It was December of 2006.I was 26 years old then. I had just ‘escaped’ from my hometown Chennai to the garden city Bangalore.An ugly break up and the persistent pressure from my family to get married had forced me to apply for a transfer and my wish was granted within weeks.
I missed Chennai, I missed the beaches, I missed my Mom’s food, I missed the long conversations with my sister, I missed irritating my Dad.But then I had no other way.I had not wanted to get married at that point of time, I was not ready.
During my initial two months in Bangalore, I had stayed in a two bedroom flat with a colleague.All was good until her boyfriend , who was away on a deputation, returned back from the states. The guy used to linger around in the house all the time. I would not have minded if they were decent enough to keep themselves to her room.Often I returned back from office to find them sitting cuddled in the drawing room smooching. Every morning I would run into this guy, wearing nothing but shorts, in the kitchen.He used to leave his coffee cups, breakfast plates etc unwashed around the house. I called it quits when one day I found an underwear and a pair of stinking socks in the bathroom.Who did he expect would wash them? His girl friend’s flat mate?
I thought of having a woman to woman talk with my flat mate , which went a little ugly and she went a step ahead to call me a ‘jealous narrow minded Madrasi’ which was a little racist and terribly rude.
I did not think twice,packed my bags and left the flat the very next day.I moved in to a ladies hostel and my taste buds were raped and tortured for the next three months by the so called hostel food.Everyday I had to eat from outside.Moreover there was nothing called privacy in there.One day when I returned from office, I found my room mate using my laptop to download some crappy movie and I had to reformat the whole os as she had downloaded a Trojan with the movie. I couldn’t even take a back up of some of the pictures that I had. I was,quite naturally, mad at her and asked her to not touch my things without asking me.This led to a cold war between me and the other two girls in the room.I would walk into the room and the whispered conversations would stop making it obvious that they were bitching about me.There was too much negativeness that I decided to start house hunting again.
I found yet another house through a ad in Sulekha. Two girls were already staying there and they appeared quite pleasant when I met them. This time I was smart enough to tell them that I did not want outsiders in the house and wanted a separate room for me.The girls readily agreed.It was a two bedroom house and they were happy to share one room.
So the fateful day arrived and I moved in to my new haven.As promised I was given this single room. The house looked decent and everything was great in there. The girls were quite tolerable.As I kept to myself most of the time, I was having a peaceful time after a long time.
One Friday day, I was watching some movie in my laptop when somebody knocked my door. I opened the door to find Swetha, one of my house mates, standing out side.She asked me if I had a minute.When I nodded , she proceeded to say that they were planning to look for one more room mate.
“The house owner has told us that the rent would be going up from next week. You know it would be 1000Rs more on each of our share from next week.” She told me.
As much as I hated the idea of cramming the place, I knew that she was talking sense.The rent that we were paying was higher than the usual. But the house was in a posh locality and we had all the amenities in the vicinity. I told her that I did not mind, but I that i was a little skeptical about having to share my room. I knew I was being selfish, the girls were already sharing their room and it would be a sin to ask them to share it with another girl.In the end Swetha coaxed me to agree to share my room with a new girl.I thought that I could always shift to a new place if something irritating happens.
The new girl arrived the next week. She had dark kohl-ed eyes and surprisingly a lot of luggage. We had a crammy storage room which we did not use. She herself volunteered to clean it up and place her belongings in there.
The new girl, her name was Maya, was very peculiar.I had thought that I was the biggest introvert in the world , but she proved me wrong.Even after being in the same room for three weeks,she hardly talked to me.Not that I showed any interest, but we did not even exchange any pleasantries which in no way was normal.The other two complained that they never got to see her at all. None of us knew what she did all day. Though she had told us that she was a student, I never saw her go anywhere. Every morning as I left for office ,I found her still in bed. Most of the time I came back from office, she was in the house, mostly in that store room. I had no idea when she slept, I myself was a late sleeper.When I used to sleep by 12 am or 1 am, she would still be in the store room. As days passed, I started getting more and more curious about Maya.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the girl would go out.Sometimes she never returned until the Monday morning.One Saturday, I was still lying on my bed when I was woke up by some shuffling sounds. I opened my eyes and looked around to see Maya getting ready to go out. She was wearing a sleeveless top and I spotted a tattoo on her right hand. It was a five pointed star inside a circle and a face of some weird animal overlapping the same.I had seen that tattoo before, if only I could remember where.I pretended to be asleep and as soon as she left the house, I hurried towards my laptop.
I searched for tattoo images, I keyed in words like circle with pentagon, animal tattoo etc and in an impulse keyed in ‘satanic symbols’. I was shocked to see the exact image of her tattoo look back at me on the screen.I remembered where I had seen it before.It was in an article about the Church of Satan that I had read a few months back. ‘Sigil of Baphomet’ I whispered to myself. so was she a Satan worshiper? Was that what she was doing in that room all these days?
I was not really a believer or a superstitious person. But a chill ran through my spine. I was quick to go and knock the door where the other girls slept.As I had expected Swetha and Reshmi were freaked out to hear what I had to say. We went ahead to explore the store room ,but found it locked. I wondered what all did she keep in there? What all instruments of evil did she store under our roof?
I googled all day long about the powers possessed by these kind of worshipers and to what extend they would go be powerful.All details that I read were highly disturbing. By the end of the day, all I wanted to do was to get rid of her.I prayed with all my heart that she would not return that night.Usually she was way during the weekend, but that night she returned back home,to my horror.As usual she went in to the store room. I couldn’t sleep. I strained my ears to hear chants of any sort. Minutes ticked by and I lay waiting.Around four in the morning she came back to the room.I was still awake She slept on her bed on the other corner of the room.Nothing much happened.I lay awake for the whole night. First thing in the morning that I did was to pack my bag and go to my home in Chennai. I knocked Swetha’s room and told her that I would be back only next week.I called a bus service and for my relief there were a few seats in a bus to Chennai left since it was Sunday morning.On my way to the bus stop, I called my manager and told him that I had a family emergency and needed a week’s leave. It was not the busiest time of the year, December was usually the holiday season for the client,so I easily got the leave.
Once I reached home, I felt a little embarrassed. I mean it was nothing actually.Just a tattoo.Even if she was a satanic believer, why should i have been so worried! I realized how much strong people claim to be, something minute that was unusual was enough to shake their world.
After two days, Swetha called me up and told me that Maya was moving out. They had confronted her and asked her about her whereabouts , which I thought was very brave of them. They asked her where she went every weekend and she was not quite happy about the interrogation. She told her it was none of their business and when they told her that it was their business until she stayed at their place , she declared that she would move out.I was relieved.By the time I went back, she had moved out. As soon as I reached home, I checked the store room.I looked just as it did before Maya moved in, only a little cleaner.
I still had trouble sleeping for a few more weeks. I had read about the vengeance of these lots and what they would do if felt offended. But nothing out of usual happened.Gradually I forgot about Maya.Soon I left Bangalore as I got to move to UK on a deputation.
Today I am 36, married ,mother of a 6 year old. I had forgotten all about this incident until last week.I had gone to a social event last Saturday organised by my company. I met my colleague’s teenage daughter and on her right hand I saw it, the same old tattoo. I pulled my colleague aside little later and asked her if she knew what the tattoo on her daughters arm meant? “It looks queer right….” she told me with a grim expression .”It freaked me out when I found that weird symbol tattooed on her hand, but she tells me it is the most cool tattoo pattern nowadays.She does not even know what it actually means….Today’s kids..now she wants to pierce her belly button you know…” She told me with a wide eyed expression.She surely was more concerned about the pierced belly button than that queer symbol on her daughter’s hand.I did not bother to explain her what the symbol actually was.All I did was to silently wonder if it was just a ‘cool’ pattern for Maya too.In that case how would I justify all those sleepless nights and negative thoughts?