Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do you believe in ghosts?

It was one of those phases of my life when I turned into an atheist. I think everyone goes through this phase when you stop believing in God. Or may be, believing in God is a phase. Either ways, the concept of God is a very interesting one. It is completely irrational to some and yet comforting to others. I think God was invented to maintain law and order in the society, to instill fear (and not hope as many would like to believe) in people's minds and hearts. But with time, things have changed. Fear turned into faith, and now into superstition. Today, people are self-proclaimed atheists. And they're proud of it. They think being an atheist is cool. You cannot completely disagree with them now, can you?

Entering adolescence, my faith in God began to fizzle away. But when it came to ghosts, I must confess, I never not believed in ghosts. When I was six, I listened to my first ever ghost story. The bravest kid in our building, who strangely seemed to have such stories in abundance, narrated the chilling story. It was about the lady who was burnt to death with her family. It was rumoured that the lady used to go on strolls around our buildings in the middle of the night with her kids. All my friends confessed to having heard sounds of anklets around midnight.

A chill crept down my spine as I climbed the narrow, deserted steps leading to our second floor apartment. I wanted to run, but I managed to keep my composure and walked home safely. I complimented myself on the kind of bravery I exhibited as I repeatedly told myself that ghosts did not exist.

I still remember that night. I had a hard time sleeping. Whenever I closed my eyes, I'd see skulls on dark backgrounds with glowing eyes. It doesnt sound scary but trust me, as a six year old, I found it really scary. That was when I put the habit of sleeping in foetal position.

Anyhoo, the next morning, my mom asked me not to listen to any more ghost stories. For once, I agreed with her. But when you're with your friends, you want to act all brave. And so did I. (And I suspect, so did my friends) We all gathered around him and pestered him to narrate another one of those stories hoping against hope that he'd refuse. But we were all in for a nightmare. In my case, two. (You can read the story that he narrated at the end of the post.)

But with time, we became harder to scare. Slowly but surely, we began hearing more and more such stories. And although I admit to have seen misty images of dead people, (mostly the people I love) I still believe that the entire experience has made me braver. So, when there is a power cut, I can still find my way in the house for a glass of water. I can still wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak. But more importantly, I think it has shaped my abilities to narrate interesting stories and exaggerate them. (Trust me, I was a boring kid)

Off the record, I am a favourite with my younger cousins for my story telling abilities. Reminds me of the brave kid in our building. I guess he was not that brave after all.

Quote of the day:

Of all ghosts, the ghosts of our old loves are the worst.

Arthur Conan Doyle

The story

A bunch of fourth standard students were to go for a picnic. They had all gathered in the school terrace before they were supposed to board the bus to a planetarium. The bus came and all the kids boarded the bus. Except two. When the teachers realised the goof-up, they rushed back to the school only to find the kids lying on the school ground, dead. When the classes commenced, one could still hear sounds of someone playing with skipping rope on the terrace. tak tak tak tak...

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