There was a loud cry. It was Sheila. Everyone left what they were doing and rushed to see Sheila. Their mother had pulled Sheila's hair from behind. The pain was unbearable. She felt as if head would pop any moment. She tried hard to free herself but mother's grip was too strong. Shekhar tried to save his wife. He tried to coax her as well as free her fingers that gripped Sheila's hair. Strangely, he was unable to beat her strength.
Finally, Sakshi slapped mother hard. It was first time she had raised her hand on a elder and the elder was her mother. She felt guilty but she convinced herself that it was necessary for her to do so. She kept telling herself that she had slapped the demon and not her mother. Everyone were surprised. Mother slowly loosen the grip and fell unconscious. Shekhar tried to wake her up. But she was
"How dare you slap your mother?", Shekhar growled. "I had to. I had free Sheila and mom from the demon.", she said meekly. He looked confused and said,"What do you mean?" "Mom is possessed by the demon", she cried. "How can you be sure?", he asked. She narrated everything that Vicky had told her. She also added her observations she had come across. "Why didn't you say anything, Vicky? Why did you keep quiet all this while?", he asked Vicky.
Vicky looked down. He couldn't look at his brother. He was ashamed. He knew he had committed a sin. He still looked down as he spoke, "I was scared! I was scared that you would not believe me. I didn't how would you all react. Trust me, I wanted to inform you all but fear stopped me. I feel ashamed. I feel sinful." Shekhar took few steps and stopped close toward Vicky. He brushed his hair gently and said, "We are family. We would never leave you alone in any situation. You can count on us."
The day passed quickly. There was no horrific incidents. Mother had slept peacefully. She was normal after the last attack. She had breakfast and lunch as usual. Everyone was relieved. But this was just for a while. As the night arrived, everyone became alert. The kids were scared while the grown ups tried to console them , but they were scared themselves. After dinner, Shekhar decided to check on mother. Sheila initially tried to persuade him to let her join him . But he wanted to be alone with mother. After brief argument, she decided to let Shekhar to be with his mother alone. She was doing fine. She was sleeping. He sat on the chair next to her bed. The rest of the family stayed downstairs. Within minutes, everyone had slept where they had stayed.
Suddenly Shekhar woke up to giggling of child. It seemed like the kid was playing chase game on the passage near the door. When he turned back, he saw a shadow running and giggling. He assumed it to be one of his kid. But it seemed strange to him that a kid would play at wee hours of the night. He got up to check. He followed the shadow until it stopped next to a wall. Later, it disappeared. Shekhar rubbed his eyes and smiled at the thought that he was dreaming. As he turned back towards the room, something pulled his hand towards the wall. He tried to look back and free himself. But he couldn't . He tried to scream. There was no voice inside. He stared helplessly with one of his hand outstretched into the air as he was slowly swallowed into the wall.
(To be continued)