“An alarming night”

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Rabin Prasad Kalita

Both were like two peas in a pod. Upon reaching Delhi by train, just a day after the deadliest tremor of Nepal, Tarjinder and Imtaz hired an auto rickshaw and headed for the hotel. They joined with many other cricketers who came from different parts of the country for a week-long advanced cricket camping.

A room was booked by their team leader before their arrival. Following the advent at the hotel in advance than other compatriots, the receptionist was inquired to confirm whether the room was booked in their name or not. The counter person simply nodded and replied saying yes. Still, both were asked to deposit a booking amount, which made them think a little. Before paying, they wished to have the room checked, and accordingly, both were escorted by a hotel boy.

By seeing the condition and fitments of the room altogether, the twos got doubt on the genuineness of the hotel. Something looked fishy. All seemed so shabby wherever they threw their eyes, right from the linens, curtains to the doormat. Looked like not cleaned for months together, and was not in any way hygienic for a stay there. Hence, Imtaz inquired from the manager to clarify their suspicion. Simultaneously, Tarjinder goggled and traced another hotel nearby that carried the same name but a mismatch of a letter.

Moreover, a friend of theirs who was already there in that hotel dialled and asked the whereabouts of these two guys. By then, both got rest assured that they stepped into the wrong hotel. Though the manager tried to convince in a motive to cheat them, they made a quick way out to find their actual hotel which was in fact booked before they arrived in Delhi.

After a few minutes of search, finally, they discovered the hotel, and thus they could save themselves from apparent fraudulence. Accordingly, they were placed in a room on the second floor. After being, freshen with sufficient rest, in the evening, they went to a nearby eatery for dinner.

They were surprised to hear about the aftershocks of the earthquake from the people sat around them, which was a prime matter of conversation for that day. They heard that the shiver was felt even in Delhi and beyond. There were numerous after-effects of different magnitudes that kept on shaking till the time they reached Delhi. They also learned that many people spent the sleepless night staying outside of their homes panicking of a sudden tremor.

Reaching their room after dinner, they too mentally alarmed by a scary tremble. Maybe both built up the trepidation due to the trending discussion on the issue! Hence, both collectively thought of a technique to know about it in its initial stage, so that they can have sufficient time to get out of the hotel to a protected place.

They decided to keep a glass of water on the table and kept looking now and then. Their idea was to see if there is any movement on the water surface so that they can get an alarm of probable danger. Sitting on the bed, both started playing cards to pass their idle time until they were caught asleep. In between their ongoing games, Tarjinder got up and looked at the glass. He alerted Imtaz by shouting forthwith that the surface of the water was quivering out and in.

Both sprinted out of the room and climbed down through the narrow stairway to the ground floor in a flash. Seeing them running down, the counter person curiously asked what the matter was. Listening to their equivocal apprehension, the bill clerk was simply laughing and advised them not to think much about it and assured them nothing had happened to that kind.

Moreover, they marked; there was no change in the face of the people who stood around the counter. That was the moment of embarrassment for both. Smiled at each other and kept moving up to their room and concurrently tried to discover, why the water was swinging.

Entering the room again they saw the surface of the water was still shaking up and down. Both sat and started thinking about the reason for moving the facade of the water. Imtaz caught the nerve out of the blue and said that may be due to the Air-conditioner. Yes, the water stopped trembling soon he switched off the machine. Upon knowing the fact, both of them started grinning and catcalled at one another.

Leaving the discretion on the hands of the unseen, come rain or shine, they went on sleeping. As soon as they had their eyes tied, at about half-past one, they got up all of a sudden due to the suffocation felt while breathing that smelt like the burning of electric wire. This time, both sat a while to study the situation before taking an abrupt assessment to step out. Gradually the air inside the room got filthy which made both drive out of the room at once. By the time, the hotel staff hooted the siren to alert all their occupants. There was a hue and cry inside as well as outside the hotel. Staffs along with the boarders of the hotel were deafening on the ground floor when they reached there.

There was an electrical fire broke out due to the short circuit on the controlling unit placed on the ground floor. Almost all the staff and occupants of the nearby hotels rushed to the spot out of fear, lest the fire stretches beyond. It was like one trouble invites another trouble for both badly timed players.

Surprisingly one idiot amongst the lot poured a pail of water on the power supply junction box with a motive to put out. Fortunately, there was a break of the flow of water between the two ends while throwing and thus that moron could set aside himself from a possible mishap.

By the time they returned to their room, the petrifying night was almost over and the mighty sun was waiting to rise by driving away from the last patch of the remaining dark.

The writer is an Ex-Air Warrior and can be reached at rabin1966@gmail.com     


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