The Curse of the Astral Body

Ramya yanked open her laptop and showed off the blog. “See the logo and name at the top? My idea totally.”
That night she told Satish she was stopping the tablets.

“Better consult the doctor,” warned Satish.

“I’m perfectly fine, don’t worry. It was a temporary phase.”

“Come on! You can do it.”
Her colleagues were daring her to join them on the roller coaster ride. It was an office outing, about a year later. Ramya grinned nervously and refused.
“You have been writing about daring to go beyond your fears and now you are running scared!”
This was a direct challenge and she had to take it. She yelled in fear and thrill in team spirit. They had to get on and off the ride by climbing a high ladder. She was a little giddy while climbing down. Her foot slipped and she fell. The pain was intense and she could not get up. They had to carry her to the ambulance. There were multiple fractures, she was told and she would have to stay in hospital for a few days. Satish camped in the hospital during the day, after he had dropped Shruti to school. He had to leave again in the evening to pick her and go home. Ramya was alone in the room at nights. Her colleague who had dared her was repentant, and offered to stay at nights. But Ramya sent her away.
The door had no lock. A nurse or duty doctor would come a few times during the night to check on her. The corridor was dimly lit and you could see shadows scurrying past. Anyone of them could walk in and smother you. The cocktail of drugs made her groggy and she would wake up wondering where she was, and random thoughts would slip in and out.
When she resumed work, she noticed nobody had posted in the blog in her absence. A female colleague who had posted occasionally too had not posted anything. When Ramya enquired, she was told that the woman had contracted dengue around the same time Ramya was in hospital. A week later she saw a guy in office with his arm in plaster and sling. He had had a scooter accident while driving home from work. Some days later a young man collapsed in pain while parking his car. He was taken to hospital and they had to put in two stents. There were a few more cases of people falling sick, Ramya discovered when she had a meeting with Subhash. He told her that around six people had fallen sick or had an accident after Ramya. He found it very amusing. “You know, you may have triggered it off, like some paranormal psychopath. I am approving lot of medical claims I find.”
Ramya did not find it funny. “I don’t even know these people! I would never wish for anything like that!” she protested. But the casual remark had hit her deep. She stopped her almost daily ‘thought of the day’ motivational posts.
About a month later, a fire broke out in office. Apparently an electrical fault was the cause. They evacuated the office and called the fire brigade. It was put out quickly and there was no major damage. But she was afraid while standing on the road below and watching smoke billowing out. She had caused it, of that she was certain. That night she woke up several times with a panic attack. Maybe the following victims could be her family.
– – * – –
Shivram waved a magnet on a string and watched it swinging for a few moments. “An astral body has attached itself to you”.
She did not know what an astral body was, but it sounded bad. He said it was the spirit of a dead soul, which was bound to the earth and was not able to continue its journey.

“What should I do? Will more bad things happen?”

“It will continue to trouble you until it is exorcised. There are rituals to free you from it.”

The Mysore road crematorium was the first stop. Satish refused to come in. She was about to argue when she remembered his father had been cremated there two years ago. Poor fellow, he sat glumly looking ahead. She patted him sympathetically and got down. There was a ambulance in front of the building and a stretcher was being taken out. She averted her eyes and went to other end of the compound. She pulled out the piece of paper from her purse. She had written ‘Harish ‘ on it. She tore up the paper and threw the bits in the exact corner of the compound. Shivram had told her to do this for all the people who had troubled her and Harish was the first who had come to her mind.