The sky was getting clear. The sound of city’s jam packed traffic half a mile away can be heard in that draughty evening. He was walking down the lane to the park ground with his little cousin whose house he came for a visit. He was sent along with his cousin to have a good sight of the locale to utilize the next few free hours till his bus sets out to his hometown in the night. His little cousin was so enthralled to join his allies for his routine soccer practice. When they reached the park, he got surprised to see the gang his cousin plays with, all massive and sizeable. He felt that his cousin was too tiny for a ten year old. But that didn’t hinder his astounding skills of passing the ball effectually, meandering between the opposing players.
That scene didn’t hold his attention for so long. As he gazed around, he saw a lot of young people engaged in rigorous physical activities amidst the young, beautiful, slender pink Bauhinia trees that swings with the gentle breeze showering their pink blooms. But what palpably got his heed was the sight of two little boys delving in the sand, as if searching for some treasure, under a one such svelte but a fuzzy Bauhinia tree. One boy seemed very cheerful and the other boy little docile to him. He slowly walked towards them to have a thorough note. But the boys seemed relishing, under the vast shade of the tree, so much that he was impervious to them.
‘What are you both doing?’ he asked the kids in a mellowed tone. He had to ask them twice for them to even pay a heed to him.
‘We are searching for bones….Dinosaur bones.’ He was floored with the cheerful boy’s quixotic response & he instantly asked the boy ‘And why do you want to do that and who told you that you will find one here?’
‘I know it…There is…We will find one and give it to a museum and then we both can become scientists’ the boy replied joyously. He suppressed his laugh to the perceived rubbish and didn’t want to give up to it, hence he asked the boy ‘Do you know what a museum is?’
To his surprise, the boy replied with utter confidence ‘Yes, I have visited one museum which is near to my school.’
But the contentious spirit in him, which has always affected his viability, made him say to the boy ‘But you will never find anything here. You are just wasting your time.’ The boy was evidently dispirited by his assertion.
He then felt bad, figuring out that he was little harsh on the boy. To make amends, he asked the boy endearingly ‘Have you watched any dinosaur movies ?’ The boy got excited and said ‘Yes I have watched one…but only a little bit. My mother didn’t want me to watch it, she told me it’s scary.’ He smirked at the boy, thinking if that was really scary. Maybe it’s not to him, he has seen and known things that are scarier.
He started to enjoy the boy’s talks and with crave for more he asked him ‘Shall I help you in finding bones?’ The boy perused at him initially and then gave a nod. As glad he was to be included, he asked ‘I’m 24 years old, you boys might be just six or seven. Do you still think I should be joining you?’ The boy was surprised and queried him ‘You are just twenty four, I thought you were more than thirty years old.’ He suddenly clammed up and asked the boy ‘Why would you think like that?’ The boy replied ‘Does a 24 year old have this much moustache?’ He started to snicker at the boy’s limited understanding about manhood.
As he was descending from his thoughts, the boys gave their excavation a lull and engaged into running race. He made sure that he gets their notice. They ran towards the boys who were playing soccer, only to be scolded and treated as an annoyance by them.
While he was walking towards the boys, the other boy fell down while running over a pit which was concealed by a shedload of Bauhinia flowers. He ran towards the boy and got him out of that narrow pit. The boy seemed to be fine despite the chagrin of being seen as fallen. When both the boys were looking at him in awe, an old man who was watching them from far walked towards them while passing through to have his routine check on the kids.
The old man was relaxed to not see any wounds on his grandson from the fall but he said ‘There wasn’t a pit here last week, it was formed when a pink tree that stood here fell and stroke the ground.’ Hearing this his grandson told them that he saw the tree lying down while he returned back from school few days before. He was walking to his home that day as his school bus dropped him in the midway because an another bus that was preceeding them met with an accident which created stiff traffic and the kids were sent home by other mode of conveyances. Since his home wasn’t far away from there, he decided to walk to his home.
‘Just another pink tree has fallen down, as it had everytime something bad happens. What a bad omen!’ the old man said and he added ‘Who has kept the count of the ones that have gone down recently?’ Expressing his dismay over the continuous fall down of those slender pink-crowned Belles, the old man walked to his home with his grandson.
Being left alone now, the boy asked him ‘Will you now help me searching for bones, or shall we climb that pink tree?’ He was delighted by the boy’s embrace and he wished he could expend more time with the little boy. He saw a sense of freedom and privilege shimmering in the boy’s eyes which were long lost from him, a shadow of him that had disappeared a long time ago. Though it was a requisite disappearance, he really wanted to escape from the nears and dears that dismisses him for what he is, or a world that constantly disappoints him and the people he persistently fails.
‘Shall we climb that tree?’ asked the boy again. Instantly after noticing that there isn’t much hour left for his bus to embark, he said ‘I don’t live here, I came here for a short visit and I have to go back.’ The disappointed boy asked ‘Will you be coming here again?’ He wanted to say yes as he coveted to stay in that sphere.
‘I can’t come here always’ he replied and the boy wanted to know why. To resume a light-hearted vibe, he replied ‘Because…. I am a ghost’. The boy replied with a wooden gaze ‘That’s not possible’. He then asked him why isn’t that possible to which the boy retorted ‘My mother has told me that there’s nothing like that. ‘Then why your mother doesn’t show you any scary movies?’ he asked wryly.
The boy got dumbstruck though he was so stubborn to admit it and told him ‘I won’t believe you.’ Then he briskly asked the boy why doesn’t he believes him which persuaded him into a state of dilemma which doesn’t usually occur to him. But the boy chose not to swim with the tide and asked him ‘But will you come here again?’ All that little boy intended to know was whether he is going to lose a companionship of a stranger who manifests an interest in him rather scraping as a hassle which is the routine occurrence.
He felt feeble as he had to now disappoint both himself and the little boy. He dismally said ‘No…I…I’m a ghost. I have to return back’. With no delay, he turned and started walking grimly. The boy stood under the tree mirthless while falling short of something unversed till then.
Later in that night, the little boy was lost in thoughts in his room adorned with cartoon figures. Clinging by his mother’s reassuring words, before she left for her night shift of work, about the inexistence of ghosts, he lay down on his bed. While staring at the fluorescent stickers of stars and moon on the ceiling, his mind was gliding on the frame of the stranger he met in the park in the evening. Despite his mother’s deterrents, he wasn’t able to forget him and was pondering if he will get to meet that stranger again.
The wind has started to stream and the sounds of leaves and twigs swaying to the breeze has got the ears of him. He opened his ungrilled window to feel the cold breeze of the winter in contrast to their maid who found it more soothing to sleep in their miniscule room downstairs. The wind was thickly tapping his face like it wanted to utter something.
A leaf flew into his room, he went and picked it up and while he turned back, he got stumped to see a hazy stature standing by the window. A voice started murmuring from it. He staggered with fear when the hazy stature started revealing itself as that stranger he met in the park in that evening.
And it started talking ‘What happened? Didn’t you want me to return back? I came back to see you, to be your companion if you like….’ He was uncertain whether to go near it or not. Suddenly he noticed the crushed down hands of that man yet no blood oozing out from it.
‘Come near me, don’t be afraid’ the man spoke again. He slowly and doubtfully went near the man and touched him, but he didn’t feel anything. His hands passed through the man uninfluenced.
‘You weren’t like this in the evening. What has happened to you?’ the boy asked out of perplexity and trepidation to which the man replied ‘What was meant to happen, what I sometimes wished for yet why don’t I feel any gladder still?’
He wasn’t able to understand anything uttered by the man. While he was in a puzzled state, the man asked him ‘Do you believe me now?’ The man continued ‘Can I be your companion?’ Unable to discern anymore of the man, he got dizzy and fainted, only to wake up from the floor the next morning.
Enforced by the housemaid and scolded by his mother for waking up late, he got prepared to go the school. While he was having the breakfast, he asked his mother rhetorically ‘Mom, have you seen a ghost?’
‘There’s nothing like that’ replied his mother fretfully followed by grumblings for having strange thoughts though he wasn’t bothered by it. He was assuming if ever his long gone father, whom he has seen only in snaps, will ever make an appearance like that stranger did.
While walking on his way to school with his friend, who seems fine and unaffected by the fall into the pit the previous day, he asked his friend ‘Do you think that there are ghosts in this world? His friend giggly said ‘There is nothing like that’.
While passing by the park they use to play every evening, they both stopped there suddenly seeing a fallen Bauhinia tree. Both of them ran towards it, perturbed. And they confirmed that it was that tree under which they both used to delve and search for that illusive treasure.
‘Another pink tree has fallen down.’
‘What bad do you think might have happened this time?’ whispered his friend and he stood there impassive, contemplating over something.