I saw her float in the air and crawl over the high parapet, clawing the cemented walls aiming at her haven-the black overhead tank. Her shabby dreadlocks sweeping all the dried jasmine leaves on the terrace’s floor. Her skanky gown always followed her obediently throughout the journey. Her hands were disgustingly long and wrinkled. Those nails that protruded from the charred fingers could create spine chilling noises to add on to my sleepless nights. I missed her face again! This happened every night! Was she too fast or was I too slow in capturing that dreadful sight?
Our huge terrace was always lively during the day with the society’s kids playing or the ladies chirping away about their endless stories. A few ladies also plucked flowers before the dusk from the evergreen jasmine climber that twirled from the ground floor through the iron handrails up to the fourth floor- our terrace!
The huge black overhead tank placed on the high parapet wall of the terrace never bothered me at all until a series of incidents shook me up to see her hijacking the tank, the terrace and all our happiness too. My interest in watching horror flicks and ghost-buster series made me wear the cap of a sharp investigator to save our terrace from her, even though deep within me I was scared. Simultaneously the social media was speaking about a mysterious lady who was wandering places to find a forever home. Somehow my intuition echoed-”It was her”! She found our terrace and was set to rip our happiness apart.
Monitoring her for a minute every day after my dinner and running back home became a thrilling game for me. My findings were that the off-whiteish hazy image kept moving and perching at different spots every day and was surprisingly nonchalant about all the religious talisman, cross, and threads that I had placed at different spots on the terrace during the day.
During the night I would be vigilant for the slightest of the sounds around me. I became susceptible even to the light breeze through my bedroom window laden with the strong jasmine fragrance, which I had never noticed until then. All my senses became super sharp. Or maybe I was grooming myself to be that way- I wasn’t sure.
A mixed feeling of happiness and fear grew stronger when my sister showed me a lady’s picture who was the so-called-”wandering lady” famous all over the internet- Though the picture looked hazy and morphed I somehow could relate it to that hideous woman out there.
I matched the image with my findings and my intuition echoed again-”It was her”!
I started keenly observing the water tank frequently even during the day to find out any unwarranted movements there. Being more of a visual person- I could visualize the water tank melting down like molten lava to expose a diabolical woman who was trying to hide her face. Before she picks up her head to look at me, I was inside my room panting hardly trying to catch my breath. I distanced myself from the usual horror flicks as I already had an overdose of them with my terrifying experiences.
Her clawing on the rough cemented floor amplified its effect the more I tried to filter it out. I could hear her gnawing something continuously at night. When I slipped into sleep; I saw her squatting and feasting on all pests and insects from our jasmine plant. Suddenly she sensed my presence and glided into the water tank again. Was she fearing me or was I fearing her? As always, I missed seeing her face.
Gradually I put an end to playing with my friends on the terrace. I never knew life would turn out to be so lonely trying to act like a ghostbuster. Her clawing continued and my nightmares too. My terror was compounded by the feeling that I was being watched. Finally, I felt I couldn’t fight her alone.
Before she could dig a hole through the terrace to reach my bedroom or flow into my bathroom taps- I blurted out everything to my parents! They sunk in all the information and promised to sort it out as soon as possible. I felt I won half of the battle against evil. That night I heard my parents running up and down the terrace and murmuring for a long time and later I luckily got to snuggle beside my mother which gave me a sound sleep.
The next day when the sun lowered his head to rest on the cushiony grey pillows- I had a weird instruction from my parents asking me to accompany them in ghost hunting! I reluctantly agreed to join them. The moment we reached the terrace I spotted her perching on the pipe next to the overhead tank- as I pointed out my index finger at her; I was shoved towards her forcibly by my parents- it looked like they all belonged to the same clan. Helplessly I closed my eyes tightly and opened when I felt something land on me-it was her long skanky gown-the ugly long rag! I skipped a beat- then I heard my parents guffawing and shaking me up to the reality. That is when I learned that white old rags can be used to scare annoying rats away!!
This is a great lesson I learnt- “Never let the lady in the water tank remain a mystery!”