Don’t cry princess.

Chowdhury Ma’am from History insists that when a baby cries for no reason it is because she senses a negative spirit in the room. She says the same about dogs who bark senselessly. Mr. Basu’s Alsatian, Bruno would keep barking all evening on some days. I was not sure if it was because of what Chowdhury ma’am said. But then, when Basu aunty got a baby, Bruno’s barking would coincide with Sammy’s crying. Those nights I slept with the lights on and my teddy ‘Fuzzy’ by my side.

So last night mumma tucked me in and since Bruno & Sammy had decided to behave like gentlemen, she did not have to keep the lights on. However she did set Fuzzy next to me before kissing me on the forehead and leaving the room. I often talk to Fuzzy when he is by my side in bed and like always, he charmingly listened to the highlights of my day that night. I must have fallen asleep while talking to him because I remember having a dream where we were seated in the drawing room watching the power puff girls and having tutti frutti ice cream together. Fuzzy was even more adorable in my dreams because he talked and ate and sang and laughed with me. We were amidst a fit of laughter when Sammy’s wail disrupted our reverie, and the ice cream vanished. Fuzzy gave me a helpless shrug. I opened my eyes and saw the moon, stars & clouds elegantly painted on the canvas of the night sky.

The sight of these gorgeous celestial objects made me smile because I thought I was having another dream where Fuzzy will come along with Peppy, my favorite late night time snack. We often have Peppy together at our terrace on pretty nights such as this one. Sammy gave another wail and this one seemed to come from right next to me.  I got up and looked in the direction of the sound to see a baby much bigger than Sammy just seated on the ground crying, all the time looking at me. Green grass covered the expanse of the ground and the outline of a goal post was visible at each end. It didn’t take me long to figure that it was my school playground. Darkness has a way of playing with your head and the familiar buildings around the school campus took a more sinister form. The steeples of the school church resembled three horns of a dragon, the glinting windows of the school building looked like 1000 eyes of an abominable monster with the main entrance taking the shape of its hungry mouth waiting to swallow me whole. Fear seeped its way inside my head and my heart hoped for this dream to end soon. After what seemed like a several minutes of waiting, I realized that this is not a dream and I am really in the middle of the school ground right now.

The answers to the whys and hows of me being here at this hour of the night eluded me. Beads of cold sweat began to form on my forehead at the thought of Father Richard finding me in the middle of the school in my pajamas at dawn and bringing the wrath of his infamous cane down on me. I was overcome by the desire to leave this place, but leaving the baby there in the cold did not seem right. I looked towards the entrance of the school and was relieved to see that the security cabin light was on.

“Don’t worry we will find your parents!” I said while turning to fetch the baby but she was not there anymore. In the same spot where I had seen her just a moment ago sat Fuzzy, the light of the stars twinkling from his eyes. I did not know whether to be scared or relieved, Fuzzy had been my closest friend for a long time and his being there meant that we will get out of this strange situation together. As my hands reached out to pick him up, the baby reappeared as Fuzzy vanished, and let out a loud shriek of lament. A scream escaped from my mouth as my heart started thudding erratically. I turned around and started running as fast as I could.

I did not know where I was going but I just ran, wanting to get away from the howling baby. I had barely gotten out of the ground when the church clock struck 4 times as if inviting me to the safety of the church. I turned right and started running towards the church building. The church is my favorite place in the school. When daddy had an accident three years ago, I sat at my favorite spot there, the third bench from the altar praying to Mother Mary.

As I reached the church steps I saw that the church’s main door is shut and that I may have nowhere to go. “Please don’t be locked! Please don’t be locked! Pretty please don’t be locked” I kept chanting as I climbed the steps and upon reaching the door, gave the doors a strong push with all the strength I could muster. It was locked.

I sat down, resting my back against the church door, petrified but finding solace in the fact that I am in God’s abode and Sister Theresa would open the church doors in some time to commence the 5:00 a.m. lauds service. I joined my hands, shut my eyes and started praying to Mother Mary. My prayer had barely begun when the sound of the wailing baby violated my thoughts. My eyes shot open and I could see the general figure of the baby on the path leading from the ground to the church. Bowing my head, eyes shut tight, I resumed my prayer ignoring the baby’s wails. After prayers, I opened my eyes but did not dare to lift my head again or look in the direction of the baby.

A minute passed and another, the baby had stopped crying and I risked a glance in the direction where I last saw her. She was now on all fours, crawling towards me. A cold shiver ran down my spine and I prayed for her to stop, but she wouldn’t. Then after having covered a significant distance, the baby stopped and started crying again. I brought my hands to my ears to drown out her wails, head buried between my crossed legs. A minute or so passed before the crying stopped. Afraid that she will start moving towards me again, I risked a glance in her direction. The baby had turned left and was crawling towards the school building. Relief washed over me as the baby disappeared around the corner and I thanked Mother Mary for being there for me.

As much as home beckoned me, I did not want to leave what seemed like my safe spot. The breeze had a degree of chill to it forcing me to curl up on the floor facing the church doors to keep warm.  Feeling safe and not as cold as I was, drowsiness began to set in. Just as I was about to float off into slumber-land, a clattering sound of something falling inside the church jolted me. I stood up in fright ready to bolt, but then I heard the relieving sound of the church door being unlatched. My prayers had been answered and I stood there waiting for the door to open so that I could tell Sister Theresa of my ordeal. When the door did not open for about a minute , I panicked and gave it a slight nudge. My heart jumped for joy as it moved. It wasn’t locked anymore.

I pushed the doors open all the way, dim light of candles greeted me as tears of relief welled up in my eyes. Halfway between the doors and the altar I could see the figure of Sister Theresa kneeled down in a prayer. I dashed towards her with a determined urgency but tripped on a fallen candelabra. I got up again and to my horror, Sister Theresa wasn’t there anymore. This could not be happening I told myself, but I was with Mother Mary now and it felt better. As a safety measure I decided to shut the doors before occupying my favorite spot. Upon turning around, I recoiled in sheer terror to see the baby crawling towards me through the doorway. I started backing off towards the altar but I tripped again and landed on my rear this time. The shock of the fall rendering me unable to move, I sat there in despair watching the baby nudge her way towards me on all fours. The baby had covered most of the distance when she suddenly stopped. She looked at me, turned and crawled into the aisle next to her. I felt a rush of adrenaline surge through my veins as I dashed towards the altar and climbed it to be as close to Mother Mary as possible. As I was cowering at the foot of her statue, the baby came out of the aisle and started crawling towards me again, dragging something along with her. Upon reaching the altar she sat on the ground, picked the object and held it in front of her, offering it to me. It was Fuzzy.

As frightening as the situation was, I was overcome by the desire to hold Fuzzy in my arms and tell him all about my unpleasant experiences after our joyous ice cream binge was interrupted by the yelping fiend. I was debating whether or not I should go and take Fuzzy from that wretched runt when the baby set Fuzzy on the ground and started rubbing his tummy gently. Seeing her innocently playing with Fuzzy caused my heart to melt. I slid down and took confident strides towards them. As I crouched next to them, the baby snapped her head towards me, an unnatural grin plastered across her face. Startled I stumbled back in terror just to see the baby pull poor Fuzzy’s head apart. I could not hold back my tears as the baby methodically reduced Fuzzy to shreds, all the while beaming with that maniacal grin. I was bawling now, cold and scared inside the church.

After she was satisfied, she crawled up to me. I pushed myself back and pressed hard against the altar, stupidly hoping for some secret escape passage to appear. Tears flowed from my eyes as she came up to me and put a hand on my shoulder. She parted her lips to reveal decaying, deformed teeth and in a horrific manly tone said

“Don’t cry princess, Fuzzy is mine now. Soon you will be too, but not today.” and then it cackled.

The laughter sounded like a thousand jackals had decided to laugh at the same time.

Whatever this thing was, it sure wasn’t a baby. After the laughter subsided, it stood up on its legs and started walking towards the door. My eyes were glued to the creature’s withdrawing figure, horrified as candles started going off aisle by aisle as it walked away from me. When the last set of candles, closest to the entrance went off, I passed out.

Even in my unconscious state, that horrible smirk haunted me and those fiendish words kept echoing in my head.

 “Don’t cry princess….”

“Soon you will be too…”

“Fuzzy is mine now..”

“Soon you will be too… ”

“Don’t cry ….”

“Soon you will be mine Princess!”

It was daylight when I was woken up by water being splashed upon my face. Upon opening my eyes I saw mumma. I did not understand why she was crying. I could hear Daddy talking to Father Richard who insisted that Sister Annie had locked the church doors last night.

“She is… awake” Mumma said, relief radiating from her voice

I got up, a dull ache haunting my head. Daddy came running to me and hugged me tight. He is a strong man but could not stop his tears.

“What happened Tuhi?” mumma asked between sobs.

“I don’t’ know..”

“How did you get here?”

“I don’t know!”

“Who is Princess?” daddy asked

“Princess?”

“You kept muttering ‘stop crying princess’ in your sleep.” mumma’s concerned voice.

“I don’t know! I don’t remember anything! Leave me alone!” I sobbed helplessly. Something had happened last night but I could not recall any of it.

“She needs to rest, and to be home” Sister Theresa said.

Daddy nodded and got up. I felt a sense of comfort as we started walking away from Sister Theresa. I didn’t understand why. Sister Theresa is the sweetest of all the nuns in our school. She never punishes anybody and makes it a point to come to the class and bless children on their birthdays. She even brought a diary for me on mine. But today I just wanted to be as far away from her as possible.

Daddy stopped to talk to some police officers before we got in our car. We did not talk much on our way home. Mumma and Daddy probably felt that it is best to leave me alone. They talked about some Dr. Sampat. I don’t know who Dr. Sampat is but probably Mumma is not feeling well.

As we pulled over in our driveway, I spotted Mrs. Basu holding Sammy in her arms, singing to him as he giggled gleefully. Bruno stood there, not wagging his tail staring at them with an expression of what seemed like contempt on his face. I immediately looked away.

Mumma gave me a bath, which was embarrassing since I am 7 years old now but I was certainly glad to have her around. When I stepped out of the bathroom, French toast was waiting for me on the dining table. My daddy does not talk much but he has his own ways to shower me with his affection. I felt blessed to have such loving parents.

Languor cast its lazy blanket on me after I had devoured the hearty meal. Mumma asked me to sleep in their room with her but I insisted on retiring to mine. As I lay on my bed, I started wondering what had happened.

“What was I doing with mumma and daddy in the school church wearing my pajamas?”

“Why did we have police there?”

“How are the church’s locked doors any of daddy’s business?”

“Who is Dr. Sampat and why won’t daddy take mumma to our family doctor?”

These questions plagued me for a long time. I think I got tired of these questions eventually, because I started feeling drowsy and reached for the covers. I froze.

Across the bed, on my study desk sat Fuzzy. His eyes gleaming like stars. It all came back to me. Each second of torment from last night came back to me.

I don’t know how, but I know that I will forget everything again. Thus I have pulled out this diary that Sister Theresa had given me and started writing it all down. I can’t explain how but I know that I am going to fall asleep after having written this and won’t remember any of it upon waking up. I hope I read this diary someday so that I can tell mumma & daddy what had happened. Daddy will probably know what to do. If you happen to read this diary, do contact us.

Mr & Mrs Zankesh Bhattacharya,

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

XXXXXXXXXXX,

XXXXXXX – XXXXXX

Telephone – 983XX XXXXX

Please help. I do not want to go with that horrible horrible thing!

 

Tuhina Bhattacharya.

11/01/1997

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