Rose Petals in the Library
As she stepped out of the Principal’s office, Beena had a reason to smile.
Her budget for resetting the library on the fourth floor of the college was passed by the Managing Committee. For over a year, the library was defunct. Beena had taken up this new job at this college as the place was close to her residence and that she would save two hours of travel.
The previous year’s floods had played a havoc. The library which was on the ground floor was flooded and most books were beyond any salvage. Thereafter, the office, the staff room were shifted to the first floor. A few pieces of the library shelves that were intact were placed on the fourth floor which was locked up. The top floor ie the fifth floor had labs and classrooms but nothing was kept on the fourth floor.
As per the schedule, the entire area earmarked for the library was painted and racks were ordered. Beena had got the help of a peon- Shamji and a female peon besides a general assistant to enter the data in the computer. The college closed at 4 pm but by 3.30 itself it wore a deserted look. Beena’s request to the peons to wait a little longer met with denials. However, the library was set up after two months of toil by the team. Most students came prior to the lunch hour and the place was empty by 3 pm.
Beena once went into the ante room to look for something. There were two shelves. Behind them was a circular balcony which was supposed to be a refuge area in case of fire. It was rarely opened. She came in and pulled out a book and she found rose petals falling from the shelf. They were dry and she wondered why the shelf was not cleaned properly. She pulled up Shamji for not cleaning the shelves as she showed the petals. His face paled.
Two days later, there were more such petals found on different racks that confused Beena no end. Shamji had reported sick. Beena asked another peon to clear each shelf properly. In spite of this rose petals kept appearing at different places in the library. Was this some mischief?
A week later, Beena was walking in the market and she spotted Shamji. He walked towards her and asked if she could spare a few minutes. She stood with her bag and stepped towards the edge of the road. He stood a few feet away.
“Er..”, he began haltingly, “Madam, I wish to tell you something. The mystery of rose petals:” Beena looked puzzled. “Kamya was a hardworking student of the college. She was always in the library and did not loiter around like other students. She wanted to study for the competitive exams. A boy named Varun always teased her. He would bring a rose for her and she would fling it away. The nuisance was getting too much and the girl complained to the Principal. He was scolded but began all his tricks again.”
“At that time the library was on the ground floor. Kamya was climbing the stairs to reach her class on the fifth floor when she found him dangerously close to her. She screamed and ran to the refuge balcony. He tried to pull her close when she kicked him and the next thing we knew was that she had fallen to the ground. Was it a suicide leap or he had pushed her out of anger and frustration no one knows. It happened around 3.30. “ Shamji explained that after that no one wanted to have classes on that floor and hence it was just locked up. Some people, according to him saw rose petals there or heard a muffled voice around that time.
Varun remained absent for a few days. “Then, a peon was sent to his house to find out why he had not come. The house was locked,” added the peon. “You may be wondering why these weird things happened. Varun’s neighbour said that the boy lay strangled in a dark corner of his building. The family then left for their native place. No one knows the truth, madam. But one thing is sure that Kamya’s death was an unsolved mystery and perhaps her ghost moves around.”
Beena thanked Shamji for telling her all this. Her palms were sweating. She came home and penned her resignation.
Vrunda Moghe Dev