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18 May '24
10 min read


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Ramola was sitting in the lobby of ‘Hilton’ along with her team waiting for the chairman of T&T. It was a big day of her career as she was about to sign her company’s biggest and most prestigious deal with him. Dressed in a crisp business suit, she was running through all the papers calmly. Satisfied with her presentation and paperwork, she closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the plush sofa. As usual, her heart was wretched and gloomy. She felt listless and empty.
“Good Morning, Ms. Ramola. I apologise to keep you waiting,” said the chairman. Ramola immediately came out of her thoughts and shook his hand, trying to be cheerful, and replied, “Not at all, sir; in fact, you are just on schedule and we were a bit early.”
The meeting started and was a hit as expected. The chairman signed the contract and said, “You are brilliant, madam. I am looking forward to working with you and your team.” The overjoyed team congratulated Ramola for her outstanding presentation and leadership. She agreed to see them all later in the day since she was too exhausted and then turned to go to her room.
While she was casually crossing the lobby when suddenly she saw a familiar face in the corridor. “Sonia...” her voice seemed to be stuck in her throat. Sonia turned and froze seeing her. Sonia’s eyes were equally lifeless and blank, or maybe Ramola was simply assuming that. After an awkward silence of a few seconds, Sonia croaked, “It’s good to see you again, Ramola, after, well, 10 years!” ‘It’s been ten years. Why does it still hurt like there is a new scar in my heart ten long years after that terrible night?’ thought Ramola. “Good to see you too, Sonia. After college, you absolutely disappeared,” Ramola blurted and became embarrassed of her own comment. Both of them then walked toward the reception while Ramola kept avoiding the piercing gaze of Sonia’s eyes.
“Coffee?” asked Sonia, to which Ramola nodded. The two college best friends who were meeting after ten years like strangers, finally decided to sit in the hotel lounge for a coffee. Sonia held Ramola’s hands, looked into her eyes, and asked smoothly, “How are you?” The familiar warmth and tenderness broke Ramola and she replied, “I can’t tolerate it, Sonia. I can’t... it is killing me.” Hearing this, Sonia sighed and, with teary eyes, replied, “You are not the only one in pain, I feel the same. We did it together, why are you blaming yourself alone? You left and I couldn’t even muster the courage to talk to you again. That night changed our lives forever. I clearly remember those lovely college days before that incident...”
TEN YEARS AGO….
Ramola and Sonia were in the last year of their master’s degree course from an ‘A-listed’ business school. With pensive eyes, they both would always talk about their future and making big in the corporate world. They both were ambitious, intelligent, smart, and focused young women, sure of their abilities. Ramola was the malicious one whereas Sonia was the calm and composed one, yet they were inseparable. Their friendship included some healthy rivalry, whether it be in their academic work, some submissions, or even in their boyfriends—of which Ramola had many.
Sonia smiled thinking about the day when Ramola entered the room cold sighed and wide-eyed, “Oh, he kissed me today, Sonia! I am so delighted!” Sonia rolled her eyes and ridiculed, “I hope this one stays. You and your long list of boyfriends which keeps changing,” saying that she sighed. The two friends giggled together at her comment. Sonia knew Ramola, she was impulsive and barmy. She would never take anything seriously and used to think that she could get away with everything. She was the biggest prankster. Sonia never liked this aspect of her personality. She tried explaining this to Ramola but as it’s said ‘You can only lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.’ Ramola never paid any heed to Sonia’s advice. Ramola was brilliant, without a question, but her mind was also wickedly sharp.
One day they had to work on a lengthy assignment. The hostel was quiet as everyone was working on it. Sonia didn’t sleep for the whole night and finished her work, however, Ramola was nowhere to be seen. The next day
Ramola entered the class with a swollen face and bandaged hand. She convinced the teacher that she fell off the bike and couldn’t finish the work. Sonia was quite concerned for her but when they returned, she removed the bandage and shrieked with joy, “I fooled the teacher yay! It is absolutely nothing, I partied yesterday since I wasn't in the mood to work on that assignment. Now that I have a week's extension, I will finish it slowly.” Sonia was shocked and said, “How could you be so stupid, Ramola? What if he suspected something? It would have ruined your final grade. You are so bright that you could have finished it in a jiffy, why did you...” “Nothing happened, so relax! Stop talking like my mom,” shouted Ramola, cutting Sonia in between. Sometimes she would go to a restaurant, find some faults in the order, and get a free meal. She used to call all of this fun which Sonia never approved of but somehow Ramola would never listen to her.
Sonia and Ramola never dreamed they would have to pay such a high price one day for all these little pranks and antics. There was a shy girl in their class named ‘Rashi’. She was from a small town and was too naive. She was in awe of Ramola and Sonia. She admired them and used to love hanging out with them. On the other hand, Ramola enjoyed teasing her and played plenty of pranks on her. She would take all that leg pulling in her stride and always kept smiling.
As they entered their last week of classes, students were relaxed, partying, and awaiting their informal results before returning home. All of them were excited about the beginning of their new professional lives. Some of them already had appointment letters in their hands and some were applying. One such day, Ramola brought a packet into the hostel. She called Sonia and Rashi into her room and with a twinkle in her eyes mentioned, “Girls, do you know anything about Ouija board?” Sonia was exasperated and almost lisped, “Yes, I know but I don’t believe in such things.” However, Rashi expressed her ignorance of this and showed her curiosity. Ramola announced in a deep voice, “It’s a magic board, by using it we can call spirits and control them. They will answer us whatever we ask them.” With a little nervousness, Rashi pleaded, “Please! Don’t say anything, there are no ghosts in real life. They exist in stories only...” Ramola blabbered, “They do exist and today you are going to witness something amazing. Do you know why it is called Ouija? Ouija means ‘good luck’ in ancient Egyptian. It is said that when the board was used for the first time, it gave the name Ouija to itself.” Rashi looked impressed and enlightened by Ramola’s wisdom. She was giving Ramola spellbound stares, which she found to be quite endearing.
“So girls, tonight we are going to play Ouija,” declared Ramola. “I am scared,” said Rashi. Ramola hugged her and said, “Don’t worry when the great Ramola is with you.” The three friends went to mess for dinner. Later in the evening, Sonia asked Ramola, “Are you serious? Do you really know how to do it and what to do?” Ramola giggled. “I know nothing, I just want to pull a prank on Rashi. I’m going to scare her to death today, so just have fun.” Sonia panicked and pleaded, “Please! Everything is not for fun, Ramola. I don’t want to be a part of this stupid prank. Why do you have to scare poor Rashi?” “Ok... ok... If she appears terrified, I’ll stop right away, and we’ll inform her that it’s a joke. I won’t go too far with it. Just a bit, please. College is coming to an end. When will this time come again? One final prank, please,” requested Ramola. Sonia gave in and decided to play along.
At night they sat around the Ouija board holding hands. There were candles in the room and Ramola smartly fixed the magnets on the board. “Any holy spirit passing by, please come here... any holy spirit passing by, please come here...,” they started chanting. After a few minutes, the board started shaking. Ramola gasped, “Are u here?” The coin moved and ‘yes’ appeared on the board. Rashi was pale. She tried to pull her hands away. But Ramola and Sonia held them tightly. “Are we gonna pass our exams?” questioned Sonia. The coin rolled and reached ‘yes’. Rashi was scared and started shouting, “Stop... stop, please stop.” Sonia looked at Ramola and she summoned, “Ok, you can leave, we want to stop it here.” ‘No’ appeared on the board. “Please leave, we are so sorry to call you,” cried, Rashi. Suddenly, Ramola started speaking in a strange voice as if she was possessed. She stared at Rashi and started howling in a coarse and harsh voice, “I love you, Rashi. I won’t leave. I will be with you now and forever. You will be only mine, Rashi. I love you, Rashi... ha ha ha... come here, I want you. Come to me, you are my lost love.” “Stop, Ramola, please... you said you will...,” screeched Sonia. “Who is Ramola? She is not here, it’s me and I love Rashi. I will marry you, Rashi, come here,” Ramola’s turned her face away from Sonia and her sinister voice was echoing in the room. Sonia turned toward Ramola trying to stop her and, in the meantime, Rashi rushed out hysterically, followed by Ramola. Sonia roared with all her might, “Rashi, wait it’s a prank, wait...”, but before hearing anything, Rashi sprinted. There was some water on the terrace due to rain and she slipped and fell off the fifth floor trying to save herself from devilish Ramola. The girls heard a ‘thud’ which was followed by a deep silence. Sonia and Ramola stood there stunned and frozen. Everything after that was like a haze for both of them.
An ambulance was called and she was declared dead upon reaching the hospital. Police came and suspected nothing but an unfortunate accident. No one doubted them. The case was closed soon. Rashi’s parents came and met Ramola and Sonia too. Both the girls were crying terribly, which was assumed grief as they were good friends, and no one could figure that it was actually guilt.
Sonia and Ramola went back home scarred for life. 

PRESENT DAY …
“I see Rashi even today. I dream of her asking why I did this to her. I will die of this guilt,” sobbed Ramola. Sonia whimpered, “Two years back, I went to see her parents in my last attempt to find some solace and forgiveness. They are no more. They lost themselves and their sanity when they lost their only daughter. We killed not only Rashi but a whole family. We have to live with this pain now. I think this is our punishment. We will never be able to lead a normal life. This pain, this suffering, this guilt is a part of our life now.” Ramola shrieked, “Yes, there is no forgiveness for us, as we never dared to admit it. It is our sentence, our imprisonment.” Wiping her tears, Sonia got up looking at her watch. Ramola looked at her and whispered, “Can I have your number? Can we be in touch again?” “No, I am sorry, this is also a part of our suffering.” Before Ramola could say anything, Sonia went out of the lounge and she kept staring at her back with blank and teary eyes.
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Category:Stories


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Written by Chitra Khosla

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