into tears at the thought of my death.

"It's ok, you are safe now," sid said, "you will be fine."

Nothing will be fine. How can it be?  A ghost is trying to kill just because it thinks that I'm his love came to unite after so long.

"None will harm you until I'm here. I'll promise you that." Sid said.

Go now, before anyone wakes up. Promise me, that you will not go alone anywhere. I nodded silently and slipped unnoticed into my bed. Sid must have been awake all the time to make sure that raj won't come bursting upon me again. How great is his love towards me I thought. I want him to have the same feelings towards me for his entire life. Do I love him too?  The same extent he does. Well, that's a question time should answer.

The next day, we did the work alone since no ghosts are there to help us. Most of the work is completed before. We just gave the finishing to the decors. I stood calmly near the window gazing at the garden. Sid stood beside me, his eyes showed shades of restlessness.

“Josh, I love you so much. I couldn't bear the thought of losing you, Last night when I saw you there close in the hands of......” his voice trailed away.

I kissed gently on his cheeks, "I know how you feel and I promise you, I will never go alone but how many days should I spend hiding from him."

"Until I find a way out," he said.

After a brief pause; I said, “I want to get Casper out. Will you help me? Do you have a plan?”

"Well, I guess I have one." he said.

"At least, this one has a perfect known solution." I said smugly.

He smiled widely. I will be going in the noon to get him out, he said.

"You are not going alone." I said.

"You should stay inside the house. He may be there to harm you. It's not safe." he said.

"It isn't safe for you to; I'm going with you no more arguments." I said stubbornly.

"Ok, then at noon meet me in the garden." he said not approving of my decision.

At noon we met in the garden. He is carrying a small backpack with him. I wondered what he has in it.

"Where do we go now?" I asked.

We moved aimlessly in all directions near the house but we couldn't find even a clue to follow.

After a while I sat down. Sid was still thinking hard to find a way. I wish Jaya is here to help us. To my utter astonishment Jaya is there hovering around us.

"You should not have gone alone, you didn't hear my advice before but now you should please go back. Master has been waiting for you. Just go away." she shouted almost.

"It's ok. I'm not alone; I have come to rescue Casper."

But..............she interrupted.

"Just don't say anything; I will be safe with him." I said.

"Why did you call me then?" Jaya asked.

"I want to know, where Casper is?" I asked

"I will tell you but not now. Master is still with him, I will come at night. You be ready with a car since it is very far from here, you will need it." she said and left.

We went back. That evening Sid tried to convince me that he would go alone since it will not be safe. I am unyielding. Finally he got mad at me for not listening.

11

At late hour, after everyone slept I woke him up. We went groping outside to the main hall. We got into the car but there is no sign of Jaya. After a while Sid asked me to call Jaya again but I am not sure, whether it will be useful, the first time I called is purely an accident but when I wished she is there.

"Are you ready?" she asked still nervous.

"What's the plan?"I asked Sid sitting beside him. He looked as calm as ever.

"Just stay calm, you will see what the plan is for yourself." he said squeezing my hands gently assuring me.

After 15min ride we reached a deserted area with some rocks formed like a shelter. Jaya nodded as it is our destination.

"What now?" I asked.

"We will distract the two men meanwhile jaya will bring Casper out, after they are safe, she will signal us than we will go away, as fast as we can." he said looking dubiously.

"How do we distract them?"I asked.

"Like this," he said raising volume so high that I had to cover my ears but it is a pleasant song so I tried in vain.

Jaya left when she received and given instructions. After a few minutes I saw something misty in nearby trees. After a deep gaze I recognized them as the two ghosts we have been waiting for. I tugged Sid's hand. He is already watching them with his hands ready at the wheel.

He moved gently a few paces away. The two men followed us silently. I prayed god that they wouldn't see us.

"It seems that our two stupid beasts like music very much." Sid said amusing himself as his plan is working out. Another 15 min we successfully distracted them. It never crossed their seaweed brains to even check who is inside. Then suddenly there was a loud thud from the rocks where Jaya went. The two men instantly rushed into that direction. The engine of our car roared into high speed at once. Everything went well for a few seconds but then raj popped from nowhere in front of our car. I felt all the blood drain from my heart. He clutched my hand and is dragging me out of the car ferociously. It hurt me so much that tears swelled in my eyes. Sid is trying to loosen the grip but his strength is no match for raj. He is groping franticly for something to hit, at the same not loosening his grip on my hands. He struck raj's head with iron rod, he released my hand clutching his head in hands and he howled .We fled away from that place as fast as we could. My heart is still thumping hard.

Sid looked at me concernedly and embraced me.

"I'm sorry that I didn't listen to you." I said trying to sound fine but in vain.

This awarded me with even deep hug. I felt his concern and just let it be for a few seconds. When we reached home Jaya and Casper are hovering near the main gate tense. She knitted her eyebrows, demanding an answer why we are late.

"We will talk later about that, I want to see her safe in bed," he said looking at me "come on in, now."

We can't as long as pooja's go on. Nearby there is a secret hiding where my family is staying. We'll meet you in the morning near the rose garden.

Sid embraced me tightly and tears rolled out of his eyes. I wanted to comfort him saying that I am fine but I couldn't think of that word any longer after all the incident's that happened in this few days. I crawled into my bed feeling safe as raj can't enter the house as the pooja's are going on. That assures another three days of my safety. I slept hardly that night because of the nightmares.

11

I woke in the early hours of morning unable to sleep. I went for a stroll in the garden. Sid is already there lost in thoughts.

"Good morning," I said lingering beside him to get his attention.

"Haven't you slept all the night?" I asked, scrutinizing him.

"Nothing like that woke up just now." he said.

"Can we go and visit Casper, I haven't had time to talk to him yesterday." I said tentatively not wanting to bring those memories back.

He nodded in silence.

At breakfast Rocky caught me gesturing Sid, he sneered at me. When we are waiting in the garden for Jaya; Sunny came across and urged us to take him with us but then dhi and rocky came after him and said that I would like to be left alone rather than their good company. Dhi pinched on his arms to calm him down. I felt grateful for her.

We followed through the backyard. We almost reached the dead end but Jaya continued to move.

"Where do we go now?" I asked.

She gestured us to follow her silently and we did. There is a narrow passage between the tree and the wall fully covered by branches hiding it from others view. No one could know that there is room here until they ducked under the branches. The place was quite serene but the roof made by the stones and branches was very lower that we need to bend to get inside. Inside was a wide blanket spread across the floor but it was completely ragged. In one corner there are books completely dusted and a lamp dismantled. Casper is lying at the farther end of the corner. At once I rushed to him.

"How are you?" I asked him.

"Oh! I'm fine that bulk hands couldn't sort me out." he said.

"Why did you come late yesterday? I was very much worried about you." Jaya said coming closer.

Sid narrated the whole story. Everyone's face turned much paler than before.

"We have only three days time we need to find a way."It's the gardener who spoke now. We all nodded. Sid said that he would like to contact someone who may help us. Not having any other idea we all agreed that it is a better idea. I said to casper about everything that has been changed from those days. When I mentioned about all that we do at school he is all ears.

"DO you know Josh, I always wanted to study but I never had a chance." Casper said gloomily.

I wanted to make him feel better so I said about the loads of work we have and the tests we take daily. It had the effect. Meanwhile Sid is chatting with gardeners about the latest vehicles and weapons we have now. We left them promising to be back tomorrow.

At dusk we played carroms me, dhi one group, sid &rocky one group. We are about to lose so I threw the board of the table.

"We win." rocky said.

"No way, you are about to lose when the board fell off." I said more sternly.

"Is that so? Let’s have another game." rocky said.

"No, there is HP series 3 on TV. I got to watch it." I said slipping off.

"Josh," rocky tried to protest but I left coolly. Later everyone joined to watch the movie with me. At dinner I chatted with sunny about the 7th series mom tried to hush us but we kept talking and others joined us too at the end we are all praises for Harry and Rowling. When each of us retired to bed I waited until Sid is sound asleep.

Then woke up Dhi, Rocky, Sunny to help me with decor for it is Sid's birthday next day.  I knew I'm risking more sneers from rocky but I can't do this alone without their help. Rocky helped without much questions because he is too sleepy to make any comments. He left it for the following day I thought. When it is 5 to 12 I went to wake up Sid. Sunny went to wake up mom, pop and aunt. When I went to wake Sid, he freaked, seeing me at an odd hour. I assured him nothing is wrong. At the very moment we went into the garden all the three shouted happy birthday and sprayed snow all over us than I wished giving him my best of smiles. He is speechless much with excitement. Pop embraced him and wished him, then it is followed by cake cut, and wishes from everyone. While I am retiring to bed he caught me and asked that he would like to have a private word. We went it to the garden. We walked in silence, for a few minutes and then he made me sit on a bench in the rose garden.

"What is it?" I asked half sleepy.

He then turned and picked a red rose and got down to his knees and asked "Will you marry me?"

I thought I am dreaming but it felt very real. He is truly romantic to express his feelings every time which most of the girls wish for and I'm the lucky one to have my prince charming.

I just nodded for I don't want to spoil this very special moment, love of my life.

He then raised and took me into his arms again that pleasant sensation ran all over my body. He swept me off my feet. That precious moments, I treasured them safely in my heart.

12

Sid's parents are arriving at noon. He is busy preparing for their arrival; he went to pick them up from the station. I am reading a novel by Susan copper when rocky and dhi entered the room, the flicker in their eyes showed that they are up to something. I just pretended not to notice.

"What did you say?"dhi asked.

"Oh! Come on, after seeing all that do you think she rejected him." rocky said.

Oh! God they have spied on me yesterday then. I cannot bluff now, I confessed. Then rocky burst into laughter I got mad at him and I whacked him.
"Sorry josh, we didn't know about this we just guessed that he would have proposed you yesterday and we came to ask you about It." he still laughed heartily.

I made a complete ass of myself. Dhi congratulated and said that I made a wise decision and pop would be really happy to hear it. Saying so, she rose up and went into pop's room. I said her that it's not time but she was deaf eared now in all excitement. That day I tried to avoid pop & mom feeling embarrassed. After lunch sunny informed me that pop wants me to see in his room; when I went Sid was already there with his parents. His mom hugged me and said thanks but still I couldn't make up to see pop.

"Come here, Josh," pop said in that warm tone.

"You made a wise decision; you two make a perfect pair. I always wanted this to happen and I promise you that there will be no disturbance in your career. We will wait until you get settled.” He said squeezing my hands.

"Thanks pop" I said hugging him. He smiled pleasantly, I left the room followed by Sid.

"It's so simple." he said amusingly.

I smiled and went away hopping like a rabbit and singing my favorite tune.

Night, we younger one's went to picture with sid's parents and then to a restaurant. All the time rocky kept Sid busy, with his stupid questions about some stupid movies. While having dinner I remembered my promise to Casper. I felt guilty and thought that I should go to him early in the next morning.

"Hi, I'm sorry I couldn't make it yesterday." I said.

"It's ok. I watched Sid's parent's coming anyway. I'm happy for you, you have the most elegant young man as your fiancee." he said .

"I saw you yesterday night in the garden though I'm sorry to sneak on you such a time." he said watching the floor.

I felt embarrassed but regained and said its ok.

"Have you called that man you spoke off?”Gardener is asking Sid.

"No, his cell has been switched off. I will try again today If it's not on I will meet him in person." he said.

"I hope that Jaya would love me to the same extent as you do, Sid." Casper said gloomily gazing at his love.

"I think she loves you otherwise why would she risk being caught up by your master."I said cheering him up.

"Does she really?"Casper asked.

"Yes, why don't you express her?" I said feeling awkward about this whole topic.

He is thoughtful. What if she rejected him? What if the very next minute she accepted, they move to their next life? I thought. I don't want Casper to go away.

"Let's go, Josh." Sid said.

"Go on, make a move." I assured.

"What did you say to Casper? He is lost in thoughts." Sid asked.

I shrugged as if nothing important.

"Where did you go? You seem to be missing all the time now a day, went to a date I think?" rocky said.

"No way, I'm not like Suma to be always missing." I said. (Suma is rocky’s girlfriend)

"So,at last cry babe has got reins to control me." he said.

I always liked rocky though he always teases me. He is caring and most wonderful bro I have ever had. The next two days are so serene that I suspected a storm ahead.

13

We were chatting heartily at the breakfast table. Then suddenly a knife came shooting towards me, quickly Sid pulled me down but the knife made a sharp cut in my right arm. Everyone is dumbstruck to make any sound. Hema aunt came rushing with a bandage and quickly made first aid. Pop is so mad at all of us for being so childish. We all gathered in my room Sid is looking at all the corners nervously.

"Whoever did it, admit it" rocky demanded.

"Just shut up, don't be so mean." dhi slapped him.
"Then do you think some ghost did it?" he slapped.

"Exactly it's a ghost." Sunny added.

"Shut up." both screamed.

"Well, then tell me who did it?" Sunny said.

They are silent seeing the sense in what sunny has just spoken about.

"Guys, I need to tell you something that you won't believe but I have no other choice to protect josh from this peril." Sid said seriously.


All of them sat silently unable to accept Sid's part of story. Sunny is the first to speak.

"So you have not been lying about seeing ghosts." Sunny said.

I nodded.

"Well that means I'm not crazy after all." Sunny said.

"What?" we chorused.

"Oh! I guessed that there must be a ghost the same day when there came a plate flying towards sid, everyone thought it was you but the plate was thrown from the opposite direction from where you sat. I figured that there is something creepy going on around here." he said.
Thanks for his brains at least this theory seemed to satisfy others.

"So, how do we harm one who is already dead and how do we protect josh from him." it is rocky who said.

"I contacted a person who would help us in this matter, He said he will come visit on the very day of our party, we need to keep her safe until him comes." sid said.

"How do we do that?"dhi asked.

"Leave that to me." Hema aunt said entering the room.

Don't give me that face. She said sitting beside me.

"First of all, just don't leave josh alone and try to watch your back always as far as I learnt ghosts fear god's power over them. I'll arrange god's photos in our room. I raised eyebrows in suspicion as if these precautions will stop him.

We all nodded but everyone seemed to have the same doubt. We sat in silence for many hours. Sid is every time gazing around.

"Hi! I have been waiting all the day for you since you haven't showed up I thought of having a peek." casper said.

"Hi," I said with a plastic smile then suddenly everyone turned towards me.

"You look so pale, what happened?" he asked.

Sid came over, greeted him and said the whole story of raj's sudden attack. By the end of the story gardener's whole family is there.

"Go away from this place," casper said.

"He will go after her, that's not a solution." Jaya slapped.

Each of us is still deep in thinking.

"Can't you ask that man to come a little earlier?" Casper asked intending the man who deals with the ghosts.

"No, I can't catch him." sid said, "he said that he would come on the party date until then we need to watch josh carefully."

"That's the question, how can we keep her safe from something that we can’t see?" It's sunny who said that.

The ghosts looked in the direction of the small squeaky voice, clearly noticing them all for the first time.

"I have an idea." gardener said clapping his hands

"There is a room in the upstairs where master cannot enter." he said.

"Where is it? Why can't he enter?" Casper said.
While I am conveying the idea to others that is my family since they cannot hear or see them.

"Come on now," he said and moved upstairs in a swift pace we followed him in trail.

"I don't know for what reason but our owner has made master to promise that he would never enter his room without his permission. Master abides by it even now, I never saw him entering the room even after the death of him. Even ghosts abide by their promise." he said proudly.

"Are you sure this room will be safe place?" entering the boy's room.

"I'm sure," gardener said, "to ensure your safety they will stay here and watch over you at nights." he said pointing to Casper and Jaya.

"Thank you so much for helping us." Sid said.

"It's ok, sir. We have always been loyal to our master but we choose humanity rather than loyalty." he said and then he gave instructions to Jaya and Casper and left to their hiding. He promised that he would come if we called for his help.

We exchanged room with boys that afternoon all the time I stayed inside the room.

After a while we all settled down in the room. Casper sat beside me.

"Have you proposed her?"I asked him wanting to get rid of the gloom that hung in the air.

"That's why I have come searching for you." he said with a broad smile.

"She accepted." he said triumphantly.

"Congrats, that's great." I said.

"Although, I wish this all could happen when we are still alive." he said.

"Love just doesn't happen to us when we want it. It is always good to have someone who loves you truly." I said

"Yeah, maybe I need to be happy for having a love at least now. As you say Pollyanna's medicine." he said.

We laughed together. Sid joined us when we are playing chess. He is still nervously glancing all over.

Others went to have supper. Hema aunt promised to bring my supper to my room. She said to my parents that I'm not feeling well.

"Oh! Honey what's wrong?" mom said eying me with concern.

"It pains." I said showing the bandage on my hand.

Pop was suspicious about the sudden exchange of rooms and my sudden headache and not willing to come out of the room but he made no notion of expressing it. Thank him for that.

When Sid entered my room, Casper took leave of me saying that he would stay outside.

Sid took my wounded hand into his.
"Does it hurt?" he asked.

"No," I said to him though it was a lie.
I laid my head on his shoulder. He gently whispered some soothing words, brushing my curls back. I fell asleep in his laps.

14

Next day when I woke up Sid is right in front of me asleep in the sofa. I leaned over him and gently kissing him on the forehead. He woke up with a start.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you."  I said sheepishly.

"I shouldn't have slept, I'm an idiot." he said half to himself

"It's ok. You need sleep too, just sleep a while I'll be awake and watch over." I said.

"No, it's ok. You take rest," he said pushing me towards the bed.

"You will get sick if you stay on like this, take a few minutes rest. He laid his head on my lap and slowly drifted to sleep.
After a few minutes dhi came over and said that she is just checking up on me.
"You are lucky, he's been up all the night watching over you though your ghost friends asked him to go sleep. He is persistent to stay here all the night." she said.

I smiled for this rare fortune I have. There is a huge commotion in the hall. Dhi seeing my frown she replied that all our relations have come since it is the day of our party. I felt stupid since I haven't remembered it, I am eager to have a party earlier but now everything seems gloomy. Meanwhile sid is up unable to seep in the huge commotion. He excused us and left.

"Good morning, nice to see you safe and sound." casper said.

"I'm sorry to say but we won’t be able to stay here today." jaya said.

"Too many people, there's a risk of being seen." casper said.

"Anyway even master isn't foolish to come into this house with so many people around, so you will be safe." jaya said and quickly added "papa said so."

"Don't release your guard though, if you need help just call for us. We will be nearby." casper said and hovered away.

I had a vague feeling that this will be our last meeting, tears trickled. I rubbed them back.

I went down with dhi and greeted all our relations. Hema aunt scurried towards me and asked "Why did you leave the room?"

"It's ok," dhi said and I explained everything casper and jaya told me.

"Anyway if she spends anymore in that room alone.pop would be suspicious." dhi added.

"Yeah, that's right but be careful josh, don't linger away from us." aunt said in a tone of warning.

Breakfast followed with much din and clatter. Sid's parents are back. Everyone laughed heartily I thought after so many days.

Pop is busy with the arrangements to be done for the party. Rocky and sunny are busy helping dad, dhi is mowing the garden and sid is busy verifying the checklist. I went up to him.

"Do you need a hand?" I asked.

"Josh, come here give me a hand." dhi called from the lawn.
I cursed her for her perfect timing.

After lunch all of us girls gathered in our room for showing off our costumes.
I couldn't decide on anything to wear for the party.

I am watching them all enviously about being so sure of their costumes. When it's high time there is gentle tap on the door. It’s sid.

"Come with me, mama wants to see you in her room." he said.

"Is anything wrong?" I asked feeling anxious. He gestured “no”

"I have so much work. I haven't chosen what to wear. Is it necessary to come now?" I asked catching up with his rapid pace.

He gave wink.

"Hi, this is for you."  sid's mama said and gave me a cover.

"Sid chose it himself, he thought of giving it to you if you accepted him." she said.

"Thanks," saying so I turned to leave.

Sid caught me near the stairs

"Your problem is solved, wear this one to the party.” he said.

I nodded and went off. When I opened the cover everyone in the room is staring at the dress. It is really a gorgeous one. It's a black gagra with heavy work on it. There's even jewelers that goes with the dress color. Now everyone would be jealous of my dress and so they are.

"You should allow me to try it on one day." dhi said.

I winked. Mom is really happy when she saw the dress she kissed me and said "It's wonderful, he certainly has a good taste."

By dusk everyone got ready. Hema aunt stayed to help with my hair.

When I am done, I looked into the mirror the transform is really great. I looked like a fairy princess out of a story.

"You look gorgeous." aunt said clapping her mouth with her hands with astonishment.

I walked down the steps gazing everywhere for sid but I couldn't find him. After a quick glance again I found him with a group of cousins.

If I'm a princess out of a story; he is like a prince of the new world. He is wearing a black shirt and cargos. He is like a super model right out of a magazine.

Rocky saw me gazing at him and nudged him to see in my direction. I dropped my head not wanting to be caught in such a situation.

Later I gave rocky nice slap and pretend to be innocent of it. The party is organized in the lawn. I joined a group of my friends.

We chatted for a long time all the time eyes on sid and his on mine. I'm desperate to meet him alone. When it is time for dinner my appetite is lost, I ate ice cream pretending in front of pop that I had a good meal. When everyone is busy with emptying their plates; Sid caught me and dragged into the house.

"You look.........."unable to express it sid looked into my eyes longingly.

"Gorgeous..." I supplied for him.

That is the most wonderful moment in my life, It's my first love kiss. Tickles ran all over my body immobilizing me. I prayed calmly that this second last forever but before my prayer is even heard by him a sharp blade came cutting sid squarely in his shoulders.


"How dare you touch her?" raj screamed at the top of his voice.

Sid charged upon him like a soldier and is thrashing him but raj is too strong for him. I could see the blood gushing out from sid's shoulders. I cried for help but my voice is dissolved in the music. Suddenly as if angels the gardener's family and casper appeared before but they are to fight raj's men before they could help sid.

Sid is trying to launch a blow with a rod he found somewhere luckily but raj is too quick for him and twisted sid's hand.sid is whelming with pain.

Then all of a sudden the golden woman's words came into my mind "Love is the only weapon you have."

But what could that mean. Sid is screaming now to me to run into my room so that at least I could be safe but I couldn't leave him now in such peril. I took the rod that raj threw away from sid's hand and launched a heavy blow upon raj. He is dumbstruck and loosened his grip over sid.

Seeing this as a chance sid launched another heavy blow. Raj shooed him off like a dog and sid tumbled down to the stairs. I ran after him. He is unconscious I couldn't bear to see him like that tears swelled in my eyes. It is like my heart is torn apart. Anger boiled in me.

"Good riddance for you my love," raj said coming near.

"You are waste of space. I wish you are never born. Do you think that I'm going to live with you after I'm dead? No. You can't gain someone's love by forcing them. I always hated you than anything in my life. I would die a hundred times than to live with you."

"But..I love you," he stammered.

Do you? No, you don't because lovers always want their love to be happy but you want to have me so that you can be happy. You never thought of my feeling, that isn’t love. You ruined your life now you want to ruin mine. If you want to kill me kill me now itself but I will not be yours even after I'm dead. I will love him for my entire life even after I’m dead.

"Go on, kill me." I walked towards him shivering not with fear but with the sudden outburst of anger.

"You don't love me." he stammered.

"I hate you." I shouted.

"I want you to love me that am all I ever wished for." he said.

"I never loved you, not over my life." I screamed.

"I won't come into your life again, if that's what you wish for." he said the last word is almost a whisper.

He started fading away as soon as he said that, soon he is nothing but a tiny speck. The fight between others came to a halt meanwhile. I ran over to sid feeling relieved. He is blinking now. I got him up.

"Where is he?" he coughed because raj tried to strangle him. I am felt whole again seeing him alive. I couldn't bear the thought of his death.

Casper glided towards me

"They are gone too...." casper said.

"You did well, Josh" casper said and extended his hand but he is fading away too.

Jaya quickly caught his hands but she is fading away too. I tried to hold then but then in a sec their faces faded into nothing there is nothing now but the cold air of the night. Then i remembered what the lady said in my sleep the other day.
"There will be no happy endings after all."

I couldn't imagine my days without casper, he has become a best buddy for me.

I shivered uncontrollably with tears trickling all over calling caper's name in vain. Sid placed his good arm over me and tried to soothe. I sobbed into his shoulder. When we turned to face the door everyone is present there with dumbstruck expressions. One of our relative who is a doctor hurried to aid of sid without any questions, thank god for his duty mindedness. There are many questions to be answered. Our guests retired to their houses since the party is not going to continue in this situation. We all gathered around sid's bed. When I am asked to explain, I couldn't find words I am shivering uncontrollably. So, to fetch me more time, hema aunt explained everything she knew. When it's my turn I brought up every ounce of courage to explain everything. When I finished I laid my head in my hands, pop embraced and whispered soothing words. Sid woke up early in the next morning. I stayed beside him all the night though pop insisted to take rest. I couldn't have the idea of leaving him again even for a second.

"How are you feeling now?"I asked checking his temperature by my palm on his forehead.

"Fine, shall we go for a stroll in the garden?" he asked.

We went into the garden hand in hand. We sat in the rose garden. He pulled me closer and I kissed him.

"I love you....." I said.
He smiled and kissed me again. Then suddenly in front of us the golden woman appeared.

"Congrats," she said.

"Thanks, Can I ask you a question?" I ventured.

She nodded.
"Did you ever love him?" I asked suddenly realizing who she must be.

"When I came to this house, I am completely against love because that's what ruined my life. I couldn't accept him but day by day I started feeling his love towards me. I couldn't make it up to say and when I finally knew my feelings for him he is no more." she said tears trickling.

"I wanted him to move on to his next life but he is stubborn to leave this place without me, when I knew that when you are here. I figured you would be in danger, I came to help you."
"The visions are to help you guess the things." she added slowly and vanished.

I laid on sid's shoulder thinking about the love that caused one's death and the love that caused one to live, the love between parent and children, between siblings, friends....

Love is eternal it exists until human race exists. God has bestowed us with love to make this gloomy world more colorful. Love never ends.

                                             ******ETERNAL LOVE***********