Do you believe in ghosts?
We all must have encountered this question at some point, in this lifetime.
The fact which no one can deny is that we have some interest in the unexplained…in those proclaimed creatures of the dark, whom none have seen but everyone has heard, a story of.
The below to follow is something which will haunt me for a long time…
It all started when we reached our Jungle resort in Jim Corbett to spend some time with nature. Post settling down we got hold of the room service personal to inquire about the surroundings, so as to capture the necessary details of the areas, which we can explore.
His name was Kanshi Ram, a local, whose ancestors settled down in a nearby village some 100 years back. Kanshi was a short man and had a smiling face. He patiently answered our queries and apart from telling the usual tourist points, he revealed bit more… a story of an apparition, the legend among locals.
Also, no-one dares to wanders near the riverbank alone, as there is a ghost in the river. She was one of us and was eaten by a tiger, while she was busy fetching water from the river. Since then, many of us have seen Mira on the riverbank. Some of us even heard a loud cry, as if Mira is calling us. People over here are afraid of the river.
A ghost of the river! If Kanshi Ram is to be believed, people who were wandering near the riverbank were pushed in the running stream, by someone whom they did not see. Per him it was Mira’s ghost and he was very sure, of his claims.
We immediately unpacked and went see this river and its ghost. The entire setting was quiet attractive. A river with huge sandbanks on either side and at the other end was the dense jungle. Since, we were aware of the legend, everyone was busy looking for its evidence. We stayed there for almost an hour… nothing happened.
The sun was beaming with its full strength now and it was decided that we will aimlessly wander in the Jungle. None of us was interested to run after the traces of the tiger, which they term as “Jungle Safari”. We had no plans to interfere in the privacy of the king and opted to go for a casual car drive.
That was a lovely afternoon. I was behind the wheels, driving through the dense jungle, on a road which was empty and without bumps. The light was playing hide & seek with us and apart from the occasional sound of a distinct animal, the entire setting was very quiet and somewhat mysterious.
There is a certain attraction in the quiet of the Jungle. You sense that you are not alone and yet cannot see, whom is watching you. There is a peculiar whisper in the wind and if you listen carefully, it is asking you to leave…
We never realized that it had been more than 3 hours while we were busy wandering in the quiet. Now, it was the time of the evening, which was fast approaching. We turned back, as wanted to get back to the resort, before the dark sets in.
The night belongs to them…. These words of Kanshi Ram were there in my mind and I was driving bit faster, than the usual.
We crossed one of the forest check points and per a milestone, our resort was not far away. It was 4 pm and we were just required to cross a small village and the last checkpoint, post which was our comfortable resort.
The river joined us on the right hand side and it was the jungle which was running on the left. Now, all I could think of, was the wild animals and the Mira’s ghost. To tell you, I had no intentions of meeting any of them.
I stepped hard on the acceleration pedal, as the clock was announcing 5 and the dark was around the horizon. The shadows of the trees were long and the time of the bright was not much. All I wanted, was to reach the resort, as soon as I could.
We were not alone on the road. There were few more vehicles ahead of us and our car was approaching them, rather quickly. First, I thought that I was driving fast but then understood that the cars ahead, were not moving. Before anyone could realize anything, we were in middle of a mini jam.
Why are they not moving? Aren’t they aware of the fact that we are in middle of a freaking jungle!!! The night is fast approaching… Should I tell them about the ghost of the river? People in India just stand wherever they feel like! What if a wild animal with its big appetite sees us and start its assault!! Then these people might move…
My mind was going berserk and the anxiety levels were shooting for a new high.
This jam was not because of a tree/animal which decided to stop everyone, but it was something else which kept the traffic from moving.
I had no choice but to step out of the car, set foot in the land of the wild and look for the impediment. I was not ready for the jungle camp, nor had any intentions.
At the end of the trail of machines, was a green bus with some people around it. There faces were frown and all of them were looking angry. Some of them were throwing stones at the bus and few were crying profusely. These were eminent signs that the trouble is round the corner. And it was the humans, who were at the cause of it.
Why are they angry? Why they are throwing stones at the bus? And why, this road is jammed?
The answers came automatically as I approached the bus. Next to the bus, was a man lying in middle of the road, with his face covered. Also, there was a pool of blood around him. It was a lifeless body.
When alive, he was a nearby villager, who died because a green bus ran over him. The same green bus, which the villagers were pelting. The locals were angry as this was the third time in a month, one of them died because someone was in a hurry to reach a place. They were angry because the guilty ran away, abandoning his bus and everything else. They were angry as the bus driver had not faced the consequences of his action. They wanted him dead.
There were some people, trying to have a word with the angry villagers, in order to make them understand that blocking the road will not lead to anything, but chaos. And there were other set of people, who were just standing there, witnessing everything.
It was clear that nothing will happen for some time. I turned to return back to the car, as there was nothing much I could do. As I crossed the standing cars, I overheard the conversations of people, who were forced to stand in a line.
Okay someone died, so what! We haven’t killed him. Why are they not letting us go?
The pool at the resort closes at 7PM!! We will never make it, in time.
This just ruined my trip! Bloody illiterate villagers! Where is the darn police when you need them!
Look if there is an alternate route! These people will not budge down, for some time.
Hey! there is a river nearby. Since we are not going anywhere, why don’t we head to the river and get some pictures clicked, with my new DSLR!!
Is there anything else to eat? I am starving out here…
Roll up the windows! I am turning on the ignition and the AC unit…
Some decided to honk their way across but realized that it was not going to work. And others was just indifferent to the whole situation, like me.
I decided to sit in the car, listen to some music and doze off. That was the plan. It was then that I saw someone. She was wandering on the other side of the river …
Is that Mira… No it couldn’t be…
And before I could do anything, she turned and looked right into me… her eyes were glowing, like sun. Suddenly, the bright eyes started rushing towards me with a loud cry!
And I woke up perspiring profusely… The jam was cleared. Cars behind me were going berserk and their drivers were calling me names. I turned on the engine in a hurry and zipped passed the green bus. Now, the lifeless body was moved to a side and there were few policemen clearing the scene.
We were back in the resort and post having dinner, I decided to wander in the garden, when this little but sweet voice called me out.
Hi there! .. He was a small kid, from a family, who were our neighbors at the resort.
You were there, right? Have you seen the green bus? .. He started with his questions before I could reply back to his ‘Hi’!
Yes, I was there .. I replied back. I already knew where this conversation was heading and wanted to finish it, as quickly as possible.
But, it seems that he was also not very keen to stay with me for a long period of time and asked another direct question.
Great, then you can help me with a question. Do you know the name of the man, who died? I asked my people but they don’t know anything. Do you know what his name was, huh?
What was his name? All I heard was ‘illiterate’, ‘villagers’ and some foul words. No-one inquired about his name, about his family or who were the people crying next to him. No-one was bothered. I was not bothered. All I wanted to do, was to rush back to the safe place, before the wild animals start their hunt. I was never associated with who died or what his story was.
I don’t know…I replied back.
Are you sure, you were there?… His question was valid.
I am not sure, now… I had to be honest with him.
Then I realized … It was me, who was the ghost in the whole setting.
Insensitive, cold and alien…