Ghosts donâ€™t exist. Thatâ€™s what he said. In fact what he really said was â€śghosts can not exist.â€ť I donâ€™t know why he had to say that. There was no need to make such a strong statement. A statement like that can offend a ghost. Maybe what happened would have never happened if he had just stayed quiet and listened to the old manâ€™s story like the rest of us.
It had started with a school picnic that was supposed to be fun. It was going to be an easy climb to the top of a small hill near Shimla. The kids were all excited to dance and sing songs around a bonfire and spend a night in the wild. The boys were excited only to spend a night with us girls. Although none of the boys could dare it but they were all hoping that they will be able to slip away with one of us into the jungle during the night. But really it was up to us girls as to how far we allowed the boys to get. None of the girls had said it but I knew of a few who were planning to have some fun. I was definitely going to have my bit of fun with rahul.
We started climbing around noon and it was really hot. I have a problem with sunlight so I mostly stayed in the shade. Walking alongside the rest of the group gave me the advantage to keep an eye on rahul. He was fearless and strong. He led the little expedition on the faded trail under the tall pines. The fallen dried pine needles made the track slippery and the climbing slow. I watched as rahul helped some of the girls climb over a particularly steep bit. This is why I wanted rahul and no one else. His chivalry reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago.
It was evening when we reached the top and the forest cleared into an open area of green slopes disappearing into nothingness over the edge. Everybody went into the temple to pay their respects to the local deity of that hill but I stayed outside and enjoyed the sunset. I loved sunsets because they brought on the night. Pretty soon a bonfire was made and the priest of the temple had shown everybody the lodge where they were to sleep and was now telling a story to the kids huddled around the bonfire. I was also listening to the story. This was the ghost story that rahul made fun of. He wanted to impress the girls so much that he pretended not to be afraid. He said that ghosts can not exist. I tried to forget what he said because I liked him, because he reminded me of my first love. But his overconfidence was something that my love never had.
Pretty soon the singing and dancing was stopped and everybody went into the lodge to have food. Everybody was planning to come back out and sit around the fire. When the dinner was over and almost everybody came out. Rahul and kritika sneaked behind the lodge and then ran into the forest. I had seen them whispering to each other while dinner and I had followed them. They ran into the forest and sat down in a small clearing. It was a full moon and I could see both of them clearly even from a distance.
What happened next was all rahulâ€™s fault. First he had made fun of me and then he sneaked out with that stupid kritika. I slowly crept to the tree behind them. Kritika must have felt something wrong and she told rahul that they should go back. But rahul wasnâ€™t scared. Or at least he was showing that he wasnâ€™t scared. I climbed the tree behind them and stared at them from the top. Kritika was scared and forcing rahul to go back. Maybe rahul had also felt the darkness that was growing inside me and was now showing a few signs of fear. But before they could move I swooped down on them and landed on rahulâ€™s shoulders. Kritika screamed and I let her run away but rahul was under so much pressure that he couldnâ€™t even scream. He was lying on the ground unable to move or scream with me on top of him. His eyes were open so wide it seemed they were screaming. His lungs were working hard against my pressure. I had become a little girl to be with rahul and remember my love but he had ruined it and now he was seeing me in my original form. I smiled at rahul and dug my teeth in his neck as kritikaâ€™s screams still echoed through the pines.