The house Naina lived in is falling apart, with flaked paint and a collapsed ceiling. Naina and I grew up together. I did not have many friends to play with. She was my one and only friend. I would roam around in the locality with Naina, climbing trees and swimming in the nearby river during summers. She was a nine years old, beautiful girl.
I always heard people whispering things about Naina when she wasn’t around. There was one strange thing about Naina – she would tell people stories about how she was married in her last life and how her husband used to beat her up.
She would tell everyone about her two sons and her house with a large black gate. However, as Naina grew up she stopped talking about her ‘previous life’. But the stories survived and lived on. After a point of time, she only narrated her stories comfortably to me, her only silent listener.
People would laugh at her and whisper things to each other whenever they saw Naina talking to me. They would laugh and roll their eyes at us. Naina never understood why.
Naina and I would trot around in mud, barefoot, humming a certain tune and dragging along a tiny wooden cart she owned, behind her.One night, around 1 am in the morning, I was sitting in my usual place, slightly restless.I used to sleep on the roof back then since the insides were too hot.
Just then came the sound of someone wailing. I silently walked towards the edge of the roof, from where the sound was seemingly emanating. I peeped over the edge and then saw Naina lying on the floor, her mouth curved into a wicked smile, eyes popped wide open and naked.
She spoke in a hoarse voice, probably one of an old lady – a voice that sure was not hers.Her mouth full of spit and vomit. She screamed and wailed, and then looked right at me. Some people were holding her down on the floor and the rest stood a few inches away, scared.
I smiled, as I looked at her feet. Her feet were bloody red, Raw flesh peeping out of the tears in the skin. I noticed that there were bloody footprints all over the courtyard.
She gave a powerful jolt and the man holding her left arm cried in pain. She waved her hand so fast, in a circle that the people holding her decided to let go of her body.
A little after that, she fell limp. Her eyes closed. The people finally gained the courage to walk a little closer and notice that she wasn’t breathing anymore. Immediately after that, I realized that she was looking right at me, squinting at me. We smiled at each other.
Everyone else looked up to see what she was looking at. Of course, they couldn’t see me. They never did. I still remember the tune she used to hum while playing.
That is the tune I whispered in her ears along with the stories of my married life every night before she went to sleep. She woke up the next morning and narrated my stories as her own.
Nobody lets their child whistle that tune in that village anymore. Some say they can still hear that tune at times.
Well, I like to sing. Don’t you?