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A Horror Story at Thane Mental Hospital

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Sreepriya Menon

At Thane Mental Hospital, time is still 1901.

A haunted house of darkness.

Melted candles stuck to weeping windows.

People who roam outside in chains seem ghostly

The ghosts inside wonder what the world is like outside.

Humans outside hurry, do not look at each other for too long.

When they do- they seem scared.

Scared to laugh out, scared to cry,

Ask questions, to agree, disagree or keep quiet.

Funny humans, the ghosts thought.

Muted humans, their gasps of surprise at being alive erupt and exasperated sighs escape their lips

As they realize they are sitting on a bomb called time in a bunker called life.

They manage- poor humans – small celebrations of language

Selfish routes of adventures music that reaches the coffin grounds and wakes up their dead.

Mossy walls of the haunted house look on in indifferent curiosity why despite there being no chains these ghosts stay inside.

The walls realize-human walls these are.

They realize that these are happy ghosts, medicated ghosts, kicking and screaming ghosts.

The community of ghosts wearing uniforms does not own money; make no meaning out of it.

And the world outside do not make meaning out of the currency of their spirit.

Talking to ghosts is easy. You smile, maybe wave.

Once or twice if you are lucky you might see them angry or protesting against the human walls.

Otherwise the eccentric human made rules rule.

Sometimes a smiling human with a ghostly heart spends a currency they understand called kindness.

Ghosts wonder why. How are they so similar! We were told – “Ghosts are different. Lesser than humans. Can never aspire to become one.”

Most ghosts now believe in this true religion with all their ghostly intelligence.

Only once in a while does a ghost become human.

Others call her an atheist. Hysterical. Mundane. Unreal

(Sreepriya Menon is a student of M.A in social work in TISS, Mumbai)

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