Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Haunting by Ayesha Bhatti

Waking up on a Sunday morning in his arms made her lazy. They had recently shifted in their new home, and she thought the location was just perfect. He had brought her there exactly a month from then, on her birthday, blind folded, to surprise her.


She shifted a little to turn around and see if Bob was awake- he was fast asleep. She helped herself out of his iron firm grip and crept out of the room; into the balcony.

The view was marvelous. She was standing in a house which was perfectly located on top of the highest hill. It was exceptionally beautiful, with lush green trees covering the hill all the way to the bottom, where the yellow-blue lake stood still, reflecting the rising sun.

Bob had bought the guest house from an old, wretched woman on surprisingly low rates. Taking six months leave from work, he wanted to spend his entire time alone with Cheryl, loving her, and caring for her till the time she got delivered.

Uptil now, working days were spent fixing the house, and weekends were officially treated as days off from work.

In the balcony, Cheryl’s thoughts shifted from Bob to their new house, and from their new house, to the diaries she had discovered in the attic…

She had kept them safely hidden; out of Bob’s sight, and would only read them when Bob was not around.

She made her way to the attic; Bob would remain in bed for another two or maybe three hours, she was sure.

“November 25th, 1813: Today, I am happy. It has been two months now that we have shifted in our new house. Darling Susana keeps me very busy these days, and that is the only reason I am not able to do you justice, dear Diary. Even now, she calls me to play with her.

“December 1st, 1813: Our new home might not be as lavish as our previous one, but the area is peaceful and I can spend hours only sitting in the balcony, watching little ducks in the lake. I am satisfied. Victor says he will buy me an ostentatious carriage so that I do not face trouble while visiting the country-side, to shop.

My husband is quiet a gentleman. He is handsome, wise and rich, and I am lucky to be his wife.

“December 18th, 1813: Christmas is near and it is time for celebrations. Yet, I am grieved. Victor has changed. My hand is bruised, and my favourite silk gown got torn from the sleeve.

I cry as I write.

“January 2nd, 1814: “Dear Diary, I am filled with emotions; my heart is burdened and my eyes are swollen.  Victor loved me so much, that at times I really feel I am living with merely an animal, not my husband. He has been torturing me mentally, and physically.

But I believe it is not his fault; he is bewitched. He came home before Christmas Eve, drunk. As soon as I opened the door, I was disgusted at his misconduct. But upon looking at me, he started crying like a three year old. My heart melted and I took Victor in my arms. He told me he loved me, and did not wish to leave either me or Susana alone. I was utterly confused, yet told him he would go nowhere alone, and that I was with him, to which he yelled, “She would take me away! You can do nothing to save me!” I asked him what he was talking about, but he kept on repeating what he had already said, till he finally fell asleep.

Dear Diary, that day marked the beginning of my misfortune. Victor has been harsh on me since then. He comes home late, usually after dawn, drunk. I try to keep Susana away from him. I don’t want the little angel to go tumbling over an issue she won’t even understand.

“January 14th, 1814: You won’t believe what I have to tell you. You won’t believe that an incident can add more misery to my life, yet, it happened. Victor’s face has shrinked to half of what it was, and he is covered in bruises. I heard him say things like “mistake”, “ Zoshita” and “I don’t want to die..” in his sleep one morning, and was disturbed since then, till I came up to the idea of mixing herbs in his meal that would force him to sleep for atleast a day. I was sure Victor was becoming a mad man with all the stress he was taking. He needed a day off. 

It wasn’t till evening that the door knocked, and somebody called for Victor. To my surprise, it was a veiled lady in black dressing gown, and a black pointed hat. I asked her who she was, to which she responded by grabbing my arm, pulling me closer to herself, and asking in a rather impertinent tone, “Where have you hidden him?” I responded by slapping her: the intensity of which revealed her face as the veil fell off.

She was the ugliest creature I had ever seen.

She threw me across the floor with a non-human force that expressed her anger. I slammed over the dinner table, and the china tea service fell on the floor, broken into pieces.

“Zoshita! I told you to stay away from my house, my family!” I saw my husband storming downstairs, into the dining room.  

The hideous creature turned towards him like a she dog wagging its tail, “My love, I travel here to meet you, and this ugly woman doesn’t let me… Why not did you come to me? I got tired of calling you…” her nasty eyes shown as she spoke.

“I…” and Victor collapsed on the floor. I ran to his aid, but the witch stopped me halfway saying it was her job to clear the mess.

To my astonishment, she responded, “This is my land you live on! Every man that is to set foot in my territory is to be my possession, and every woman to accompany him is to die!” she laughed a sinister roar as she disappeared into thin air, with Victor.

“January 17th, 1814: Victor has yet not returned. I will die of waiting for my poor gentleman. Dear Diary, I do not know what to do. I know Zoshita has made him a prisoner somewhere.  All of this complication took place because of me! I forced poor Victor to move in this cursed house. It looks magnificent only to attract more people, to ruin more lives! Dear Diary, ask God to help me! He has stopped listening to my prayers… He has left them unanswered… Susana asks me why I cry, but I do not know what to tell her…”

“Cheryl! Darling, are you up there?” Bob’s voice pulled Cheryl back in the twenty-first century.

“Yes sweet-heart, I am coming down.”

She kept the diary safely and went down to serve him breakfast (it was her turn to work in the kitchen).

Bob ate in peace, whereas Cheryl was disturbed. Unrealistic thoughts came in her head, which she tried to abandon. “Witches and all those other creatures only exist in books. They are not real. Not atleast in today’s world.” She kept on telling herself. Yet, something deep inside was troubling her greatly.

She needed to tell Bob, but what for? He would only make fun of her and say, “Stop acting like a silly pregnant woman who has lost her brain.” She ignored the idea.

Days passed and Bob had started to behave rather differently. He would make fun of Cheryl on petty issues, without knowing she was being hurt, and then not even realize his mistake. Eventually, he stopped bothering to care for Cheryl or even make her sleep like he used to…

Cheryl sensed the fact that they were growing apart, and wanted to talk it out with Bob, but she couldn’t find the time… To her, it felt as if days had become shorter then seconds. Most of her time was spent resting on bed: her delivery date was approaching. She didn’t know where Bob used to spend his time when she was not around. And she didn’t even bother to know. He had become a selfish man.

All this time, the only mistake Cheryl made was not to find out where Bob was…

After a frightful dream one night, where Cheryl saw herself crying hysterically, only because she was guilty of an act she did not even know, she woke up with a start. She acted upon instincts and ran to the attic.

“March 25th, 1826: Mother treasured you, yet you couldn’t save her. Neither could I. I was too young. I am sure mother would have wanted to complete you. Sadly, she couldn’t.

With tears in my eyes, I tell you dear Diary, that father came home after months. He was not my father, but some violent man. He abused mother in front of my young eyes. He wanted to kill her. I saw mother push him away, to protect herself and me, but instead, she unwillingly killed him. He fell off from the balcony, into the depths of these very hills. I could hear him screaming till his body finally thrashed into pieces. After the accident, mother went crazy, and had to be admitted in an asylum.

From then on, I went to live with my aunt who took care of me, I am grateful.  

To this house you belong, and thereby I shall leave you here, Diary, to benefit any other soul who decides to set foot on this damned place, to be doomed for eternity.

Note:  Any adult who is accompanied by a partner and has chosen this hell for a home can’t leave this house till their fate sentences them to die.


Susana Williams.” 


  1. Well, the idea behind the essay isnt half bad. it coulhd have taken an Edgar Allen Poe-esque turn but the execution wasnt flawless. Instead of description you simply say "it was beautiful"
    "she was the ugliest creature i had ever seen". Without sufficient imagery, readers can not envision the scene properly. Secondly, the witch and the diary seemed a bit cliché. Not very original and the way she seemed to fight the witch and slap her made it all very unrealistic. the ending wasnt surprising either. I dont mean to tear apart your work, but you must understand that it's important to be original, surprising and memorable. Execution is key. Diction, imagery everything. So in your next essay, try to use all this to make your essay better.

  2. Mmmmm....structurally parallel scenes of present happenings and diary entries would have been a lot more intriguing.
    Is it a short story? Yes
    Is it The Haunting? Yes
    Is there guilt? No
    Is there terror? Not really.
    You need to work on build-up of emotion through language and imagery.
    Grade stands at a 6/10