The room was dark and her heart was beating loudly, like a roaring tiger wanting to get out of the rib cage. Amravati could hear her own breath, there was no other sound, she sat in anticipation. Something inside her knew that there was someone else in the room. She waited as the clock ticked away time. Her eyes got droopy with sleep, but she did not lie down, she knew, she had to keep guard. Slowly she reached out for the water jug kept at the bed side. She held on to it like a weapon, her breathing becoming fast. There was a dog or was it a wolf howling somewhere far away. She could hear someone walking, or was it the trees rustling in the verandah. Amravati shook her head to wake up and see in the dark. Her hand still holding the jug. She sat there for a long time, listening, to all the noises, far and near, some making her heart beat faster and some making her wanting to shriek and call for help. Breath, breath; Amravati said to herself. After a while her head tipped off as she gave way to sleep, but she shook herself awake and resolved not to blink. The room was full of ghosts, the cupboard seemed to have taken form of a massive shouldered giant, with rectangular eyes. Her white duppatta on the chair looked like a old woman, sitting and staring at her. The tree outside the window looked like a strange figure staring at her. They all were looking at her and she looked back at them squarely, steadying her breath. The standoff continued till a knock on the door startled Amravati and the water from the Jug spilled onto the bed. She got up with a curse on her lips. The room was not dark any more and the sun rays were streaming through the window, where the tree stood clapping its leaves and the chirpy birds flew around it.
Amravati looked around, all the ghosts seemed to have disappeared. There was another knock at the door. She straightened herself and squeezed her dress to get the excess water off and walked towards the door. Her heart still carried the anxiety of the night and her eyes felt tired from the staring at the ghosts. “Amu…Amu” , she could hear her father call out. Amravati quickly opened the door. “Appa!” she screamed with excitement and hugged her father. Appa Rao was startled at this rare show of affection from his daughter. “Oh oh…Amu!”, he gently pushed her aside. ” Hope you slept well and were not scared?” her father enquired as he walked into the house. “Scared, of what? I had a very sound sleep.” Amravati said yawning and stretching.
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