The Midnight Faux Pas
Rebecca Bhattacharjee

Volume 1, Issue 2, pp. 33-36

It always seemed as though the lady was sitting by the window in her dark room, sobbing and waiting…waiting for her husband to return.

It was a small house, made of wood and concrete, located in a remote area in the town of Jalpaiguri. The house was surrounded by tall trees on two sides, and an old, ruined house at the back, which had been abandoned some thirty-five years ago when the old, childless lady living in it killed herself after her husband’s death. It always seemed as though the lady was sitting by the window in her dark room, sobbing and waiting…waiting for her husband to return.

That night seemed eerier than usual. There was no trace of rain clouds but still there were strong winds blowing. The tall coconut and palm trees struggled to maintain their balance, while the giant banyan tree swayed left and right, resembling the devil himself. Darkness had long enveloped the sky and the increasing intensity of the beastly winds created a ruckus in the town. The streets were deserted; the only light visible was the one which illuminated the small house.

The main door of the house opened into a rectangular drawing room. There were three bedrooms after that. There was a small kitchen with a comfortable dining space and a back door, right beside the kitchen, which opened into the balcony of the backyard of the house. The walls of the room had paintings and photographs on them; photographs of the long gone family members. In one corner of the room was a side table, which had a metallic ball with holes in it through which light came out. It had a centre table which had a beautiful vase of antique art filled with beautiful carnations. Three sofas, arranged in the shape of a U, were covered in grey and brown with soft blue cushions . The eastern wall of the drawing room had a big showcase, which contained a collection of old medicine bottles, small statues, and showpieces bought from all over the world. The room also had a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, like the bejewelled corpse of a giant spider, and the scent of lavender spray filled the air.

The Roy family lived in this house. It was around ten-thirty at night and, like any other normal day, the family sat together in the drawing room after dinner. Olivia was the youngest in the family. She was busy playing cards with her elder sister Diya. Grandma sat on the sofa, and was busy knitting yet another scarf for the girls, while their mother was busy cleaning the table. Their dog, Scooby, was already half asleep on the carpet.

What is the score?” grandma asked. She was a lady of around eighty, with long lush hair of gunmetal grey colour. She had loose skin and milky eyes. She had an angelic smile and a keen interest in games.

It’s four to two,” said Olivia, excitedly. She was a girl of twelve, delightful and high-spirited, always up for mischief and adventures.

You cheated in the last round. That wasn’t even the rule of the game!” Diya rebuked. A girl of eighteen, she was more quiet and soft-spoken. She knew what she was doing, and made sure she did everything just perfectly.

I did not cheat. I took that card from the pile.”

No, you did cheat. I saw you slipping that card out of your pocket.”

I am saying I did not cheat! Why

Don’t fight, girls. It’s late, anyway. Keep the cards away and go to sleep. Don’t forget to brush your teeth, both of you,” said their mother. “Ma, come with me. Let me take you to your bed.” She was a very simple yet strong lady who was patient and supportive. Her husband was out of station due to work, and would return after a month.

They all retired to their respective bedrooms and the lights of the house were soon out. Only the small metal ball was lit. Around three and a half hours later, when the clock struck two, everything was silent; only the rustling of leaves and the hooting of an owl, occasionally, could be heard through the air. Suddenly the rhythm of the night was broken. A sound resembling that of the sawing of wood could be heard.

Kirr...kirrr…kirrrr… It went on.


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Diya’s mother woke up first, followed by grandma and the sisters. They all sat up on their beds, trying to make out what sound that was. As everyone approached the drawing room, the sound got louder and louder. It was evident that someone was trying to cut open the backyard door. After a silent five minutes, grandma spoke out with a sense of fear in her voice, “It’s a thief! He is trying to break open the back door!”

Kirr...kirrr...kirrrr... Immediately a chill went down everyone’s spine. Olivia and Diya started shivering in fear.

Wait here. I’ll try to look through the window,” their mother said and started walking towards the window.

No, mother! Please don’t go! What if he has weapons?” Olivia screamed. Her mother stopped moving and gave her an angry look for talking so loudly.

The sound stopped. They all stayed silent and looked at each other with beating hearts. Just as Diya was about to speak, the sound started again.

Let’s wake Scooby up and let him bark! Maybe hearing a dog bark would drive away whoever is outside,” Diya said, quickly.

Olivia and Diya shook Scooby up, and made sure he could hear the sound of the sawing of wood. But he was too drowsy to bother and fell asleep as soon as he was let off. It was very strange to see Scooby least bothered about the noise, because every time there was someone on the other side of the door, he would bark, incessantly. After trying a few times, they gave up on Scooby, and allowed him to sleep on his carpet, peacefully.

Kirr...kirrr...kirrrr…The sound continued.

By now grandma was sitting on a chair beside the entrance to the kitchen, and praying with utmost dedication. Diya’s mother was getting worried. She was concerned about her daughters. The perplexity was clearly visible on her face. She started feeling an uneasy creepy-crawly sensation. She didn’t know whom to turn to for help at that time of the night.

We need to do something. We cannot just sit tight,” said grandma, shivering.

What will we do? We don’t know how many people there are on the other side of the door. We don’t know whether they have any weapons with them?” Diya’s mother answered, annoyingly.

That house at the back! It is haunted! I told you several times that I saw movements in that house but no one believed me. What will happen if they break the door open and enter?” Olivia asked in a shaky voice, and starting crying out of fear.

Her mother came to her and gave a tight hug. “Nothing will happen to us. We are four people. We’ll definitely find some way out, okay? Don’t cry.”

Olivia nodded and wiped her tears.

I’ll get the knife. Diya, get that big pair of scissors and keep it with you. Olivia, go and get your cutter,” their mother ordered them. They realised that while they were speaking, there was no sound. Now that they had gone to fetch the things, the sound had started again.

We’ll keep these with us for safety. Just in case the people outside the door enter, we can use these for self-defence,” their mother said, more worried than confident. It was already past three. The four figures were still like statues - tense, worried, and anxious. With every sound of sawing of wood, it seemed as if the thieves were getting nearer and nearer. Beads of perspiration had appeared on everyone’s forehead.


We should inform the police!” grandma said, anxiously.

Yes!” Olivia said too.

But does anyone remember the local police station’s number? I don’t remember where I had written it,” their mother said.

Everyone started thinking where the number could be written.

Kirr...kirrr...kirrrrr... The sound went on.

My friend Jayati lives near the police station! Let me call her up and ask for help,” Diya’s mother suddenly remembered.

Yes yes! Quick! Don’t waste any more time,” grandma said with relief in her voice.

Shrestha quickly dialled Jayati’s number and called her. After several rings, Jayati answered answered, sleepily, “Hello?”

Hello Jayati? This is me, Shrestha. I am really sorry to wake you up at this hour but I need your help urgently,” Diya’s mother said, with a quiver in her voice.

Yes, tell me. What’s wrong?”

It seems like there are men in the backyard and they are trying to break open the door. We don’t know how many of them are there and whether they have any weapons. Can you please get the police here as quickly as possible?”

Oh my god! Don’t worry. Just be cool and strong. I’ll get help.”

As their mother put down the phone, the sound carried on louder.


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In the meantime, Jayati woke up Akash, her husband. “Wake up! There are men trying to break open Shrestha’s house.”

Huh?.. Wha..? ..,” He got out of bed half asleep, and started closing the doors and windows of the house.

What are you doing?” Jayati screamed. “The men are not in our house. They are at Shrestha’s house,” she said, as she shook him out of his sleep.

On hearing Jayati, her in-laws came to the room and asked what the matter was. After getting to know the matter, Akash got ready, and was about to leave for the police station when his mother stopped him and said, “Take the club! Take the club! There are dogs outside. They can bite you!”

What? No. I cannot go with a club in my hand. Otherwise everyone will think I am a mad man roaming about at night,” Akash said and left.

In the meantime Jayati called up Shrestha and said, “Can you still hear the sound?”

It stopped just after the phone started ringing.”

Don’t worry. Akash is on his way to the police station.”

At the police station he found the constable asleep on his chair in the veranda. “Sir? Excuse me, Sir. Can you wake up? I need to report something.”

Huh? Yes. Tell me.” said the constable, yawning.

Can you tell me where the sub-inspector is? I need help urgently.”

What happened? Tell me.”

Akash narrated the entire incident, after which the constable said, “Okay, wait. I need to wake Sir up.”

He got out of his chair, lazily. He was in no hurry. He strolled to the filter and drank a glass of water. Then scratching his belly and yawning again, he walked up to a closed door. Akash followed him. After a few knocks Akash heard an irritated voice saying, “Is this the time to wake someone up?” and the door opened.

What is the matter? Who is this man?” asked the sub-inspector, rudely.

Sir, I need your help immediately. A family is in distress…” and he narrated the full incident again. After listening to the story the sub-inspector promptly took his jeep, and they left for the house.

Shrestha, grandma, Olivia, and Diya were waiting with bated breath for the police to arrive. In the meantime, Jayati had called up several times to know how they were.

Ring Ring.

Hello?” answered Shrestha.

“Has the sound stopped? Did the men go?” asked Jayati, with concern in her voice. And every time Shrestha had the same reply. The sound kept on stopping and coming back.

Has the sound stopped? Did the men go?” asked Jayati, with concern in her voice. And every time Shrestha had the same reply. The sound kept on stopping and coming back.

After around an hour, they heard the sound of a jeep outside .

This must be the police,” Olivia said, excitedly. The sound of the burglars had stopped.

Who’s there? Come out and let me see you,” the sub-inspector shouted. The police men flashed their big torches near the trees, beside the house, and all around in search of the men. There was no one. The sub-inspector checked the wooden door very carefully.

I don’t see anything here,” he said, as the family gathered around him.

What’s that near the door?” shouted Olivia, pointing out at the corner of the door. A small heap of saw dust was lying there. As everyone looked at it, Olivia suddenly shrieked,“Oh Dear! There are rodents over here!”

Oh my god! It must be the rodents’ work then!” their mother exclaimed, relieved.

They have nibbled the door!” Diya cried.

There was silence for a few seconds. Everyone looked at each other. Then they all burst out in laughter, including the police men.

Very sorry, Sir. I am very sorry,” their mother said, embarrassingly, “We never expected this.”

It may happen with anyone who has two young daughters at home,” said Akash.

Never mind, Ma’am. It is our duty to keep you safe. You did the right thing by calling us,” said the sub-inspector while leaving, though he was grumbling inside.

Thank you, Akash uncle. You have been an angel!” Diya exclaimed, joyfully.

How stupid of us! We should have known at that time itself when we pushed Scooby to the door to bark, but he was least bothered and went off to sleep. He would have barked for sure had there been someone on the other side of the door,” said Shrestha.

Also, after all the phone calls and the conversation between mother and Jayati aunty about the police, a thief wouldn’t stay to be caught,” said Diya, giggling.

Laughing, Akash said, “I’ll never forget this incident in my life.”

By now it was almost dawn. The birds had started chirping, and very faint rays of the sun were visible. Akash bade them good bye and took his leave.

At home, Jayati and her in-laws were waiting anxiously for Akash to return. Suddenly they heard the beating of a stick on the ground. They opened the door to find Akash with a long twig in his hand.

What are you doing with a twig?” Jayati asked, with a quirk in her face.

Mother was right. I was saving myself from the dogs...”

About the Author:

Rebecca Bhattacharjee is a twelfth grade student at Bhawanipur Guajarati Education Society School (ISC), Kolkata. She regularly takes part in debate competitions, the most recent being ‘Global Village’ held by St. James School, Kolkata. She has written an article for the Young Metro newspaper, and a few write-ups for the Modern High School for Girls’s school magazine.

Rebecca Bhattacharjee


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  1. This story is really awesome, perfect use of vocabularies and i really loved the way the author described every little details in it. The story is more bright because of it’s humourous ending. Great work Rebecca!

    • Thank you so much sir for acknowledging my work. Means a lot. I am happy that you enjoyed reading it. Thank you again for your time and appreciation

  2. The ending is very funny. The vocabulary of the author is so good.
    I really appreciate her for the work. Well done Rebecca. Hope you will do more and better stories than this. This story reminds me of a true incident which did happen with me something like two years back. Again,,, hats off to you.

    • Thanks to you too sir for your time and appreciation. I’ll definitely try my best to write on better stories. Thank you once again

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