"Just control for half an hour.. We will be leaving anyway Akshata.." Deepti tried to put her off while she was still busy clicking photographs at Dona Paula.. The rest of the girls were busy posing for the snaps. Akshata was in a fix. She urgently needed to use the washroom. The sky was overcast by dark clouds and the cold winds were aggravating her situation while her friends posed freely in the cold breeze. The tour bus was scheduled to leave for the hotel at 6.30.. another half an hour she thought..
She looked around to scan for a restaurant where she could use the washroom. She could only see eateries in stalls..
"Hey you searching for someone?" asked Arun.
"Looking for a restaurant.. hungry yaar." she lied to him.
"Oh.. Look there is a wine shop over the corner where they have cold drinks too.. Have slice. It will stuff you for sometime." He suggested.
"Okay." she said. Slice! The cold drink wasn't what she wanted. All she could see was wine shops.. "These Goans are such drunkards " she thought. Bordering both sides of the lane were beautiful houses. They looked straight from cartoon network. Such vibrant colors which sought attention from far. They were in shades of bright red, golden yellow, purple, florescent green and there were always hints of white.. Could she try approaching any of the villas and request to use the washroom?
"Deepti !" she called out who was still intently capturing everything on her camera.
"Not again Akshata! just 15 minutes left babe! Control!" she said.
" I will just go and see if I can find a washroom. Will be back soon. Don't leave without me." Akshata said.
"Hurry..Don't be late." Deepti warned between her shots.
It was out of character for Akshata to approach a totally unknown house in an unknown city. She was reserved and shy in such matters. She had been waiting for more than an hour. Their tour guide was enjoying the attention she was getting and animatedly narrating the love story of Dona Paula.. Akshata was in no mood to listen to the story.. She made the decision.
She walked further and further but couldn't see a single person outside the rows of houses. She was counting on finding someone and asking rather than knocking doors. She had ran out of luck.. She saw a golden yellow house with a sloping brown roof . The house looked cozy but there an unexplained silence over it. It was relatively smaller than the neighboring houses and she had a feeling that the owner would be more receptive. She hesistantly rang the doorbell.
She waited for what seemed like eternity given her condition. She heard the sounds of approaching footsteps. As the sound grew closer she sensed it must be a walking stick.
"Yes." spoke a voice from a face peeping from the door.
"I .. I m a tourist.. I urgently needed to use the washroom." Akshata said and waited for an answer.
A wrinkled face emerged from the dark as the door opened wider. She had green eyes which looked tired. A plump old woman she was. She was dressed in a gown and her grey hair neatly tied up in a bun. She had a rosary in her hand. She looked homely and gave her a kind grin.
"Yes my child. You can use the washroom." She said with a motherly tone.
Akshata eased up a bit.
" Thank you.. " she said while her eyes tried to adjust to the darkness inside.
"Go to your left.. The first bedroom has a washroom." The old lady said.
Akshata went inside. The house looked so cheerful outside but there was an air of gloom inside. The house had some paintings adorning the wall and the bed didn't look like it had been slept in. There was a rocking chair in the hall which looked as old as the woman using it.
As she entered the bedroom , a strong fragrance of room freshner stung her. She quickly entered the washroom and relieved herself.
From the bedroom, she could see the old woman watering her plants. She was about to leave the room when her cellphone beeped. It was a text from Deepti..
"Hey hurry up. only 5 minutes left." it read.
She was about to reply when a loud thud of the door shook her and the cellphone slipped from her hand. She bent down to get it. Accidently she saw under the bed and her body trembled.. A dead body of a man was lying under the bed.. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead. She wanted to escape. She tried to compose herself. The old woman had entered the house. Akshata tried to compose herself. She entered the hall. The old woman who had looked so motherly sometime back, now appeared dangerous to her. Her eyes looked wicked.
"Thanks Aunty." she quickly said and tried rushing towards the door.
The old woman promptly shut the door behind her and gave a half grin. Her eyes were fixed on Akshata like a predator. Akshata was petrified. The old woman took out the knife she hid in her apron that she was wearing while watering the plants.
The last thing she saw before she fainted was the huge woman approaching her and laughing out aloud with every step she took near her..
To be continued...