Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
House of Screams by Andaleeb Wajid (Penguin, 256 pages, Rs 250) is a story about a haunted house and a family that moves into it and how the house’s new incumbents battle the horrors they encounter.
Muneera, who is forced out of her ancestral home by her in-laws along with her husband Zain and their three-year-old son Adnan, is not very happy living in a small apartment. So when she gets to know that she has inherited a huge bungalow on Myrtle Lane, one of Bengaluru nicest addresses, from her uncle she is beyond happy, and desperately wants to move to the bungalow. Zain, on the other hand, is not very happy about this; not only because the house is far away from his work place but also because it’s a ramshackle house that needs a lot of renovation before it can be made fit for living.
Nevertheless, Muneera’s will prevails over him and they move into this newly-inherited house. And then begin their trials. Child Adnan is clearly not comfortable in the new house. He moves into a shell and often stares at the wall of his room sitting there for long hours. In fact, he keeps watching the wall and moves out of the room reluctantly and that too only when Muneera forces him to.
One night hearing someone screaming at the top of his voice, Muneera and Zain wake up with a start. Scared and startled they try to locate the origin of these screams but fail. Then the screaming stops as suddenly as it had begun. From then on, it becomes a regular feature at night. Attributing it to some insane person, they accept the regular screams as a normal thing.
But they soon realise, there’s more to the house than its posh address. With each passing day, the place gets more and more eerie — blood-soaked hands coming out of the walls, a boy living in the wall whom only Adnan can see not to mention the blood-curdling screams at night.
Then much to their shock they get to know the house’s gory past and realise they must leave if they want to live.
What’s it that has made such a beautiful house so scary? Who are the people screaming at night? And who is the old woman who begs on the street in the neighbourhood market? Well, to tell you all this would spoil the mystery that surrounds the novel…
Andaleeb Wazid has written a really scary tale that just grips you. It also makes you believe in life after life, subtly it also talks about the theory of karma, that there is no escaping your deeds, good or bad.