Mrs. Rai Bahadur had just tucked some Bobby pins into her bun and was busy getting ready for the feast when suddenly she heard a thud in the backyard.
“Oh! Good lord! These monkeys.” Mrs. Rai Bahadur screeched in shock.
“Madam, please calm down. I will just chase them away.” Said Dyal, a loyal staff of Mrs. Rai Bahadur. He had been serving the Rai Bahadur family for last two decades.
Mrs. Rai Bahadur was known for her radiant beauty, poise and gait in the village of Samantra. Even though her husband, Mr. Rai Bahadur was a highly esteemed zamindaar in the village but his wife always won more hearts of people. It was her grounded colloquial skills, wit and intelligence that made her achieve fame across people of Samantra. People were in awe with the striking beauty and her kindness.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Rai Bahadur were in the early forties blessed with glorious sons. Their age had no effect on their appearance rather they seemed more in love with each passing day. While Mr. Rai Bahadur seemed to be a strict gentleman who spoke less and minded his own business, his wife seemed softer and more approachable.
It was their sweet and sour relationship that made them a favorite in Samantra. Once in every year, the couple with their sons Rudra and Abhishek would give free food to the poor in their palace. The feast would follow distribution of clothes and blankets. Both sons were in their early teens and were considered the most well behaved and well brought up children. The family seemed to be a connoisseur to eyes of common people.
It was that feast day today and Mrs. Rai Bahadur was leaving no stone unturned in the preparations. She had ordered the clothes and had checked with cooking preparations.
Just when she felt she was ready, she called Dyal.
“Dyal, I think the monkey left her baby in the backyard. It is crying. Could you just take it and leave it in the woods.” Suggested Mrs. Rai Bahadur.
“Yes, madam! I shall do it.” Dyal answered.
For some reason Mrs. Rai Bahadur felt a lump in her throat.
“Sir, it is a dead body in a very bad position. It has bites in several places in the body and the case seems to be just like the previous one.” Said Khempal, a constable from Samantra village while trying to wade off the foul smell and fiddling with his handkerchief.
“So, are you going to take this case again as a matter of animal bite?” Asked a worried Soham Singh towards his fellow officer Vikram.
There followed a detailed discussion on both the bodies found. Soham was a police commissioner at the Samantra police station and while Vikram was of his age but junior by designation. The village of Samantra was vastly known for its fertile land and the dense jungle. Most of the villagers survived on farming and used to reap major profits. They specialized in wheat which was later supplied to other parts of the country. The jungle remained a dreaded center where least people wanted to go. As a matter of fact, the forest of Samantra was famous in North India for its heavy density, tropical climate and the wild animals.
Both the officers were in debate trying to keep their opinions first.
“Instead of debating, we need to get deeper to the case I think.” Suggested Vikram.
“That seems to be much better justification than the ones you have been giving me since the time we have come back.” Said Soham.
“I didn’t aim to offend you but it is quite unusual to believe that if it’s not animal bite then what?” Asked Vikram.
Just when Soham was about to give his point of view, Dr. Rajesh appeared with his reports.
“It’s a human bite.” Said Dr. Rajesh, a forensic officer.
Struck with shock, both Soham and Vikram couldn’t contain their emotions.
“It’s nearly impossible! Why on Earth will a human bite someone like an animal?” Asked an agitated Soham.
“Humans are a kind of animal too.” Answered Dr.Rajesh.
“It’s not a very good time for a joke doctor.” Soham retorted back.
“Peace!” Vikram tried to intervene and calm down both men.
“We have to peacefully handle the case. Four deaths have been reported already.” Vikram tried to explain them.
“There seems to be some commotion in the village. Have you tried to get any news about it?” Inquired Mrs. Rai Bahadur.
“Yes! There seems to be some death of a young man in the village. He was bitten by some animal it seems.” Said Mr.Rai Bahadur as he turned another page of his book.
“What? When did this happen? How can you be so calm at this, Rai Saab?” A stunned Mrs. Rai Bahadur reacted.
“What do you expect? Did I let him go in the woods? We have several times alerted villagers not to go near the jungle. Is it my fault?” Mr. Rai Bahadur put his opinion in the best possible manner.
“What about his family? What will happen to them?” Asked a concerned Mrs. Rai Bahadur.
“Are you seriously this worried about that family?” Asked Mr.Rai Bahadur.
“What do you mean? I am definitely concerned. I shall go to meet the family tomorrow.” Answered Mrs. Rai Bahadur.
“As you wish.” Mr. Rai Bahadur replied.
The next morning, Mrs. Bahadur with Dyal and other two staff went to see the bereaved family. She was distressed at the sight and found it difficult to contain pain for the family.
Seeing the mourning mother, Mrs. Rai Bahadur quickly went to her so as to console.
“I am really sorry to hear this. You have to be strong.” Said Mrs. Bahadur.
“I do not know madam, what happened overnight? Everything ended.” Said the inconsolable mother.
“Why did you let him go to the woods? You know there are so many animals there.” Asked Mrs. Bahadur.
“He was telling me for a last few days that he could hear some humane voice. I asked him not to pay attention to it. But he didn’t.” Responded the mother. Just as she said this, she fell unconscious and some of the other members came to support.
“Human??” Shocked Mrs. Rai Bahadur tried to collect herself after hearing this.
“Madam, let’s go back. It’s getting darker. People are here to take care of her.” Dyal tried to comfort Mrs. Rai Bahadur.
Vikram and Soham gave their greetings to her while she left for her palace.
“Did you hear what the mother said to Mrs Bahadur?” Confirmed Vikram.
“Yes, I did. I am perplexed at the reports given by the family.” Answered Soham.
“So am I. In fact, the same thing was said by a relative in the last case. Where do we begin the investigation from?” Vikram asked.
“We need to start from the scratch.” Answered Soham.
“It’s quite difficult to fathom such a case. I have never come across like this.” Said Vikram.
“I think it’s too early to call it a weird case. Until, we do thorough investigation, nothing can be said. Till now, we were either calling it an animal bite case or something done by vultures. But, it doesn’t seem anything either.” Said Soham.
“Let’s get to the basics then.” Responded Vikram.
“These deaths are not natural Rai Saab.” Said Mrs. Rai Bahadur
“What makes you feel so?” Responded Mr. Bahadur
“Police spoke to village people and it seems, the deceased were attracted to some human voice.” Said Mrs. Rai Bahadur
“Are you kidding me? The jungle is dense and no man goes there. We have even restricted any kind of wooden work too. Have you forgotten the lion attack years from now that happened?” Mr. Bahadur
“Yes, we lost one of our staffs in that incident. I don’t want to remember the blood curdling roar.” A terrified Mrs. Rai Bahadur said.
“You even dread to remember that and you call these deaths unusual. This is a simple case of animal attack.” Mr. Rai Bahadur tried to justify.
“But, something hits me bad.” Mrs. Rai Bahadur said.
“You are simply worried and stressed. I think you should rest now.” Said Mr. Rai Bahadur. He helped his wife to calm down and go to sleep.
While leaving the room, Mr. Rai Bahadur asked, “Or are you thinking something else?”
Several months passed by but the entire police team could not resolve the mystery of those deaths. Meanwhile, they collected information from the bereaved families and the one staying closer to the jungle.
“What does your research say Vikram?” Inquired Soham.
“If I start elaborating them, you may again call it a matter of fiction. So, should I?” Answered Vikram.
“Well, again I should tell you, I am not here for fun. No gimmicks as well. Better come to the point.” Said Soham.
“Ok. As we spoke to the bereaved families first, they said, their son was talking about a human voice coming from jungle and that it was more of womanly nature.” Said Vikram.
“No wonder why they went to jungle. Because it was womanly. Good grief!” Chuckled Soham.
“Who is joking now Soham?” Taunted Vikram.
“I am not really. But this information seems to be gibberish. Never mind carry on.” Said Soham.
“The residents near the jungle who are mostly untouchables said that they occasionally listen to howling voice. Once, the voice was right at the border. Over the period of time, the voice calling has reduced due to our police constables and guards doing the rounds at the location.” Informed Vikarm.
“I see. I think, Vikram, it is time to take weapons in our hands and reach the location ourselves and find out what is the real deal?” Said Soham.
“I understand, what is the plan but?” Asked Vikram.
“We will have to hit the jungle ourselves. With a team, we can start the hunt. We just can’t sit at the border and inspect the case. Can we?” Said Soham.
“Fine, we shall. When do you want to?” Asked Vikram.
“Tomorrow morning.” Said Soham.
“Hope you all have the guns and knives. You are not supposed to attack till I command.” Announced Soham.
Soham had created a team five people and among them, two were the natives of the village. Loaded with arms, the team paved their way towards the jungle. Surrounded by greens in all angles, the team took a leap of courage. The team kept their arms ready even at the slightest move of a leaf. Seeing their presence, may deers and antelopes were seen running away in fear.
“We shouldn’t go much deeper because we don’t know the routes. We may get lost. Need to understand which ones are the routes.” Said Vikram.
“First analyze this section. Hope, we get some clue within this range.” Said Soham.
“I don’t hear a morsel of voice humanly voice these country people said. Just tadpoles and ants talking to each other. Said Vikram.
“Don’t you remember, Khempal said that due to human commotion around, these voices just vanish? Said Soahm.
“Yes! Then! They bit humans too. What you mean by that?” Said Vikram.
“That means the animals are highly shrewd and know how to hide themselves.” Said Soahm.
“Men, it’s getting dark. Let’s get back.” Announced Soham to the team.
Eyes from the middle of leaves glared at the team walking towards the village. Hands glided down to a fruit hung around a bark that low in height.
For next few days, the team kept doing the investigation and would locate the team members in different location. Investogation was in full swing till one day Khempal was attacked. In the middle of bushes, Khempal was lying in a pool of blood. Crying for help in agony and pain, he pointed towards a certain direction in the jungle.
Vikram supported Khempal’s head and helped him feel better.
“We are taking you to the nearby medical help. Don’t lose hope. Ok?” Said Soham in support.
“No sir! It’s too late. I may not survive till then. Please just listen my last words on whatever I saw. May be it will help.” Said an ailing Khempal.
“You cannot say this. We will do everything for you. What did you see?” Asked Vikram.
“An nude woman in long hair. A witch, aaaa….aaaa.” Khempal lost his breath and never regained it.
“That loyal constable, yes yes Khempal, oh! He died? ” Shocked Mrs. Bahadur screamed.
“That’s why I never want to tell you anything. Please calm down. The team went too deep in the forest and something like this was probable. Please do not stress yourself.” Mr. Rai Bahadur tried to comfort his wife.
“I need to speak to the head of the team before they start on their voyage.” Mrs. Bahadur said.
“What will you speak about?” Mr. Rai Bahadur interrogated.
“I want to know in detail that actually killed him.” Mrs. Bahadur said.
“Well, disturbing elements are coming up. Even I am little baffled. But, we need to keep patience till the Vikram and Soham tell us.” Said Mr. Rai Bahadur. “It cannot be a woman.” Whispered Mr. Rai Bahadur within himself gazing at the window.
“Woman? What did you say? Tell me.” Asked a curious Mrs. Bahadur.
“Calm down! We shall meet them the day they come from their next round of investigation. Till then peace!” Mr. Rai Bahadur.
“After Khempal, this is our next voyage and probably, the last. My people, this is it! Don’t lose hope, keep calm and be alert. Do not get swayed by anything mythical. Keep your ammunitions ready.” Announced Soham.
“Yes sir!” Said the team in chorus.
Soham and Vikram lead the team deep in the forest. This time, they went in the direction Khempal had pointed to. This region was largely dominated by wolves and maximum amount of howling voices would come from here.
The team walked with as minimalistic noise as possible. Their guns were in their hand, they were small steps to reach the interior. Suddenly, there was a noise of thud.
“Sir, Gopal has fallen it seems. Please stop.” Said another constable Dina. Immediately, the rest of the team rushed to Gopal who could be heard crying in pain.
“Who is that? Who is there?” Screamed Soham after he sensed something unnatural.
Dina tried to divert Soham’s attention towards ailing Gopal. The team tried to give some medical aid and console him.
“Sir, it’s a woman wolf. Please run to chase her.” Said Gopal.
“There is something really notorious happening in here!” Exclaimed Soham.
While Dina was asked to stay with Gopal, Vikram, Soham and Kaushal head to the bushes to catch hold of creature. With all arms set, the team went in the Dina pointed to.
“Look at that!” said Kaushal.
“Ssshhh! Do you understand the cost you will have to pay for being this loud?” Said Vikram.
The team sensed a creature in their vicinity. At pin drop silence, the team decided to be a silent spectator and all set to attack. Just when they readied their guns, they were stunned and shocked.
A nude woman walked on her four limbs, those nails went a foot long. Her waist length hair was messy, she didn’t bathe in ages it seems. She was eating a dead rat, moving like an animal to and fro. She could have been mere 18, she was sniffing the ground occasionally and making noises. Her fist more like an animal smartly moved around the bushes. One could easily claim, she was sparkling white but the dust and dirt had covered her all.
Before, the team could settle what they had seen, a family of wolves came near her. They murmured in their language, and suddenly they howled. The woman howled too just like the rest.
“It’s beyond my assumption what I am seeing.” Said Vikram.
“We can’t be here anymore. It’s time to attack.” Said Soham from another set of bushes.
And in no time, there was a noise of huge gun firing. Within no time, the herd of wolves and the woman were dead.
“Take the body to village. We need to investigate.” Order Soham.
“Cover her!” Added Vikram.
Almost entire village had come to see the body of woman wolf. That is how people were addressing her as. Traumatized to see a woman’s body covered in a white sheet, villagers couldn’t fathom the fact there lived a woman in the woods. People spoke in hush hush tons about how beautiful she was, she had long hair and if she was a witch. Talks went on among men and women while children with their curious eyes observed her.
“Please calm down! Please! In the war with the wolves, we came across this. She is also responsible for killing our constable Gopal. I am sorry about that. We made several gunshots and instantly killed her and the rest. We are yet to investigate what made this woman reach here.” Announced Soham.
Just in the rush, both Mr. and Mrs. Rai Bahadur made way to the place. They staff helped them get inside and have a closer look. Pushing people aside, Mrs. Rai Bahadur finally came near to the body.
She fell on her knees and felt something unusual. To peoples’ surprise, Mrs. Rai Bahadur cried at the loudest like no other. Disturbed and unprepared, Mr.Rai Bahadur tried to console her. He kept his eyes low and hoped, no one should realize anything.
“What happened ma’am?” Asked Vikram.
“My daughter! I abandoned her.” Answered an inconsolable and guilt stricken Mrs. Rai Bahadur.
Pic courtesy – Internet