Apart from my interest in writing, reading and music, travelling is another activity I enjoy a lot. From my childhood I have always fancied exploring new places, understand the lifestyle of the people living there and getting to know the culture of those places.
Having parents who worked, getting leaves had always been a concern, so my desire to visit new places was not fulfilled. The only place that I got to travel every year was to my native, Mangalore – a beautiful city in the state of Karnataka, India. This was always the trip I looked forward to and enjoyed. Once in college, there were no trips that were arranged for us. Though on several occasions, my friends and I made plans, but nothing materialized. As the saying goes, the best is yet to arrive, when I thought my dreams of travelling to different places will remain unfulfilled, I married a man who also enjoyed travelling and exploring new places. With this pretext, within 4 months of our marriage we travelled to two places and were planning for our third visit. The responsibility of deciding the place lay solely on me but things like budget, travelling dates etc were decided by both of us. Having waited for this opportunity from long, the only place I could think of was God’s Own country – Kerala.
Though my husband was not keen to go there since he had visited the place several times before, for my sake he agreed for the trip. My happiness knew no bounds. I wanted this trip to be the best trip of my life. After all, my dream of many years was getting fulfilled (prior to this I had made plans of visiting Kerala twice, but they hadn’t worked out). I started surfing the net, explored places to visit, hotels to stay, restaurants to try and the like. I had dedicated most of my free time deciding what we would do in Kerala.
After a lot of scrutiny, I booked a resort, a tent and a tree house for a day each, finally visit to the backwaters and then return home.
Amongst everything else, the tree house was something I was looking forward to the most. Every day I checked the pictures on the internet, shared them with my friends and boasted about it to my husband who was but a little bit sceptical about my choice. Yet, he did not muster the courage to quash my hopes.
After all the wait, the day to pack our bags and get going had arrived; we boarded a bus and reached Kerala. Our ride to the resort was quite bumpy and scary. We crossed rivulets, hilly terrain and sharp stones. Feeling a little scared and unsure we entered the resort, but we were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the resort. It was far from human habitation and I realized the only people in the resort were the housekeeping staff, cooks and visitors like us. Feeling proud of my choice we strode into the tents which were all well-maintained. I was happy but not satisfied as I was eagerly waiting for the tree house.
After a day’s stay in the tent, we went about to explore the town and returned in the evening. We were happy that we were shifted to the tree house. There were five tree houses in total. Out of which, four tree houses were together facing each other and the last one was a little further apart. We were allotted the fifth tree house quite far from the others.
Our tree house was beautiful. It was neatly constructed with wood, in the middle of the room there was a huge bed. There were tables and chairs, and everything looked perfect to me. It was a regal feeling to be residing on top of the tree. I loved the view. As the sun retired and the stars began to appear in the sky, I felt the pinch. I realized it was unusually quiet and could not hear any noise of vehicles, nor of people. The only voice I could hear was the rustling of the trees and my husband’s voice. Having stayed in a city like Bangalore which is always bustling with honks of vehicles and chatter of people, I felt a little strange. But my ego stopped me from sharing my views with my husband. I guess he felt the same as well but didn’t voice any concern.
After dinner, we sat in the balcony staring at the dark surroundings after which we decided to sleep. Alas! Both of us couldn’t sleep a wink. The silence around was killing us. There was a feeling of loneliness around which was making us sick. We tried listening to music, we tried to strike a conversation again, we went through all our wedding photos on our mobile, but nothing worked. Finally, we decided to gulp some scotch so that we could sleep but the scotch also seemed to have lost its effect. After a long tussle with the sleep goddess, at almost 2 o’ clock, we began to feel sleepy and that is when I heard a noise like footsteps on the ceiling. I was taken aback! I crawled close to my husband who was still awake. He enquired what had happened to me. I refused to reveal anything, and I just looked away. I refused to look at the door or the windows. Weird thoughts began to flow in my mind as I was wondering if it was a ghost or some robbers. After a little retrospection I realized there would not be any robbers since the property was isolated and also there were good security guards around, but I had heard my friends say that the abode of ghosts was on the trees. I felt sick in my stomach; I knew not what to do. I recalled all the ghost movies I had watched and began to wonder what kind of ghost was sitting on top of our tree house. I wanted to scream, cry and finally I thought God was the only one who could save us and immediately woke my husband and asked him to start reciting the rosary hoping the ghost would run away. Prayers had failed to shoo away the ghost, I played the music. Yet the noise became louder. I was surprised as to why my husband wasn’t reacting. I was on the verge of crying, falling into the arms of my husband finally at the crack of dawn I slept.
Finally, we got up in the morning, quickly dressed up and waited to go to our next destination. Both of us did not want to talk about the experience of the previous night.
After a while, when we settled in the car and were driving to our next destination, I slowly asked my husband if he was not afraid of ghosts to which he answered in the negative. I was happy and I said that was the reason he did not react to the noises the previous night. He was curious and asked me the reason for my uneasiness to which I replied that there was a ghost on the tree in which we were staying and that throughout the night, it was walking about.
My husband burst out laughing! He asked me why I had not informed him earlier. I told him that I did not want to scare him. My husband who was still not able to control his laughter, patiently he told me that it was not the ghost but the birds on the trees that were moving about, Hearing this I was embarrassed. The whole night I had stayed awake thinking that there was a ghost on the tree. I laughed at my stupidity and looked away unable to look at my husband.
The incident at the tree house is something I can never forget. Even today when I hear about the tree house, I laugh at my stupidity. My husband still teases me; all my friends still make fun of me.
This trip may not have turned out the way I wished yet it gave me a memory which I can never forget. I also realized that staying amidst people is better than staying alone because you never know, there could be something up there!
Sonal Lobo, born and bought up in Bengaluru, is a post graduate in commerce from Christ University, Bengaluru. She has been writing from the age of 10. Her writings have been published in in a number of publications of repute. She has published two books 'Thoughts Sublime' and 'Whistling Words' both collection of poems and also contributed in various anthologies. Currently she is working as an HR counsellor in Bengaluru.