Revati………Revati, Vinay was back from his duty and was caressing her locks, trying to wake her up. She opened her eyes as if arousing from a deep slumber and found herself comfortably lying in her bed. The last nightâ€™s occurrence was still clear in her thoughts.
Revati, married to Vinay, a forest officer, had recently shifted to his place of posting. That night she was feeling very uneasy. The newlywed bride was observing her karwachauth fast that day. Vinay acting on a tip-off, of smugglers hiding in the forest, had to leave with his team to arrest them red-handed. The servants had also left by evening. Rajjo, the morning watchmanâ€™s wife, after finishing with cooking, was expeditiously helping her husband in feeding the buffaloes, goats, and hens and cleaning their shed. The night watchman had already arrived. While leaving Rajjo warned Revati, â€œBaai saa, be cautious. You are alone and witches wander in this area during these dark nights. Revati brushed her words aside with a laugh. After all no educated woman from a big city would believe in such weird superstitions.
On the other hand, Vinay while leaving had asked her to remain cautious and keep the door closed at all times as some rebels living in the jungles, used to frequently commit robberies and murders disguised as villagers. Though a watchman was deployed there round the clock still he had cautioned her that if he gets late in returning then she shouldnâ€™t go out anywhere after dark.
After all, their house was on one side of the dense forest and the staff quarters were at a distance of about half a mile. The house wasn’t any modern structure but an old British-era wooden two-storeyed stone building. The kitchen was on one end of the verandah facing the backyard. At the other end of the backyard was a shed meant for keeping domestic animals. The washroom was just opposite the shed. Outside the kitchen was a big water tank where a cleaning place to wash utensils and clothes was neatly designed with a tap connected to the water tank. Adjacent to it was the chulha, meant for heating water and cooking. There wasnâ€™t any room on the second floor just above the verandah and some of the stone tiles in the roof had been removed to allow sunlight and air. The wall enclosing the verandah, facing the backyard was a cross structured wooden partition with a wooden door. There was a big hall and bedroom in the front. On the first floor was Vinayâ€™s office.
Due to the house being located in the forest area, there werenâ€™t any comforts or electricity. Lanterns used to be lighted before dark for light in and around the house at night. Across the garden, on the main door, the night watchman would keep the main door lighted by igniting a small bonfire. This would keep him warm too. Though the servant quarters were nearby, still the loneliness was frightening her that night.
She was expecting Vinay to return by late evening but now it was eleven oâ€™clock and Vinayâ€™s jeep was nowhere in sight. The watchman came to her and said, â€œBaai saa, Sir wonâ€™t be able to return tonight as it isnâ€™t possible to drive back after dark from the Daak Bungalow located on the other side of the dense jungle. Please have your dinner and go to sleep. In case you need anything, you may call me anytime. Iâ€™ll be sitting in the garden tonight. But that night sleep eluded her. Her eyes werenâ€™t even ready to blink. She was feeling afraid and anxious simultaneously.
Dressed up beautifully as a bride, wearing her wedding lehenga, a garland of jasmine adorning her braid, henna tinted hands and feet with a bright vermillion mark on her forehead, she was eagerly and impatiently waiting for Vinay to return. The rustling of the Peepal tree leaves in the backyard too seemed to her like the sound of someoneâ€™s footsteps. It was around 2 oâ€™clock at night, when cries of the pregnant buffalo who was about to give birth to a calf in a day or two, coming from the shed woke her up just after she had dozed off sitting in the armchair. The hens were also flapping their wings noisily. â€œHariaa kaka,Hariaa kakaâ€No replyâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦He might have gone to take around outside the main gate, she thought to herself.
The noise of the animals kept on increasing.â€˜Hariaa kakaâ€, she once again called him up. On not getting any reply she thought of checking herself, the reason for such chaos, from the window in her room facing the verandah. Maybe some wild animal had entered the shed. Frightened and scared, she walked towards the window, her feet trembling in fear, and peeped out. Though she couldnâ€™t see much through the darkness the noises were increasing exponentially.
Suddenly she saw upwards towards the hole in the roof. The moon shining from behind the leaves of the peepal tree swaying with the cold breeze seemed so bright and mesmerizing. But then, what was this, a shadow emerging out of the moon, round as a ball, resembling the full moon but increasing in size, advancing towards her. Exiting from those leaves, that soft cottony snow-white mist ball entered inside from that hole in the roof and advanced towards the window where Revati was standing. Eagerness forced Revati to peep out of the window to have a closer look without realizing that she was blocking its way. Out of fear, her feet turned cold and her face turned red. She stood stunned, wishing to move but couldnâ€™t. She felt as if someone slapped her hard on her face and fainted the next moment. How long did she keep lying there, she didnâ€™t know but when she regained her senses, she was in her bed, Vinay sitting beside her, caressing her hair.
Revati, Revatiâ€¦â€¦â€¦..â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ Ashu Verma Chaubey.