Posted in Life, Memories, Stories, Village, Village Stories

GHOST TALES

My father had a government job and we were used to his not being around because of his transfers every year or two. I was fourteen when he got a posting in a small village not too far from the town we lived and he decided we all should go and live there together for a year.

Obviously I wasn’t ready to go for I had lived in this town since I was five and I had a lot of friends there; but my parents persuaded me saying ‘it’s only a year and we’ll be back in town. Also I’ll get a lot of new experiences to tell my friends.’ So finally there I was; packing everything happily.

It was June when we moved and the village was increased in beauty for rain had just started. Small green hills, farms of rice all around, sound of overflowing river, fragrance of green grass and smoke……. I loved it all.

We had rented a house just beside the main street near main bus stop. The house wasn’t like our house in town but it wasn’t either like other village houses, it was built to rent out for teachers in local school or government doctors. It was comfortable. There were five doors along with a common veranda. Only one door at the far right was always locked where the owner lived whenever he was in village with his family. Each one of the five doors opened to a fair sized sitting room and a small kitchen next to it. Outside, where kitchen doors opened in backyard were bathrooms. It was an ex police officers house who lived in city and visited this village only once in a year. Currently the whole house was out of tenants and rent was very little so father rented the whole house, all the four quarters.

First night in the house; around three in the morning I woke up with a start as I heard a clatter and noise like someone running; from the attic. I slept in a room just next to where my mom and dad were but I was so terrified I couldn’t move a muscle or make any sound. Holding my breath I waited listening for a long time. Nothing happened. ‘It couldn’t be rats, the noise was too loud for rats,’ I thought.

‘But then what else could it be?’ so after a while reassuring myself that ‘it couldn’t be anything but rats, noise must have been echoed in the silent night,’ I went back to sleep. When I woke up that morning I asked my mother if she had heard any noise and she said she did and we must get rid of those rats. That reassured me and I dropped the subject and forgot all about it in a few days as I didn’t hear any more noises.

My school hadn’t started yet and I didn’t know anyone in village; also there was no cable network there; I spent my time wandering around. The houses around were fairly distant from each other. Opposite of the house we lived, on the other side of the main street and a little further, was a big old house; too old in fact but not as old as it’s inhabitants. A husband and wife, they must be at least a hundred years old. Hedges around the house had become a thicket you could hardly imagine there could be a house behind it at first glance. That was the last house on Main Street and right outside where  that property ended was an enormous banyan three with its hundreds of aerial roots, a few of them not aerial anymore but had found their way back in earth. Further on both sides of street were only fields, woods and bushes. Sometimes in the middle of the night I’d heard sounds like slashes of axe like someone cutting a tree from the direction of the banyan tree but the tree was whole whenever I saw it. I even counted the aerials around it, but never missed the count.

Soon my school started and I made some friends and as soon as my parents acquainted with some villagers, we heard quite a few stories about different people of village; whom we didn’t know yet, and some other stories of various parts of the village, ‘the usual village ghost tales.’ Our regular story teller was a tall; broad shouldered; solid woman who dropped by nearly every evening, some times accompanied by her husband, who contrasting to her was a short and stout man with a squeaky voice, since our house was on the way to their farm. No one in my family believed those tales, but then one evening a story told by the husband while the wife tried without success to hush him turned out to be the most exciting one. It was concerning the house we were living. The tale was, ‘The house owner’s wife died in that house; and she didn’t die a natural death; and her spirit still dwells in the attic’, The attic which was always locked; for the owner said he kept his old furniture and kitchen utensils, ‘people says they have seen her after her death’… even if my parents didn’t believe it, I wasn’t sure about not believing the tale. So I asked one of my friends in school and he said he had heard the stories but didn’t believe them either.

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 after looking at 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.
Eventually I had become used to the noises at night they didn’t bother me anymore.

Then one Saturday my friend was at my home for a sleepover. Around one in the morning again we heard the sound of slashing like an axe on a tree. I had already told my friend all about those sounds 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 the sound of 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; the sound 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 slipped back inside the front gate, across the yard and into the house. We locked the front door and crept back into my room and just when we turned into bed we heard again the thuds of an 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.

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Posted in Life

Driving lessons….

My sister’s husband bought a new car few days ago but he cannot drive yet so I’ve been using that car since and he was requesting me to give him driving lessons. I tried telling him to join a driving school but he refused deliberately.

Finally last Sunday, when I didn’t have anything better to do, I thought its time I should help him and we got into the car and drove to a newly developed housing complex where roads were wide and empty. On our way I started his lesson with the theory. No… before theory we did names of the parts used in driving a car (he actually didn’t know anything). After we completed theory I gave him just the steering wheel and he wasn’t all bad at keeping car on road. We drove back and forth on those unfilled roads; he, steering the car with a little assistance from me and me, shifting gears and controlling everything else. After an hour and a half we decided to call it a day. He was happy but nothing compared to me. I didn’t believe I could do it with such patience.

After two days, last Tuesday, he was at home and I had a few hours to spare so again we headed out to resume our lesson. For first ten minutes I only let him steer the car, it was kind of boring, so I told him to take the driver’s seat.

We started from the revision, first names of the parts, and then what to do first and then and after that. After revision I told him to start the car and he started the car a little over enthusiastically. Then I told him to push the clutch and put the car in first gear but to leave his right foot off the accelerator. He did that, and then I told him to very slowly release the clutch without accelerating. The car started to move without jerking to a halt once. He was a fast learner… or maybe I’m a good teacher. 🙂

We continued on first gear for a while without accelerating, and then stopped. I asked him to get the feel of the accelerator before actually using it. Then again we set off, this time with a little accelerator, and after about twenty minutes I thought it’s time to move on to second gear. Now this was tricky, when he tried to shift from first to second gear he wasn’t quick enough and car would slow down before he shifts the gear. This happened several times before he finally got it right and we practiced up and down those roads for a while.

I think next time he’ll drive the car quite well. I really don’t know if he is good at learning or I’m good at teaching, or maybe both. But I’m happy with the outcome.

Posted in Life, Memories, Pets

My Pets 2 – Sparrows

After my first disastrous pet episode -a ‘spoiled’ tabby tomcat– I wasn’t thinking at all about having another pet (at least for a while). When my summer vacations started after my fourth grade final exams (which went practically well), I left for my granny’s city with my family to spend the vacation at my granny’s place like we did every year back then. My aunt, uncle and my cousins all were already there. We spent the vacation just like every year, (to be brief, having lots of fun).

We were roaming on a beach one evening; a day before we were to return to our town; when I saw two boys, a little older than me, walking near a food stall selling something. When they drew nearer I realized one of them was carrying a stick on which were sitting four sparrows. I was thrilled just seeing them. I asked the boys “why these sparrows don’t fly away?” they smiled and one of them who looked a bit older and bold replied “their wings are severed” and seeing my face he added, “just enough so they can’t fly for a few days.” I felt really bad for the birds, but at the same time I thought I had found a new pet.

My father, after some pleading and tantrum, bought them and I carried them to my granny’s place in a cardboard box.

Next morning we started our journey quite early. I carried the box, in which my new pets were huddled in a corner, on my lap all the way to my town and couldn’t resist peeping in the box every now and then; and providing my pets with water and grain even when they didn’t touch anything at all. I kept the box with me near my chair when we stopped for lunch at a hotel and didn’t eat much myself. I was too engrossed in my new pets.

When we reached our town at sundown I was too tired from our journey but still I left home right away to find where I can buy a nice cage for my birds. After a long search in the market while the shops around me were closing, I found a pet shop and bought a big, round parrot cage because I thought the other cages were too small for my four sparrows and I wanted them to feel free even inside a cage. The attendant in shop tried telling me that this cage is not for sparrows and they can easily flee from the bars but I told him quite conceitedly that this is the perfect cage for my birds and he handed it to me irately. As soon as I got home I realized that the parrot cage I had bought was too big for my sparrows and they indeed kept escaping from the bars……

I tried everything to keep my sparrows in the cage. I encircled the cage with a wire to make the bars smaller; it didn’t work, then I tried to reduce the size of each square of the bar by covering it with cardboard pieces; it didn’t work either. My pets weren’t able to fly yet so they would just flutter to the floor but it was just the matter of time before they could. Ultimately I realized my pets needed a different cage with smaller bars, like the shopkeeper was telling me. Hence until I could buy a new cage or gather some nerve to face the same pet shop attendant to replace my current one, I made a small cardboard house with lots of tiny windows for my birds and put it on a stool in my drawing room.

That night was one of my cousin’s birthday so I was at my uncle’s house which was just next to my house and our front door was open. A little later when I came home to get some ice I was shocked to see the house I had made for my sparrows was shattered and there was no sign of them. When I looked closer I saw but one sparrow lying in the wreck on the floor; probably dead…… yes it was dead. I was sitting there all dazed when a big black cat peeped from our front door and glancing at me doubled back and disappeared into the darkness.

I stormed out of the house and searched the whole ground around my house. I already knew what had happened but it was hard to take in that my sparrows hadn’t escaped, that the cat I saw peeping from the door had feasted on them. But ultimately I accepted the fact and buried the only sparrow witch was left inert in my hand under a tree in our front yard and swore to myself ‘No More Pets.’

Posted in Life

Nothing Changes

Yesterday was a Sunday and I was in no mood to get up early. It was ten thirty when my phone went off and I factually ignored it and kept on snoring. I noticed who my caller was after half hour when I finally woke up. It was an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in about four years. We used to live in same housing complex when we were kids. I was going to redial when my phone went off again, it was her again. I answered, she said she is going to visit some relatives who still live in this town and she is going to visit me in the evening. I said OK, I was home anyway. around two thirty in the afternoon she called again saying she is going to come to my home now and as she didn’t know where my new residence is so she was going to wait outside our old housing complex as my new home is fairly close to it.

She called again just ten minutes later “I’m here, where are you?” and I wasn’t even dressed yet. After tossing away my sleeping clothes and shoving myself in better ones I reached at the entrance of our old residence half running and saw her waving excitedly. She hasn’t changed at all. She told me she didn’t have any of our old friend’s numbers and I should call whoever was still in town. I dialed a few numbers; many of them were not free, only two said they’ll be at my home in ten minutes. They were excited too.

After about fifteen minutes three of our old friends joined us at my home for chatting, shouting and laughing like mad. We recalled all the old memories, how we used to play together, how we used to be at her home all the time. Her parents were so cool and never told anyone not to shout or to behave. So it was fun being at their place. And also how much fun it was at every public function of our apartment complex and how it’s not any fun anymore. Only two of our old friends were still living in the same colony and they always talked about nothing is same anymore, we all agreed on everything is changed now, people have changed, it just doesn’t feel same anymore and public functions are also not as fun as it were when we were kids so everyone of us almost stopped attending them. Yes everything around us has changed.

That evening we all revisited our old dwellings. Lots of kids were playing in the premise, all happy, enjoying just like we used to enjoy. Seeing them was like going back in time. Then I had a thought, maybe ten years later these kids too will meet up one day just like us and feel the same way about their old days, ‘its no fun anymore; everything has changed.

But everything else hadn’t changed, what really changed was only us. We grew up, we don’t enjoy things like we used to enjoy anymore, and everything else is the same.

Posted in Life, Memories, Pets

My Pets 5 – Another Cat

We lived in a tile roofed old house when I was in seventh grade. It was a single story house with a small attic and shaded little front yard. A small window of the attic was just above the yard covering sheets and a big grey cat used to come and go from a broken pane.

That winter we, (me and my family) went out of town to attend a wedding and when we returned we found that the cat had given birth to two kittens in our attic. One of them was white and golden with some small patches of grey and another was tabby with a little whites. When the kittens were too young she never let me near them, the cat, but when they got a little older I started giving them milk in a bowl and the cat would keep a watchful eye on me from a distance.

Then one morning the cat disappeared with her kittens. Someone told me that cats frequently change places for their kittens. I was saddened but was quickly recovered this time. Then one day, after about a month one of the kittens, white and golden, showed up at my door. I saw her when I came back from school but she was unwilling to come inside the house, but finally did when I tried and tried and tried.

She stayed with us since then and she was a good cat. I called her Manu. Every morning she’d run out when my mother opened the front door for milk, every afternoon she’d wait for me in the front yard when I came back from school. I had arranged a small cane basket for her and had fluffed it with pieces of old blankets but she always slept curled between my ankles. A month later I brought a puppy, Monty. My kitten was a little anxious of him for a few days but soon they both became best mates. They both ate from each other’s bowl, played together, slept curling in the cane basket I’d placed for Manu. I was happy my two pets got along so well.

Then one morning when Manu came back from her morning stroll she was not well. She kept meowing and tumbling around my mother and my mother noticed, my kitten was not being able to see properly and something was seriously wrong with her. When I came home from school my mother had already called the vet twice but he was busy. My kitten had become quite fragile until then; she wasn’t being able to drink or eat anything or even stand properly. I tried to give her milk with cotton while my mother got ready to get her to doctor and then me and my mother bundled my kitten in a small piece of blanket.

But when we got to the doctor it was too late. My kitten was already gone.

Posted in Life, Memories

My Pets 4 – A Doberman

After doves it was a Doberman, two years old, Shiny chocolate brown with little patches of light brown on both sides of his mouth and insides of all legs and paws and across chest. We had just shifted to our new big house and my dad brought him from a friend’s acquaintance for security reasons. – but we learned soon that he was pretty useless for security but at lest he barked when saw a new person so it was OK. I started waking up early to take him for running. Every morning I’d run at least a mile with him so it was also good for my health.

Then one day while washing him I found a small hole on his back, just an inch above his tail. The only vet in town told us the dog is deceased and won’t recover and his previous owner knew it.

I was quite upset but no one in my family wanted to get all upset when he died after making space in our hearts. So we took him back to his previous owner. He was with us only for a few days but he made a permanent space in my heart.

Posted in Life, Memories

I got my first Bike snapped…

When I got my first bike before my third grade I was way too excited. I loved my Captain Hercules so much I would take her everywhere I went; to school, market, friends, and tuition, everywhere. I even taught a friend, who at the time was my best friend, to ride and had one or two scratches on my new bike. (But when his father had bought him a new bike, one day when I asked him if I could borrow for some time, he simply lied that the tyre is punctured when his bike was right there in front of me, whole and fine.)

Well as I was saying I used to take my bike anywhere I went. One day my mother sent me to my uncle’s shop to get something and I rode my bike to get there. My uncle’s shop was on the main road of the town but it was afternoon and there was much less traffic. At my uncle’s shop I needed to cross the road and I looked back and forth before carefully turning. I almost got on the other side of the road, swung my leg to this side of the bike and was ready to stop and alight when suddenly something hit me from side and next thing I knew I was being pushed with my bike into the bushes outside my uncle’s shop. It happened so fast I was blank for a while. I vaguely remember my uncle running to me, shouting for water and then I was out. When I opened my eyes I was in a hospital waiting room with my uncle and my father and had a deep cut on my right knee which was sewed by three stitches afterwards.

I learned that a speeding motorcyclist, who was talking to the pillion and not watching the road, had hit me and it wasn’t my fault at all (I still find it hard to believe though). And when I saw my bike I realized how lucky I was because my bike was snapped in two pieces.

Of course I got a new bike in a few days, this time a BSA, but it was never like my first bike which I loved dearly.