(A) A Dream I Cannot Forget
Introduction: Where there is light, there is darkness; where there is pleasure, there is pain. As such, life is an intermingled form of joy and sorrow. Dreams that are pleasant are loved by all, for they leave behind pleasant memories. But when they are unpleasant, their memories make a person shiver out of fear. Once I had such a horrible dream that the mere thought of it, haunts me, when I am alone.
The Dream: I dreamt that I was enjoying myself in a row boat in the company of my cousin Ashok. It was a bright sunny day and both of us were having great fun, singing, joking and teasing. All of a sudden Ashok's bag fell in the water. He started groping for it with his hands. I tried to keep the balance of the boat but it turned upside down. We both fell in water. Suddenly, we both were startled by a sudden sound. We turned around and found ourselves staring down the throat of a crocodile nearly four metres long. Its opened jaws were like a giant trap. We were really frightened. Ashok raised his left arm in a gesture of defence and the bristling rows of sharp teeth snapped together. Its jaws firmly fixed on Ashok's arm. He gasped in anguish and cried for help. As I saw blood gushing from Ashok's arm, I stood unmoved with horror. He tried to free himself from the iron grip of the crocodile but the ugly monster tightened its hold on him.
Struggle with the crocodile: As soon as I recovered my wits, I realised that an oar was floating. I took hold of it and hit the crocodile with the oar. It released Ashok's arm. But to my horror it broke through the water again and with a noisy splash came towards me. I struggled and failed to even swim properly. The crocodile jumped on me with its open jaws.
Conclusion: I woke up screaming desperately for help. I was surprised to find that I was in my bed and my brother was standing near me. For a moment, I could not believe that I had been dreaming. Even today, my heart starts pumping fast when someone invites me for a picnic near water.
(B) An Unwelcome Guest
Indians are known for their hospitality. They welcome their guests with open arms, for they feel that a guest is a person to be honoured and respected and to serve him is a sacred duty. But there are certain guests who are not welcomed and people really dread their visit.
Mr. S.M. Narayan, one of my father's friends, is a person whose visits we detest, as he disturbs our entire routine. He visits us frequently and comes without prior information. Whenever he comes from Bengaluru, my mother has to work a lot as he is always interested in lavish breakfast and lunch. Not only this, he is very fussy about the food we eat and keeps commenting that the food is not properly cooked.
My mother is very particular about keeping things in their proper places, but the moment Mr. Narayan arrives, our guest room as well as our drawing room is in a total mess. He is very unsystematic and throws about things here and there. He knows that there is no servant in the house, yet he expects my mother to wash and iron his clothes.
Mr. Narayan is very inconsiderate and wants everything his way. He refuses to bring his own things and very freely uses the shaving kit of my father. Instead of his mobile, he misuses the telephone by making not only local calls but also S.T.D. calls. He feels as if the telephone bill is not to be paid. Not only this, he invites his local guests and expects us to look after them. He wants my father to provide him with the car for his exclusive use. We all are forced to run errands for him. And yet he is never satisfied with our hospitality.
As long as Mr. Narayan is in the house, our whole routine remains upset and we all get tense. The moment father goes to drop him at the station, we take a sigh of relief.
(C) A Meeting with a Ghost
The wind howled down as I mounted up the hill tracks. My destination was a ruined palace about which many weird stories were told by the people of Samchi. I wanted to experience for myself the strangeness and eerie loneliness of the place. I reached the palace at 3 p.m. The palace had fallen to ruins some sixty years ago when the local king of Samchi was mysteriously murdered while in Thimphu. I went into a room which was comparatively comfortable. The roof and the walls were intact except for a few chinks in the tiles and cracks in the walls Tunpacked my baggage and had a cup of tea from the big Chinese flask I carried along with me The November sun had already set and darkness descended on the hill like a murderous vulture. Chilly winds lashed the exterior of the palace But being accustomed to lonely places and to howling winds, I felt no fear.
My climb having been rather exhausting, I soon fell asleep. Did I hear scream in my sleep? Did I hear footsteps? I opened my eyes. I saw before me a man, tall, fair and handsome with a ceremonial sword belted to his waist. I was startled. I stared at him with fear. But he looked at me gently and said, "Don't be afraid, I mean no harm," I mustered up courage and asked, "Are you also a curious visitor like me?" Not exactly, I know the place. I used to live here a long time ago." He said sadly. "But then why did you leave this place?" I asked, my heart pounding in my chest. The man looked at me with a calm dignity and then spoke, "I am Tekbir Gurung, the last king of Samchi. I left for Thimphu on March 30, 1933. But I did not return. They pierced a sword through my heart and threw my body down into the mountain river I am the king of this palace" The air froze and my hands became numb. I heard or thought I heard the sound of trumpets, laughter of children cries of women and a wild scream drifting in the wind I watched the man. His whole body shook and shuddered Blood gushed out from his chest. I moved close to help him "Don't touch me I am beyond all help.", he said and then he slowly staggered out I think I heard a piercing scream drifting in the wind and dying far away. Then all was quiet.
I had no doubt in my mind that I had met a spirit restlessly wandering about the hills.