I had to spend a night in a spooky guest house in the megapolis going by the name Delhi. I am a creature of Bombay so harbor natural disdain for the boorish character of this glorified mega-town.
The Y-Shaped highrise looked spooky not because of any of its constructional features but it’s dimly lit front drive had one lamp going blink periodically then awakening abruptly creating a sense of surrealism like mystery. Building itself towered all of its thirteen floors but it was bland showing total lack of aesthetics; essentially a functional construction as if a civil engineer designed it and not a regular architect. My room was on first floor; the less said about it the better. The excuse offered was that the guest house was under renovation therefore the derelict state. The only redeeming feature was the bedroom neatly tucked up and air-conditioning going full blast. I arrived at the watering hole at midnight, some alcohol in my system helped me manage my dislike of the milieu; promptly discarded clothes, switched off the lights and jumped into the bed. The day had been hectic, the weight of weariness sent me immediately to sleep. After the deep sleep period I was dreaming.
I was with CP, an ace detective of the Intelligence Bureau; despite great skill in his trade the man had weakness for fine liquor. I knew the fellow would be in trouble someday for this debilitating hole in his professional persona. Anyway we were going from one bar to another purposelessly; CP being a fellow from capital guiding me through the downtown. After a while we were out of the glitzy part of the city and then went into a shady bar. The bartender was unusual in that setting, in fact extremely unusual. He was a standard stereotype of a Muslim from our movies……… Afghani Kurta, skull cap, thin goatee and apparently ankle high salwar which of course we couldn't see. At the bar we asked the fellow if he had Chivas Regal, the man said, sure he had without batting an eyelid.
‘How much?’ we asked, the guy said,
‘Four hundred bucks’.
‘Four hundred buck!’ we repeated incredulously, he simply nodded his head.
‘Hand over’, we said
The man nonchalantly bent down under the bar, removed a large glass jar filled with an inch high glistening yellow liquid. We looked at each other in amazement … At this time suddenly it occurred to me that I have been submerged in bright light. The thought occurred to me that dawn has descended therefore the light. A few seconds later I was wide awake and annoyed at the glare of lamp right over my head switched on. In reflex action I got up went to the switch board across the room switched off the light and also the fan as the room had chilled beyond my comfort endurance. Then I went back to bed and to sleep… Now suddenly it occurred to me how the light was switched on! The thought was disturbing with only one implication. So I went back quietly, switched on the light and began thinking. The room looked still, the time on my cellphone showed 3:18
Wardrobe on the side of bed had its door ajar, through the slit I could see nothing just dark space. An empty mind, as they say, is devil’s workshop, in my case it seemed like imagination of Bram Stoker going wild. Slowly I pulled my head over the pillow, gradually lowered blanked from the face and scanned the room gingerly. All quiet except tag on the collar of shirt, slung over the chair, was fluttering from blast of AC. After some brooding I took out my cellphone and began taking pictures of the room; nothing moved, nothing showed in the pictures. By now I was enough rattled so sleeping was out of question so got up and quietly came out of the room in to the lobby. I could see a couple of cars parked below; some traffic on the road in front of the Guest House would disturb the quiet of the night. The light that was blinking kept blinking eerily. So there on the staircase I sat and waited for dawn. Meanwhile I felt thirsty so ventured into the room again but before that jammed the front door open with the help doormat. I went in and dived out with the water bottle. Then I waited endlessly in that spooky lobby, thinking about utter absurdity of life. At last I heard the ‘azaan’, call of Mullah from nearby mosque, clearly indicating beginning of day. That was sign for me to relax and go to bed, which I did and went to sleep. ….
PS: May be the light switch was not snapped properly shut so when the room chilled the plastic shrank and the switch snapped back to on position. May be there was something in that room whatever I wouldn't want to be in that room again.