We left no stone upturned to curse him.
“May he die of insomnia” was the most repeated phrase of all.
In truth, however formidable our words were, it would make no difference to him. He would still start to bath when all the hands of our clock, that had outlived our cat, Luna, would be done with the global hug. In the course of filling his buckets, the weary sound of the hand pump wouldn’t let us sleep.
Everyone who would come from afar to take water from the hand pump would envy us as it was beside our home situated in an area full of butchers.
The SleepTaker—I’d given him the name—was a man of an evasive nature. On some nights, he would bath for hours, even longer than my sister would watch the television. On some, he would arrive and disappear even without us noticing him.
There was a time when we didn’t see him for three days. Even though we were elated, but at the corner of my mind, there was an urge to know his whereabouts.
I don’t know whether it is fortunate or unfortunate, but I didn’t have to wait as that very evening I had decided to visit him, the smell of something getting burned caught our locality’s attention.
After enough nitty-gritty, it was found to have sourced from the SleepTaker’s home. They all first howled when he didn’t open the door even after being knocked with a strong zeal. At the end, they had to break the doors.
None of them entered it, as they saw the SleepTaker melting like a candle. I think there is a fourth degree burning that they don’t teach in school because he was burnt too deeply that no facial feature of him was visible. One man mustered the courage and ushered him on a trolley. We all ran to the hospital, but we were sent back from the door.
I was the only person who had wept in his funeral. Maybe because there was no one else.
My biggest regret isn’t cursing him so much. It’s giving him this name: SleepTaker, for he still keeps us awake, everyone, mother, father, sister, and I. The only difference is that no one believes when we try to tell them someone still uses the hand pump in the midnight as we hear its sound, but there is no one when we peek outside our house.
I strongly believe it’s the SleepTaker. Only he uses the hand pump this way.