Train of tales Children

At Odds ‘n’ Ends

Illustration: Sonal Goyal   | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sonal Goyal

The story so far: It was decided that all the spookiness in the house was because of the woman in the picture. The picture had to go back.

The drizzle had resumed, and it was cold, dark and gloomy. The mood in the car was heavy and sombre.

Finally, Moti uncle pulled up outside the second-hand store. The sign was old and the paint, peeling. The faded black letters announced “Odds ‘n’ Ends”. The wooden floorboards creaked as they entered. In a far corner, Mr. Michael, the manager, sat hunched up over ledgers. The windows were grimy and a naked low-watt bulb hung suicidally in the centre. A heavy wind picked up outside, and the bulb on the single wire swung madly. Mr. Michael looked up from his books. Even in the dim light, they could discern his expression of fear and apprehension.

“We want to return this picture,” said Moti uncle.

“Sorry sir, but we do not take returns…” he said.

“I just want to give it back. I don’t even want my money…”

Mr. Michael blanched. “Why?”

“Why? You are asking me why?”

A secret unravels

Mr. Michael was quiet. Dhruv unwrapped the picture and placed it on the table. The shop seemed to become darker and a wild wind picked up outside. The woman in the photograph stared calmly out at the rising sun. “Take back the picture and we will be on our way,” said Moti uncle.

“Oh my god, she’s moving!” screamed Keya. They watched, as she sat there looking at them. Her eyes sparkled with anger. Quickly, Mr. Michael grabbed the picture and covered it with the paper and rested it face down on the table. “What’s the story behind this picture?” asked Dhruv.

Mr. Michael hesitated, and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief. After much prompting, he said, “In the early 1900s, there used to be a photographer called Molony. He was good at his job so everyone hired him, and he made money. But he was a wastrel, and never had any money for his family — wife, a son and a daughter. They lived in a small cottage in a village near Kotagiri. That house...” he said, turning the picture over. “It was called Summer.”

He continued, “Then, his wife fell ill and with no money for proper medical help, she died. Molony was in debt. His house was seized, and he was thrown into prison.”

To be continued...

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 5:01:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/at-odds-n-end/article33836497.ece

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