The Haunted House Story

fiction

The Haunted House Story

By K. Subramanian

My name is Seeta. I do not like it, but what can I do? I am not good at studies. I am fourteen years old, still in the fourth standard. My parents, working in our village school, always tell me to study. I go on reading, though nothing goes into my head. On the other hand, I like to work in the kitchen, helping my mother, and sweeping and mopping our small home.

Our home is in a remote village, far from the road. To catch a bus, which drives only twice to the town, we have to walk several miles. Our neighbours are poor workers, who depend on daily wages. There is an old abandoned house, next to our own. I am afraid to go there even in the daytime. The land belonging to the house extends up to the river, where we go for our daily bath.

One day we saw an old man coming there and sitting on the veranda of the old house. I just went there, curious to know about this stranger. He asked me about the place and later I took him to see the river. He seemed very happy to be there, for he remained there for a long time until I reminded him about the evening being very near. He gave me something very tasty to eat, which I had not seen before. When we returned, a man was waiting for him. They returned and I forgot about him.

After a month or so he came back, with his household effects, very few, just enough for cooking, and a huge collection of books, all well bound and in English. The men who accompanied him went back and he was left all alone! I shuddered at the thought of sleeping alone in that haunted house, and when I told him about it, he laughed aloud. He occupied only the spacious room upstairs, the wall shelf stocked full of books.

The next morning when I went to see him, he was trying to sweep the room. Seeing his clumsy action, I just took the broom and swept it in a few minutes. He said something in English. I shook my head. It became a routine for me. Some day I gave him some special dish we made at home, though he cooked his rice on a kerosine stove. Slowly we became friends, though my parents did not like it. They did not like the old man. Why is he staying here all alone? Has he no family?

When I put such questions to him, he remained silent, a pall of gloom descending on his face. I felt sorry for him. One day a young woman, wearing a costly sari and diamond necklace, came to visit him at noon, but left before the night, saying she is afraid of the house. They say it was his own daughter. I could not believe it. How can anyone abandon her father, in his old age, in such a lonely place? I could not understand.

Months passed. We all went to attend a marriage in my mother’s house, very far from our village. We had to travel for two days by train. When we, returned, after a month or so, because it was vacation time, the house was locked from inside and there was no response when we shouted and threw stones. My parents informed the police. When the house was opened by breaking the door, the body was found in a decaying condition.

I felt sudden giddiness. Afterwards, I was told, that the old man had given the house and property in my name, including a bank
balance of a few lacs rupees.

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