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The lady and the garden

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The summer vacations had just started. Raj and Armaan had plans for of playing cricket through the entire
vacation. They were also thinking about getting into a cricket camp. Their parents had agreed for it.
“I wish we could just start now. ” said Raj. “I just cannot wait.”
“But we have to. The camp starts in twelve days. So we get some time to get better.” said Armaan.
They had just entered 8 th standard. It was a whole new world for them. They had now been shifted into the
‘big boys’ building of the school where 12 th standard students were also present.
“I have been thinking, what is Naina up to these days?” asked Armaan. “ I mean, what are her plans for
the vacation?”
“I don’t know. I never asked her.” replied Raj.
“Let’s message her.” said Armaan.
The message read – “ Hey. How are you. It’s been some time since we talked. What are your plans for the
vacations?”
The reply didn’t come straight away. Armaan waited for about ten minutes, checking his phone every
thirty seconds or so. Then he gave up. Both Armaan and Raj went up to Armaan’s room to play a few
rounds of computer game.
The reply came about two and a half hours late. “I have been thinking about going to the house of the Red
Eyed Lady.”
As soon as Armaan read the message, he called her immediately. “What are you talking about? I have
never heard of it.”
“Come by the park near my house. I will tell you all about it.” said Naina.
Armaan was intrigued. He went to the park along with Raj. Naina came about ten minutes late. She was
accompanied by someone.
“This is Piyush. He is my neighbour.” said Naina.
Armaan jumped straight to the point- “What is the Red Eyes Lady?”
“The Red Eyed Lady is someone that lives at a bit distance from my house. But you would never really
see her out. She might be standing near her window while you pass by but just when you stop to get a
clear look of her, she disappears.” said Naina.
“So what, she is a ghost?” asked Raj.
“I don’t know. Never asked anyone. No one ever talks to her or even about her.” replied Naina.
She continued “ Her house is rusty. Old paint and cracks everywhere. But her garden, that is something
astonishing. Or so I have heard. It has the most beautiful flowers and plants. They are all well maintained.
You couldn’t get the full view of the garden from the outside of the boundary walls, but it might be one of
great beauty.”
“Go on.” said Armaan.

“At times, you would hear howls and grunts from the house at night. And after that she comes out to her
garden and stays there for some time.” said Naina.
“She eats kids and those kids shout and cry as they are being eaten.” interrupted Piyush.
“And then she goes to her garden to gain energy she had lost in capturing the kids. The flowers and the
plants are magic. She restores her energy from them.” said Piyush.
“And how do you know that? You asked her?” Armaan asked jokingly.
Piyush was a little annoyed by this question. “My elder brother’s friend saw her once. She would come
out after the cries have stopped and just sit in the garden. He told me that her face was not normal.”
“What else did he tell you?” asked Raj.
“He said that her face was really black. I mean, it was late st night but yet, her face was not at all normal.
Her face was a bit bigger. Her hairs messed up, her nose was a bit crooked and her eyes were blood red.”
“When she saw my brother’s friend” continued Piyush, “she let out a huge shriek and moved towards
him. They ran as fast they could.”
There was silence. Everyone was trying to absorb in what was just said.
“And you plan on seeing her?” asked Armaan while moving towards Naina.
“Not exactly. I am trying to end her. I know that for some reason she does come out to the garden, even if
it is to restore her energy. So if I destroy the garden, it might hurt her.”
“What if it only angers her more?” asked a scared Raj.
“Then atleast we would know for sure that destroying the garden does have an effective on her and maybe
we could convince our parents.” replied Naina.
Again, there was silence.
“I will help you” said Armaan.
Raj, though scared, agreed with Armaan.
They all decided to meet at the park at 12 o’clock. Armaan and Raj went to Armaan’s house. Naina and
Piyush went to their homes.
At home, Naina finally decided to ask her mother about the Red Eyed Lady.
“Mom, what do you know about that old house and it’s inhabitants that is at the turning of the road?”
asked Naina.
“Why do you want to know?” Naina’s mother asked.
Before Naina could answer, her mother said “Stay away from that house. And also from Mrs. Verma.
You don’t know anything right now. Just stay away.”
Naina was more convinced now than ever.
At about 11 o’clock Raj and Armaan sliped out of their houses. They were on their bicycles heading
towards the park. Piyush and Naina were already present. It was 11.45 p.m.

They climbed the boundary wall of the lady’s house.
“Come on, hurry up. We need to destroy every flower and every plant of the garden before the lady
comes.” whispered Naina.
Raj was the last to get inside the boundary wall. The garden was a bit ahead. It was completely
surrounded by a wooden fence except for a door just in front of the back door of the house. All of them
were trying to be as quiet as possible.
Then using her smartphone flashlight, Naina directed Raj and Armaan towards the dahlia flowers. Naina
and Piyush went towards the sunflowers. And then, all of them started destroying every plant. All the
dahlias were uprooted. The sunflowers were cut down. Jasmine flowers were stomped upon.
All of a sudden, they heard a sharp cry. They were scared but wanted to finish the job. As the last plant
was uprooted, they saw a dark figure moving towards the main gate. Before they could react, the lady
emerged from the back door, standing in front of the garden fence. She had a black and bloody face and
blood red eyes.
She first observed the garden and then saw the children. The children froze.
She was furious but she didn’t move. She gave a huge shriek.
“RUN!!” yelled Armaan.
Everyone ran. They ran wherever they can. The entry through which they came in was blocked by the
lady. They jumped over the fence. Piyush fell while jumping but regained his footing and ran as fast as he
can. They all climbed the wall and got to their bicycles. They could still hear the shrieking.
“She is a ghost. I told you all.” Said Piyush while trying to catch his breath.
“Atleast we destroyed the garden.” said Naina.
All of them went to their houses. None of them could sleep. It was fear, eexcitement and nervousness all
combined which kept them awake.
The next morning during breakfast Naina’s mother started talking to Naina. “I think I have been
concealing something from you.”
“What?” asked Naina.
“Well, you asked yesterday about the old house and I didn’t want to talk about it. But I guess that you
should know now.” Said Naina’s mother.
Naina was getting a bit suspicious and was now listening intently.
“You see, Mrs. Verma, the person who lives in that house, has suffered a lot. She has had a hard life. She
has a lot of bruises and cuts on her face. Some of these bruises are so bad that a lot of her face is
blackened. It’s all because her husband beats her every other day.” said Naina’s mother.
“ Her husband is a drink” continued Naina’s mother, “ and in the influence of alcohol, he beats her
brutally. He has a night shift so before going to work, he beats her. She cannot do anything about it
because she is completely dependant on him financially. At times the beating gets so brutal that she cries
in pain.”

Naina’s eyes widened. She didn’t know what to say. Now she was understanding why the lady looks the
way she does and where those cries come from.
Naina’smother continued “Her only son was killed in an accident about ten years ago. Before his death,
he made the groundwork for a garden. Now that he is gone, that garden is the last thing that connects her
to his son. Every now and then, she goes into her garden, just to remember her son. At times she cries.”
Naina was shocked and ashamed of what she had done. She destroyed a memory of an old lady’s dead
son.
“Why don’t you help her?” asked Naina.
“I can’t. As I said she is financially dependent on her husband. And even if we provide the financial aid,
she is a woman who follows old traditions. She doesn’t want her personal matters interfered by others.
That’s the reason I didn’t want to talk about it. Because I wanted to respect her wishes.”
Naina couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She couldn’t keep it just to herself. She was feeling
guilty. She called Armaan and asked him to meet near the park. When all of them finally reached the park
she told them what her mother told her.
“We have made a huge mistake. We need to correct it.” said Armaan.
“But how?” asked Raj.
“Just meet me at the main gate of that house at 4 o’clock.” said Armaan.
At 4 o’clock, everyone was near the main gate. They were waiting for Armaan.
A Armaan came, he had a big bag on his bicycle. He asked Piyush to help him with it. In the bag were a
few flower plants, carefully wrapped and kept moist.
All of them entered the house, this time through the main gate. They made their way through the fences
into the garden. Last night’s massacred flowers had been removed.
“Come on. Let’s plant these flowers.” said Armaan.
All of them were now doing some job in the garden, trying to make it look better.
All of a sudden, they saw the lady, near the fences. They could see her bruised face now. They could see
her crooked nose and bloody eyes. But this time they weren’t scared. They stood there trying to think
what to say.
The woman came near Armaan and tried to bend to look at the flowers he had just planted.
“ This would require more aeration so you need to dig a bit around the plant as well.” said the Red Eyes
Lady.
Nothing else was said. She had a smile on her face. Seeing her smile, Armaan smiled as well.

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