The clock struck 2 a.m.
My right leg had fallen asleep from dangling from the sofa's armrest for too long. The other leg was halfway down the sofa. My back rested diagonally on one of the cushions. My book lay on the floor after slipping out of my hand…. No wonder I wake up each morning with a pain of unique nature in different parts of my body! Really bad sleeping postures.
It was late December. I gradually open my eyes to find myself really cold and that I'd fallen asleep yet again while studying. I think I've spent most of my high school falling asleep after dinner while trying to study. But that day was different….
I sit up straight and wrap the shawl around myself. I hadn't switched off the tablet then, so before going to sleep I decided to watch the trailers of the two movies that my buddies had chosen to watch for our night stay at one of our houses once the exams were over.
Through the wet kitchen glass window I could see light showers of rain pouring down. It was pitch black. I didn't even hear the sound of any moving vehicles that I generally hear the other nights. As I made myself comfortable at my spot, it happened.
I heard it.
A cry. The cry of a baby, crying out of pain and agony. And the voice of a mother trying to comfort the baby. The concern and sorrow in her tone and the discomfort is her child's cry couldn't be clearer and more evident.
Blood shot up to my head making my ears red hot. With my eyes widened and heavy breathes, I remained transfixed at that place, listening.
I couldn't figure out the direction from which it was coming. It was omnipresent and seemed to engulf me. And it was loud, as if it came from right inside my house. My apartment had no babies. I wasn't so ignorant of the world that the neighbours in the adjacent complex would be having a baby and I wasn't aware of it. My mom never in her life missed closing all the windows and doors of the house before going to sleep.
Although my brother was much older for such babyish cry , I dashed into the room where he was sleeping with our mother to check on him . But no, nothing there. Both of them slept peacefully as if they were having the best sleep of their life. I stood and stared blankly at them with my legs shaking and the cry following me.
I went to my dad's room too after that. And then, just as suddenly as the cry had started, it stopped suddenly too.
An eerie silence prevailed. The clock kept ticking. I kept looking around. I stepped into the balcony, moved the curtains, but nothing. I only saw my reflection on the glass sliding doors. I checked the corridor through the eye hole of the main door and saw nothing but a shimmering tubelight.
With perspiration on my forehead, mouth as dry as a bone, I hadn't noticed my shawl fall off my shoulders and lie in the middle of the room. Without wasting another second I quickly went to my room, changed into my nightdress and tucked myself to sleep. But my heart kept pumping hard. The entire incident lasted barely five minutes, but it felt like eternity.
I didn't give much thought to it after that night. May be my brain was trying to repress it by pushing the very thought of the incident at the back of my mind. I didn't go around telling about this to everyone. But sometimes when we had those intense “ bhuter golpo” ( ghost story) sessions at school I did narrate it.
Some took it seriously, some seemed oblivious. While others tried to dismiss it by saying - “ it must have been coming from your tablet or outside or somewhere. You couldn't figure that out”.
I'm normally terrible at taking any sort of decisions. But i was ABSOLUTELY sure that there was something unnatural about that sound. It was NOT from my tablet or from outside coming through the windows or doors. It had penetrated right through the walls and was everywhere in my house,not just one particular direction.
I never heard the cry again. But the events of that night has remained like an unsolved mystery to me till date.