• 13 Jul - 19 Jul, 2019
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

Next morning, I woke up alone in my bedroom. I thought of Kalsoom and suddenly remembered the news she gave me before I went to sleep. I was about to enter fatherhood. Then I thought about my last conversation with Shamshar before Kalsoom had walked into the room. I was still wondering whether that was real or my imagination when the door opened and my mother walked into the room. It was the first time that she entered my room. We seldom had any conversation. I tried to get up from my bed out of respect.

“Don’t get up. You don’t seem well. You have not been well since you returned from Ajmer Sharif,” she said while sitting on my bed side.

“You don’t talk to me much. I can understand that you are angry with me because I did not tell you about your real father. Now you are about to become father yourself. I came here to congratulate you but I am worried that your child may get sick too,” she continued.

I was still quiet and thinking what to say when she held my hand and said, “I know about the strange creatures that walk in this house. I have seen them before too. Are they here to hurt you?” She had spent a lot of time in Noor Mahal and must have seen Nazir Bux or Shamshar before. Although they roam around disguised as cats but my mother was not that simple a lady as I thought her to be. However, I needed to console her.

“Mother, they are my friends and they are here to help me.” It was now my time to speak. “And I love you mother more than you can imagine. I was willing to destroy Nawab Sadiq if he had hurt you and I will take revenge of my grandfather from him. It is none of your fault if I am sick. I will take care of you and look after you as long as I am alive.”

She kissed on my forehead and walked out of the room as Kalsoom stepped in with my usual breakfast. Kalsoom paid respect to her mother-in-law who in turn greeted her with a smile. I was happy that they both were getting along very well.

A week had passed and I did not see Shamshar again. I had started planning to pay another visit to Nazir Bux when I saw the black cat. The same night Shamshar appeared in my room and asked me to accompany him to the backyard of the haveli. I did not ask any question and started walking towards the backyard. I got out of the backdoor of kitchen and passed through a line of four quarters. Fazlo Baba saw me guiding a strange man to the backyard. He looked me in the eye and inquired if everything was right. I nodded and went past him to the dark area. Shamshar followed me quietly. Pointing to one of the graves, Shamshar asked, “Whose grave is that?”

There were two graves there and he was pointing to the grave of Kalsoom’s husband.

“Why are you inquiring about the grave? I asked Shamshar in return. It was dark there yet I could see his red eyes.

“You will have to spend 40 days in this grave,” he replied just to baffle me from head to toe.

“Now tell me whose grave is that?” he asked pointing again towards Faizan’s grave.

I then told him the entire story of how Faizan betrayed me and his wife and how he killed Hakeem to steal my gold. I also told him as to how Faizan was killed and that we buried him here. Shamshar started walking back, and this time I followed him quietly.

Next few days were spent getting prepared for spending 40 freaking days in a grave with the dead Faizan.

Shamshar told me that this was the only way to learn how to control various supernatural forces.

“How is it going to heal my sickness,” I asked him.

“When you get to control the supernatural powers then you will be able to find solution to your every problem,” he replied in a convincing tone.

Shamshar told me that he would keep a small lid open in the grave for a continuous flow of oxygen and that will be the only thing from the outside world I would get in the forty days. He was teaching me how to live without food and water for an extended period of time. He taught me how to lower my heartbeat and control the functioning of other internal body organs. Our entire body functions are controlled by sub conscious level of our brain. If we get access to that level then we can instruct our each body organs like heart, lungs, kidney etc to slow down their functioning thereby reducing the requirement of food and water. We also have sufficient body fat to supply requisite amount of energy required for our routine functioning of up to 20 days. If we reduce our routine functioning by half then we can survive for forty days without eating or drinking. Shamshar spent next seven days teaching me how to access the subconscious level of my brain. I proved to be a good student and finally I was able to consciously regulate the functioning of my internal body organs. In the meantime, Shamshar was feeding me with food which was getting stocked in my body. I had to use it while lying down in the grave.

The ordeal began one darkest night of the moon. I had taken Fazlo Baba in confidence. No one else knew about it. Shamshar and Fazlo Baba dug up the grave. They did not want me to exert. They wanted me to save all my energies for the coming forty days. I had also stopped eating for the last 36 hours. It was pitch dark when I entered the grave. Shamshar had put stones in the grave to support the walls. He then put a plank over me and started filling the grave with soil. I was feeling Faizan’s bones pinching into my body but it was least of my concern. After about half an hour of lying down quietly, I opened my eyes. It was pitch dark. I extended my hand above me and touched the upper plank. The sidewalls were about three feet apart. I could not see any hole above me yet I was able to breathe comfortably. Suddenly, I thought of lowering my blood pressure and regulating my internal body functions. My lips had already started getting dry when I brought my heartbeat to less than half of the normal. I started feeling sleepy.

I don’t know how much time passed when I woke up. This time I was able to see sunlight coming from a small aperture in the roof of the grave right above my chest. I was probably getting oxygen from the same hole. I was barely breathing as my heartbeat was too slow. I started thinking about few spells I had learnt from Nazir Bux which could come handy in case of any trouble and my mind went completely blank. I could not recall any one of them. I tried to recall holly verses and I was surprised as I could not remember any of them either. Strangely, I could remember few things but was unable to access many. Probably as I got into subconscious level of my brain, my conscious level turned into subconscious. It was a bizarre thought but I exercised self-control and did not panic. Faizon’s skeleton was lying right next to me and I did not feel anything. While thinking of how to spend the remaining 39 and half days, I dived into the world of dreams again.

“Stop poking me,” I shouted out loud and opened my eyes. It was total darkness. I took some time to reconcile and then thought over it as to who could poke me in such a forsaken place. “I must have been dreaming,” I talked to myself but I felt the poke again in my ribs. This time the poke was real. All my senses got heightened. As my hand reached to that place, I was astonished to realize that there was nothing on my side. I extended my hand to left side and was flustered to feel nothing. “Where is skeleton of Faizan?” I thought to myself and turned my head to left side. The light beam coming in from small hole of the grave was enough to make me realize that I was all alone in this grave now. Shamshar had told me many things to be aware of but I had forgotten most of them. I was making no attempt to access my old conscious level as I was afraid that I may not then be able to control my internal body organs. I can survive without knowing as to what was happening around but I knew for sure that I would die without keeping my body functioning to the current level. The missing skeleton in the grave did not revoke fear or panic in me rather I was surprised a bit. I reduced my heart beat to 20 and went to sleep again.

This time I woke up and found myself out of the grave. I looked around. It was a moon lit night and there were lot of graves there. I started digging up a fresh grave with my bare hands. I tried to control myself and thought of running away from this place but my conscious was probably still out of my reach. Within a few minutes, I took out the dead body from grave. I then bit my teeth on the neck of the dead woman and started drinking her blood. Suddenly, I found many people standing around me. They started beating me with sticks. “I did not kill her, I did not kill her…,” I was shouting at the top of my lungs. I was then chained and brought to the court of Nawab Sadiq. Although he looked quite young but I recognized him instantly. I tried to tell him that I have never hurt anyone. I was a sick man who required blood to survive. I only drink animal blood and sometimes excavate dead bodies and drink their blood too. But I had never harmed any living soul. He ordered my execution. Next thing I remember was Nazir Bux mixing some potion into a bowl of blood. He then forced it down my throat. My hands and feet were tied to hooks on wall. I resisted a lot but then I felt my soul leaving the body and flying out of the dungeon. In next moment, I entered back into my body in the grave. I opened my eyes and felt myself lying in the grave. My heart was beating fast. I was breathing heavily. All my internal body organs were functioning at double their normal speed. My throat had dried up. I started feeling thirsty.

to be continued...