Sweta was cycling along the long stretch of road as a part of her daily regimen of exercise.She chose this desolate road that accounted for six kilometres as it was free from heavy traffic and was lined by trees on both sides giving a shady and cool ambience.Only some stray cyclists and trucks could be seen sometimes.This day when she started she hesitated for a few seconds to take this route as the sky was over cast and cloudy but decided she could make it before the rain came.
As ill luck would have it, the sky broke loose when she was midway and what started as a drizzle became a downpour.She looked around and could see no houses or a place to escape the rain except one house a little yonder.She cycled fast, left the cycle at the gate and ran on the pathway to the door of the house that was deep inside She was totally drenched..As she rang the bell and waited for it to open, she looked around.The lawn was uncared for with all litter and leaves scattered all over.The windows were all closed indicating that the house was uninhabited.The downpour was torrential.She pressed the bell again and kept the finger long on the switch.
After a long interval the door creaked open slightly.She saw a handsome man well dressed in three piece suit in his early forties smiling at her.”Please come in.I am sorry I made you wait.Make yourself comfortable. I see you are drenched but can offer you nothing though”he said
When she looked around for a place to sit, she found the sofa and chairs all ocoverd with dust.There were cobwebs hanging everywhere from the ceilings, windows and walls.The floors looked dusty evidently unswept for long period. He looked incongruous in his smart dress in a place so despicable.
As if reading her mind, he said”Yes, I am sorry the place is not presentable.That was the reason for my hesitation initially to let you in.But the rain is so heavy that I had not the heart to turn you away.”
Are you living alone? The place looks uninhabited and desolate” she asked.
“Yes, I am livng alone.I am sorry I am not able to entertain you with tea and snacks.There is water in the tap. Better you don’t take.” he said
“Sorry for asking this.Aren’t you scared to live in what looks like a haunted house? Can you not get someone to keep the place clean just like you? Please excuse me for my impetuosity”she said
“I am accustomed to live here.True the place is not looking good.I am unable to get it cleaned much as I would wish.If you have no objection, I have some work upstairs.i will go.Please be at ease and you can leave the place when the rain stops without having to take leave of me.Just keep the door closed as you leave” he said and left for the first floor.As he was climbing the stair, she could see him smiling at her as she mumbled her thanks.
After he left, she went closer to the kitchen on the other side of the hall.There were some unwashed cups with brown stain, cockroaches running all over and a few plates and dirty saucepans around the place.The water tap was leaking with drops of water falling at intermitten intervals leaving the place mushy.Here again the whole place was filled with cobwebs with soots hanging all over.There was a stale smell that made her feel like vomitting.She closed her mouth and nose with her kerchief and came hurriedly near the front door.She never liked the place and wished to get away as quickly as possible.Luckily for her the rain had stopped and there was only a slight drizzle.
She opened the creaking door softly and as she turned to look at the stair case to see if he was there, she saw on the mantle piece a large photograph 4x2 feet with a dry garland of a person in suit.She looked intently and it was the same smiling gentleman who was talking to her.Stifling a scream with her hand and with hair that rose to stand on their ends all over the body in fright, she ran out to the gate as fast as her legs could take.