It was a semi-cloudy night in July 2011. The three of us had just finished dinner in the hostel mess and were walking around in the campus after-hours. Now this was a risky thing to do; not only because of all the priests patrolling the grounds like ghouls but also because the college campus was pretty damn scary at night. But we three, the residents of room number 9 were well acquainted with this place after thoroughly combing it for the whole of the previous year.
Now obviously, our rector wasn't in attendance that night. So we locked the room, slammed the hostel gate and marched out into the college grounds feeling like real badasses. It was still pretty humid, so we promptly took off out shirts and started our rounds of the grounds in just our shorts. I have no idea what we would have done in case our warden or some priest showed up (they had a knack of doing that).
We were walking towards the gate and one of us, I forget who, suggested we go and get some paan (betel leaf). Good for digestion apparently! Well, that and we also needed an excuse to get out of the campus. So we promised the night watchman to bring some or the other gutka product for him and we were off. The paan parlour (Yes, we have paan parlours. Fancy huh!) was just 50 metres from the college, at the edge of the crossroad named after our college. So we were back pretty fast, having chewed on a hard hitting, high quality tobacco infused paan which, I must admit, was unlike any other experience I had ever had at that time.
Well, we got into the campus and then decided to while away the time sitting and chatting on one of the various benches scattered on the college walkway. We talked for a while about
the girls in the economics department
some important assignments and then just lay on the benches, enjoying the gentle
breeze when suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, the breeze turned into a brisk
cool wind and about a hundred crows took flight from the trees and started
screeching like bloody banshees from the depths of hell. As if this were not
enough, a lot of dogs started wailing at the same time and as you can imagine,
our blood froze cold in our veins. It was like every Hindi horror movie scene I’d
ever seen and when one knows what to expect, the scene seems to become even more
horrifying and surreal.
We promptly collected out clothes and made for our room, seeking the blessed haven that was room no. 9. As soon as we reached the room, I unlocked the door and started to undo the latch. But then I stopped and looked back.
It was quiet. Very quiet. As if something was about to happen.
No breeze… No crows… No dogs… Nothing at all…
And then we all burst out laughing at ourselves for having got frightened so easily by a random sequence of events. It was then that I felt my badassery coming back to me and I locked the door again. I looked at the other two and they were in agreement, so we slung our shirts back on our shoulders and walked back out like the Three Musketeers in heat.
Now, believe it or not, the moment we stepped out of the hostel gate, everything started up again – the whole enchilada!
Well, what was there to it?
We turned right back around, got into the room, closed the door, secured the windows and went right to sleep under the covers, holding on to our faith and muttering prayers to angels and other messengers of God.