“So this room is completely yours till your roommate arrives”, said Mr. Pankaj Chatterjee to Om his new tenant. “When will he come?” asked an excited Om. “In a week or two, you do your unpacking now and I’ll take your leave. If you need anything just ring our door bell or call me”, replied the landlord in a hurried manner while walking out of the room. Om locked his door and looked around his new abode with great satisfaction.
Originally hailing from Gandhinagar Om Verma was living in Kolkata since last six months due to his job. He worked as a Software Engineer in Unique Software Ltd and currently he was posted in the Kolkata office. For the last six months he stayed in a noisy and crowded hostel. Om tried to adjust a lot but finally gave up as he was neither pleased with the quality of food served there nor with his three other roommates whose level of hygiene was quite poor. Now Om was a very organized and disciplined person to whom cleanliness mattered a lot so finally he started looking for a new place to stay. He was ready to share room with maximum one person and through newspaper advertisement came to know about this place. He loved the house on the very first day he came to see it. It was a well-maintained, two-storey house located in a posh neighborhood. In the top floor lived Mr . Chatterjee , an above sixty-year old man with his wife and above ninety-year old mother. The ground floor of the house was on rent. It comprised of a freshly painted, very large room with an attached bathroom and a little kitchen. To Om’s delight there was also a balcony which looked over to an adjoining park. As the other person has not arrived yet the room consisted of a single-wooden bed, a table, a chair and a mini refrigerator. There were wardrobes attached to the walls for keeping clothes and other essentials. In the kitchen a mini gas burner was provided for cooking purposes and all the rooms were well equipped with necessary electrical fittings like lights and a ceiling fan. Altogether it was like a perfect abode for Om who only wished that his roommate was tidy and friendly with him.
“It’s strange”, wondered Om as he peeled potatoes for dinner. He was thinking hard to find out why his cooked food got stale so quickly while being preserved in the refrigerator. To save time Om always used to cook for two to three days at a time and store them properly. But shockingly he found that in his new home the food cooked one day got stale the very next day. “Am I putting them in the refrigerator late or there’s something wrong with the refrigerator?” thought Om cooking his dinner. It had been nearly two weeks he was living in that place alone and whenever he asked his landlord about his roommate he received the same reply that someone will be coming in two weeks. But no one came. Om started feeling very lonely and longed to talk with someone. He missed his family badly and tried to befriend his landlord but found them not to be quite friendly people. At night too he woke up at strange times between 2.00 am to 3.00 am and found great difficulty going back to sleep again. Waking up at those weird hours he noticed a peculiar thing- he heard footsteps upstairs like someone is walking very fast in some rage from one end of the house to the other. “Maybe someone in the family suffered from insomnia”, concluded Om.
Few more days passed in the in the same way. Om called a technician to check the refrigerator, but there was nothing wrong in it. He couldn’t figure out any valid reason why the food got stale when the cooling was perfect. No one came to stay and Om’s loneliness worsened. He felt like there’s no one in the world for him. He became a victim of interrupted sleep disorder and slept for very few hours at night. Sound of footsteps upstairs continued every night. His sleeplessness took a toll on the body and made him very weak and lethargic. Every morning Om woke up feeling so feverish that he checked his temperature which he found normal. Without any reason he felt sad, depressed and unwanted. His mind was always filled with different types of negative thoughts. He was unhappy and always felt very tired physically. In his office too he felt the same, even his coworkers noticed his perturbed attitude and got concerned about his health. He got a heath checkup done but the reports were normal. Logically everything seemed normal in the house but deep down he felt something was wrong.
Om had stopped asking Mr.Chatterjee about his roommate and accepted that he had to stay there alone. One evening he returned home early from work and to cheer him up decided to cook something special. While cooking in the kitchen, he suddenly felt like someone is standing right behind him. The presence was so strong that he even felt someone’s cold breath on the back of his neck. A chill ran down through his spine and he was sure that if he turned back he will definitely see someone. His intuition warned him not to turn back; if he does he will be scared to death. He got goose bumps of fear and stood there stiffed for a few moments and then suddenly felt lighter as if whatever was there is gone now. With a fast beating heart and trembling feet he slowly moved towards his bed and sat there for a while. “What did I just feel now? Was it real?” wondered a petrified Om. He tried to explain himself that it was nothing, supernatural entities exist only in movies and novels. He felt it just because he is alone in this large room and his loneliness is playing tricks with his mind.
Om tried hard to forget about the incident but couldn’t. He feared if such a thing occurs again and immediately tried to feed logic to his mind that such things don’t exist. Sometimes while working on his laptop or doing some work he felt like he just saw someone walk past through the side of his eyes. But there was no one except him. Again at night too Om spent long hours lying in bed awake. Slowly everything started to seem very weird about his residence.
One night he woke up at the sound of thunder. It was raining heavily accompanied by a storm. Om got up and shut the windows closed. As he went back to bed and tried to fall asleep he sensed someone was standing right at his head side. He even heard a faint scratching sound which gets created when we rub our nails against a wooden surface. Om tried to remain brave and chant different prayers that people said drove spirits away but his throat was too dry with fear. After few moments he felt a little easier like it was gone. The storm outside banged on his door making a knocking sound. That night he made another discovery; the footsteps came from his own room and not upstairs! Om had always been a courageous, young man who believed in God but not in evil spirits and superstitions. But the following morning he was in a dilemma whether he should leave that house or not. Sipping a cup of hot tea in the cool morning after previous night’s heavy downpour he wondered if everything was his imagination or not. He looked around the brightly painted room with rays of morning sun sweeping inside he thought “What am I scared of, spirits? They don’t stay in this type of houses, they reside in dingy, old houses where lights flickered and taps leak constantly and cats roamed around with ominous eyes. This is definitely my imagination. The footsteps I heard surely came from above. My mind is again playing tricks and taking advantage of my loneliness” concluded Om and decided to stay there.
A week passed by and Om nearly forgot about the incident of that stormy night. He went on with his usual daily routine. Then one humid evening Om returned home extremely tired after doing some marketing post office. Grabbing a chilled water bottle from refrigerator he sat on the ground leaning his head against the wall and closed his eyes. As he drank the water suddenly he felt goose bumps over his skin and again felt a very strong presence, this time right in front of him. He felt like someone is standing right in front of him and staring angrily. This time too his intuition warned him not to open his eyes and he obeyed. Suddenly his phone rang and with a startle he opened his eyes. There was no one there and slowly the frightening feeling disappeared. That day he finally decided to move out of that house.
After few days of rigorous house hunting Om finally found a new place. This time he had a roommate even before moving in and that person happened to be his office colleague whom he knew very well. In the last few days he’d spent very less time in the house and the time he spent he was afraid. Finally Om was relieved that he was moving away.
Nearly three days before leaving one night he woke up due to a strange discomfort. He sensed heaviness upon him as him someone was sitting upon his chest and trying to strangle his throat. He tried to scream but was unable to utter anything. He tried to move to escape from what was on him but was unable. Even though he slept under the fan but he sweated profusely and was petrified. The dark room was illuminated by the street lights coming in filtering through the curtains. He tried to see what was there hoping to see some kind of apparition, but couldn’t see anything, he only felt. That time he was confirmed of two things- he wasn’t dreaming and he was going to die. Mentally he tried to pray to different deities. He doesn’t know how much time passed but suddenly he felt like the weight was suddenly gone. With a dizzy head, dry throat and trembling body he woke up as fast as he could and lit the lights on. He couldn’t stay inside for a second. With a shivering body and thumping heart he went outside and sat on the streets. He cried hysterically due to fear and also of gratitude that he’s still alive.
Slowly as dawn broke joggers and morning walkers emerged and few curiously gathered around Om. A middle-aged gentleman gave him some water and helped him get up. He took him to the park beside his house, sat with him on a bench and helped Om gain stability. Om recited his entire experience in Mr. Chatterjee’s house to the man who stayed in the same neighborhood. After hearing everything he told Om “The house and its members are quite suspicious. The property actually belonged to Mr. Chatterjee’s nephew. He was a young man but was very ill. Mr. Chatterjee and his family stayed in his house and looked after him as he got orphaned in his teenage years. His health deteriorated day by day and he became completely bedridden. Then suddenly one morning we heard he had passed away the previous night. We were shocked and went to their house and saw the lifeless body of the young man lying in his room. ” “He stayed in which room?” asked Om in a fear-stricken voice. The gentle-man replied with a sigh, “The big room in the ground floor. He used to stay in that room. When his health allowed him, he used to cook in the attached kitchen and we saw him several times sitting in the balcony. He was extremely possessive of his room. But see how fate is, everything remains except the person.” Om froze with fear and left the house that day only. But before leaving he had asked Mr. Chatterjee whether he or anyone in his family strolled in the house late at night to which he’d replied, “No, we are extremely sound, early sleepers and late risers.”