The Ghost Named Bond – Part 3

On a warm morning in August, the Indian couple moved into my apartment. I receded to the storeroom by the balcony to avoid them. To my dismay, the different aromas of spices, grains, and incense filled my apartment. On the bare walls of the apartment, they hung pictures of Hindu Gods – Ganesha, Krishna and Kali. The lady had also brought a lot of cooking utensils – pots, pans, and wok. 

I peeped at the lady. She had a pleasant face but looked lost and spoke very little. Her language was different from Mrs. Raju and she mechanically unpacked their limited luggage. Her tall over-weight husband, who wore thick glasses, did most of the talking. He was working on a laptop – obviously, a techie who owned a Toyota something car, I thought. The lady was about my age while the husband was in his thirties. I really hoped that someone could tell the couple about me, the terrifying ghost, and make them leave my space.

In a few days, I learned more about them. It was the first time, the lady had visited any foreign country. She only spoke Hindi. On the other hand, the techie had a traveling job so he had to frequently leave his wife alone. Once or twice, I tried to scare them off from the apartment, but they just didn’t notice. The lady always looked preoccupied while Techie was either in the office or on the phone. 

While he would be on conference calls, the lady would cook and clean obsessively. Her delicious dishes would mostly go to the trash as Techie was hardly home and she rarely ate. To throw those chapattis, curries, kebabs and chicken tikka masala into the bin was a crime. Wasn’t it? If only I were alive… 

On a regular day, I was pondering over my plight in the storeroom when her sobs startled me. She was lying prostrate on the carpet – a picture of grief. Her long tresses looked entangled and messy. Techie was traveling and I did not know the cause of her distress. 

For the first time, I noticed her sadness. Friendless, helpless, and completely dependent on her constantly traveling husband in a new land, she had all the reasons to be upset. As an American, I never really paid attention to how it felt to be an immigrant and a dependent – the typical case of a visa wife! Added to it, she hardly knew English and had no driving experience to explore and learn on her own. The other Indians in the apartment spoke different languages, so, she couldn’t really chat with them. She couldn’t interact, make friends, or go out. 

Silently, she cooked and cleaned the house, and spoke only when on the phone with her folks in India. Her refuge was a creaking rocking chair in front of the TV, where she cried herself to sleep every afternoon. Depressive thoughts, low self-esteem never did a person any good. I felt a sort of bonding with her – we both were stuck and lonely. I had read somewhere – a unique relationship is often a good by-product of trying times. 

A sudden knock on the door, one afternoon, startled her and made me float to the ceiling. I was watching a colorful, Hindi musical with her. The lead actor was some Mr. Khan. She always watched Khan’s movies. She opened the door. A scared-looking Mrs. Raju stood there. I remembered her having seen me as a ghost in the past. I playfully blew hot air on her face. I think she sensed it. Anxiously handing over a birthday party invite, Mrs. Raju whispered – Aren’t you afraid to stay here all by yourself? Haven’t you heard the stories of a ghost named Bond? The lady smiled and answered in the negative. 

I saw her smiling for the first time. She was happy to be invited. Closing the door, she went to her wardrobe to select a dress.

She looked attractive and the grim lines around her mouth had faded. I felt even more sorry for her. We both were similar in many ways – she was afraid to explore and I was afraid to move on, we were in self-inflicted captivity. But it was worse for her because she was unable to appreciate what she had – LIFE.

That evening, she dressed graciously in a long elegant salwar-suit, parted her lovely hair, applied vermilion, and lined her large eyes with kohl. Techie canceled his calls for the first time and came home early to go to the party. I was happy to see her happy and the party went well.

I became more comfortable in her presence. I would hover near her when she cooked. I could now identify all her spices..turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilies. I learned about her Gods too but a goddess on a huge lion scared me the most. 

Meanwhile, Techie’s trips out of town increased and their differences grew. She developed a rude and aggressive attitude towards her husband. In retaliation, Techie would stay aloof and distant. Their marriage was falling apart and I blamed him more than her.  

On a January night, Techie went out of town again. I saw her crying bitterly in her room. They had a nasty fight before he left and she had not stopped crying since. I felt concerned for the frail woman. Apparently, she was depressed and not sleeping well. Suddenly, she got up and ran towards the balcony on decidedly a rogue, dangerous impulse! I smelt catastrophe. She was almost near my ‘selfie’ spot when I materialized right in front of her…and she stopped. Taking a step back, her face white as snow, she screamed… I knew that was the end of my one-sided-friendship. (To be contd…)

(The Story – Part 1 and Part 2 – A 27-year-old young man named Bond falls off from his balcony while clicking a stunt selfie with his girlfriend. He refuses to move on after his death and stays stuck in Apartment 328, where he has spent the most beautiful days of his life. His parents and girlfriend leave after his funeral but he is unable to move on due to his extreme grief. Slowly, he comes to know more about the after-death existence and a funny reality – he has become quite a creepy ghost himself. He is seen by many of the residents in the apartment complex. It is well-accepted that no one would rent the apartment but Bond is surprised to find that an Indian couple has rented the flat. Read more to know what happens next…)

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