The sun had set and the moon was making its way to enlighten the dark sky. The mild thunder and the wild breeze had made the weather pleasant. Hearing the thunder she ran to the terrace to pick the clothes she had put for drying. Switching on the lights in her bedroom, she sat folding the clothes.
Alina Mathews, a tall slender woman in her late 20's looked much younger than her age. Her black silky hair was long enough to touch her arms. She looked at the clock, it showed 7.30 and she knew John her beloved husband would be home soon.
The breeze had started to turn into a whirlwind by now in the hill station where they lived. The windows began to bang as the winds began to bang and show their magnificence. Alina decided to close it and walked towards the window. She struggled to fight with the strong winds and close the window when something caught her eye. She could see the lights in her neighbour's house and the shadow of a person with a hat on his head.
" Mrs. Khanna had said they would be back only after a week from Darjeeling. How are the lights switched on in their house ?" She thought to herself.
She gave a closer look to confirm what she saw. The shadow began to move and she could feel her pulse increase. Alina couldn't believe what she saw and was almost going to scream when she felt someone's hand in her shoulder.
Startled with the touch she screamed and turned around to see John standing in front of her. "Alina you are here and I have been searching the entire house for you " John enquired. She didn't hear what he spoke and in the fraction of a second hugged him tightly.
"What's it sweetheart?" John questioned.
Alina's voice shivered as she spoke. "John I saw a shadow in aunty Khanna's house. It scared the hell out of me. Come here”, she pulled his arm hurriedly, “Wahan dekho”, she pointed to the direction of aunty’s house.
“Can you see him, John? ", she held his arms and questioned.
" No one’s there Alina. You must be dreaming dear. I am very tired. Can you get me a cup of coffee please Love ?" John tried to divert her attention.
A confused Alina was still finding it difficult to accept what she had seen. She finally concluded that it was her imagination and hallucination.
She was busy making coffee in the kitchen when John came and hugged her from the back and whispered into her ears. " Alina its been long since we have gone shopping. Shall we make it tomorrow love ?"
She turned back held his face between her palms and replied, " I am the luckiest girl J in the world to have a husband who is so eager to take his wife for shopping " She went close to him and passionately kissed him.
Alina wore a blue denim and a pista green t-shirt which covered her body just perfectly to reveal her curves. She had tied her hair like a pony tail and wore matching accessories. She waited outside the Phoenix mall for John.
John finally arrived half an hour late to meet Alina who had been boiling in anger waiting impatiently for him. "John how long will you take? Why do you like to keep me waiting all the time?"
"Sorry dear I was caught up in heavy traffic." He managed to calm her down.
She picked up two kurtis and went inside the trial room. Her first kurti was small in size and the second one didn't suit her. She opened the door and asked John to bring her another kurti. She tried it and it was elegant J.
Walking out of the trail room she was busy setting her dress right when she felt a strange smell of scent and that someone was noticing her. The smell was weird and something very unique and strong. She turned around to see who it was. But again it was her imagination as no one very peculiar was there. The customers were busy shopping.
She began searching for John. He was nowhere to be found. She paid the bill and walked outside the shop still searching for him. John was busy talking on the phone. Seeing her with bags john came to her rescue, "Where were you John ? I was searching for you.", she enquired raising her tone.
"It was an urgent call Alina, I had to receive it. Sorry dear.” He replied leaving her wondering, “This was the kind of shopping you wanted to take me?”.
“Hmmmm it’s fine, anyway I chose the kurti you gave me in the dressing room Honey, It was so pretty.”, she went close and cuddled him. “How do you find such cute stuffs?” she continued.
“Which Kurti, Alina? I didn’t give you any. I told you I was on an urgent call ",(Bang……) He replied leaving her bewildered.
“What!!!!!” She screamed with her eyebrows raised. “If you were out on a call, then who was it who gave me the kurti ? " she was awestruck. John looked at her wondering. (Why was she so astonished and serious!!)
John thought for a while and replied "The sales girl would have given you honey ".
Alina was lost in her thoughts again, she thought if she was imagining things or was it really happening. She held John's hand and calmed herself thinking , " Nothing can happen to me when he is with me ".
The next morning Alina was fresh and began her morning chores. Sharp at 7.00 AM the milk man would drop milk packets at the door and as always she went to pick them up. Opening the door she could smell something weird. The smell of a strong scent, she felt it familiar. She kept wondering something strange was happening. The smell was similar to the one at the shopping mall.
She bent down to pick up the milk packets when she saw a white envelope outside her door. She turned to see who it was addressed to. The envelope was blank. She turned to walk inside her house when she heard footsteps running fast and the smell was even more stronger.
“I think it is the same person at the mall. I can find out who it is”, she ran to the steps to figure out who the stranger was, alas there was no one to be seen. Disappointed she went back home and opened the letter with an inquisitive look in her eyes. The letter was written in black ink and the handwriting looked very familiar. It read,
" Alina hope the kurti fit you yesterday, remember the one I gave you in the trial room ? It must have looked so good on you !! I failed to see it yesterday. Can you wear it for me today evening and come to meet me at Eden gardends at 6.00PM.
A king request please come alone.
Your well wisher "
Alina's heart beat fast, she was confused whether she should share it with John. She was scared if this may hurt john or the unknown person may hurt john. She finally decided to tell john later and decided to meet the "Mr. X" alone.
At 6.00 PM sharp she stood outside the gates of Eden gardens wearing the same kurti he had asked her to wear. A foray of thoughts crowded her mind. "Why I am here? Why did I come here without informing John? What if someone is playing the fool with me?"
She kept questioning herself and looking at her watch. The strong smell again started to linger around and she was sure “Mr.X” was around. She turned around but she couldn’t see anything unfamiliar, but she was sure he was around. It struck 7 and she realized that she was standing at the same place and no one had turned up.
Impatiently she left the place and took an auto home. She reached home to see John inside the house and another envelope at her door step. Worried and scared she picked it up. It read,
"I told you to come alone. Why was John at the garden ?"
She felt the earth move beneath her feet. Had John come to know about it. She crushed the paper in her hands hoping nobody had seen her. Just then she heard someone open her house door,
"Alina where were you?" John stood at the door......
Who was it following Alina? How did John get to know about the haunter?
To be continued….