The cold wind would whisper through my room, as I’d sit on my desk in the after-hours, to study for my final exams. Maybe it was then, maybe it started before, perhaps it was always there. It was a habit for me to study for my exams throughout the night, where everything was silent, while the nocturnal beauty swept throughout. Whilst studying I would always feel someone staring, silently observing, their gaze piercing my back. It felt like someone was breathing heavily as if struggling to draw out every single breath. I would turn back immediately, only to find the narrow, dark hallway beyond my room. I would not pay it much attention and would continue with whatever I was doing. However, as time went on, I started hearing something like footsteps, no, not footsteps, but someone, dragging their feet along the hallway, coming towards my room…  closer, nearer, and right in front of the doorframe, it would stop. Chills.

One day I found my little brother, changing the light-colored, net curtains that adorned his room’s door, with a thick, deep-colored one.

Amused, I asked him, “Why the thick, dark curtains? Weren’t you always fond of light, net ones as they brought about an air of carefreeness to you?”

My brother hesitated. He said, as he gulped, “I don’t want to see whatever roams around at night”.

Hearing him sent shivers down my spine.

“So, you experienced it too… ” I said.

“Yes, and it keeps sighing heavily right in front of my door.”

Just then a sudden, loud, shattering noise was heard from the hallway. ”Clank!

“Did the chandelier fall?” My brother mumbled.

We ran outside the room. Nothing was there. The chandelier was intact, and so was everything, yet the eeriness of the hallway was palpable. We went to our father right away. At first, we were reluctant, “What if he doesn’t believe us?” We mustered up our courage and we all sat down. As we told our story to him, his expression grew more grim and more dense. Finally, he said, “Yes I experienced it too.”

“How? What happened?” We asked with dread yet relief.

Father said, “I would smoke a cigarette in the washroom, I could feel someone walking in the hallway. They would keep dragging their feet. They would take deep breaths riddled with agony. Coming towards the door, and stopping right in front of it. Feeling as if the presence is staring right through the door at me. When I’d open the door, all I could see was the uncanniness of the hallway.”

Just as he spoke, a very subtle yet intoxicating scent started spreading. Suddenly in the upper lofts of the hallway, loud and random thuds started coming. It was as if a bird or a rat was stuck inside and was going berserk. The sounds were horrifying, to say the least. Deeply unsettled, we went up to the loft. The moment we opened the shutter, everything became dead silent; only to discover that everything was in place.

Since then, right around 11:15 pm, this occurrence started to take place routinely.

After a lot of discussion, we dug deep into the history of the house. Ultimately, It was found that the previous to the previous owner had taken his own life in that hallway by hanging himself from that chandelier. He also had a foot defect that made him drag his leg to walk.

We were stunned. With the dots connecting one by one, from the heavy breathing to the feeling of a person dragging their feet; we organized a solemn Pooja and cleansed the whole house.

The feelings and occurrences stopped after that. Everything had finally returned to normal. Over time, we all grew and led our lives peacefully.

Today I am married and have a small child. We visited the house after years. Nostalgia and the bittersweet feelings of childhood flooded through. At night, after a hearty dinner, I turned off the light and sat down in my room.

“ Thud, thud, thud… ”

“ Puchki, come here and sleep now my little angel”  I called out to my four-year-old.

As I turned my back, I saw him