Monday, January 25, 2010


It was almost 7pm and we were still playing in the dusk. Hours of play made the shuttle cock look bigger.
Growing up in the steel township of Bhilai has given many memories.

We lived on street 33 then. The triple storey building had 18 units. Usually the light at the stairs was not working and a huge tree grew to envelop the dim lamp post which sent down a small beam of light.

“Babli, come home, Datta aunty called out and bring babloo too”
“Coming, ma”, Babli called out. We hurried to wrap the game.
“Babloo, Babloo”, Babli called out.
“You go. I’ll come later.” He was keeping wicket for the match.
“Oh! It’ll be dark soon, There is no light on the stairs. You’ll be afraid”.
Babloo was about 10 and younger to Babli.
“ Oh No. Iam brave. Iam not afraid of the dark,” he piped up.
“OK. Then just cycle down stree 17 and come back by street 19”, said I.
That did it. He went upstairs with his sister.

Everyone was scared of street 17. Even the elders avoided it. I had cycled down it once in broad daylight and it scared me. Street 17 was long and winding. After the first two blocks, there was an open ground on one side and the street took a blind curve after the ground. At night the street light threw down a golden ring of light. But the huge trees with thick foliage almost blocked it. After the blind turn the street again had rows of blocks on either sides. A large banyan tree stood right in middle of the road. Hindu belief and reverence had let it be there. Someone had started pooja at the small hanuman idol placed under the tree. A small lamp burnt there. It also had a chabootara(platform). This tree was the most ominous, for in the nights, a solitary Baba wrapped in a blanket used to sit and sleep here. He looked almost like Rabindranath Tagore. He towered over six feet and had greying long beard and a huge bump on his forehead which gave him a sinister look. I had never seen him speak. He used to be seen around the market are in the evenings. At the paanwaala, he will just stand there. The paanbhai Kashi gave him a benarasi after some time and he will accept it and move away. I was always intrigued by this person but never had any courage to speak to him. My dad’s friend for some reason, used to called him guruji.

When I was fourteen, I went to friend’s place in the nearby sector and it was almost 6 when I returned. A storm was brewing in the horizon. As I did not have a raincoat, I decided to the short cut through street 17 and take a diagonal cut through the ground to reach street 32. A solitary girl on a cycle had given ideas to some rogue and he started following me on the cycle. I regretted my decision. There was no one on the road to call for help. I cycled as fast as I could. It was now dark and large droplets started to fall. I took the blind curve and the banyan tree in front of me looked real scary with the branches whistling in the wind. With prayers on my lips, I cycled past the small mandir. As soon as I sped by, Baba came out and stood right on the road. The rogue was scared and retreated. I went home and related the incident.
“He knows you right from the days you were a small child”, Dad said
“Who is he?”, I asked
“ He was a Professor at the University. You might have heard Chaubey uncle refer to him as Guruji”
“Then….Why is he like this?”
“His family broke up. He could not take it”, replied Dad in a final voice.
I wanted to ask more but kept restraint.

There are still things I never knew.


  1. That was scary. More than street 17, the rogue who followed you! Such topics (not the rogue, but the spooky :D) have always been alluring. I spent my childhood in a place where almost every street was like street 17. Forest on either side and I remember riding my cycle through such streets when a storm was around the corner. This post brought back those memories....

    I am inspired to write about a few of my experiences there...may be the next post :)

  2. What all adventures holy lama!! That must have been really scary...Cycling in the dark and being followed and getting rescued by 'the villain'...Anyways keep sharing your stories..They are all equally interesting and intriguing :-)

  3. Reminds me of kakkothikavile appuppan thaadi.

    Guruji reminds me of someone i know,he was also devastated when his family broke up but stood like a rock to save what was left ;-)

  4. Nice.. So did you ever go and talk to this person. Just shows how a intelligent person can loose his way because of things happening around him/her.

    My heart goes out to this man. I remember the bet i had to cycle to end of road and come bakc the other way hmmmm :)

  5. Sounds eerie enough to steer clear of street 17. Hmmm...some adventure you had there, and look who came to your rescue!

  6. at 2 am, I am reading this...baap re..goose bumps aa gaye..

  7. Scary ya...that must hav been a nightmare!!!

  8. Whoa! That's adventurous! Street 17, I mean. Not rogue following thingy. :P
    Nice goose-bumpy story. :)

  9. I had goosebumps reading this. Amazingly put up.. Intriguing indeed. !!

  10. HL,very nicely written,it must have been very scary for was like you were reliving the moment while you were writing this brilliant piece .The whole thing came alive for the readers too.

  11. Adventure huh!! But I am intrigued by the man - guruji. Did you have a chance to talk to him?

  12. What I love about your stories is the amazing way you describe everything..."Hours of play made the shuttle cock look bigger."...I mean hats off to you, you have a great sense of observation.
    All of us see the world..see the same things..but with a different we percieve reality is a matter of personal ability and you rock in the field :)
    Thanks for a great story KK!! Loved the way youve described things :)

  13. Destiny's Child
    Looking forward to you bunch of experiences.

    Novice Writer
    Happy to share:)

    Scarlet Pimpernel
    It was almost kakkothikaavu type, only I didn't get kidnapped.

    True, some shocks are too much. One might look lost and detached after such a shock, but somewhere deep down the sensitive person is still alive as was proved by my experience. Baba made his quiet appearence to full effect.

    You know me. Even knowing that trouble might arise, I like to test trouble.;)

    Try to get some sleep dear or you'l get goose bumps full time.

    Nazish Rahman
    Just a bit of jelly feeling in knees, that's all.

    Thank You

    Scared you, right?

    First I thought of adding a photo of storm to the post and then let it be. Reader imagination helps and you have enjoyed it with yours.

    Guruji seldom spoke. I have never heard him speak, even to Chaubey uncle though his eyes showed recognition.

    A new Beginning
    Iam overwhelmed by that comment. Thank You.

  14. You give such a vivid description of you memories that i feel nostalgic...

  15. Such an intriguing post. Loved reading it.
    Though, I wanted to read more about guruji. A professor that too.

  16. Hey lama lama,

    Well the scary street reminded me of old days when my parents would say dont go that way cause there in a 'pretham'(ghost) in there and so we would never go that way. But later we realized that it was all a bluff, and we started doing the same to the next gen. But in our case we came to know that they were bluffing later on but in that Guruji's case I wonder the pain he would have gone through that has made him isolate himself. :(

    Keep Blogging! :)

  17. Shruthi
    Ah! I too would have loved to know more.

    My life is my lesson
    Welcome here. This street was not just another pretham street. There was never a talk or hint of ghost. Still everyone was scared. Guruji must have had some severe shock, that's for sure.

  18. Tamil? parva ille. Laughter knows no language barriers. He he:)

  19. Interesting..very all encompassing post, horror, mystery, childhood, family, friendships, nostalgia and many others..

  20. Ayesha Parveen
    Welcome back. Been a long time:)

    Need to market the all in one packages nowadays.

  21. Wow that was scary, nicely narrated!