[Story] The Prank of an Old Man | Abhijit Borah
It was during those golden days of my college life when I and four other friends of mine were dwelling in the same apartment in Bangur, Kolkata. That was probably the craziest and the biggest house I’ve ever stayed in, in my entire student life. From weirdest of parties, where cops had to knock on the door in the wee hours of the night to somebody falling from the balcony after getting drunk, the place had witnessed everything. Our unstoppable bizarre activities were creating havoc among the other residents of the building, but they couldn’t throw us out because the apartment belonged to Eddie’s uncle.
Since college was the least interested place to visit on earth, one fine day, Eddie decided to clean the walls of our hall. It was really getting filthy. Being party freaks with a minimal pocket money, we didn’t want to spend so much on paints and so we decided to make a huge collage to hide the stains. After a hard day’s work of decorating, we all were sitting and watching the walls, flattered at our own creativity after smoking some pot. Suddenly, a thought crossed my mischievous mind and I suggested my friends, “Let’s do spirit call, it will be fun”. Eddie and Ryan readily agreed to it, while Varun was quite skeptical about it. India is a democratic country where majority wins. So, with no other options left, Varun had to bow down in front of our quest and agreed to give us company in our adventurous venture.
In a short span of time, we arranged everything that is needed to carry forward the proceedings. Though we were by no means experts, Ryan knew a few steps and so we gave it a go. We all sat down and closed our eyes, trying to concentrate on calling a departed soul who could answer our questions. Being the most restless among us, Eddie simply stood up after 10 minutes and lit a cigarette. Seeing that, Varun, who was against it right from the beginning, got up from his place and joined Eddie. Eventually I and Ryan gave up too, thinking it to be a waste of time. Since, Varun was the most studious among us and had an important day in college the next day, he went off to sleep. After Varun went to his room, Eddie came up with the idea of scaring Varun, by spreading the rumor that during the whole process of spirit calling the spirit did actually come but never returned. We two readily accepted the proposal and started planning to accomplish our impish act.
All three of us woke up after Varun left for college and did a brain storming session on how to make him horrified. We created a list of activities and decided to stick to the plan. All we included in the list of items to make it look authentic were some old coins, some blood to stain the coins, an old discarded box, some candles and a piece of white cloth. Kolkata is a place where you can even get 5 paise and 10 paise coins that are not in use in any other part of the country. So, it was easy for us to collect whatever we needed, except for an old discarded box. But somehow Ryan managed to find one in a garbage bin and brought it home. We gave it a new look by customizing the box and inscribed it with the words “HORROR AWAITS”. To make it more fruitful, we called another friend of ours, Manoj, to assist us in our endeavor.
As soon as Varun arrived, we made up stories about how we were facing obstacles in each and everything the entire day, which was giving us a negative vibe. A few minutes later, the bell rang. Varun opened the door to find out an old box lying at the doorstep with no one at the door. He freaked out and yelled at us to look at what he had found out. With deceiving faces, we ran to the door and stared at the box in horror. I picked up the box and read out loud what was crafted on the box. Varun snatched the box from my hand, took Ryan’s hand and went out of the door. After they left, I and Eddie had a good laugh. It was Manoj, who had dropped the box at the doorstep and disappeared quickly. After a while, Varun and Ryan came back empty-handed, worried and terrified about the whole incident. Four of us sat down and discussed about the whole matter. Meanwhile, Manoj came and joined our conversation and appeared shell shocked to hear the story. During the discussion, Manoj said, “Maybe the spirit came but didn’t go back”. Hearing this Varun got agitated and started scolding us saying, “I told you not to do all these, but because of you guys now we all are in deep shit”. Not to exaggerate, we decided to halt our activities for the evening.
The next day there were no ghastly activities and we could see Varun a little relieved. Although, Manoj was not a part of the plan when it initially started, yet he became one of the active members of the crew and was most enthusiastic about the whole episode. So, the next night Manoj offered to walk through the balcony wrapped around in white clothes, holding a candle. Being the best athlete in school, we knew that he could do it and so told him to persuade his idea. Since, the day was alright, Varun went to his own room to sleep, as we all pretended to be sleepy and went to our own respective rooms. At around quarter to three in the morning, Manoj called up and told us that he was already on the balcony. As planned, he walked through the balcony and made some weird sounds. Varun woke up horrified to see such a perturbing view and ran for his life. He was screaming at the top of his voice and we all came out of our rooms to see what happened, though we knew what exactly was happening. Varun was trembling and was drenched in sweat.
Next morning when I woke up, I saw Varun was performing some puja by lighting candles and incense sticks. I’ve never seen him doing this during all these years, but today was different. I was finding it funny, but at the same time felt bad for my friend. At one point I even thought of revealing the fact, but my nasty mind didn’t allow me to do so. That evening we found out the same box lying at our doorstep, which Varun threw on the first day. This time it was getting on his nerves and was planning to shift somewhere else. We made him understand that this was just a matter of a few days and would end in due course of time. Ryan, this time, took the box and threw it outside. It was now getting more serious, but we were still left with our last prank.
We collected a few old coins and I found a strange-looking coin that looked quite old from the entire lot. It was really strange and I’d never seen a coin like that before. Without any delay, we got some blood from a butcher shop and made the coins stained with blood. During day time at around 3 PM, when Varun was alone at home I somehow managed get on the balcony and threw a few coins with the peculiar looking coin through the window of Varun’s room. He was very much scared and waited outside till we returned from college. As college was the least interested place to visit on earth for us, we spent the day at Manoj’s place, telling Varun that we all went for classes. At around 7, a few more blood stained coins were thrown. Varun was out of his mind and didn’t know what to do in such a situation. Moreover, the daily routine of the old box lying at our doorstep had made Varun frightened to death. He started packing his stuff to leave for home as soon as possible. We realized that this was going out of hand and told him the truth about the entire incident and had a guffaw over it. Varun cursed us all and left home in rage.
A couple of weeks later after the whole episode, everyone including Manoj, left for home and I was alone at our apartment. Feeling bored, I went out to meet some other friends to spend the evening. It was around 3′O clock in the morning when I was returning home after a few drinks. As soon as the cab left after dropping me near our building, I heard someone calling my name. I looked around but saw nobody other than a few dogs barking at a distance. As I was about to take a walk towards my building, somebody again called my name, “Sanju”; this time louder. I turned around and saw an old person coming towards me, but I could not recognize him. He asked me for a light and when I offered him the matchbox, he shook my hand and said, “It was nice staying with you guys”, and he disappeared in the dark. I didn’t even get a chance to ask him how he knew my name. When he left, I opened my palm to find that strange-looking old coin stained with blood in my hand. I was panicking and the little intoxication that I had evaporated. I started walking towards my apartment wondering about the entire incident and as soon as I reached my door I saw that old discarded box lying at our doorstep.
Note: It’s a piece of fiction, inspired by true events.