What was behind that small wooden door?
Right in front of my house, an old Indian lady Sathya used to live. It was a big campus with a small house and lots of trees around. Although her campus was her private property, still she allowed everyone to wander around in the area, sit under trees and gossip. There was a tree in the area with a small wooden door and round handle at its base, because of which it used to catch everybody’s attention. The watchman at the campus always instructed the entrants to enjoy, but taking care not to go around or touch that tree.
Everybody who used to go there, enjoyed the peace and thanked Sathya for such a sweet favor. Sathya many a times used to tell that in the village where she lived in India, nobody used to put boundaries around their houses and they enjoyed this thing very much, she wanted to keep this thing maintained here also as a symbol of her open-heartedness. Many a times she also had to pay for this open-heartedness in the form of thefts of the vegetables and flowers from her garden. But surprisingly nobody ever disturbed that door in the tree according to Sathya. Despite of being so much talkative, Sathya never told anybody and did not even let anybody inquire, what was there behind that small wooden door? It was a mystery and she did not want to open it before anybody.
Although I myself was quite a naughty person but still never thought of disturbing that tree or disobey Sathya’s instructions about that. One day, when I returned back home in the evening after sitting there for sometime with my friend Nancy and tried to open the main door of my house, I found that the keys of my house were not there in my pocket. Me and Nancy had decided to have a cup of hot coffee at my house and then leave Nancy back in her hostel. She was studying biology in the Local degree college. Since the keys were not there and also Nancy was getting late, so I decided to leave Nancy in her hostel first and search for keys then.
I left her up to the hostel gate and tried recalling back where could I have lost my keys. The last place I visited was Sathya’s campus, so I decided to first of all go there and search for my keys. Sathya’s whole campus was open, there was no gate or physical boundary fitted, so I didn’t ask for anybody’s permission to enter there. I also did not want to disturb the 85 year old lady in night as it was already 8:30 P.M. I started searching for the lost keys using my torch. Suddenly I heard Sathya’s voice; it seemed as if she was discussing something with somebody. I could not see clearly as my torch also stopped working suddenly, but I could make out that she was talking to somebody at the base of that particular tree with small door and the door was also open. A wave of fear and anxiety shriveled my whole body. Now I didn’t even remember about my keys and tried to run away, but I felt that my legs became very heavy and I could make myself walk back with utmost difficulty.
The talk of Sathya was still on, but I did not have the courage to stay there and listen to it. I was so scared and also keys were not there so I decided to hire a taxi and go to my grandmother’s house which was a few kilometers away. After about half an hours taxi ride, I reached there. My grandmother was also stunned to see my scared face and sweating body. I told her the whole incidence. She was a bold lady, so advised me not to be scared, relax and get fresh. When I came out of bathroom after getting freshed up, my granny was ready with hot soup and noodles for me. We both had the noodles with and soup and started discussing about the incidence. Now I was relaxed and in my full senses. I was sure that Sathya had kept some ghost like thing inside that tree and she used to talk to it to fulfill her ghostly purposes. To keep the campus open for all might be her tool to to trap innocent people.
Now I could well understand that why she never suffered any major loss in spite of no gates, no boundaries or locks. I assumed that she might have got an army of many powerful ghosts and the watchman she had kept might be just show-off and also small theft of her vegetables etc. was also the false tales. She was herself a witch or magician who was staying there and doing everything to achieve some supernatural power. I had read somewhere that some people do human sacrifices to achieve powers and Sathya also seemed to me to be one such person. Although my grandmother did not believe such things but still she was not able to convince me. Whole night I kept thinking about it and could not sleep properly. In the morning I gathered the courage and decided to break lock of my house as well as open Sathya’a mystery before the world so that I could save people from the trap. I wanted to show what was the reality of this gentle looking old woman.
I chose the evening for this work so that there was maximum gathering. People usually used to roam in her campus during the evening time after getting off from their day’s work. At about 6 PM, I started shouting and instructing everybody to gather around me. When the watchman saw me doing so, he called Sathya out. Sathya instructed me very politely to either stop shouting or go away. But I was not in the mood to listen. I even did not care about; when the watchman said that he will call the police, if I did not stop. I felt as if I am filled with power, power to fight with the ghosts. I did want to open up the truth in front of people, even if I had to sacrifice myself for it in the hands of ghosts. I was feeling myself to be a great personality who would sacrifice himself for the welfare of others.
Almost everybody who was present there had gathered around me to see what was I doing or saying. Sathya was also asking me say whatever I wanted to say but in the low tone so that no scene is created but Sathya was not aware of the fact that I have come to know the reality of her mysterious personality. I started saying: - Listen ladies and gentlemen, see this old nice lady and her innocent watchman, as they seem to be, but they are not so as you think. They are not the normal people; these are the personalities either ghosts or related to ghosts. This innocent looking lady is perhaps a witch and behind that small door in the base of that tree she has kept ghosts. I have myself heard her talking to the ghosts after opening the door yesterday. Thank God! she did not see me yesterday otherwise I would have been gone forever.
Everybody there looked stunned, some in belief and some in disbelief looking toward me and Sathya. Suddenly Sathya sat on her knees saying: This boy is right, I am a witch and I have kept a ghost inside this tree and I talk to that ghost every evening, but I do not trap anybody. She went up to the tree and opened the door. Now she told everybody to peep inside what was there? She pulled out a metallic urn covered with a cloth. She opened up the lid of cloth and brought something out. It was a powder like thing. She took the powder in her hands and showed to everybody, see this is the ghost of this witch. If to be a mother is witch: yes, I am a witch and these are the ashes of my 10 year old son who died while he was in India with his grandmother at the village where I lived before coming here. He always wanted be with me and wander about these trees of this campus but before I could complete the papers for immigrating him here; he suddenly fell ill and died.
My child’s wish to be with me, in this campus made me bring his ashes here after his cremation. And you know for me my child, and for you the ghost lives behind this door. For my child, his mother and for you, the witch talks to his ashes every evening since many years. I have confessed the truth before you and you are free to give me in police for the crime, I have committed. Everybody became silent and went away. Nobody could speak anything. Sathya took the urn and went to nearby river with her watchman and threw the ashes there. The door was now open and mystery was solved forever. I also came back home with the heavy heart. Next day I saw police taking away Sathya’s dead body from her house, inquiring the watchman and the open small wooden door at the base of the tree.
I still feel the heaviness on my mind and heart and perhaps this will never end till my end.