“Yes?” Ninad heard a confused, deep whisper at the other end.
“This is God speaking,” Ninad spoke loudly, trying hard to control his laughter at the same time. “You have some dues to clear, mister. Can we talk?”
Ninad was having the time of his life, making prank calls from the comfort of his room. The rotary dial telephone had been his entertainment hub for the last few hours now. But things were about to change for the worse.
“Need a single-bed room for today,” Ninad ordered the receptionist. He was exploring the morbid looking hotel lobby, still unsure of whether it really was a hotel. It was a small hut with utter lack of air, heat or light. But it did display fancy looking furniture and sculptures. Well kept, tidy.
“Wokovu homely heritage resort,” it had announced itself at the side of the highway. He still wondered if selecting the hotel just by its peculiar name was a right decision.
“Sure sir. And I assume it would be just you alone?” Ninad looked around and sighed, but then nodded, not really amused by the gratuitous insult.
The receptionist was right in a way. He was alone and stuck. The stormy weather outside didn’t leave him much choice to roam outside too. Not that the town had anything worth exploring. Even Google had struggled to pin it on its map.
“So, what amenities do you have?” Ninad inquired curiously. “And what’s Wokovu?”
The receptionist looked up at him, for the first time that Ninad could recall. “Nothing. And we are proud of that. It gives you time to spend time with yourself, for yourself. Frees you of your day-to-day burdens and distractions. Wokovu.”
Ninad forced a smile on his face, nodding. “Sure.” The sarcasm in his tone wasn’t lost on the receptionist too.
All the plans Ninad had for the day were cancelled, thanks to the terrible storm that had cordoned off the small town, closing off all the roads leading out. There was no way either for Ninad to leave this rotten place or for his colleagues to arrive. He now had to find ways to entertain himself in this so-called resort.
There was a silence on the line for some time. Ninad wondered if the phone had given up and died with age. But then he heard a tired sigh.
“You should not have come here. You should not have stayed here. You should not have used the phone. You should not have called me. Now be ready to face the consequences. And the first one on the list will be your wife Saba.”
Before Ninad could fathom the voice and words, the receiver of the rotary dial telephone burst in flames.
Wokovu — Swahili word for salvation
(noun) deliverance from sin and its consequences