Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.
HOST TALK 00:00:47
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. This episode features the story of a musician. Before we plunge into the tale, I request each one of you to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com and become a member. Also, do not forget to subscribe to my mailing list. You will find all the episodes of this podcast and their transcripts on the website other than information on my works. And of course, I have another website obscurus.buzzsprout.com dedicated to this podcast alone. Other than all OBSCURUS episodes and their transcripts, the dedicated website also provides chapter markers for easy navigation.
Okay, it’s time for the story. A musician’s honeymoon turns out to be his biggest nightmare. His wife’s sudden insanity frustrates him to the core. But why has she gone mad?
ETERNAL LOVE 00:02:16
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
Vishal Gupta never thought that his honeymoon with Nisha would turn out to be worse than his wildest nightmare. A musician by profession, Vishal braved the most unmusical times of his life. As he sat on a large rock by river Mayanka at the Himalayan foothills, wondering if he would ever come out of the trouble, somebody called out his name. He turned around to find one of the boys from the hotel running towards him. He got up as the boy approached him.
"Sir ... Sir, it's an emergency. Ma'am is standing at the edge of the terrace ... perhaps with the intent of jumping," the boy said as he struggled with his breath.
"What," Vishal shrieked, "you mean she is about to commit suicide?"
"Looks like that, Sir."
Vishal ran towards the hotel with the boy closely following him. The strange series of events that had so unexpectedly plagued the honeymoon flashed before his eyes. Nisha's sudden and unceasing silence, weird spells of laughter, cold gazes at the ceiling with virtually dead eyes, aversion for food, ugly cries from inside the washroom, and attempts to hit her head against the walls - he had lived each one of those torrid moments with utter anxiety and disgust.
Finally, he had to call a doctor. After having administered tranquilizers to Nisha, before leaving, the doctor said, "I am sorry, Mr. Gupta, but your wife seems to have a serious psychological problem. To speak the truth, she is showing signs of insanity. I suggest you stop the honeymoon and take her back to the city for treatment. The truth is her affliction appears to be pretty incurable."
Vishal pondered as to how a brilliant girl could suddenly turn mad. During the six months or so of courtship, she appeared to be far more intelligent than most men and women of their generation. One evening over coffee, Nisha explained Indian medieval history's intricacies and their lasting effects on contemporary Indian life like a great scholar. That was not the only time she demonstrated her sparks of wisdom. Sometimes, Nisha spoke about India's socio-economic dynamics and the books she wanted to write on the subject. She had already authored at least a dozen papers on tribal cultures in India. How could a girl so wise develop so ghastly an affliction? To the best of Vishal's knowledge, Nisha had no family history of mental illnesses.
Some of the hotel boys thought Nisha was possessed and advised Vishal to seek a shaman's help.
The developments could cause deep anxiety in his and Nisha's parents. Therefore, Vishal hadn't informed them of his troubles so far.
When he reached the hotel, he found a big crowd gathered at the hotel compound with their gazes fixed at Nisha standing at the edge of the roof parapet.
"Nisha, what are you doing? For God's sake, come down," he shouted.
She gave him a blank look and looked all ready to jump.
"Please, Nisha," Vishal cried, "do not jump. Tell me the problem. Trust me, I will help you out of it. Do not jump...PLEASE."
Vishal's entreaties didn't seem to make the slightest impression, and he couldn't even tell if Nisha was listening to anything happening around her.
"Is there a way upstairs?" Vishal asked the hotel boy.
"Yes, Sir, but the doorway is locked," he replied.
"How did she then go up there?"
"Sir, some of my colleagues saw her climbing up the pipes."
"She climbed the pipes!"
"That's right, Sir."
Meanwhile, Nisha had moved forward, and parts of her feet were in the air.
"No, no, no, Nisha, no," Vishal said.
As the deadlock continued, Vishal heard the doorway of the terrace being opened. Shortly he saw two of the hotel boys behind Nisha.
"Hold her tightly and take her off the edge," Vishal instructed the boys.
Alas! Before the boys could do anything, Nisha jumped. She fell with a thud a little away from Vishal. He rushed at her only to find her head completely smashed. With blood oozing out of her head, ears, nose, and mouth, there was little hope that she would live. Vishal wailed with what felt like the lifeless body of his wife in his arms. "What have you done, what have you done?"
After a while, Vishal took her to the nearest hospital in an ambulance arranged by the hotel. Nisha was declared as brought dead. He helplessly watched the doctor put the white sheet over his wife's face.
"I am sorry, Mr. Gupta," the doctor said to Vishal, "she must have died the moment she touched the ground. The impact was too huge."
Vishal gave a blank gaze in response.
"Where do you stay, Mr. Gupta?" The doctor asked.
"In Hotel Fiesta."
"No, no, I mean which city?"
"So, what would you like to do? Would you want the last rites to be performed here, or you wish to take the body to New Delhi?"
"Well, doctor," Vishal geared his strength up to speak, "our parents live in New Delhi. I don't think it's a good idea to perform the last rites over here."
"Okay," the doctor said, "so you will take the body to New Delhi. Well, I will try to help you with that, but now I must make preparations for the police formalities. The cops should be arriving any moment."
Vishal nodded with the same blank look in his eyes.
"Any questions, Mr. Gupta?"
Vishal moved his head to answer in the negative.
"I understand what you are going through. From my side, however, I promise you all possible support. The police chief of this region is a good friend of mine, and I am sure all the police formalities, including the post-mortem, would be over by today evening. We also run a service of transporting bodies to places out of the town. I am not sure whether the service extends to New Delhi. But even if the service doesn't extend that far, I guess we can make an exception in your case with the permission of the Sheriff and other concerned authorities."
Vishal nodded again.
The formalities were indeed over by the evening. The kind doctor took every possible initiative to make the arrangements for shifting the body to New Delhi. Soon enough, Vishal found himself traveling with his wife's body on what felt like the most discordant note of his life.
Torrid times followed his return to the city. His mother had a near nervous breakdown at the news while Nisha's parents squarely put the blame on him.
"You must have caused unbearable miseries to my daughter," her father yelled, "although you are clear from the legal standpoint, the law of the land is not the law of God. God will punish you for whatever you did to my daughter."
"You will bear untold pain in hell for your deeds," Nisha's mother cursed.
Vishal tried to convince them that he did absolutely nothing and that he was as puzzled as everybody else was, but her parents simply wouldn't listen.
However, Vishal's father showed a lot of character and helped him put the past behind in every possible way. It wasn't easy for Vishal anyway. Every detail of Nisha's death was etched in his memory, and the smoke of Nisha's pyre still coursed in his nostrils. But time is the ultimate healer, and slowly but steadily, time did its work.
And, of course, music too helped him make a fresh beginning. Sometimes he would sing for his love ...
In my thoughts and dreams,
I feel only you,
In the shadows and gleams,
I see only you,
In all blues and greens,
I sense only you,
In whispers and screams,
I hear only you,
You, only you, you, only you.
A couple of years after the ghastly incident, while Vishal was working on a new composition in his music laboratory, a compact disc in one of the shelves caught his attention. He remembered having kept it there with a heavy heart sometime after returning from the nightmarish honeymoon. The sight of it again raised some of the ugly memories he was trying to put behind him. This was the disc that he had gifted to Nisha in the first evening of their honeymoon. It carried a musical composition that he had specially written for Nisha.
"This is my gift to you, my adorable wife ... this should make our honeymoon really special." He said to Nisha as he placed the compact disc in her hands.
"What is this? Your newest musical composition?" Nisha responded excitedly.
"Yes, my dear. I have composed this piece only for you."
"What is the theme of this music? Love?"
"It is love beyond life and death ... it is eternal love. In fact, I have named this album Eternal Love. This is only for you. I shall never release it commercially," Vishal smiled.
Vishal recalled that he had left the hotel room to get some flowers for Nisha after making the gift of Eternal Love. On his return, he found Nisha behaving erratically. That was the start of the chain of miseries. Later in the evening, when she was asleep, he found the compact disc of Eternal Love in the CD Drive of her laptop. At that time, Vishal did not see any possible connection between the musical composition and Nisha's behavior. But now, he sensed a weird but possible link. What if Eternal Love was in the nature of a musical composition titled Gloomy Sunday.
Gloomy Sunday is called the Hungarian Suicide Song. It was composed by Rezso Seress, a pianist and composer, in 1933. The lyrics had somber intonations wherein the protagonist wants to commit suicide following his lover's death. There were also references about the lovers getting united in the afterlife. The song was apparently responsible for a number of people committing suicide. While no one could tell for sure if the song instilled suicidal tendencies in the listeners, some believed the song had the powers of making subconscious suggestions to commit suicide. Interestingly, some people think that Rezso Seress also fell victim to his own composition.
Did Eternal Love also possess such powers? Although Eternal Love was a piece of music and not a song, Vishal lived through strong feelings when he composed it. Thoughts of their love transcending space, time, and matter crossed his mind. Misty visions of their bond, even vanquishing death, found musical expressions through the piece. The possibility that Eternal Love carried such properties was remote. The composition did not affect his psyche in any way. Then he realized that he had not listened to the entire piece in one go. Perhaps, this piece of music impacted one's psyche only if one heard it all together. He found his hair stand at this idea as he picked the compact disc and put it in his player. And then he put the music on.
The first few minutes of the music were soothing, but then the mood changed. Vishal realized that the portion which was intended to convey love in the afterlife sounded somber. Soon afterward, the lower parts of his body turned numb. The numbness intensified rapidly, and then his body jerked and made bizarre involuntary movements. Although his reasoning faculties were still working, he had little idea of how his body was convulsing under a wave of pain. And then he sensed his sense of reason becoming weak ... it turned weaker ... still weaker ... and even weaker ... till there was no sense of reason at all.
The next part of his existence was about a continuum of discontinuous lights and shades. He sensed people around him but couldn't see or hear them clearly. The daze also robbed him of his sense of time. A strong voice spoke from within - Move to the terrace, you are an eternal lover, after all - and he obliged. Although his sense faculties turned weak, one of his inner faculties was active enough to guide him up to the edge of the roof parapet. Feeble voices trying to stop him were in the air, but he ignored them. The inner voice now said - Jump O Eternal Lover. And he jumped! There was no pain in the thud of his fall! He got up to find his senses of sight and hearing restored. At his feet lay his lifeless body. His parents were crying uncontrollably, sitting close to it. The neighbors were trying to get a hold of the situation.
"Mummy ... Daddy ..." He said, but nobody seemed to pay attention to his words.
He tried speaking to them again but soon realized that no one in the material sphere could hear him.
"It's all over. No one can hear and see me now," Vishal said to himself.
"You are wrong. I can hear and see you," a familiar voice spoke from behind.
Vishal turned around ... o yes, it was Nisha with her usual sweet smile.
"Eternal love we are in, aren't we?" She said.
Vishal stood there unsure of what he should do next as his own song played in his mind ...
O you left me behind,
To brave all the grind,
How cruel is fate,
Opens sorrow's gate,
In every drop of dew,
It is only you,
In everything new,
It is only you.
You, only you, you, only you.
"Nisha, you," he could barely speak.
"Yes, Vishal, it's me, only me, me, only me."
Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!