I must have slept for over 6 hours extending my afternoon nap to early evening but still when I was woken up rudely by constant slaps to my feet I felt a little irritated. The irritation went away the moment I saw the person trying to wake me up. It was Danish, my childhood buddy. I was seeing him probably after 9 or 10 years and was too shocked to show my surprise. Eventually all that came out of my mouth was some garbled response which was devoid of any meaning, but him being my closest buddy from school days he understood every word behind it. We hugged, laughed and tried to talk but with the emotions blocking every single word I guess for the first five or ten minutes all we did was to look at each other and laugh. I know it sounds very gay but heck; I did feel gay for those few moments.
Nevertheless the initial euphoria came down a bit, the moist eyes dried up again and we were able to start proper human conversation. There was so much to share; my life, my progress on social and organizational ladder, my love marriage, my kids, Danish’s life, his adventures abroad, his lifestyle etc. We didn’t even realize the existence of time as we talked and laughed and remembered the old jokes and only when the clock struck 11 did we realize that we have been chatting and living in memories for almost three hours. Maybe it was the time or maybe it was the topic of another close buddy we decided that we should go and meet him. I did pause for a minute to think if the time is appropriate but then another wave of old memories rushed in and carried away any sensible thoughts and we decided to go ahead and surprise him.
I remember there was slight chill in the breeze when we stepped out but it was the kind which felt pleasant especially after spending last few hours indoors. Our friend’s house was hardly a mile away so it felt like a natural decision when we just came out of house and instead of taking the car just continued in the general direction of his house. It’s only after half an hour I realized that I had forgotten the exact turns that we needed to take to reach his house. I remembered that earlier we used to take turns based on the different trees which stood at every corner of our small hill town but due to the dark moonless night and the slight fog all the trees had taken weirdest of shapes and did not help at all. We kept talking and taking every turn which came our way and roamed almost for another half hour. It was only when we reached the creaking wooden bridge that I got my bearings. This bridge was famous since our childhood days to be haunted but we had come to realize that nothing ever happened there except for the play of light and shadow through trees that made it spooky.
As we reached the middle of the bridge engrossed in our talks, we noticed this young man coming from the other side. He looked like one of those poor tribal people who used to work in nearby mines on minimum wages and were always drunk. He was carrying two bags which looked heavy and was trying to walk as fast as he could which made him limp in a sad way. When the man reached us Danish suddenly turned towards him and asked “Brother, where is the cemetery?”
The man suddenly jumped with surprise and dropped his bags. He looked so scared that I could see his eyes bulge out of the sockets. He yelled and suddenly turned around and started running back the way he was coming. I was confused. Not really sure of what happened when I realized Danish had played one of our early pranks again. It was the combination of the place, the moonless night and Danish’s voice which was always gruff, the man must have thought we are ghosts. The realization made me laugh so uncontrollably that I could hardly breathe. In between the fits of laughter I looked at Danish who looked very smug. Controlling my laughs a little I somehow managed to say “You rascal; You gave the poor man such a fright he wouldn’t be able to talk at least for a week and then will tell the whole world he saw ghosts”
“But he did see ghosts” replied Danish in a deadpan voice. “What do you mean” I asked. His face showed amazement and then understanding and he said softly “I am sorry Bud, I thought you would have realized by now that you died while sleeping today afternoon. After all from that time we have been floating and not walking”. I looked down and saw he was right, I couldn’t see anything below my waist. I was a shadow visible only from waist up. Yes; I was dead!