Our story-teller called regularly but she wasn’t into ghost-tales anymore. Her husband didn’t come for many days after telling ‘the story of the house we lived.’ He must have been told off by his wife for telling it. When he finally showed up; I asked him about that banyan tree and he started something about the house across the street but stopped suddenly; realizing his wife’s glare. I really wanted to know about it so I tried to ask him again; but the wife altered that subject quite skillfully every time I tried.
I was having trouble sleeping at nights for some time. Any distinct sound gave me a start and I could still hear the sound of an axe sometimes. But I couldn’t talk to my parents because they would have told me ‘there are no such things as ghosts or spirits.’ So instead I told myself the same thing. Days passed by and my fears faded eventually.
One day it had been raining cats and dogs all day. Morning started windy and it transformed into a thunderstorm before evening. We had to eat dinner in candlelight as there had been a transformer failure. I went to my room early that night and was lying in my bed listening to the patter and crashes outside for a long time. When I had just started to feel drowsy I heard someone sneeze. The sound didn’t come from the next bedroom. I was sure it came from the attic. My heart was pounding hard against my ribs. I stayed in my bed for a long time; petrified, eyes and ears wide open. I could only hear the patter of the rain. Around early hours of morning I fell asleep.
Next morning the rain stopped but my school declared holiday as there were reports of property damage all around. A branch of a mango tree had dropped on the right corner of our roof and had damaged some tiles. My father hired two men to repair it. When they were working I managed to sneak up on roof and peek inside at the attic from a patch of tiles that was removed to be replaced. It was full of scrap but otherwise there was nothing unusual.
I had become used to the noises at night they didn’t bother me anymore.
One Saturday my friend was at my home for a sleepover. Around one in the morning we heard the sound of an axe. I had already told him about it but he hadn’t believed until he heard it himself. After a whispered guesswork about what it could be we decided to go out and check for ourselves. We sneaked out of my room, Listened at the door of my parent’s room if they are asleep and tiptoed along the veranda. As quietly as possible we opened the front door and crept out of the front yard to the gate.
I was quite nervous and my friend was rather jumpy. Fear building as we walked very slowly towards dull thuds. Half the distance we covered shivering and then stopped. I asked my friend if he was sure and we should go near that tree. He considered it for a while then said ‘we have come this far, lets just go and see.’ We started again, but as we neared the tree we realized; dull thuds of axe had stopped. Everything was quiet except gentle rush of leaves. We didn’t make any noise just stand there staring at the tree. No one was around and no sound came.
We turned and very quietly rushed back inside the front gate, across the yard and into the house. When we locked the door and crept back into my room we heard again the thuds of axe. We tried to deduce again what it could be and finally dozed off.
We kept talking about it for a few days then finally I told myself there IS no such thing as ghosts and even if there are they don’t trouble you for no reason.