The Pursuit: Part 2
….continued from Part 1. Rishi sat down on the uncut grass and began his story.
My friend, Rahul is also a hippie at heart. He likes to travel by the untraversed path. It gives him adrenaline, he tells me. It was one of his offbeat trek. The one that he will never every forget. He was trekking up the mountain in the Western Ghats. He said there was an easy way to the top but he had found a dirt path and the prospect of traveling by that path was enticing to him. The jungle was safe as the animals were minimal and restricted themselves to the jungle at the top. He had anticipated sparse habitation along the slope of the hill and was carrying enough food with him. The only risk was that the jungle was dense and brilliantly cunning. It was a mirage and could loose you all the while you think you are on the right track. He took the risk and started on the tiny track.
It was the beginning of June and the monsoon had not reached Maharashtra. But the climate had been cooler than it should have been and he expected some drizzle. But he was lucky and there were no surprises. He kept walking as the cool breeze unwound him of his tiredness. When it was dusk, he decided to camp. It was not yet dark. He found a place that rooted him as soon as he stepped there. It was a fine place. The ground was flat, defying any indication that it was actually a place on the mountain slope. The grass was dry and swayed in the cool breeze making a swishing sound. In this noise was getting mixed was the soft sound of babbling water. The water reflected the sunset colours. The whole set up looked like taken from some enchanting sequence of a romantic novel. His fatigue vanished and he felt relaxed.
Just when he was about to sit by the water, there was a lightening followed by a thunder. It was completely dark by now. There was a commotion of clouds that startled him. He saw a movement in the calm water. He looked around and ran under the rocky arc a few feet away. He was right, it started to rain. Just then he heard the bubbling sound in the water. Something was inside and was coming out. He frowned trying to concentrate on the silhouette.
He sighed when he saw it was not an animal. With the sudden flash of lightening that illuminated the scene, he saw it was girl. He could not believe that she was under the water all the time he was there. Her head was now out of the water. He saw the big silver ear ring and nose ring that stood out on her dark face, a tribal girl, her parkar-polka stuck around her body and water dripping from her face. The whole scene brought him goose bumps. He noted that she was unaware of his presence. It was just a fraction of second of illumination and then it was dark again and he could see her no more but did sense that she was now out of the water. The rain by now was coming down in sheets. He noticed she made some hissing sound.
She did it again. After an effort of concentration he realised that she was addressing him. She was making sign with her hands over her head indicating house. She was moving towards the the dense of trees and was making signs to him to follow. He complied, he needed a shelter or else he would definitely get sick. The rain was trying to make it difficult to trace her but it did not hinder him. He followed her like a snake following the movements of the charmer’s pipe. After sometime she stopped and he realised they have reached a ruined fort. She stepped in the chamber and he followed. She wasn't inside. He saw two openings, one to left and another to right. The chamber was dark but there was a light coming from the right opening. There should be another chamber over there, he thought. Little careful he stepped in.
“What happened? Was the girl there?” a friend asked with curiosity.
“No”, Rishi continued, “She was not there. She had vanished. Or perhaps she sneaked from the left opening of the chamber although she did not had any reason to do so in the grave circumstances of the storm. But in the other chamber there were people inside”
“So she was a spirit? Bhoot? You are making this up, Rishi!” they all grunted protesting.