Squeeaak, squeeaak, squeeaak.
Grandpa’s cycle was tired of bearing him, but at the same time determined to be his loyal carrier.
It was a typical twilight hours of a rainy day. Though it had not rained that day, the occasional croaks of frogs were interrupting the creaks of crickets.
“Minimum two hours to reach home”. Grandpa murmured and kept peddling.
Cycling long distances was Grandpa’s passion. As the Block Development Officer at Anandapur, on duty, he used to visit villages for inspection and preferred cycle whenever possible. That day he was visiting Biridiha village, which was 10 miles away― an ideal distance for his cycling appetite. He started early in the morning, with an intention to return to the town before it’s pitch-dark.
However, his over-enthusiasm made him late. He could not resist visiting a few newly installed cow-dung plants though that was not in agenda.
“Sir, be my guest for tonight; these roads are not safe to cycle in the dark.” Amalbabu, the village sarpanch had requested. But my adventurous Grandpa chose to ignore all the cautions including the fact that he had to cross a graveyard, which he had seen reluctantly on the way to the village.
The squeeaaks from the cranks were getting lengthier with time. Grandpa looked at the disappearing fields at both sides slowly swallowed by the infinite darkness. He switched on the cycle’s dynamo light. It was glowing dim respecting the ambience. The landmarks he had noted carefully in the morning were playing hide and seek in the dusky canvas of the evening sky.
Grandpa peddled faster. But alas! Bang! The cycle bumped on a stone. Luckily, he could keep balance. But, because of the jerk, the dynamo stopped glowing. A clear sky and a crescent moon were of some rescue. The cycle bell did cling-clang irregularly to shoo-away imaginary shadows.
Crooaak, crooaak, crooaak. There was a large group of frogs. Reflection of the moon made Grandpa recognize the pond which he had passed by in the morning. Beyond it was the graveyard after which he needed to take a turn straight to the main road.
The thought of graveyard gave him shivers. He had always claimed that he did not fear or believe in spirits. Yet, discussing this over a cup of tea was quite different from facing it in real life in most inhospitable situation.
Grandpa was about to whistle a song to divert his mind. But he saw an old lady out of nowhere in a white saree and long open hair. She was bending onto the road obstructing his way.
Grandpa was petrified. Cling-clang, came the bell. The lady waved back with the wind. It was the shock of Grandpa’s life. Thud! He collapsed.
Grandpa came to senses at dawn. At a distance he saw a peppal tree’s broken trunk looking remarkably white with its bark removed.
“Ooooops! That’s the lady!”
Grandpa looked at his cycle lying beside. He knew it was his last long distance cycling adventure.
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