Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Bangle Seller


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This story dates around the year 1950 when there weren't enough shops. The sellers would visit each and every village, once in a month and sell their goods. Various kinds of goods were sold in this manner. Goods like clothes, bed sheet, utensils, women accessories etc. were sold by vendors visiting every house in the village. This is a story of a Bangle Seller who witnessed a paranormal incident.

The bangle seller would go around the villages selling his glass bangles. He would first visit his village and then go around the neighboring villages once he had a fresh and new stock of glass bangles. A tour to one village would take him almost a month. So a visit to the neighboring villages would take him 3 to 4 months. He would either reside at the houses of his customers or in the temples of the villages at night. The people from the village were very good to him. They would give him food to eat. He was like a distant relative who visited them every four months. Life was going on smoothly for him until the day he reached back to Krishnapur after 3 months of his journey. Krishnapur was the last village on his list and the following week, he was supposed to head for his home.

The bangle seller reached Mr. Joshi's house at 7 o'clock in the evening. He had a long and tiring day selling bangles. Mrs. Joshi was his esteemed customer. She would buy bangles from him everytime he visited Krishnapur. She welcomed him in to her house and offered him water to drink. After exchanging pleasantries, the bangle seller opened his bag and started showing her the newest stock.

"Kaku, these are the latest ones. Look at these maroon ones. They will suit you better." said the bangle seller. He was very clever in marketing his goods.

"Yeah! They are beautiful. I am going to buy more bangles this time. My niece is getting married next month."

Fortune favored the bangle seller. He was ecstatic that Mrs. Joshi had given him good business. By the time Mrs. Joshi finished her bangle shopping, it was 8.30 p.m.

"Where are you going to stay tonight?" Mrs. Joshi asked.

"Shree Ram Temple. I need to go to many houses tomorrow morning." He answered.

"Why don't you have dinner here and head for the remaining houses tomorrow morning?" She suggested.

The night had already set in. Chances of the temple gates being open were very low. There was no other option than to stay at Mrs. Joshi's house.

"Thank You Kaku. I shall stay. By the way, where is Kaka?" He asked as he hadn't seen him for long.

"Kaka has gone to taluka for business. He will return day after tomorrow. Be comfortable." She said and retired to the kitchen for cooking dinner.

Meanwhile, the bangle seller started counting his accounts for the day.

Joshi's house was a small one. It just had two rooms, the living room and the kitchen. A curtain separated both the rooms. The bangle seller could see Mrs. Joshi preparing the dinner.

"Do not take pains to cook anything new for me. You can warm up the food that you cooked in the morning. I will be very comfortable having it." He announced.

"As Kaka is not home, I hardly cook these days. I do not have any problem with cooking. It will take another half an hour for the food to be ready." She replied.

"Kaku is a very kind lady." He said to himself and strolled through the newspaper. He did not know to read Marathi yet he picked up the newpapers. He enjoyed seeing the pictures on the newspaper. He wanted to pass time.

The food was ready at 9 o'clock. Mrs. Joshi had prepared rice, dal, sabzi and pakoda for dinner. The dinner was complete due to the presence of home-made pickle and papad. The bangle seller devoured over the food and praised Mrs. Joshi for her culinary skills.

The bangle seller saw Mrs. Joshi hadn't eaten her dinner.

"Kaku, why aren't you having your food?" He asked.

"Yes. I am having now." She said and moved in to the kitchen. She did not sit with the bangle seller inside the living room.

After dinner, she cleaned the utensils and the kitchen. She came to the living room to make bed for the bangle seller. The bangle seller always carried his bedding with him as he would keep on travelling places.

"Kaku, I have my bedsheet. I shall do my bed on my own."

She smiled and said "You sleep here. I shall sleep in the kitchen." She carried a few bedsheets and went into the kitchen.

The bangle seller lied down to sleep. Mrs. Joshi had forgotten to switch off the lights of the room. The bangle seller noticed it.

"Kaku, I do not know the light button. Can you please switch off the lights please?" He asked.

The switch board was located in the living room, around 2 meters from the kitchen.

"Yes" Mrs. Joshi replied and extended her hand from the kitchen. The bangle seller saw her hand which was about 2.5 meters in length. He had expected her to come to the living room and switch off the lights. A chill ran through his spine and he started shivering. He was dumbfounded. He could not understand as to what was happening to him. His heart was beating like drums. He was finding difficulty in breathing. Was he hallucinating? Was he imagining things? Was it really her hand or was it a stick? He did not know. He decided to be quiet for sometime and think about the way of escape. He did not have any more guts to stay at Joshi's place then.

He managed to be calm for half an hour. He called out to Mrs. Joshi.

"Kaku, are you awake? I am going out to pee. I shall be back soon." He said.

"Ok. But do come fast. There are many thieves out at this time, in the village." She said.

He did not wait for her to complete her talk and stormed out of the house. He locked the door behind him carefully without making the slightest noise possible. He walked around 20 steps slowly and then ran away. He ran away with all his energy, through the jungles throughout the night until he fell down tired on the outskirts of some village. He lied down under the tree. He knew that his legs would not support him to run for some more distance. He did not realise when he fell asleep.

The next day dawned and people from that village happened to pass that way. They found their bangle seller in a very bad condition. His feet were bleeding. They immediately took him to the nearby house and offered him help. They were surprised to see him like this cause it was just a week that he had left their village for Krishnapur. The bangle seller was unconscious. He came to his senses nearly after three hours. The villagers offered him breakfast and asked him the reason for his untimely appearance in the village that too in this devasting condition. He narrated to them every single detail of the incidences at Joshi's place.

"She died a month ago!" remarked one among the villagers.

The other one added, "Since the living conditions according to shastra are not favorable, Mr. Joshi now stays in taluka. The priest had advised him to do so."

Though the bangle seller was safe with the villagers and away from Joshi's house, he was scared. He had a running temperature for two days.

"All my belongings are in Joshi's house. I need to get my belongings back." He declared the day he felt healthy enough to walk.

"We shall accompany you. We have also sent a telegram to Mr. Joshi. He too will be reaching Krishnapur tomorrow." said the villagers.

The bangle seller and the villagers went to Krishnapur the next day. Mr. Joshi was already waiting for them near the house. He spoke to the bangle seller. He felt sorry for him. The house looked so abandoned and dirty. The picture of the clean house that the bangle seller saw few days ago flashed in front of him. He knew that this incident was surely going to haunt him for some duration of time.
Mr. Joshi opened the lock of the house and went inside. He called out to the bangle seller and the villagers. The bangle seller was reluctant to get inside the house. He feared he would see Mrs. Joshi again. He closed his eyes and prayed to God before entering the house. The sight in the house was a shocking one. His bedsheet was cut in to pieces. His bag of clothes was ripped apart. His bangle boxes were thrown in almost every corner of the house and his glass bangles were powdered. Not even a single bangle was left intact. The bangle seller's entire business was gone but he was very much relieved that he was alive.

The priest suggested Mr. Joshi another pooja so that Mrs. Joshi's soul could rest in peace. Mr. Joshi began his arrangements for the pooja while the bangle seller and the villagers returned to their respective village.


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