That night both Suma and Biren decided that they would spend the night in Kiya's room. They pulled up comfortable chairs to sit on both sides of Kiya's bed. With her grandmother in the house and both her parents in the same room, Kiya started to feel safer. But she knew that the dark forces were out there waiting for her.
That first part of the night, passed uneventfully except for Biren and Suma finding it within themselves to coexist in peace for the sake of their only daughter. Kiya's grandmother smiled to herself when she saw the two sharing a cup of coffee at midnight. She knew that old hurts will take awhile to mend, but her daughter definitely loved her husband. She only hoped that both of them started to believe in the special powers their daughter had, and take the right steps to protect her; she was still vulnerable.
In the later part of the night, Kiya woke up with screaming, "It is burning, it is burning". Both Biren and Suma woke up from their slumber with a start. Even as they were trying to calm their daughter, they could smell the acrid smell of something burning. Asking Suma to stay with Kiya, Biren rushed out to look for the source of the fire.
As he stood outside Kiya's bedroom sniffing and trying to identify the source of the burning smell, he saw his mother-in-law rushing towards him. She said, "Biren, it is coming from downstairs. Check the puja room!"
Biren rushed downstairs to the puja room to find the cask containing his charm emitting the noxious smoke. He was stunned to see that there was no apparent cause for the fire to have started. His mother-in-law came rushing behind him shouting, "Do not touch that!" She rushed into the room and threw some water from a small bottle she was holding.
Biren could not believe his eyes when weird blue looking smoke wafted out of the box. The cloud of smoke seemed to be reaching out to touch him. His mother-in-law rushed towards him and sprinkled some water from the same bottle she had used on the cask. The smoke seemed to recoil and waft out of the room.
As he stood there stunned at what had happened, Biren realized that may be Kiya and her grandmother did have some strange powers. He decided there and then not to take it lightly and do his best to protect his daughter. As he stood there looking stupefied, his mother-in-law patted him on the back, saying, "Don't worry Biren, I will not leave till I know Kiya is safe."
Biren nodded mutely and walked off from there wondering whether he could have prevented all this occurring by simply believing that his daughter had special powers, when his mother-in-law told him the first time. As if sensing his confusion, his mother-in-law simply looked at him and smiled. She said, "It is okay, I am happy you believe now."
"What do we do now?" He asked his mother-in-law.
"We will have to get the crystal back for Kiya's protection first. Then we have to find a way to destroy the charm that Aniya gave you. You know, actually Kiya's gift is more powerful than mine. Once she is feeling better, she will be able to tell us what was in Aniya's mind when she had the charm created. Then we can plan our next step." Said his mother-in-law.
"Okay! I am just now realizing how foolish and blind we have been. I am only thankful that Kiya has you to guide and help her," said Biren.
"Oh! That is alright. She is my granddaughter too. Let us try to get some sleep now," said his mother-in-law.
The rest of the night passed with all three adults standing vigil over a tossing and turning Kiya. She seemed to be battling terrors as she laid there trying to sleep. The next morning Kiya woke up feeling strong and positive. She called up her friend Sucheta and asked her to return her jewelry at the earliest. Hearing the strain in her voice, Sucheta agreed to come back by afternoon and return the jewelry.
At her grandmother’s urging, Kiya decided to meditate in the Puja room along with her grandmother. Kiya’s grandmother gestured to both Suma and Biren to enter the Puja room and sit in one corner. As Kiya went through her meditation ritual, she seemed to enter a trance-like state.
"She had been so sad. All she wanted was the man she loved to love her back. She hated Suma for coming between them. She had been trying to make Biren to fall in love with her for such a long time. It was only when Biren started talking about moving to a new town, did she take this step. She approached a necromancer and asked him to prepare a spell that would make Biren fall in love with her," muttered Kiya in her trance-like state.
Both her parents sat there stunned. Even as they were about to open their mouth to ask a question, Kiya’s facial expression changed and she screamed, "I hate Suma, I hate her and now Biren will hate her too." At this point she seemed to lose steam and slump. Her grandmother revived her gently by tapping her cheeks slightly and sprinkling water over her.
She turned to her daughter and son-in-law and said, "I think though Aniya tried some magic on you, she was not very adept at it herself. And when she wedged a rift between you two, she did not try anything else. Once Biren confessed he was in love with her, she must have felt good and stopped harming Suma. It could have been worse. Now let me meditate on this matter and I am sure something can be done to break this spell."
Suma looked at Biren and then at her mother and nodded. Biren looked at her with eyes full of shame and said, "I am so sorry. I have been stupid."
Suma merely looked at him with sad eyes and shook her head. Both of them approached Kiya and hugged her tight. Their first positive ray of hope came with the return of Sucheta, who then promptly handed over the jewelry.
She said, "Kiya, you know I have always wanted to wear this pendant. But a strange thing happened to me when I was wearing it. It suddenly became very hot during the function and I had to take it off. I think you should take it to the jeweler and ask him to change the stone."
Kiya’s grandmother was listening to all this with a concerned expression on her face. As soon as Sucheta left, she took the crystal pendant from Kiya and said, "Child, do not wear it right away, I think the evil that touched you at Aniya’s house also tried to touch the pendant. Such things can recognize a protective amulet when they see one and can try to corrupt it. Do not worry, we will do a cleansing and then you can start wearing it."
She then proceeded to the puja room with the crystal, followed by Kiya, Suma and Biren. She placed the crystal in a small bowl filled with holy water. As Suma and Biren watched in fascinated horror, the water in the bowl became gray and murky. Noxious fumes seemed to emanate from the bowl. Working quickly Kiya and her grandmother lit incense around the bowl. Then they gestured Suma and Biren to join them to form a circle around the bowl. They joined hands and with eyes closed, Kiya and her grandmother chanted for a while. After some time the odors seemed to clear and the air in the room started to smell of the sweet incense. Kiya’s grandmother then reached into the bowl and picked up the crystal pendant with its chain and placed it around Kiya’s neck.
Kiya wore a look of relief with the pendant around her neck. She looked at her grandmother and said, "Grandma, I will be very careful with this pendant now onwards. I am never taking it off. Now can we try to find a way to get rid of the evil charm that Aniya Aunty has given dad?"
Her grandmother nodded and then looked at Biren and Suma. She said, "Would you like to stay in the room as we pray or would you be more comfortable outside."
Before Suma could open her mouth to answer, Biren said, "All this has happened because we refused to accept Kiya’s unusual powers. I would like to see this thing through to the end." On hearing his words, Suma merely nodded.
After a half hour of meditation, Kiya had the solution. The charm had to be carried to the place of Aniya’s accident and buried there along with some holy water and some holy basil leaves. The whole family somberly left the house with the charm safely ensconced in a cask that was filled with holy basil. Kiya carried the holy water.
As they reached the accident site, Biren seemed to lose his resolve and started arguing against burying the charm. Realizing that he was being once again influenced by the spell of the charm, Kiya and her grandmother firmly overruled him. They left him in the car with Suma, while they proceeded to bury the charm with holy water and holy basil.
As they returned to the car, they could see that Biren seemed to have calmed down. On their way back home, Kiya was glad to see her parents carrying on a normal conversation. She looked across the back seat towards her grandmother; they both understood that things would be better for her since she had her parents to protect her.
She also realized that though it may take some time, her parents would definitely get back together. Their love for each other was bigger than the influence of any evil spell. She smiled and held onto her crystal feeling safe and protected after a long time. She had it all - the anchor of her powers, the crystal and the protection and acceptance of her parents!
The end of this story is the beginning of a better life for Kiya....