One night- it must have been around ten. I had been writing for the past one hour or so. The content had intense passion in it and I was quite engrossed in my task. It was then that I felt the light dimming.
Lifting the hurricane lamp, I shook it a bit. The kerosene was almost over. Yet I persevered- I wanted to write one more page. I was deeply involved in my story. Then again the light flickered.I checked the oil again, and extended the wick a bit more before continuing to write.After a while the wick became very short and flamed red: it was on its dying throes. I lighted up my torch and snuffed out the hurricane lamp.
‘What should I do for a light now?’ I wondered aloud. I needed kerosene. I decided to visit the lodgings situated in the bank building and get some kerosene from my friends. Holding the torch and the kerosene bottle, I locked the front door. I shut the gate and walked out onto the desolate street lighted by a faint moonlight. The rain clouds were heavy in the sky. I walked briskly.
When I reached the bank, I called out from the street, and one of my friends responded. We went to the lodgings in the bank building through the staircase in the back. The three had been enjoying an uproarious game of cards.
When I requested for some kerosene, one laughingly responded: ‘ Why don’t ask your sweet heart Bhargavi, to get you some kerosene? Have you finished writing her story?’
I did not reply. I was yet to write Bhargavi’s story. While I got my bottle filled, the rain fell heavily with a lurch.
‘Give me an umbrella too!’ I requested.
‘We do not have one. Join us for a card game. When the rain abates, you can return.’
So we ended up playing a card game. My team mate and I lost thrice . It was my fault. My mind was still on the half complete story. By one in the night, the rain stopped. I quit the game and picked up the torch and kerosene bottle. By the time I reached the street, my friends had gone to sleep. The lights were shut down.
There was utter silence on the street. There was darkness all around. I walked towards my dwelling place. In that mild moonlight, the whole world lay embraced by some misty wonder. I was unaware of the thoughts buzzing in my mind. Or perhaps I was not thinking anything at all. I walked- my torch lighting up that lonely, empty path. I met not a single creature in that journey.
I opened the front door of the house and got inside. Then I bolted it from within. I had no reason to suspect anything extraordinary happening at that juncture. Suddenly, without any reason, my mind became overwhelmed by an ineffable sadness. I felt like crying. Usually I laugh easily; but it is very hard for me to shed tears. An ethereal feeling takes over my heart at such times. That feeling came over me: compassion welled up in my heart. I climbed the stairs in that state of mind.
Then I saw something strange. It was like this:
When I had locked my room, the lamp had been snuffed out and the room was in utter darkness. Afterwards, a rain had fallen. Two or three hours had gone by. But now, the room was wonderfully lighted up from within! I could see the light through the gap in the door frame.
It was this light that my eyes saw and my sub conscious mind acknowledged. But that mystery was yet to penetrate my consciousness. So, I took out my key as usual. Then I turned my torch light on the padlock. The lock glittered like silver…it flashed a smile at me!
I opened the door and stepped inside the room. Then as uneasiness crept in, I became aware of everything around me. Each and every atom of my body knew it- yet, I did not feel fear. My mind was flooded with a deluge of emotions: compassion, love or rather a mix of both. I stood there dumbstruck, drenched in sweat.
Blue Light! The white walls, the room- both were luminous with blue light! The light was emitted by the hurricane lamp. There was a blue flame rising from the two inch wick!
The hurricane lamp which was snuffed out due to lack of kerosene: who had lighted it up? From where had that blue light appeared in Bhargavi Nilayam?
( The End)
Note: If you have read Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’s Guest’, you would appreciate the mastery needed to create dread in a reader. To create dread and a sense of calm equitably, is a skill the great Basheer had mastered!