Nani’s house in Garden Society was in a gated community populated by retired military personnel. It was quiet and orderly like the residents who inhabited the well kept houses. The neat gardens had trees that were trimmed and healthy flowers in beds and manicured lawns. All except one.
Brig. Kapoor’s house was in a sad state. It was actually the bane of the society and try as they might, they couldn’t get the good soldier to follow this order.
“That’s a bhoot banlga, ” said Birju, Nani’s watchman. “You’d better be careful when you go past that house. You may never come back alive.”
This was one admonition that needed no reinforcement. In fact, they all sprinted past this house their hearts thumping loudly.
Unfortunately, Nani’s house shared a boundary with the haunted house and the children took care not to play on that side. But one day, while they were playing French Cricket, Rohan lofted the ball and it went smack into the Kapoor compound.
Tiger tried hard to stop the ball from going there but when he found it crossing the fence, he stopped frozen in his tracks.
“Don’t worry,” said Nyra, seeing his frightened face. “We’ll get another ball.”
“But that was my favourite ball ,”said Rohan. “My lucky ball. Vikram Mama got it for me as a souvenir from Wimbledon.
Sanaya felt bad seeing Rohan’s disappointment. “Let’s get it then. We’ll all go.”
“But Birju told us not to go. It’s a bhoot bangla,”said Tiger
“Stupid, if it is a bhoot bangla then it’s empty. We can easily go and get it.”
This made sense to everyone but Tiger. However, he was fed up of being called ‘stupid’ so he agreed to accompany them.
The kids marched out bravely from Nani’s compound but as they approached the Kapoor house, you could see the pace slow down. Bravely, Nyra marched ahead and opened the gate. She slowly opened the creaky gate and gestured to the others to follow her. They were half way up the path when the front door opened a crack and out came the barrel of a gun.
“Didi it’s a gun!”
The kids turned on their heels and ran as fast as they could.
Nani was shocked to see them sweaty , panting and pale. “What happened?” she asked.
The children spoke all at once.
“The ghost came out with a gun.”
“We went to the bhoot bangla.”
“Rohan’s tennis ball went to compound.”
Nani guessed what happened and asked the kids to sit down and take a deep breath. “One by one,” she said. “Tell me from the beginning.”
Pushpa Chandavarkar was horrified. She had heard that Tiku Kapoor was crazy but she didn’t think he was that crazy to shoot at children. Even if it was an air gun! Really he had gone too far. She had to ask Col. Handa to put some sense into his old batch mate’s head.
“Too bad, your Aba isn’t here. He would have taken out his shot gun and fired back!”she sighed wistfully. She missed him and his cantankerous ways. How ready he was at the drop of a hat to take up cudgels to right a wrong. She picked up her phone and called Col. Handa.
The children, however, had something of their brave grandfather in them after all. “We can’t get scared of a bhoot,” said Sanaya.
“Bhoots don’t exist!” reiterated Nyra. “So how can they shoot?”
“But who’s going to risk that?” asked Rohun looking at his brave sisters. He definitely wasn’t going to do it.
“I know, we’ll draw lots,” said Sanaya and she went to Nani’s cupboard and took out some straws. She cut them at various lengths and came back holding them in her fist.
“Ok. The one who pulls the shortest straw has to get the ball.”
The kids held their breath and pulled out the straws.
“Oh No! It’s ME!” said Rohan.
“You can do it Bhaiyya,” encouraged Tiger. “I’ll come with you to the gate.”
Immediately the two boys got up and marched out to the bhoot bangla before they lost their nerve. Quietly, they opened the gate, taking care not to make a noise and Rohan quickly dashed to the ball while Tiger kept watch. Within seconds he came back to his brother and showed him the ball.
“Give me Five!” he said and the two boys went home in triumph.
I’m participating in the the third edition of BAR-A-THON, the fortnight-long blogging marathon for bloggers everywhere!
This is my post for Day 5. Pushpa Chandavarkar aka Nani has her four grandchildren under her care for a whole month. She decides to give them an old fashioned holiday which centres around healthy living and wholesome activities.