Ravish ended his narration, and the class teacher followed by the whole class broke into applause. He had spoken on how one Sunday, while he was playing cricket in the gully, a shot from him broke the glass window of his house and scared him so bad that he did not go inside till 9 at night, and he almost froze, seeing his mother waiting for him. “It was like breathing bricks,” he had said about his dreadful encounter.
It was followed by Mira’s turn. The teacher called her name, and she walked to the front row of the class. She felt her legs shaking as she turned to face the entire class. She wasn’t really nervous, she was a confident chatty-patty, but when it came to narrating her most dreadful experience, her mouth dried up. She took a deep breath, before finally speaking, “I have written on ‘The scariest experience of my life’.”
She took a glance at the entire class and began reading, “It happened a year ago. It was December 13, 2018. I had just turned 11. I was especially excited about that day because I remember my dad had promised me that after my 11th birthday I would be allowed to go out on my own. I was really happy, and that day I invited all my friends on my own. It was so good to go out like that, no limits, no nagging, and I think I almost danced on my ways to the houses; I felt I was flying in the open skies.
“It was 6 in the evening when birthday celebrations began. I cut my cake, and everyone sang me the birthday song. I blew out the candles and everyone clapped. My uncle had gifted me a gun, he had told me that it would scare any ghost who would frighten me, and my dad laughed. I knew it was a toy gun, but I did not correct the adults, one should perhaps let them enjoy such moments,” Mira did not turn her head, but she felt her class teacher had her eyebrows raised at the moment.
“After all the celebrations, everyone went back to their homes. I saw dad had a mood off, his face was filled with so much anger as though someone had let a ghost inside, I felt that I should better let it that way, for I wanted the day that had gone so well to end well. After some time, mom took me to my room and bade my goodnight. But I wasn’t sleepy at all, I was excited and so after she went to her room, I replayed all the day’s events in my mind. My mom wishing me happy birthday as soon as I woke up, daddy hugging me and lifting me up when I went to him, my first day out on my own, the birthday celebration, and… CRASH! I was lost deep in my reverie when suddenly I heard a noise.
I heard something had fallen, and then I heard my mom shriek. It was not a shriek that you would hear every day. It was a shriek that came out only if you saw a terrifying ghost. I again heard her shriek. I was scared. I got up from my bed and found the gun in the lot of presents beside the bed. I held my gun tighter, a toy gun was better than no gun. Moreover, I knew it was a toy gun, the ghost did not. Equipped with my armament, I crouched in the bed and pointed it towards the door.
As soon as I got into my bed, I heard dad shouting, he was angry and seemed to be fighting somebody. I knew instantly it was a ghost. Somebody had definitely let in a ghost and it was for that reason that he was suddenly angry in the evening, I told myself. My dad, who I knew loved my mom, was fighting the ghost to protect her. I heard a loud bang and knew the fight had intensified. I heard mom shout again, she seemed to be crying, maybe, the ghost had scared her too much. My family was fighting a ghost in the next room, and here I was scared, crouched in my bed, and gun pointing towards the door. I felt so miserable.
It was then that I realised that my hands had gone really sweaty, in fact, my whole body was sweating. My hands were shaking like a ringing telephone, and I wanted to shout, but my throat had gotten so tight that I could not utter a word. I just stared nervously at the door,” Mira paused for a second for her throat got tight again while reading her piece out. She looked at Hima sitting on the first bench; she was looking intently at her. In fact, a hush had fallen over the whole class that was captivated by her story, waiting for what would follow.
She continued her reading, “It was at that moment that I decided to behave myself and act like a grown-up and face the ghost myself. I got up from my bed, and before I could take a step towards the door, I heard my dad. He sounded angry, his foul mood from that night flashed in my mind, and I decided to stay there. I told myself that he must have gotten very angry at the ghost, but I knew that it was his angry face that scared me more, and probably he would have not wanted me there, while he was fighting off the ghost.
Before I could think of anything else, I heard mom shout again, her sobs were audible this time, but they were muffled, maybe the ghost had closed her mouth with his hand. I stood motionless there, totally blank, as though my slightest movement would make the ghost notice me.
Another shriek and shiver ran down my spine. I felt like crying. I felt trapped as my eyes were glued to the door. I felt some drops of sweat roll down my forehead, and then before I could do anything, another drop, of tears, rolled down my cheeks. My throat tightened more as I heard dad shout again, and then I heard someone open their door and slam it close. I thought the ghost had gone, and automatically, I began to cry.”
Mira paused. Her lungs felt heavy and she took a deep breath again before continuing, “What followed was a silence, and it was so silent that I wanted to shout out loud, cry out loud. I looked at the door. It was the door that I so wanted to open and run out of. I put a step forward, and another, and then the door opened, slightly and gently, it opened out wide.
“I expected it to be the ghost. It wasn’t, but the silhouette of my mom in the dark, I ran towards her, and hugged her tight, and cried out loud. She took me by my hand and took me to my bed. She asked me to shush down. I turned on the lamp on the side of my bed, and I saw her face. A deep blue scar was visible on her cheeks, and trails of tears were visible on her cheek. Another scar on her neck broke me down, and I began to cry uncontrollably. She took me in her arms, and even though her sobs, she tried to calm me down, all the while saying, ‘Calm down, dear, calm down, shhh. Mamma’s here now.’ She patted my head and rubbed my back.
After I felt a bit comforted, I asked her, ‘How did you get that scar, mom? Mom, where is that ghost? Has he gone? Did daddy shoo him away?’ She paused, and I could hear her sobs, and her heart beating so fast that it scared me. I pulled myself away and asked her again. I was puzzled over what was taking her so long to answer me. She looked at me, and said, ‘Yeah baby, the ghost has gone. Now come here’, and she held out her hands. I could no longer look at that face and hugged her tight and fell asleep, and for me, the dreadful night came to an end.”