The Other World


1. The Other World.

As Elizabeth entered the room, she could see someone sitting in the rocking chair rocking it back and forth. Elizabeth ran downstairs leaving the door ajar. There in the living room she told the son and daughter-in-law of the deceased that she saw an old woman sitting in the chair that they wanted to sell. The son gave a look as if Elizabeth was a maniac and asked her to give them the money and they will arrange for the chair to be left at her shop that evening. Elizabeth handed three crisp notes of thousand rupees and sped in her car to her shop.

Elizabeth, on entering her shop, saw her husband John haggling with a customer for a flower vase.

“How much do you want to pay for it, Sir?” said Elizabeth, intervening in the haggling process to put the matter to an end.

“Only two thousand rupees,” replied the customer.

John said nervously, shocked by the intervention of Elizabeth, “But it will not even cover our expenses Elizabeth,” then he turned towards the customer and said, ”Sir you can…” Elizabeth put her finger to the lips of John, just took the flower vase to the cash counter, and neatly packed it for the customer. Then as the customer left, Elizabeth hugged John and started sobbing.

“We need to close our shop, or at least this business. Today I again saw the spirit of an old woman sitting calmly in her rocking chair. I was so scared that, upon looking at me, the son of the lady promised that he would leave the chair by evening to our shop.”

John said nothing, just allowing his wife to calm down. He knew that their business was taking a toll on her mental health, but it was also raining money on them. This business allowed John to come out of penury after his father died leaving an ailing scrap business, which also swallowed John’s house to pay off its debts. John never wanted to go back to his old days of penury. This business was allowing him to buy anything in addition to providing all of the comforts to his family.

After half an hour Elizabeth regained her composure. By then John had already sent two customers back requesting them to come in the evening. These daily outbursts of Elizabeth had started to incur losses for the business. John had to send many of its regular customers back so that he could soothe down the hysterical nerves of his wife.

Elizabeth got up to go to the washroom to freshen up. When she returned she could see John as usual busy with a customer haggling.

Elizabeth thought this business was making it difficult for John and her to connect emotionally anymore. Whenever she wanted to talk to John, he was always busy with a customer. At home too the business occupied most of his time as it kept him busy searching to find new places for purchase of materials for their shop. John and Elizabeth ran a shop that bought antique wares of only old dead people whose sons, daughters, and relatives wanted to dispose of them as soon as possible. After the collapse of the family business of scrap after John’s father death, they were left with this shop only, which also served as their home after their house was sold off to pay debts.

One morning as they were shifting their sold home’s furniture to their shop a young doctor saw an old sofa of John’s father and offered to buy it for ten thousand rupees. At first, John was reluctant to sell it but on second thoughts agreed to sell it and after selling it, he realised that both of them can use this shop to reinvent their fortunes. The very next morning John did some research in this business and put up a sign board proclaiming, “John’s Shop for Elegant Antiques.”

Soon the shop started to get many footfalls to sell as well as buy antique furniture but soon John realised that children of his generation wanted to get rid of the furniture of their dead ones at throwaway prices and this discovery made the fortunes of John.

Soon they started to make a clean profit out of it and were famous in specialising to buy dead person’s furniture. As their famy grew, they had to make more and more road trips to various cities of India, sometimes very far from their shop in Goa.

John gave a tap on the shoulder of Elizabeth bringing her out of her reverie.

“I think, Elizabeth, you need to take some days off from our business. We have enough furniture for the time being to sell thus leaving us from worrying about new purchases and thus saving us from any road trips. You should stay at home, play with our children, maunder with your friends, and do whatever you wish.”

“Oh! John, from when did it become me from us. I think both of us need some rest. Only you can provide rest to my senses. We should take off, not only me John,” said Elizabeth in an angry tone.

“Okay we will talk about it in the evening. Till then you should go home and take some rest.”

Elizabeth shrugged and left the shop to head towards their home. As she opened the door, she was dumbstruck on finding two people carrying a rocking chair. She saw an old woman still sitting in it and her gaze fixed on Elizabeth. Elizabeth ran to John with a shriek.

“Save me John, I beg you to save me. It is the same chair I told you about. The old lady’s son has sent it for us.”

John tried his best but could not release himself from the tight hug of Elizabeth.

John asked both of the persons to put the chair in one corner of the shop while ignoring request from Elizabeth to throw the chair out of the shop. Both of them were looking at John and Elizabeth as if they had seen some lunatic person. But John did not care about these unusual gazes as he had become used to it.

John looked very carefully at the chair but could not find anything unusual about it.

“John please get this chair out of this shop. I do not want to get mad.”

“You won’t honey, I am with you. open your eyes, there is no one in the chair.”

Elizabeth mustered some courage and saw the chair from the corner of her eye still not releasing John from her tight hug. She only saw a rocking chair of old colonial times and could not see any old woman in it.

She released John from her tight grip and ran towards the chair. She could not see anyone sitting in it. But she knew that she was not mad and she was definitely viewing some supernatural beings. It was already late in the evening by then so John decided to close the shop soon.

The next day John got a call from Pune from a client who wanted to sell old furniture of his grandfather. The client sounded in a hurry and wanted John to visit him today, as he wanted to dispose off the furniture as soon as possible as he wanted to leave for USA by evening. John knew that these type of clients were Ideal for his business, who were ready to sell their furniture for nothing that could sway fortunes of anyone but was scrap for them.

He did not want to leave Elizabeth in this emotional turmoil but he had no option, as he was a slave of his own destiny, which needed a lot of money to keep the adrenaline rushing in the blood stream of John.

Elizabeth said nothing to John so he left early in the morning. Elizabeth got ready after sending her two sons to a posh school, which they could only afford because of the shop. Elizabeth was feeling scared to open the shop today but she knew to keep the fires burning in her kitchen she will have to open the shop.

Elizabeth unlocked the four locks of her shop very slowly. Her neighbour shopkeepers did not offer any help to her because all of them thought that she is insane. Elizabeth pulled up the shutter of the shop with great caution.

She hesitated to enter because of her fear of the old lady but ultimately she entered the shop being accompanied by an old lady customer who herself did not want to enter the shop with mad Elizabeth but she thought John might be parking his car and will arrive soon. Elizabeth saw towards the rocking chair and was relieved to find nothing unusual in it. This brought back Elizabeth’s merry countenance. And she was happy to sell an antique clock far below its selling price thus making no profit no loss. The lady was thrilled to have the clock at such a cheap price and now did not regret her decision to enter the shop with mad Elizabeth and the lady sped away before John arrived and he made the sale null and void.

Elizabeth opened her shop’s website, added some inventory for sale, and took notes for some buying offers made by people who wanted to sell to the shop. They just had to send a picture and their address to sell their wares. As Elizabeth was busy making notes, she just froze on feeling the rocking chair rocking back and forth. She took a speeding glance at the chair and was scared to death on finding the chair rocking.

After an hour to this, a customer entered the shop and was not shocked on seeing Elizabeth squatted on the floor in front of the rocking chair and talking feverishly as this was a proof of her madness. The customer was an old one so he called John and told him about the mad happening in his shop. John was midway to Pune. He called the client and after seeking his forgiveness asked his driver to take the mini truck to the shop.

After one hour of rush driving, John arrived at his shop. He found Elizabeth in the same position as described by the customer. He touched the shoulder of Elizabeth tenderly. Elizabeth on seeing John hugged him and introduced him to the lady sitting in the chair. John could see the chair rolling back and forth but could not see any old lady sitting in it.

“Rekha aunty this is my husband John,” said Elizabeth clutching the hand of John as she introduced him to her Rekha aunty asking him to say hello.

John could not utter a single syllable as he was finding it difficult to differentiate between reality and the mythical world of Elizabeth as he himself could see the chair rocking but could not see Rekha aunty in it.

“You know John, Rekha aunty loves this chair very much. She died in it and her love for this chair, which was a gift to her by her husband, was so profound that even after her death she returned to rock in it. We will never sell this chair John it will always be in our shop so that Rekha aunty can enjoy it forever.”

John said nothing as he saw Elizabeth again squatting on the floor and gesturing to him to sit with her. He knew that he also like Elizabeth had made a connection with the other world and eventually he will be in communion with them.  
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