Apparently, I have been staying in a ghost house. I did not know. My roommates did not know. The owner, the neighbours, or other loving people around either did not know or did not reveal that there was a possibility for us to meet a post-human if we were staying at this house.
All of these became significant only during the last week of our stay at this place. Thanks to corporate greed driven climate change that gifted us a troublesome heat filled summer, and thanks to unplanned house construction that gave us a lot of light and little of wind during the day time, we were living in a ho-hum incinerator. This heat led to a lot of problems among us like increase in night rides and lack of sleep, which further led to increase in consumption of junk food, resulting in an increased production of flatus, further increasing the pace of climate change, we decided that enough is enough, and started looking for a house with better ventilation and less heat.
It did not take us much time to find a house, like it and start dreaming it as our next rented abode. The landholder was a gentleman and the lady was also nice, and we decided that we would move out by the end of this month. This was in the beginning of March, when heat had started affecting our lives as much as the other heat affected us in our adolescence.
For the past 6 months we have been staying here as happy roommates. Ashi, BC, Diego and Me. Four people who have lived four different lives and experienced different people in different places had as diverse opinions as four people could have. There were conservatives among us, like BC, whose views were totally different from mine, and the other two people’s opinions were in between ours. This was a good setup as all discussions ended up in debates and all of us got to know that our own experiences and opinions aren’t the only opinions available.
Coming from a protected unwalled liberal zoological garden of a university, it was easy for me to discard the opinions in the other side as fringe and not worthy of noticing. Then after college, when I had to join the society as it is known, I had to meet much more people who made me doubt that I was the fringe one. As we found each other as roommates here, I got to understand that the opinions and political stances were as diverse as the number of people we get to meet. But this did not stop me from my college given habit of sidelining those extreme views. But I realized soon that this was not the case as I was faced with my inability to answer pointed questions from the side. I started to listening to BC in order to grasp what goes into their mind, and inevitably failed.
What do I know about religion and spirituality? Nothing. I only have the atheistic rhetorics that I have been using all my college life. He had the religious rhetoric that he used all his life. He was not religious, I should point out. But the rhetorics seldom were dissimilar to those given by a staunch believer. He would look down upon my lack of spirituality and I would look down upon his interest in it.
I knew that he would gel well with the neighbours, with as strong belief in being conservative as he has. Even the neighbouring kids came to our house and sensed negativity in this house. I joked it was because of me being filled with negative non spirituality and they just laughed.
In the 6 months that we were roommates, all of us had our happiness, sadness, non emotions, emotions, frustrations, interferences, let downs, celebrations and little nothings all of which we either enjoyed or survived. Dreams, nightmares, reality, and fantasy came into our conversation as we discussed our future plans and past coincidences as we lived through day by day.
We noticed strange coincidences and correlations like how when BC goes out, it inevitably rains, if it is in the monsoon season. When the water supply guy fails to come to our house, if and only if Ashi calls him and asks him, or scold him will he bring water to our doorstep. That Diego with his non local accent, could get anything from the neighbours, and would inevitably get beaten up in one stationary or another one day. I fail to keep my head straight when drunk was something that I found out when I was living here.
Life passed by fast and then summer came. We realized how difficult it was going to be in the first few days of summer. Ashi shifted to his own house due to lack of sleep. BC failed to sleep well and started taking short walks at night. When asleep, he started dreaming that people are attacking him, or killing him. To not have to face the heat, I dragged one of them for rides every single night. All these frustrations started affecting Diego too.
One day BC filled up around 10 buckets of water and watered the terrace in order for it to cool down and give us colder wind when we put on the fan. It did not work. Taking bath right before sleeping did not work too as we remained sleepless, but a bit fresher. Heads became heavier. Pockets became lighter. Dreams became nightmares. Debates became wild. None of us made sense to any of us anymore.
Then one day, when we were walking around, we saw a board which said a house was available on rent. It did not take us much time to decide that it was a good option. We called our landlady and told her that we would be moving by the end of March as the heat was unbearable. She laughed. We had thought that this would be an unexpected blow for her as she was not that well off. Her laughing made us a bit relieved and much less guilty.
We gave the new landlord two month’s rent as advance and made it official. Prospective renters came to the house, looked around and went back. It became a routine for about 2 weeks. Then suddenly it stopped. We wondered why, but did not bother much to think about the reasons. We were going to start living in the new house in less than a week. It was exciting.
One day, when I was going out, I met our neighbor uncle. I smiled, and he smiled back. And as my bike was moving, he asked, “ Can I ask you something?” I nodded politely. He asked, “ Why are you moving out?”
“Heat.” , I said.
“There is nothing else, right?”
Thinking that he would have felt bad about something he thought he had done, I said reassuringly, “No. Just the heat.”
“ You don’t hear or see someone walking around at night, do you?”
“What about nightmares?”
I said no to even that, and then asked why he was asking all these.
“The thing is,” he said, “someone I know asked me to ask you why you were moving all of a sudden. None of the renters here have stayed as long as you people have. All of them have said some story like this or the other.” I laughed, and said we had experienced nothing like that as I went.
I told Diego all these as I returned. He shared the laugh. But then I started thinking, why didn’t they tell us if they had already known it. It also made sense why the children could sense the negativity. When you hear something, it was easy to spot it, especially when they are children. Then I told that we should tell BC and it would be a fun to watch. We decided to see whether he would spot some negativity, or that he would see nightmares, or if he would see someone at night walking around.
I was not present when Diego told BC about what the neighbor guy had said. I asked what his reply was. “Check if him, or someone close to him, are renting this house in the future. I believe he is creating this story in order to avoid prospective renters.”
I hope I will be able to leave the ghost of my judging present in this ghost house.