A Short Story
Arun was looking for some nice painting which he could hang on his bedroom wall. He had visited many art shops, but couldn’t find a suitable one any where. He had told about this to his friends.
One Sunday morning, Ritesh called him and told to visit an art gallery in the Church Street, where they sold good paintings at cheaper price. Actually, the paintings were cheaper because they sold the second hand paintings, people used to sell their old paintings at this particular shop. Also they used to exchange with some other paintings or art work as well.
Arun liked the idea and he reached the art shop, after having his break fast. He liked most of the paintings displayed in the shop. However, one painting held his attention for quite some time. He kept staring at it, when he heard someone from his back:
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’
He turned back and found the shop owner standing behind him, with his hands on his trouser pockets, and a broad smile on his face.
‘Yes..’ Arun said.
‘Well, there is something about this painting which I need to mention,’
‘What is it?’
‘This one though beautiful has come back to this shop five times and you would be the sixth customer, if you decide to buy it,’
‘Oh, I see! May I know the reason for the same?’
‘Not sure! Maybe, it didn’t bring any good luck to previous owners?’
‘Anyways, I don’t believe in luck!’ Arun said, smiling at him, ‘I would like to take it, could you please arrange to pack it?’
‘Sure, with pleasure!’
Arun took home the painting and hung it to a nail that was waiting for this painting for quite some time. That night before going to sleep, he gazed at the painting, and the scene from this painting appeared in his dream. When he woke up, he remembered he dream. He ignored it, but the same dream repeated every night.
‘That’s strange!’ Arun thought to himself. One evening, he covered the painting with a white cloth, so that he doesn’t stare at it before going to sleep. That night though the dream repeated, he found himself being a part of the dream. He was lost in that place of the painting, and he was trying his best to escape from that place, but he didn’t know how to get away from it?
Next morning, his girl friend Ankitha started calling him, but she was getting the answer that ‘the customer you are trying to reach is out of the coverage area. Please try after sometime.’ So, she reached Arun’s place with Ranjith. They knocked on the door, but there was no response. Ranjith called up his office and they informed him that he hasn’t come in today so far.
‘I think something is wrong.’ Ranjith told him.
‘The door seems to be locked from inside. That means he should be inside!’ Akitha said, trying to peep through the key hole, ‘I see the key in the key hole! Find me some paper, please!’ She added.
‘Here you go!’ Ranjith said, returning with the newspaper.
‘This will do, thanks,’ She said, bending down, pushing it below the door gap. Then she removed the hair pin and gently pushed it through the key hole. The key fell down upon the newspaper; she gently pulled out the newspaper, and got the key.
‘Let’s hope he hasn’t bolted the door,’ Ankitha said, turning the key in the lock, and the door opened.
‘Arun!’ They both cried, stepping into the flat, but there was no response. They both searched every room in the flat and found him nowhere. Finally, they both reached his bedroom and he wasn’t there as well.
‘Strange? Is he abducted or something?’ Ranjith asked.
‘I don’t think so. The door is locked from inside and all windows are closed,’ Ankitha replied, starring at the white cloth over the painting on the wall. She dragged a stool and removed the cloth from the painting.
‘And why did he cover that painting?’ Ranjith asked.
‘No idea!’ Ankitha said, starring at that painting, ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’
‘Yes, it is!’ Ranjith replied.
Meantime, Ritesh called her mobile and she answered the call.
‘Did you find him?’
‘No, we didn’t! The door was locked from inside and there is no way he could have gone out as all the windows and even the back door is locked!’ Ankitha replied.
‘That’s strange!’ Ritesh said.
‘Yes, maybe we need Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery! I will speak to you later,’
‘Sure…let me know if you get some clue?’
‘I’ll do that!’ Ankitha said, hanging up, ‘I think I’ll take home this painting,’ She added.
‘Okay!’ Ranjith said.
They both searched for him in all know places, but couldn’t find him. They advertised about him with his picture in the ‘Missing’ column of the newspaper, and also informed about it to the police. Meanwhile, Ankitha hung the painting in her room. She too started getting the same dream every night.
‘Ranjith, I am getting a strange dream every night and it is the scene from the painting!’ She told Ranjith.
‘Let me take home and see!’ Ranjith replied.
‘Sure, be careful with it! Something seems strange about it!’
‘We will get to know it soon!’
Some days went by, Ranjith went missing one morning. The last thing his mother remembered was he going to his room and sleep. Ankitha told everything to Ritesh.
‘Maybe this painting is cursed in someway?’ Ankitha concluded.
‘Could be? Let us return it back to the painting shop before anyone else gets disappeared!’ Ritesh said.
‘That’s a good idea! But how do we bring back Arun and Ranjith?’
‘We need to wait and see!’ Ritesh said.
They both packed the painting with an old newspaper and took it to the painting shop. However, to their surprise they found that the art shop was gone and in its place a fancy shop had come up.
‘Any idea where the art shop got shifted to?’ Ankitha asked the new shop owner.
‘I think the shop owner shifted the items to some godown somewhere, as he was traveling out of the country!’ He replied, ‘Why? What’s up?’
‘Well, we wanted to return this painting to him.’ Ritesh said.
‘Let me have a look at it!’
‘It’s…’ Ranjith wanted to say something, but Anitha interrupted him, ‘Sure, you can have a look at it!’ She removed the newspaper cover and showed him the painting. The shop owner was wonder struck seeing the beautiful painting.
‘And may I know what price are you looking for? Would One thousand rupees do?’
‘I think that is too less.’ Ankitha said
‘How about Two thousand?’
‘Five thousand and that is the maximum I could give for it!’
‘Okaaay! You can have it!’ Ankitha said, letting go the hold on the painting. The shop owner paid her the money with a big smile on his face.
‘Where are you going to hang it?’ Ritesh asked him, with a worried look.
‘In my bedroom!’ He replied, still smiling.
They both left the place.
‘We shouldn’t have sold him the painting! What if something happens to him?’ Ritesh asked her.
‘That’s not our problem. We had to get rid of the painting and we did it! Also we got the price for it! And that is the end of the story.’ Ankitha said, smiling at him.
Couple of days later, Arun and Ritesh were back from nowhere. All they remembered was the strange place where they both were lost and that place resembled the scene from the painting.
‘Where did the painting go?’ Arun asked, starring at the blank wall.
‘We sold it to a fancy store owner!’ Ankitha said.
‘Oh! My God!’ Ranjith said, reading the newspaper.
‘What?’ They all asked together looking at him.
‘The fancy shop owner to whom that painting had been sold has gone missing mysteriously sometime last night!’ Ranjith said, looking at them with a puzzled expression on his face.