I moved to the left with speed, still holding my crouching position. I hurriedly removed the bead of sweat from my eye brows that threatened to block my view at the most critical point of time. I threw myself at the yellow object that bounced before my eyes. As I moved towards it, the direction changed and it spun to the right. Stopping myself from moving further to the left, I jumped to my right, just in time to catch it. I stretched my shoulders fully, eyes still on the ball and gave it a conclusive stroke with my bat and watched it as it bounced off the other side of the table in the blink of an eye lid.
“23-21, you win the game dude”, Satish announced, sticking his tongue at my opponent.
Swathi made a face and turned away from Satish.
“Chill guys! You did well Swathi, you’ve really improved your game”, I said and gave her an appraising nod.
“See, you need to encourage new talent Satish”, Said Swathi and gave Satish a smack on his head with her table tennis racquet.
“Hey, but you still lost your arrogant bet dumbo”, said Satish and gave her a short jab.
“Whatever guys, I’m out of here.” I said and walked outside.
The salty humid smell of the early morning sea filled my nostrils as I stretched myself on the lush green lawns of our Sports club. This was one of the activities I really enjoyed doing everyday ever since I got posted in Cochin for my new job. I searched for my mp3 player and found it in one of my pockets wires all tangled up in a mess. I settled myself down on one of the rocks facing the ocean and started fiddling with the entangled wires. After a minute of struggle, they opened up and I switched on my music machine, listening to the early morning trance music that I do every day after a round of table tennis.
I settled myself pretty comfortably, head in my palms and elbows resting on my legs which were settled into a cross legged stance. The last three years have been wonderful. I found a good job that paid me a decent salary, gave me time to pursue my other interests as well. The new city gave me wonderful new pals who never made me miss home. Just as I was entering into a trance where I was really not sure if I was awake or asleep, the vibration of my cell phone brought me back to my senses. I pulled it out and flicked the green button and Anita aunties voice came over the phone.
“Neeraj, how are you doing son?” She said in her always warm voice.
“Doing good aunty, life here is going great. How are you doing? Everything fine?” I said trying to figure out why she called this early in the morning. Was anything wrong?
“Everything is fine beta, just wanted to ask a small favour from your side.” her voice sounding vexed.
“Of course aunty, what is it?”
“There are some people coming over tomorrow to see our property there in Cochin. Can you just go there and show them around the place and tell them the price and other details” She sounded unsure of my response.
Anita aunty was gifted a beautiful estate in Cochin by her husband on the eve of their first marriage anniversary. But later, they found out that the place had some problems associated with it. Locals believed that the property was haunted. Though Anita aunty and her husband were rational modern people, they faced problems whenever they went to Palak Residency. Many a times, one of their daughters used to fall sick or one of their servants used to meet with small freak accidents when arranging things for their arrival. They were in the process of disposing the property to someone else but it kept coming back to them with the same problems again and again.
“Did you tell the people about the place aunty?” I enquired, though I knew that Anita aunty would never tamper with the facts.
“Yes beta, I did tell them about the place. But, they sounded pretty dismissive about everything. They also further added that some of their relatives were experts of Vastu and recommended the place as good for them.”
“Cool! I’ll go show them around then. No problems, I’ll take the day off tomorrow.”
“Thanks beta. Why don’t you come over to Bangalore for this summer? Kids would enjoy your company a lot”
“Sure aunty, I’d love to come if ma permits me to leave her alone this summer.”
“I’ll convince her to leave you this time. But, thanks again for taking the pain.”
“Arey aunty, stop it now! I’ll catch you later” I said and cut the call.
I was on my bike the next day, traveling through the suburbs of Cochin. I reached Palak residency at nine thirty in the morning, though the winter morning was still dark. I pulled on my jacket closer to get rid of the cold. Rubbing my hands together, I opened the gate and entered the property. Situated in a plush residential locality in the suburbs of Cochin, the property was an awesome place with a well attended lawn and a three storey building. The people who wanted to buy the property arrived at ten and after an hour of looking at the place, they agreed on buying it. They thanked me for showing around and left at eleven, telling me that they would move in after a week.
I told Anita aunty about the deal and she was pretty happy about it. Just as I was about to leave, it started raining heavily, making my return journey impossible. By the time it stopped, it was late in the afternoon. Just as I was about to leave, I had a call from Satish.
“Dude, my parents came over from Delhi on some urgent business, I was not able to find a proper hotel for them, and can you share rooms with them for today?”
“How long will they be staying dude?” I enquired.
“They’ll be here on tomorrow and day after. They’re leaving on Monday morning.” He said, sounding uncomfortable.
“Chill, Weekend only no. I’ll stay here at Anita aunties place tomorrow and day after. Let them be comfortable.” I said.
“Are you sure that you don’t have any problem, we can look for any alternative. . .“
“Arey yaar, told you no, I’m absolutely fine. Relax. Take good care of your parents. But make sure you get me some clothes and my brush in the evening”
“Thanks dude. Sure, I’ll get your stuff by six or seven” he said, and hung up.
So I had a weekend to spend in a place which I was not so familiar with, I thought to myself.