Kashyap was 16 year old student of Don Bosco, boys’ boarding school of Assam. He was studying in class 11 with biology as his stream. He wanted to become a doctor which made him more interested towards human biology. Learning about human physiology and anatomy excited him. But besides all formal education interest, he had an inclination towards anthropology. Knowing about human history, rise of human race, different human cultures was a great hobby though not attractive career wise.
“Language and religion changed the fate of humanity. They boosted human progress, they made us different from animals, in a way took us out of animal kingdom” Kashyap said this to Biswas.
“But we are still in animal kingdom, aren’t we?” Biswas said.
“Yes, we are. At least our text books say so but I believe that we should be classified as human kingdom” Kashyap replied and smiled.
” Don’t say this, I am still finding it hard to remember plant and animal kingdom classification and you are talking about one more kingdom” Biswas said and both laughed.
Biswas was Kashyap’s best friend. Both of them had been together since class 2. They knew each other perfectly well, and now they were roommates too. They were sitting on a bench at school campus park after taking evening snacks, while others were busy playing sports. After classes, students had free time till evening 6 o clock, thereafter they had to go to library for completing home works. So young bloods were enjoying the leisure time.
“Do you believe in paranormal stuffs?” Biswas asked Kashyap.
After thinking for a while he replied, “There are things in our world which are quite not regular, abnormal, which cannot be explained.”
“If you think so then I have an idea to explore that abnormal, not so regular world.” Biswas said.
“What do you mean? Tell me more” Kashyap’s eyes widened with excitement.
“So have you noticed that abandoned house in front of our school?” Biswas said.
Biswas continued, “So the story is like whole family of that house died in a road accident, and here locals believe that their spirits still live in that house. The place is haunted and no one dares to even go near the house.”
“Really” Kashyap replied.
“Yup, and maybe we can check out house tomorrow after classes get over, to see whether they still exist or not. What say?” Biswas said.
Kashyap said, “Yes, let’s do it”
Next day after end of day’s classes, Kashyap & Biswas went to hostel’s warden room with an application. They requested him to allow them to visit local market for purchasing some daily use items. Hostel’s warden permitted them and both of them came out of school campus.
” Free air, free from disciplined life for at least 3 hours but always look at your watch Kashyap, We have to be at hostel before 6 o clock “Biswas said.
“Yes, don’t worry about that, let’s go there, we shouldn’t lose any time” Kashyap said.
They reached near haunted house, it was all black from outside. One full grown banyan tree was there at the right side corner of house. Some young banyan trees were outgrowing on the walls of house. They went near one of the glass window which was near to banyan tree. Biswas picked up a stone, hurled at glass window and broke the glass. Then he opened the window and both of them entered the haunted house.
Furniture’s were there, dusts were all over them and on floors. Sunlight coming from windows had made the place visible but still it was dark. It was a two floor bungalow; both of them started venturing different rooms. Biswas went to kitchen and tried to turn on the water tap but nothing came out. Washbasin was all black. Kashyap turned the light switch on, but tube light didn’t turn on. Then they moved towards terrace but a big lock was there so they came down.
After coming down, Kashyap found a family portrait in a drawing room’s wall. There was a man, a lady, a young girl and a young boy.
“She might be their elder daughter” Kashyap said to Biswas, pointing towards a young girl in a family portrait.
“Yes, and she looks beautiful. Isn’t she” Biswas replied.
“She is really pretty ” Kashyap replied.
Suddenly tube light turned on. Both of them looked at each other.
“Electric connection still works” Biswas said and continued ” So let me check other rooms too now” and Biswas left him alone.
Meanwhile Kashyap was still looking at family portrait, the young girl was smiling, her younger brother had a grumpy face, father had an authorative look and mother had a kind look. Kashyap was so much involved looking at them that he was now imagining what they were thinking when photo was clicked. He was trying to decode their personality.
Suddenly he heard something, a young girl voice; she was saying ” Romu, Romu, Romu” continuously. That voice was very deep, though not loud. Kashyap took his hands and pressed them against his ears. And voice stopped. Then he took his hands off from his ears and it again started. This time it was even more deeper. Kashyap’s body started trembling.
In India, generally people have two names, one formal or official name and other the pet or nickname and Romu was Kashyap’s nickname. No one in the school, not even Biswas knew that Romu was Kashyap’s nickname and here at the abandoned house unexpectedly he could hear a young girl reciting his pet name.
He turned back but no one was there, he could only see a banyan tree outside a broken window.
“Romu, Romu, Romu,Romu” it was still coming from nowhere and now its frequency had been increased and Kashyap shouted, “Biswas!!!!!!”
Biswas who was in other room at upper floor heard his scream and he came down immediately and asked him,” What? What happened? “
“We are getting late, let’s move out, it’s about to get 6 o clock” Kashyap said
Biswas looked at his watch, time was 1735 hrs and he said” Hmmm, let’s move”
Both of them came out through same broken window. While going back to school Biswas asked Kashyap “Did you find anything abnormal?”
“No” he replied.
“May be people are wrong, they are only spreading rumors, I guess” Biswas said.
Kashyap looked back at haunted house and replied “Yes, may be.”
Things didn’t remain normal anymore; Kashyap could hear that young girl voice, calling “Romu,Romu,Romu” now and then. In classroom, in hostel, in playground, in hostel mess, in library and in all other places he could hear it but he didn’t tell this to anyone. He took it now as a part of his life. Sometimes he felt that it was all inside his brain and nothing else.
And then summer vacation came. His hometown was some 150 km away from school. His elder brother, Debojit came to take him back home. They reached home in 4 hours after crossing various rice fields, various small streams, many police check posts, and amidst all these Debojit put the Bhupen Hazarika’s cassette in car’s music system. The song hailing mighty Brahmaputra River was played many times during their journey.
They left school at afternoon 3 o clock and they reached home at around evening 7:30. Debojit took luggage to Kashyap’s room. He was 5 years elder than him.
“Shall I open the window?” Debojit asked Kashyap.
“Yes, please” Kashyap replied.
And he opened the window.
As soon as window was opened, it started all over again, Kashyap could listen a girl calling his nickname. He didn’t know what to do now. It followed him here too. He was totally confused, frightened, apprehensive, fearful and timid now.
Debojit, his elder brother said, ” Romu, someone is calling your name, a young girl is calling your name, its coming from outside but I couldn’t see anyone outside from window.”
And this was too much for Kashyap, now other people too could hear her voice and he narrated the whole story to Debojit. Debojit told this to his father and mother. Next day they called a priest and a puja (religious rituals) was performed. After puja ceremony Kashyap aka Romu felt relieved, he couldn’t hear any young girl calling up his name. After vacation, he joined school and things were normal now.
Then one day when he was going hostel after day’s classes, he heard something, “Romu!!!!!!” A young boy was calling his nickname. He turned back and saw Biswas calling him “Romu” and coming towards him.
“How come you know my pet name?” Kashyap asked him.
Biswas smiled and said, “A long, long story!!!!”