CLINKING IN THE DARK
‘Clink! Clink!’ came the uncanny sound from somewhere outside the Gupta farmhouse. Rakhi and her mother had come to visit her aunt and uncle’s farmhouse inKarjat, a small town on the outskirts of Mumbai city. Rakhichecked the time and it was midnight. Scary thoughts came to her as she lay awake, tossing in her bed, trying to put her finger on the source of the noise. ’’Clink! Clink!’’ came the noise again. She immediately turned to her mother who was sleeping beside her to seek comfort. Though her mother was a light sleeper, she was sound asleep. Thinking that she must have hallucinated the noise, a disturbed Rakhi went to sleep.
Next morning at breakfast Rakhi told her family about what she had heard last night hoping there to be a legitimate reason for it. But her aunt only said, ‘’ There is a myth in theneighbouring village about a woman who committed suicidedecades ago and haunts that village till today! But she has never come to Karjat, so there is nothing for you to worry about.’’ This scared Rakhi out of her wits. The next few nights Rakhi did not sleep a wink. Everytime she tried to sleep, all she could picture was the ghost of that woman coming and harming her. A week later, her father joined them. She told him the whole story. To reassure her, he promised to stay up that night and investigate where the noise was coming from.
That night, Rakhi slept deeply and peacefully knowing that her father wouldn’t let anything happen to her. The next morning Rakhi woke up with many questions for her father. She rushed to the breakfast table to find him reading a newspaper and sipping his tea. She walked up to him and asked if he was able to find anything. All he did was signal her to follow him outside to the backyard. An impatient but curious Rakhi followed. ‘’Listen quietly, what can you hear?’’ her father asked. ‘’I can hear the chirping of the birds,’’ Rakhianswered in an obvious tone. ‘’Listen more carefully.’’ Her father pursued her. Rakhi closed her eyes and listened more intently. Past the chirping of the birds and the moo-ing of the cows in nearby barns she heard the familiar tinkle only much fainter. Very daringly, she followed that noise outside the backyard and across the road. The noise now seemed comparatively loud. It took her a minute to precisely locate it and realised that it came from a dump yard. She waited for a minute to confirm if the tinkling came from there. That was when a cat wearing a collar with a bell attached to it came out.The bell jingled loudly every time the cat moved. She glanced up at her father to verify her theory of the cat making the noise when it was circling around the house, he nodded his head in confirmation. ‘’Ah! Thank god! I thought that it was the ghost of the melancholic woman! But what doesn’t make sense is why didn’t anyone else hear the noise… why only me?’’ ‘’Well, your uncle and aunt are heavy sleepers so I’m not surprised that they did not hear it. The cat was circling our farm only, so the other villagers would not have heard the noise. As for your mother, I too am confused.’’
Three years passed, that question still played on Rakhi’smind. It was a Friday when her father came home and the answer unfolded. He said to her, ‘’Remember that time when at the farmhouse your mother couldn’t hear the noise? Well, her audiometry reports came to me this morning and it appears she has a hearing deficiency. That might have been the reason for her not hearing the noise.’’ Father said. That was the day Rakhi finally got over that incident.