There is so much excitement in the air. The breeze is blowing affectionately.
We are going on a one day tour today. I have gained permission from my parents after so much of persuasion. There was only one condition: I should go alone to school, early in the morning. But that doesn’t seem a problem, I thought.
Stranger:I was generally bold, when compared to my younger brother. He used to cry and shout even for cockroaches…Hasn’t even climbed on to the attic, so far.
It was early in the morning. Clock struck four. I got up quickly, at the very first beep of the alarm (as against usual where my father calls me many times). I had already packed all requirements for the journey as per instructions from school and so got ready in a jiffy.
It was just half an hour and as I got out, I felt a slight hesitation to go all the way alone, as against the prefixed condition. So, I thought of slowly creeping back home and to plead with my brother to accompany me.
“Me?” He asked astonished. “How will I return after you reach school? I can’t come back myself. Better, you too don’t go. I was not at all happy with this one day tour of yours, as I would be left alone here on such a wonderful holiday…”
My father overheard and said, “If you are afraid, then you need not go. I can’t cancel my programme. I had told you earlier itself, didn’t I? You are not afraid of darkness, are you? This is not the time for thieves either…not in our area, with the Police Cantonment so near. More over, the sun would soon peep in, darling.”
Now, I got confused. I am really a bit frightened to go all that way in the dark, that too by walk. It’s more than a kilometer. My friends would expect me too. If I don’t turn up on time, some of them can’t make the trip either. Oh, God. I have never been to the proposed place of visit and I don’t think my parents would take me either. Some of my friends had offered to pick me up the previous day, but I had denied. I never thought it would happen like this!!!!!!
“Oh, God, please guard me through, make me bold enough. I shall break a coconut at the Maha Ganapathi temple, if I succeed in my first lonely trip, that too so early in the morning and return safe…”
Finally, I decided to go. So, I summed up my entire courage, bid good bye and started off. In fact I was terribly frightened of going alone, but wanted to utilize the chance and show off, else, I may lose future trips…
I had walked barely few steps. Suddenly, I felt someone following me. There was a rush of terror within me. I was only 14 and slightly superstitious too. The roads were bare with not a single vehicle in sight. I thanked God for the street lights and prayed they would burn until I reached school. I also expected very much (Did I pray, I don’t know!!) that any of my friends would come in a vehicle at that time and give me a lift. My hopes were futile.
The sound of the footsteps increased breaking the silence of the early and calm atmosphere. I became terribly frightened. I was already wearing a small golden chain and was having a good camera and enough cash for purchases and lot of home made snacks for my friends. If this is a thief, I am going to get killed for these…
I imagined a huge black demonic figure, clad in red, with a frightening grin and devilish tooth protruding out… The very thought initially made me numb and immobile.
Then, somehow, I summoned courage and started running at a rapid pace. The footsteps also followed me steadily. As I neared school, I was a bit relieved at the narrow escape I am going to enjoy, by God’s grace. However, I didn’t stop at all.
At school, the bus was all set to start and my friends were impatiently waiting for me. Breathless, I jumped into the bus and even forgot to wave bye bye…
I took quite long time to pull myself together, but, refrained from sharing the experience, just to maintain my bold image…. After all, I am daughter of an Iron Man, I should be brave, even otherwise, I should act so, I thought for myself.
The picnic was extremely enjoyable and we returned very late at night. My friend dropped me en route her way home.
To my surprise, my father was eagerly waiting to come and pick me up; they were anticipating my phone call from school, upon arrival…
After dinner I narrated the day’s events, as usual in all its detail, but, purposefully barring the excitement. Then, my father asked casually, “Why did you run to school all the way?”
I was shocked. How did he come to know about that, what a shame?!
“I felt someone following me; first I imagined a devil and then a thief. So, I was frightened and I ran.” I admitted.
“Did you take a look at the stranger?” asked my father.
“Oh, No. I didn’t. I was so terrified”. The hairs on my hands were all straight; standing up in attention and my face all the more tight…I felt the terror rushing in once again…
“It was only our Papa following you” teased my brother and all roared with laughter.