The Village Witch

The following is an Episodic Story of 9 parts.
"I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves." 

~ Mary Wollstonecraft

"Dadii......." Anjali rushed out of her car and into her grandma's arms! Anjali hugged her dadi so tight, her dad was concerned,
"Anjali....careful! Don't squeeze your Dadi, she's not your teddy bear!" He warned her.
" It's okay Beta! When she was small I used to squeeze her, now its her turn!" Dadi was just too happy to see the whole family get together after almost 15 years.

Anjali and her family, that's her dad and mum had moved to New Delhi when she was 10. Since then they hardly ever visited their village "Dumaria", in central Eastern State of Bihar. Anjali's father always wanted the best for his daughter, he thought differently from the rest of his clan. He believed in equality of genders and an education for every woman. That was something unthinkable 15 years is unthinkable even till date in this part of the world.

Anjali had gone abroad for a post graduate degree in Media studies and had got internship with BBC for almost 10 months. Thereafter she applied to the top media houses around US and UK and had got a job with Viacom Networks. She had come home for a short vacation before she started with a busy career.

She was nostalgic to walk through the corridors of their haveli and climb up the stairs to their old room, which was locked for the past 15 years and was now opened and cleaned for its old masters. Anjali was too excited, too happy to meet her full family and have everyone tell her she had grown up to be so beautiful!
"Yeh toh bilkul heroine ki tarah dikhti hai....filmon mein kyon nahi jaati Anji?"
"Jaungi Mausi...aap bas dekhti raho!"

The 1st day passed by in laughter, meeting lots of relatives and eating spicy food!

Anjali lay down on her old bed , relaxed, happy and content!
" Papa, there's really nothing like home!"
Her father looked at her, " I'm glad you connect to your land even after staying far away from it all these years Anji!"
" We should have come here more often!" Anjali always complained to her father for not making enough trips to Bihar.
" I thought it was in your best interest to let you have a safe and a sound adolescence Anji! You do not know how women are treated here, you have no clue."
"I've read a lot papa....."
"There' a difference in reading and seeing , and seeing and experiencing!" Her father's voice had that note of a strict warning, of definite knowledge, and of a patriarchal protector's instincts. Anjali did not pursue the matter further, after all she was here for just a couple of days.

The next day, her father left to check out a site for a factory with her uncles.
Her mom was busy in the kitchen with aunts and other female relatives catching up on the news headlines that shook the village over the past couple of years.

Anjali walked to the huge balcony and  let the sun rays bathe her! She closed her eyes and let the wind bring to her the flavors of what cooked in the kitchen and the scent of the sun-baked Indian earth. When she opened her eyes, she saw a young woman  looking at her from the road. Anjali tried to get a clearer look by shielding her eyes from the strong rays of the sun with her right hand. The young woman did not smile, did not wave her hands, she just stood looking at Anjali. Anjali could not recognize this frail, dark woman.

"Don't you remember her?" Her aunt Sarita was at her side.
Anjali took a while to recollect, "Meghna?"
"Yes! Poor girl. Lost her mother 1st, then she was married off at 18 and her husband died within a year of their marriage due to some disease, nobody really knows what it was. Everyone blamed her for his death. They call her the village witch now. The villagers believe she has a lot of dark powers that she uses to take revenge on people. How otherwise would her mother in law die within 2 years of marriage!?! Everything sounds so strange! My god, I'm getting goose bumps!" Sarita Auntie collected her clothes from the balcony and headed for the stairs.

"Sarita auntie....., why didn't you do anything for her when she was in trouble? I mean Meghna and her father used to come home quite often , right?"

"Her father left the village after all these deaths. She is left alone here. Nobody knows where she lives.Whenever anything bad in the village happens, the villagers search for her and beat her up. And surprisingly, everything comes back to normal after that." Sarita auntie said it as a matter of fact and climbed down the stairs.

Anjali was lost for words, Beat her up? Village Witch? What nonsense is this?
She turned to look back at the road, the Village witch was gone.


"Answer me,  74 x 8?"
"Add 295 to it, how much do you get?"
"Subtract 86.3 out of that."

"Papa....This is too much!"
"Wait Anji....Tell me Meghna, what's the answer you've got?"
"800.7" Pat came the reply!

"Now divide...."

"Alright! Enough you two. I don't understand how you two calculate so fast....I don't like this game." Complained 9 year old Anjali as she picked up her doll and headed for her room.

"Wait... I want to play too." Meghna picked up her doll and ran after Anjali.

Meghna's father worked for Anjali's dad in his factory. He was the most trusted friend and associate in his business.

" Narayan, I'm planning to move to Delhi."
"Why Shankarji?"
"This village , as you know, doesn't have much scope for expansion. Besides, I've to travel to Delhi at least once a week to take care of our clients. Our business operates from Delhi though the factory is here. I suggest you too shift to Delhi. It's a better lifestyle , better business opportunities and better education for our daughters."
"Shankarji, its expensive in New Delhi. Besides , we have daughters. they'll get married and go anyway, why do you worry so much for their education?"

Shankar knew it was useless to tell these village folks the importance of education. It was foolish to expect them to treat girls and boys on par with each other. Shankar had tried a 1000 times to make Narayan not talk negatively about daughters, at least not in front of them. He had tried to explain to Narayan that Meghna is very sharp and if given the best opportunities , she'll make his entire family proud. The excuse Narayan always had was, " I cannot risk the name and honour of my family by letting Meghna have the wings to fly. You give too much in the hands of a woman and she doesn't take a minute to let you regret your decision. Women are to be controlled and subjugated, Kautilya said it Shankarji, Manu too. Our scriptures say it!"

The entire village blew up any ideas of modernization/ logical thought in the name of our great Indian traditions and society and cultural values. Shankar knew , that hanging on to the old and useless traditions would do no good to anybody. He had lost the battle to change his village long before he even started it. If his most trusted friend can not understand his point, who else would?

Shankar had decided, he would be the change! But he would not waste his time nor energy on others.
So while Anjali got the best as she grew up, all thanks to her dad; Meghna was time and again asked to compromise on her dreams. Meghna's only hope for a bright future was having Anjali and her father around, as Shankarji till a great extent was a huge influence on her father. and Shankarji was very fond of Meghna, she was almost like his 2nd daughter. Whenever Shankar went to Delhi, he would buy 2 of everything- 2 dresses, 2 dolls, 2 boxes of chocolates, 2 hair bands etc.

Anjali did not mind nor felt jealous about the situation. She was too happy to have Meghna around for company, She was her best pal! They played and studied together.

 Present Day:

Anjali had no interest in her father's business nor was she interested in getting roasted in the Indian kitchens. She had absolutely nothing to do in the haveli rather than sit and watch TV or read a book. She was the daughter of the youngest son. All her uncle's children were married and had their children. Nobody fitted in the age group that Anjali belonged to, nor was there anybody to match up to her frequency of thought.

Anjali took the task of exploring the haveli. The old uncleaned attics and basements, opening her ancestor's closets and looking through their stuff, checking out old diaries, pages of which had turned yellow with time...this sort of detective work always amazed her. She remembered Meghna and herself played many detective games in the many rooms of this haveli. Sometimes Meghna would act as the detective while Anjali would hide , other times Anjali would be the detective.

She found her old dolls and their jewelry, carefully kept in a big wooden antique box.
" I've to meet Meghna..." She thought. Meghna had been Anjali's only close pal till date. Anjali moved from 1 school to the other and from 1 country to the other, but never did she trust another person with her secrets like she did with Meghna. Meghna, though a year younger to Anjali, was always calm and wise in her behavior and advice. Both of them had kept in touch through letters for over 3 years, then the study load increased, the extra curricular activities increased, and Anjali could not remember when she stopped replying to Meghna's long mails.

" But where will I find her??" She wondered.

After lunch, Anjali decided to ask her aunts for some information on the whereabouts of Meghna.

Pushpa Auntie was the most alert woman in the family. She had an ear for gossip and details, nothing ever missed her eye or ear. Anjali casually sat next to Pushpa Auntie while watched her favorite serial after lunch. This was the best time to get information out of her, since her attention was fixed on TV.
" Auntie, Where is Narayan uncle's house?"
Auntie was a bit irritated for the disturbance caused, but Anjali was a guest, that too 1 who came after 15 years, "Narayan is dead."

"And Meghna?"

"Nobody knows where she lives."
Anjali had heard this line before, but she wanted something more.

"When and where can I see her? I mean I wanted to meet her before I go back."
Now Pushpa auntie was alert, another reason for shifting the focus on Anjali was the commercial break.
"Why do you want to meet that witch?"
"I don't believe she's a witch, she was my friend."
"Yes! She was....WAS! You don't want to get involved in the mess of this village's not meant for girls like you."
Pushpa auntie realized that Anjali was disappointed. So she added,
" It's going to be Amavasya in 2 days, the night of the witch, the villagers will hunt her down tomorrow and tie her to the tree so that she does no black magic!"

Anjali started thinking what to do....
" Don't think too much are going home tomorrow night!"


“Leech of my life that sucks my soul
May you be fed to wolfish fiends whole.
Those that skin you of your joy
May you be subject to their vicious ploys.
Oozing droplets of your blood
May their goblets it royally flood."


"Caroline, wait for me...."
Anjali ran briskly behind Caroline, her room-mate who was heading towards the library after the face off they had in their room a couple of minutes back.

"Anjali, maybe its best if I change the room. Or maybe its best if I leave the city.......", Caroline said between her tears.
Caroline stopped midway and looked at Anjali,
"I haven't been able to make a single friend here, nobody likes me...not that I care...But I want to be amongst my people, those who understand me."

"Well! That's not totally true......I'm your friend, am I not?"
"Friends don't look at each other as if they are ghosts!!", Taunted Caroline.

"Caroline, you just told me you are a witch! A witch!!" Stressed Anjali," Do you know what that sounds like?"

"A ghost?? You know Anjali, I thought you were different, but your reaction to me was so damn typical!"

"Caroline, you aren't giving me any time to digest these facts! I am not rejecting you okay? It's just been 6 months since I landed in this country, I'm miles away from home, I find this sweet girl as my room mate and just when I find myself getting comfortable, I come to know the girl sleeping next to me is a witch! How am I to react??"

Caroline was quiet.

"I don't know what being a witch means Caroline. I don't know if it means sitting on a broom or making potions in those huge pots, or wearing those crooked hats and saying those curses and spells, and turning people into frogs......I don't know! I don't know how I am to behave with you, whether I've to be careful of you, whether you have those strange powers, whether you can disappear......what are you Caroline? And how can you be a witch? I mean come on, this is the 21st century...this aint Harry Potter! I'm mud blood by the way.....and..."

"Shut up! Just Shut up!"

Both the girls kept looking at each other. Anjali knew she had lost sense of what she was talking.
"Come with me!"

Caroline held Anjali's arm and led her towards the back of the library.......into a world Anjali never thought existed, into the lives of the people most of us think don't exist, into the adventure that was to define what Anjali would be for the rest of her life- A Witch!


1 Day before Amavasya

The Villagers divided themselves in groups. These teams were heading in search of Meghna, the village witch. They carried swords, ropes, mashaals and every other kind of weapon available in the village. As if  you can fight a real witch with all that. The teams comprised of all men, of various age groups. They all looked very proud, because they were doing the most important task!

The village temple's main Pandit said a few prayers to protect these holy men from the Witch. He gave the teams his best blessings and God's prashaad, and the teams started out in 4 different directions at around 5 pm.

Meghna sat under the old bare peepal tree. She knew exactly at what time the villagers would arrive at the spot.

The 3rd team which had headed south arrived at the bare peepal tree at around 5.20pm. They carried on their usual drama of spotting the witch, then deciding as to who will come and catch hold of her and pull her to the main village. They came, tied her hands and pulled her to the village without a word being said and nobody being abusive to her. But the moment the village crowd came into focus, the eldest in the team, a 55 year old father of 2 daughters and a drunkard 5 times a week, took the centre stage! He tied Meghna tightly to the tree in front of the temple and applied on her some sort of powder that the Pandit had given him. The villagers were now cheering the 3rd team and shouting abuses at the witch...some old women even spit at Meghna. The old man then started slapping the witch mercilessly and kicking her in her stomach.

The Temple wasn't far off from Anjali's Haveli. She heard the noise and came into the balcony.
She realised that Pushpa and Sarita auntie were heading towards the temple with a plate full of some flowers and incense. Anjali wore a jacket on her sleeveless top and rushed down to join her aunts.
She met her father in the doorway.

At this point, the slapping and beating had crossed bearable levels for Meghna and she screamed like an animal who's being torn apart by wolves!

Anjali heard the screaming and got restless. "What's happening at the temple?"
"Anji, go back to your room." Her father declared.
" Are these screams Meghna's?"
"It doesn't matter us!"
"Then what does papa? My job? Your business? Our happiness! That's it?", She was getting angry at her father now.
"Go up.....Now!"
The order was followed by a moment of silence in which Shankar thought he had scared his little girl, but he was wrong. In a swift move, she crossed him and ran towards the door.

"Anji NOOO! Satish, Yogesh, get her in! RIGHT NOW!"

Shankar's driver and the gardener ran behind Anjali who ran with all her heart towards the temple. Anjali was a fit female who worked out regularly, whereas Satish and Yogesh with their old age and big bellies could hardly keep up with her pace.

Anjali reached the crowd and pushed the people to reach the centre of the crowd, to the tree.

The cheering had got louder and so had Meghna's painful screams.
When Anjali came face to face with Meghna, it just took her a moment to take in the entire act! The merciless beating had left her friend's face blue and blood oozed out of her forehead,nose,ears and hands.....Anjali's knees went weak..they could not support her anymore. Her brain had suddenly stopped functioning! Meghna watched Anjali falling down in front of her. Their eyes met. She stopped screaming and kept looking at Anjali. The villagers noticed the change in the witch, the old men's beating got worse....but for a moment, everything seemed to stop...when their eyes met and Meghna asked Anjali, "What took you so long?"

The next second, the driver and the gardener arrived and lifted Anjali and took her to the Haveli. The beating continued for as long as everyone got tired of screaming, cheering and hitting.

The village witch was left tied to the tree the whole night!


“You have a flight to catch day after tomorrow and you are joining work from don’t have much time left.”

“ I know papa, but I’m not feeling well,how can you send me back in such a condition? Maa..., what should I do?”

Anji looked at her mother with very kind , innocent and sympathetic eyes. Papa knew why Anji wanted to stay longer . So before Maa would start her emotional drama, Papa declared,

“Fine. You are staying! But not here. There’s too much dust here, besides there’s no Air conditioning. You should probably stay at our flat which is 2 hours drive from here. You can definitely travel for 2 hours Anji!”

“I’m staying here papa.” She declared in a firm, unemotional tone with a straight look at her father. Her tone was so stoic and dry, that it shocked everyone present in the room as to how a girl looking as sweet as Anji talk in a voice like that. The voice did not sound as if it belonged to her, it came from somewhere else.

“What did you say?” Papa thought he was mistaken about what he just heard.

“I said I’m staying. I’m staying in my house and my village till I want to. Nobody can force me out of here.”

The father and the daughter kept looking at each other for several moments. Shanker realized for the very 1st time that his daughter had changed...and it wasn’t the kind of change that comes with normal was different, it was that which he feared, always. It was the growth that was predicted of his daughter....but how? He wondered!
“Nobody can change the destiny Mr.Shankar!” Shankar remembered the words of the wise man.

“No.” Shankar had declared, “I will not let this happen to my daughter!”

“Mr. Shankar, why do you feel something wrong or bad will happen to your daughter?? Her stars nowhere predict pain or suffering to her! Your daughter will be fine.”

Shankar shook himself out of his reverie. He looked harder at Anji who was still looking at him, who was challenging him- head front. Shankar turned to look at his wife, “Pack her bags, I've had enough of her already! we are leaving right now. And I want to see who can stop me.” He left the room in a fury, Anjali heard him calling out to their driver, giving instructions to prepare for departure immediately.

Next moment, Anji got out of bed swiftly,

“What are you doing Anji?” Aunt Sarita asked worried, as just a couple of minutes back Anji could hardly stand on her feet.

“I’m getting ready, you must have heard what father said. His word is final for us, isn’t it maa?”

The stress on “Father” was prominent. Anji had never called her father anything other than papa.

“I need to change. Can I have some privacy?”

“Maybe I should stay. You are not well anyway.” Maa offered help.

“Do I look like I need help?”

Maa left the room. She had no say in the house. Not that the other’s in the house ever stopped her from speaking, but she could never understand what the ego and the attitude was for? Why exercise control over another being? Why act like a king? Why the aggression? These questions were beyond her understanding. She let her husband and her daughter live the way they wanted as long as she got to live the way she wanted.

15 minutes later when maa knocked on the door, the room was empty. Anji was gone. All her colourful clothes lay on the bed. There was no note, only the room window stood open.

Maa could hardly breathe at the site, she weakly ran to the window which was on the 1st floor of the haveli. Right down from the window was rocky ground that stretched back into the thick dark forest. There was absolutely no sign of her...


The night was eerie and dark. The street dogs howled loudly and it felt like they were a pack of wolves.Anjali wrapped a black shawl around herself and walked towards the temple. She was carrying a faint torch that showed her a faint way. She knew she did not have much time until maa informed her father and everyone started searching for her. On reaching the tree, she found Meghna still tied, her head was dropped to her chest and one couldn't tell if she was alive or dead, her long hair covered her made her look very scary. When Anjali took a few steps towards her, a strong voice emerged from somewhere around the tree, "Who is it?", It said.

Anjali though under training in wicca for 2 and a half years was still an amateur and at this point she was genuinely scared. The time on her watch showed midnight.

There was no movement from Meghna.

But the voice repeated the order, harsher this time, " If you take a step closer I will slice you into 1000 pieces and eat all of it....tell me, who are you?", The voice was deep and adamant.


The moment Anjali told her name, Meghna's head shot up.This sudden movement scared Anjali even more. Her right hand had already reached her pocket knife.

Suddenly Meghna's body language changed seeing Anjali. She stood erect facing Anjali.

After a few tense seconds, Anjali raised her torch to see Meghna's face from where she stood. The torch wasn't helping her , in fact Meghna looked like a witch in the faint torch light- long scattered hair, bluish black face, and strong dark eyes that reflected light as if she was an animal.

Anjali drew in a deep breath and walked closer to Meghna, carefully. When she was close enough to touch her, she reached her pocket and took out the knife and cut the ropes which were cutting through Meghna's hands. The moment the ropes went loose, Meghna lost her balance and fell to the ground. Anjali reached out to help her but the 1st touch to Meghna's body was so scary that she drew back her hands. Meghna's skin was coarse, cold and hard.

After a few seconds, Anjali got herself together, took out the water bottle from her bag and lifted Meghna's head to help her drink the water.

As Meghna drank the water, Anjali moved her soft manicured hands over Meghna’s coarse skin.

“We should leave now, before anybody finds out. You wait here till I go and get my car.” Anjali spoke for the first time.

Meghna stopped drinking the water and got up on her own and sat straight, Anjali was amazed at her strength.

“ I thought you were a witch.” Meghna’s tone had changed. It definitely wasn’t the same voice that had asked Anjali her name. This new tone was light, almost felt like a taunt, but Anjali was too occupied with other thoughts to catch the witty remark.


“Why do you need a car? Don’t you have a broom?” Meghna let out a small chuckle.

Anjali took a good hard look at Meghna now, "I realize you are taunting me. I risked everything to come here to save you, you have been beaten like an animal today and now at night when I free your hands, and give you some water to drink, you show me attitude?” Anjali was getting angry.

Meghna drew a long heavy breath, drank some more water, smiled at Anjali and asked her, “ Are they still teaching you Abracadabra and those classic dark poetry as magic spells? Isn’t it like – Before the night is over, before the day is through, whatever you have done to others, will come right back at you......or how about this one- Darksome powers of the night, gather round my candle’s flame, send my enemy in shaded flight, send my enemy away in shame....”

“Are you making fun of Wicca?”

“I am only telling you a small part of the whole truth my darling. Wicca and dark arts are not a hobby, not a side business or some activity to kill your time. And it is not something that you can learn by devoting an hour everyday by hearting the so called spells. These spells work as much as any statement of hatred and ill wish. It’s all in the mind, if you wish bad to someone with all your heart, no matter with what’s bound to affect that person, only if he has really done wrong to you. Tell me Anji, have you felt the power increase in you after starting to learn Wicca?”

“I have the confidence that I can fight anything...that’s the reason I’m here tonight.”

“Oh Anji, I’m not talking about hiding behind the door while your mum runs to the window thinking you jumped off into the darkness...”

Anjali was now speechless..., “How do you....”

“There’s a difference between staging magic and the real magic, don’t you think? What you are being taught and what you do are tricks that will work in front of an uneducated illiterate illogical and slow thinking audience...yes! Not in front of me Anji!”

Far away, there were noises of some cars heading towards the temple that broke the girl's conversation,

“Oh god! I think they are coming for me....what do we do?” Anjali panicked.

Meghna calmly got up and looked at the tiny fast moving lights heading their way.

Shankarji, Devidasji ( Shankar’s elder brother), Yogesh (the driver) were heading straight to the temple. In the faint temple light, From far off they could see two figures standing near the tree.
One moment, they saw them,

The next- They were gone!


When Anjali opened her eyes, the first thing she saw were candles, lots of candles, all around her! Anjali got up and realized she was in a comfortable bed. The room or the place where the bed was, looked like a lion’s den. It had rocky walls and a rocky roof and a mud floor. There was an antique table and a chair at one side of the room and a shelf with lots of big old ancient books in the other. The room was cool and calm.

Anjali wondered how she got there. The last thing she remembered was the old temple tree and Meghna talking to her about something, what? She couldn’t tell. When she moved towards the right side of the bed to get down , a big black furry cat jumped on the right side of the bed ,stopping Anjali from getting down.

“Hey Kitty...” Anjali picked up the cat in her lap and gently moved her hands on her soft velvety coat, the cat enjoyed the touch and asked for more of it. While patting the cat, Anjali found the collar in the cat’s neck had a very peculiar looking stone, when she tried to reach for it to take a closer look, the cat scratched Anjali on her face and ran away.

“Ouch! Bad Kitty!”

“Oh she’s very temperamental! Did she hurt you?” Meghna had entered the room. Anjali looked up and was shocked to see a beautiful woman with long curly hair, her skin glowed in the soft candle lights and her eyes looked bright and fresh. She wore a long flowing golden skirt that looked very bright  and a white shawl covered her upper body. Meghna handed Anjali a glass of flavoured milk. “Drink it. It’s good for you. You haven’t eaten anything for 2 days!”

“Two days? What put me to sleep for two days?”

“You couldn’t cope up with some of the magic I used for the disappearing act. It’s a whole lot of energy to have to be very strong for that.”

“Is this really you Meghna? I cannot recognise you, you looked so different at the tree...”

“Do you think you are the most beautiful Anjali?”

Anjali could not understand why Meghna taunted everytime, why was she so mean?

“Do you have to speak so crooked every time? Why are you mad at me?”

“Oh thank god! You finally do understand that I’m mad at you.”

“Why? Because I’m so late in helping you out?”

“ seriously need some reality check! You are mistaken if you believe that YOU are here to help ME! I can help myself, seriously.”

“It didn’t look like that when you screamed at the temple tree!”

“I was staging an act.....Don’t you get it by now? How else would you walk on your own in my arms?”

“What?”, Anjali’s head was throbbing , she couldn’t think much, couldn’t move much. Meghna took the glass of milk to her mouth and Anjali drank the liquid.

“What is this thing?” Anjali asked, but it was too late. She fell back again on the bed.

Meghna gave a sigh of relief, and turned back to her apparatus. Just a few more days and her life’s biggest goal was within arm’s length!


It had been 2 days since Anjali was missing. The police hadn’t come up with any information. Shankar decided he had to take matters in his own hands before he lost his daughter forever. He realized that the only people who could guide and help him would be the sadhus, the tantriks and the aghoris of the village, who usually meditated in unknown and quiet places, away from the city.

With the help of some old and knowledgeable village folks , Shankar was able to get together a team of individuals who would help him in his quest. A sadhu who owned an ashram on a hill, a tantrik famous in the nearby village for his 6th sense and an aghori meditating in the village crematorium grounds, some village folks who wandered in the country side and knew the hills and the plains well, the inspector and his assistant. Upon discussing the issue and checking out the map of the area, leaving out the places which were already searched by the police, Shankar zeroed down his search to 3 places, all in 3 opposite corners of the village, some far, some close by.

1 was a thick forest, a national park , the core area of which was hardly ever touched.

The second area was the mountain behind the Ashram of the Sadhu. The sadhu said that area was perfect for hiding, meditation and other private activities. Smuggling and poaching went on freely in those areas.

The 3rd was an underwater cave formed near the river. The cave was accessible only during low tides, at other times the river water blocked the entrance. The possibilities of anybody staying or hiding there for more than a day were negligible. But nobody could say for sure how deep the cave was, and whether there was an opening from the other side.

The Sadhu and some of his students volunteered to head into the mountains. Since they were closer to the area and had a better idea.

The inspector headed to the national park.

Shankar with his brothers and the Aghori headed to the cave.

Time was of utmost importance; whatever they thought, decided and acted upon had to be done at lightning speed.

Anjali felt her heart being pressed by some force.....her entire body was being controlled by some powerful much so that she couldn’t even breath on her own, her breath was controlled by someone else.

She couldn’t open her eyes, couldn’t move her legs and hands, she couldn’t speak but her mind was alert.

Suddenly she felt the force over her eyes loosen a bit and so she opened her eyes.

The 1st thing she saw were Meghna’s bright brown eyes that looked at her with a piercing gaze.

After having committed the mistake of approaching Meghna at night alone , this was her 2nd biggest look into a witch’s eyes!

This was what Meghna was working at all the time. Everything was absolutely working as per the plan. If Anjali had looked anywhere else, getting her focus would have been difficult. Meghna would have to repeat the whole process of putting her under a spell and keeping her stable in that condition.

Anjali realized that Meghna was naked, she sat straight in front of her while Anjali, also naked was lying on some sort of a platform. Meghna breathed heavily, forcefully and Anjali realized that she too was breathing at the same rhythm...her breath was no more was Meghna’s.

Outside the cave, Shankar and the team prepared to dive into the water to enter the cave.

In her breathing and her meditations, Meghna realized that she had very little time to attain what she wanted...she had senses as sharp as a snake that picked up on heat and ground vibrations. Her sight was as piercing as that of an eagle, and her movements were as swift and graceful like a wild cat.

Anjali had only three strengths with which she could save herself-

1. Her eyesight,

2. 2nd: Her thought process or her brain and

3. her ears, she could hear everything that went on.

Her eyes were halfway under Meghna’s spell , and they were giving her away very quickly.....The eyes are the doors to one’s soul and that’s what Meghna was pushing in for....her soul! Anjali thought, with all her heart, with all the kindness that she had, she tried to plead with Meghna to spare her life. Meghna retorted back, “Be thankful that I’m not wishing you the same fate as mine....”

Anjali tried hard to free herself in every way.... but it was too difficult....Meghna’s breath and eyes had locked her down completely. After Anjali’s eyes were stable, Meghna got up from her seat and came close to Anjali. She calmly closed Anjali’s eyelids, as another of her senses closed down ,.....Anjali’s soul screamed for help, Anjali screamed for mercy.....At this point Anjali’s mind raced through every bit of her memory, every bit of emotion.

She remembered her father sitting with the wise man and the wise man had said Anjali will always be attracted towards the dark arts, she has the making of a powerful witch, but there is someone more sharper than her lurking besides her who is capable of taking away Anjali’s future, for better or worse!

She remembered some of Meghna’s last mails, she had cried for help, she pleaded Anjali to somehow come back and take her out of this hell, that her life and dreams were falling apart, that she is losing herself too soon...and her only hope was Anjali........ “This is the reason I am being punished? But I was only a child, I’m able to deal with it now, and I came back for you....I’m sorry I was late....please Meghna, I am innocent, I always wanted to help you.”

Meghna took a deep breath and touched Anjali’s feet.....Anjali felt a sensation , quite unknown to her......her legs were going numb and if dead! Then Meghna took another deep breath and moved both her hands upwards towards Anjali’s knees...everything Meghna touched was going numb and cold......Anjali realized this was the final assault...she was dying.....and she couldn’t do anything to stop the witch! Meghna took a third deeper breath and moved her hands over Anjali’s legs till they were dead!

Tears rolled down Anjali’s face..... “stop it please...please me, please!”

Meghna threw back her head and took a deeper breath and moved her hands over Anjali’s pelvis.

With the help of diving equipment , Shankar, 1 diver and the aghori made their way into the dark, untouched cave! After around 15 minutes of swimming, they reached a large rock that looked like the end of the cave. The diver went around the area to see if there was any opening anywhere, but there was none.

Meghna was breathing so heavy, Anjali could hear her breath, as Meghna started her journey towards Anjali’s heart and lungs....Anjali realized that her time was almost up and there was no point in praying. She thought about all the beautiful times she had with her parents and at college, but more than anybody else she thought about her father the most and realized that all this time, he had tried to protect her and save her from this day...and now all his efforts were in vein! She felt sorry for her parents....

Shankar saw a small iron rod fallen at the floor of the cave. He pointed it out to the diver. When the diver tried to pick it up, he realized that it was stuck and heavy. It wasn’t just any rod....

Meghna realized she was almost done when she felt Anjali’s last breath settling down. Meghna felt like a python, gulping its prey slowly and choking down the victim till the last breath...Her hands moved upwards towards Anjali’s neck and her face to complete the act!

Anjali..though had breathed her last, was still alive. She heard foot steps, she heard her father’s voice calling out to her...That was the last she heard, a few moments later she felt silence! Pure silence!

When Shankar ran into the cave, he saw Meghna lying on a platform and another woman bent on her, holding Meghna’s forehead.

When he approached the other woman, she looked up “Papa...” she said faintly and collapsed in his arms. Shankar covered his daughter with a shawl which was lying around....he was so happy and glad that he had found his daughter!

The Concluding Part

It was true that they had got their daughter back, but in their hearts they knew something was wrong!
Anjali was distant, she was too mature for her age, she wasn't the happy chirpy girl everyone knew anymore. Her eyes scanned everyone, and made them feel naked, as if she knew their darkest secrets, she knew behind those fake smiles lied discontent, hatred and pain.

After she was all well to face the public, the village gathered to see her, ask her what the witch had tried to do to her, and decide as to what is to be done with the dead witch's body. It was Anjali's suggestion that was finally taken, that Meghna's body be cremated in the usual Hindu tradition of burning the body on a funeral pyre. "She deserves the last rites!", Anjali had said.

Anjali personally looked after the last rites of Meghna.

With her physical form gone up in smoke, and being present in her new body , the only resemblance or the sign of who she really was , were her curly long hair. Her mother had asked her father the moment Anjali was brought into the house in an unconscious state..," What happened to my Anji's beautiful silky straight hair?"
Shankar had not replied to that...he had thought a long time about it and then made peace with the reason that the face off that happened between both the girls must be the cause of sudden change.

Early morning the next day, Anjali was all ready with her bags packed and her air tickets in hands.
"I have to fly tomorrow. I have already wasted enough time here."
"Don't you think you should relax for a while Anji? Your father already spoke to your HR about your condition."
"I called them early morning today. I told them everything is fine now, and that I want to join as soon as possible. They said they had an urgent requirement in Washington DC right now, they want me to assist their correspondent who's covering the news of the White House."

"I thought you hated broadcasting. I thought you wanted to shift  to entertainment  Anji." Shankar had heard everything that was being spoken.
" Yes. Who said I am getting back to broadcasting? It's just that its a good opportunity for a new comer to work under a good correspondent , that too around the power house of the world!"

Shankar looked at his daughter for a long time, he could see it, why she was going to DC. She stared back flatly. Then picked up her bags and called out to the driver.
"Wait...are you leaving right now? We are coming with you."
"It's okay maa. I'm a big girl." She left the house hitting her heels hard against the wooden flooring. Not stopping to take blessings from her parents, not even stopping to turn and look back.
Her mother wanted to say something, Shankar held her hand,"Let her go."
"I said let her go! Are you dumb or what? Don't you get it? She's not our daughter!" He stormed up to his room in desperation.
Her mother was left to fend for herself...what should she believe? What she sees and what her heart and her husband says? Or just blindly believe the face of her daughter?

In the car, Anjali dialled a number, " Hello,  Adv. Kapoor's office? Hi..I have a matter that I want to discuss with him, what time can I see him? My name is Meg...sorry, Anjali. Is it possible sometime tomorrow morning because I have a flight to catch later tomorrow and the matter is urgent. Alright. Thank you so much. This is regarding name change and making a Power of Attorney. Thanks a lot. I'll be there at 10."

"Washington D.C!" She thought, "White House".
She laughed at the thought, she laughed so hard ,her driver wondered what was wrong with her!



Beloved Witch - Ipsita Roy Chakraverti
Google Image search for all the images.

This video inspired me to write this story:


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