(This story is a continuation of 'The Ouija board'. It was meant to be a stand alone story, but since a few of you felt it ended a bit too abruptly, here is the second part. In case you haven't read that one, I would suggest you read it first. Hope you enjoy the next installment. Bikram, Confused soul, Seeta and Prasanth- hope you guys are not disappointed!)
When I woke up, the sunlight was already filtering into our window. For a moment, it felt like a bad nightmare. Had I dreamt it all? I looked on the other side of the bed, Riya was nowhere to be seen. In spite of the warm morning, I felt a cold chill on my back. Like the feeling you get when some sixth sense in you awakens, warning you about an impending doom.
I brushed my teeth and went downstairs. There she was, sitting and having breakfast that my grandmother made. Eating as though she was ravenous. For a moment, our eyes met. I see a cold look in her eyes, that disappeared as quickly as it came and it was her warm eyes that smiled at me. She pulled a plate beside her and beckoned me to sit.
Even though we had breakfast together, even though she insisted that nothing was wrong when I cornered her to ask what had happened last night, I knew that somewhere, something had gone terribly wrong last night. She laughed and told me that all she had wanted was to play a prank on me, that I passed out when the wind blew out the candle. I wanted to believe her. I so desperately wanted to believe, that this girl standing in front of me promising me earnestly, is my little Riya. But the hands of doubt once it holds you, is hard to shake off.
Things seemed to be going smoothly. I had a splitting headache that was making my head pound. I must have dozed off because when I woke up, it was evening. Again, Riya was nowhere in sight. I got up and stood near the window. At first, I thought it was my imagination or my eyes playing tricks on me again. But then I saw her standing and talking under the Pala tree. I looked around to see whom she was talking to. I realize that my sister was not alone. She was talking to an invisible person, like whom she used to pretend to talk to when she was little. My parents had thought she had grown out of it, so did I. I still remember how she had gone around talking to her invisible friend all day, telling anyone who cared to listen about how special she was.
But here, standing in this room, I know that this is no harmless friend from her childhood. I had seen her eyes last night. I had not imagined it. Someone wanted my sister. Or at least her body. And that someone was getting impatient. Restless.
I was woken out of my reverie when I heard her laughter. There she was, laughing hysterically. I knew I had to do something. I had to talk to someone before I went crazy. I ran down the stairs, almost falling down just as my grandfather came and caught me. He must have seen the hurt in my eyes as he held me, rocking me in his hands as though I was a baby. I allowed myself to break down and sob like I had never done before.
Shhh... It's going to be alright. Did you have a nightmare? He asked me gently. He was a strong man, my grandfather. Somehow, when he asked me that, it came all tumbling out. The attic, the Ouija board which we found, what happened last night. And I see a different look in his eyes. One that I had never seen before. Fury. This man, who has been old and meek ever since the time I could remember, seemed to grow before my eyes.
Now, you listen to me carefully, young lady. Never meddle with things that do not concern you. That Ouija board was left in the attic for a reason. A reason which is beyond my control or yours. There are certain things which can't be grasped. It has to be left alone. It's not merely a play thing, if you must know. There is a tale behind it... He trailed off.
I pleaded with him to complete what he had started to tell. I had to know what had happened. Why the Ouija board was so special to him. Why had he kept it all these years? Guarded it fiercely like a secret that was so close to his heart? And more importantly, is there any hope for my sister?
He sat with me on the verandah as his eyes took on a faraway look. I had seen that look before, when he told Riya and me bedtime stories when we were children. But this was not a look that was filled with happiness; it was tinged with nostalgia and regret. I knew his mind was not here. And he began to tell me a story. A story of the past. A story that would remain etched in my memory, blending in till it became a part of me...