I drew the shades of my 2 feet window apart trying to lend my ears to the patter of rain that was playing pleasant tunes in my ear one wintry night. Thick droplets of rain were battering the ground, excavating lumps of loosely embedded earth out. Attired in my night gown, I placed my coffee cup on the window sill to let drown few rain drops that struck my window pane. It was murky outside with the stars and heavenly bodies snoozing in the veil of the night. I think it was 9 pm when my cell phone rang.
I picked up my phone…
“ Oi, Chenga here. How are you? In Bumthang, right?”
“ Oi, how did you remember me? Yea, I am in Bumthang and am good. What about you?”
“I am good too. I am planning a trip to Mongar so thought like, I could halt at your place, enroute. It’s been long since we last met. Together we can hit the bar and spend some time there. What do you say?”
“Splendid! When are you coming? I stay near Bhutan Telecom colony, you can call me when you get here” I responded excited by the thought of finally having a real friend with me and going to the bar, grabbing frozen beers and drinking into oblivion.
He told me he would come the next day with his uncle driving the car. The same uncle who hitched me ride home in his red car, BP-2-2222 printed in bold on its number plate.
Yawning with want of sleep, I curled myself up in my woolen blanket and I slept off. I woke up early in the morning, drew the curtains apart and looked outside,it was snowing: white flakes of snow fell from above like fluffy cottons ubiquitously heaping on barren land and atop verdant shrubs that grew rampantly all around.
The day went on with me lazing about in the room for it was Saturday and office was off. I was waiting for my friend who would have started off in the morning and would halt in Trongsa. I feared the snow accumulated along Yotongla pass would deter traffic movement the other day when he was expected to be here, with me to paint the day with joyful smiles.
Much coveted Sunday came too slow. The day was looking majestic; the snow shone bright giving off dazzling reflections to pedestrians who paced to and fro plodding in thick snow wearing knee heighted welling tons and clad in warm clothes..
The day crept unnoticed and it was noon, my alter ego showed no sign of arrival. I tried calling but couldn’t connect for he must have been in a network scanty area. The dusk came, gulfing exquisite town of Bumthang and soon it was dark. I dozed off several times waiting…waiting…seated motionless on the chair.
Giving up my hope of seeing my friend, I dined and headed for the bed groping in the dark for the erratic electricity had gone off. I think it was 11 at night when I heard engine of a car rumbling in the courtyard, halted with a jerk, door slammed shut and footsteps approached near the threshold. I was keenly listening to the footsteps. The man stopped near the door, paused for a minute and then rang the door bell.
I stood near the door with a candle dimly lit, “Who is it?” I asked in a rigid tone to sound brave when I was actually trembling through my bones. There wasn’t any response for wee seconds and then heard him say “Karma, open the door. It’s Chenga”.
I opened the door with a relief “Thank god! It’s you. I thought it was some ghosts lurking around my house. Where is your uncle?”
“He stayed in his brothers’ place in the market. I drove the car here.
He wants me to pick him up tomorrow morning”, he said whisking off snowflakes that got on his jacket.
“How come? You told me that you didn’t know how to drive. One may not have learnt to drive in a single day”. I asked glaring at him
“I lied to you. I know how to drive, come and let’s talk on the bed, I am dead exhausted”, he said walking to my bedroom.
“What about the supper? Sure, you would be ravenous and tired by virtue of the journey”.
“No, we had dinner on the way. I am full.
I got to catch some sleep, would you mind?” he responded getting on the bed.
It was chilly even aboard so sleeping sounded great thing that moment. He turned aside trying to sleep when I felt like talking to him for we had met after a long time.
“Come-on Chenga, tell me how your journey was or else tell me a tale”, I pleaded.
“I think the latter sounds tempting. Let me tell you a tale, a true incident that happened a year ago”, he continued, “It was during the fall when a friend of a man died when his car skidded down the road.
The ghost of that man visited his friend at night who was unaware of the mishap. They conversed the whole night and slept. Early morning when his friend awoke, the visitor was nowhere, thinking he had gone to toilet, he checked but found the door latched. He searched the whole house but found no trace of his friend, the door was bolted so he didn’t definitely go out. It was until next morning he was wary of his friends’ demise. The man died of shock the following day”.
“Why do you sound like you are narrating the tale of you being dead and visiting me like the person in the tale?” I joked to pretend I was not at all afraid after his scary story which really ate my innards.
“You and your craps. Let me sleep now and get yourself some sleep”, he bid me good night and slept.
I was feeling drowsy that night like never before so I deemed sleeping the best thing to do. I rolled myself up adhering close to him for warmth but found that his torso was dead cold, may be the chilly weather bit him hard.
As usual, I woke up the other morning by the crow of my neighbors’ cock. I wiped my eyes clean, stretched for sometime and as the thought of waking my friend came, I found my friend missing. He must have woken up early so as to pick up his uncle, I thought. I rose up to check the door but found it firmly bolted from inside just the way I left the other night.
Shocked, I drew the curtains to peek outside to see if his car still lay in the courtyard but found it absent as well. Finding it hard to believe I sat on the chair marveling, when my eyes fell on Saturdays’ Newspaper: On the front page was the photo of what was left of a wrecked red car, with the heading “Car topples off the road near Dochula, killing all four aboard”…I pushed the paper aside and as I stood up to leave, my glance fell on the Number plate of the wrecked car…BP-2-2222
4th of September, 2012