It was raining cats and dogs and I could hardly see the road ahead.
The only other soul in the vicinity seemed to be the driver of the lorry around 300 m ahead, whose tail lights were now serving as my beacon to move on.
Sheela did warn me after seeing the overcast skies.I should have listened.
I wanted to surprise Ammamma, my grandmother, and had started off as soon as work got over that Friday. I could rest the whole weekend once I reached her place.
I had thought that I would reach by dinner time, after the three hour drive.
The first 80 km, consisted of well lit roads and hundreds of other cars gave me company.
Once I hit the road leading to Gauthamapuri, our native village, it was totally deserted. Except for the swish-swish of the whipers and the noise of the incessant downpour, there was nothing but an eerie silence. Not one streetlight was present and I found no shelter where I could temporarily stall.
Now I was midway and turning back was also not a wise option.
Suddenly the engine started giving some wierd noises. I tried to change the gear and with a jerk, my white Alto came to a halt. My repeated attempts to get it started were in vain. I looked desperately ahead, hoping that the lorry driver would notice and stop, but he proceeded on his way and vanished into oblivion.
My cellphone was not receiving any signals and was of little use. I sat in the car for sometime hoping that some other vehicle would come along and get me out of this predicament.
The rumbling noises from my stomach reminded me, that I had not stopped to grab some dinner.
After an hour or so, the rain transitioned to a faint drizzle. I got out from the car and scanned my surroundings. I was in the middle of a jungle area and all I could see were tall trees on either side of the road. It was a full moon day and since the clouds had started clearing a bit, I had some visibility.
I thought I saw a light at the distance in the middle of the woods. I moved in its direction, hoping and praying that someone would offer me some help. May be a house?
When I neared it, I realized, it was not a building; just a sort of a brick tower with a lightbulb hovering over a dilapidated board. The first half of the writing had faded away and the second half sent a shiver down my spine. 'CEMETERY' !
A branch cracked nearby and gave me a jolt.
I turned back and hastily started walking away when I heard a voice .
I kept walking
'Hey, Dont go!'
I hastened my pace.
'Dont be scared. Stop, Please!'.
The voice sounded harmless and my curiosity won over my fear. I slowly turned around.
A girl who seemed to be in her twenties was standing near the tower, smiling at me. She wore a light blue Capri, a flowered shirt , white sneakers and her dark brown hair was in a boy cut.
'Hi' she said and extended her hand.
'Who are you?' I asked , rooted to my spot and not daring to move.
She came towards me and thats when I saw her eyes. They were a turquoise blue, and had an unnatural gleam about them.
'Ok, Let me not beat around the bush.I am a ghost! I died two years back and I was buried here' she declared in a matter-of-factly tone pointing towards the cemetery.
I dont know if its the way she said it, I felt more stupid than scared.
'What? I dont believe you' I said.
'Okay, See this' she said and her body glided up from her sneakers and two feetless legs dangled a few metres above the ground.
'Aah' I screamed and there was total darkness.
When I became conscious again, I found myself in a seated position leaning against the wall of the tower.
'Welcome Back!' , the same voice! So it was not a dream!
She was sitting next to me, playing Sudoku on what looked like an IPAD floating on its own.
'Hi, Now don't faint again! ' she said. 'I am Namratha. I was not joking earlier. I died two years ago and thats a fact. '
'What?' I asked in a shivering voice staring at her in disbelief. My voice refused to come out at first but somehow I managed.
'Yes, Madam' she said with a smile.
I had always heard about scary and horrifying ghosts. Here I was with a fashionable one that was good looking . There was a sort of warmth about Namratha. She appeared friendly.
She held out her hand again. I took it in mine and shook it. It felt like ice.
'Dont be scared of me. Treat me like any other friend you have' she said.
She narrated about her own life before her death and how she had died.As our conversation developed, I relaxed. I told her about my job , my home and my family.
'Are you not lonely here?' I asked.
'Only at nights. We are five of us here.Every night my friends wander off into the depths of the jungle to scare people. They dont scare the good folks. Only those indulging in illegal activities like poaching, smuggling, etc.We are a bunch of socially responsible ghosts you see'.
'Why are you not with your friends then? '
'My looks!' she said with a tone of frustration. 'Do I look scary to you? People get scared of ghosts only if we come in white sarees and with long hair let loose. I can manage a white saree, but my hair simply refuses to grow!'
'Your hair grows?' I asked in bewilderment.
'Of course, the way it grows for the still-alive folks like you. My hair is totally lifeless and dull and hence I sport this boycut. We ghosts can change our looks at will. The hair is an exception. We need to take care of it like you guys and we resort to the same kind of stuff that you living things use. You know, Shikakai, Henna etc. I have tried so many things , no use at all. Who would get scared of a ghost in a boy-cut? Tell me!'
Saying this she touched my head and ran her fingers through my hair. 'Wow!! You have gorgeous hair. Simply beautiful! Can you please tell me what you do for this length , lusture and shine? I can use your tips and then I can join my friends on their nightly tours. '. Her frustrated expression turned into one full of hope.
I felt sorry for Namratha and said 'Do you know there is a company called Dove?, They have some really amazing products. My hair used to be horrible till a few months ago. Pollution, stress etc had caused a lot of damage. Then Sheela, my roommate got me this gift containing some amazing hair care products from Dove and that was the end of my hair problems! It has done wonders. I found so many wonderful hair care products at their Dove hair aware app! You should give it a try'.
'Ok! Dove!' she declared smiling.
'But you are a ghost. How will you get it?' I added in a worried tone.
'No big deal, girlie. We have our own ways.Thanks a ton for that piece of advise. If this really works, I will see to it that no ghost ever comes near your family or harms them in any way.'
'It worked well for me. I think it should work for you too' I said.
We continued talking about a whole lot of other things and soon it was almost dusk.
Namratha lifted me up and flew back to my car. I had a new Dove shampoo bottle in my handbag and I gave it to her. It was funny to see her holding it with her translucent fingers.
Nammy ( I had started calling her that by now) touched the car and Lo! the engine sprung back to life. I gave her a goodbye hug and started on my way. I promised to visit her every time I visited Ammamma. What a friend I had found on a rainy night!
This is my entry for the contest ‘My Beautiful Hair Story’ by Dove and Indiblogger.