Swarna Jana

“Weave me, if you may, because you are free.” – Swarna

When I was small I lived in a big, old house. My grandmother told me that it was almost hundred years old. I often asked myself, if she really meant 100,or was it 90, 94 or 99! She said that the father of the father of my father made the house. I do not remember his name, I never saw him, even in photos.
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Anyway, it was a grand house with thick, cold walls, and a spare room that nobody
entered. I always believed that the house had some chests full of treasure and suspected that they were hidden in that particular room – rather a garret. Everyday when my parents left for their own offices, it was my time for the treasure hunt.

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I strolled around, on that side and others and everywhere else in that big soulful house but never went into the garret. No, it was not locked but I was afraid of a ghost living in there. Many times I heard a faint crumbling or rattling noises coming out from behind its door. I thought – surely it was the ghost who was making such low hubbubs! I guessed it would not be wise to disturb the ghost by dropping a Hello or a Good Morning. After all, nobody does disturb him. He must be a very important ghost. Honestly, I was scared of him. Besides, I did not know any ghost-language, how could I talk to him? I did not even know if it was a madame ghost!
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One day I heard a ‘whoua whoua’ sound coming from that room. The next day
someone was cooing inside, and the day after someone was flapping inside. From then on every time I passed that door, I heard some such sound clearly, very distinctly coming from that room. Fortunately the back of the room was accessible from our terrace. After two or three days I noticed that a dove slid into the garret through its gable stud. there was a small gap between two of its collar beams – the house was full of such small anomalies since it was very old. I was frightened for that dove. I thought what if it had the same fate as the chicken!
We ate chicken on every Sunday. May be ghosts too did eat doves on a certain day in every week! While I thought about all these, I stood still, hoping that the dove would come out, but it did not, even after a whole five minutes of waiting. I could not wait anymore. Suddenly, my mind told me that the ghost could drag me too into its den. I ran away from there, straight down to my own safe, little room.
It did not stop there, the next day I found another dove going in, and next to it another! I was curious as well as worried about these birds. On the very next day, during my treasure hunt I stood there for a while, expecting another victim to be drawn there by some ghostly wizardry. Yes, a dove came and went inside. Then, another came and that too went inside. I was thrilled. I could not move an inch. I gathered my courage, stood firm on the ground, and just by then both of the doves came out from that same little gap healthy and hearty. I was totally surprised. My jaw probably dropped to the floor of our terrace.
I decided to investigate the connection between those doves and the ghost. But how could I?
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I was too short to reach that height. It seemed as if the height was almost the same as of the height of that elephant which I saw at the zoo last month. I looked around but there was no chair, no stool, no ladder which could help me to ride up to the gap in the gable stud. I kept on thinking but no useful tool was available in our terrace. I was about to give up in despair. It was the feeling of a failed adventure in the face of a high ocean, a defeat against fearsome pirates. And suddenly I noticed that there were unfinished brick layering protruding out from the back-wall of that garret, which could hold my steps and could lead me to that gap. I immediately grabbed that idea.
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I crawled up by those baby steps, reached the top, and put my eyes in that gap.
What did I find?
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First, I could not see anything. It was dark inside. Slowly the room became visible. I was very anxious to catch a glimpse of that terrible ghost, perhaps looking at me with it’s round, angry, orange eyes, annoyed by my unwelcome intrusion. But nobody was there, not even any shadow. Just an old Almirah standing in that dusty, mysterious room. Some parts of it were coming off the frame; I could even see the inside of it. There was nothing in there.
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Wait! I could see something on its top, something like a bird’s nest, round in shape and made of dried twigs and hays. Bonus! There was something within that nest, something that was moving. I looked sharply and discovered that those were two baby chicks that had probably hatched only the day before – they were so tiny!
They were moving their thin necks and relatively longer peach-beaks randomly. I was so happy, so immensely happy to find them there instead of a serious-looking ghost, cooking doves all alone!
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I did not know how much time I spent looking at those dove-chicks. After a while I realized that one of their parents had returned to feed them and it was waiting on the door jamb at the house that belonged to my friend Pupu. It had something in its beak, something that I could not identify.
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Therefore, I made way to it and went to draw the entire nest that I saw on the top of that Almirah, in my little red sketchbook. I tell you, that was a very nice drawing, because I did not copy the nest from any other drawing, or did not draw it from imagination. I drew it just as I found it in that Ghost-Room.

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Illustrations: Author

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