My family friends had planned to go to Pune (a city in India) during our Christmas vacations and celebrate our new year in a smaller town called Panhala which was about two hours or so from Pune.
My family was already in Pune since we were there to meet some relatives. The others drove all the way from Bangalore (our domicile and the IT hub/city of India). They took around twelve hours to reach and then we left for Panhala post relaxation and breakfast.
It was a lovely ride up and down the lush, green hills. Although a lot of other friends had motion sickness, I was all cool and I gazed out at the scenery while listening to my favorite songs.
We were four older kids about the age of ten and there was one young kid aged five along with our parents. When we reached the place, we were all stunned to see the arrangements. It was just perfect. Four small but cozy meadows amidst a lush, green, eerie-filled forest. It looked as though it would rain at any second.
The meadows shared a common pathway that led to a filthy, unused playground. We ran toward the ground as soon as we saw it while our parents unloaded the luggage. Later, they called out to us telling us to get freshened up for we had to head out for lunch. After lunch, all the adults dozed-off as usual and we too had to sit inside somebody’s meadow to play cards for it was raining cats and dogs.
After about two hours the rain finally stopped, and our parents had coffee and tea and we had some hot chocolate with cookies. The lip-smacking hot chocolate was like a soothing remedy because it was so cold outside. The next day was new year’s eve so we had nothing to do tonight. We decided that we would visit this fort that was just a five-minute walk away. So off we went….
The path was sloping and gently undulating. The only noise I could hear was of our boots squishing the muck on the earth and the wind whooshing against the trees making them sway from side to side. Being such a large group, it was so unnatural for us to walk silently, but everyone was busy admiring nature’s beauty. As we approached the fort, I could hear a few hushed voices. The fort was large and grotesque. It was largely made of black bricks that had surprisingly remained intact for over a century. A small conversation began among the adults and they debated about the history of the fort. We took a tour of the place and I noticed that there were very few people visiting the fort although it was the most famous tourist spot in that town.
All of us kids had read Enid Blyton’s kids mystery books and we got all suspicious… We walked a little farther away and maintained a distance from our parents so that they wouldn’t hear our “private” conversation. My friend suggested that the fort was mysterious and he saw ‘blood stains’ all over the fort’s walls. All of us were shocked! We too started looking at the fort suspiciously and to our horror we did see the red marks all over the brick walls. Some people had carved their names into the fort walls and this triggered another theory. We thought that these carvings were a signal for the murderers… We had so much fun creating these weird stories!! I still recall the “investigation” that we did. We even noticed old used cigarettes stuffed into the places where the bricks had been damaged slightly and natural openings were created. We took this down as another “evidence”…
We went back to our meadows and met in the playground after freshening up a bit. There we held a “meeting” and decided that on that very night at sharp 12 AM we would meet up at the playground near the swings with our torches and we would go to the fort. There we would “catch hold” of the murderers. After our meeting ended, we played around in the park for half an hour. Our moms called us to the center of the pathway where they had built a bonfire for us. We sung songs, danced and played games around the bonfire, ate dinner and then played cards until 11 PM. This drained our energies completely. We immediately fell asleep and then …
At twelve in the night, I heard my alarm ring. I woke up with start and realized that we had to go to the fort. At first, I made sure my parents were asleep and then I slipped out of the meadow along with my torch. I headed to the park slowly, tiptoeing and saw that three of them were already there. I had taken too much time to search for my torch. We left immediately but we were holding each others’ hand tightly and we talked in whispers. We heard the sound of an engine rumbling and we quickened our pace. We finally reached the fort with sweaty, sticky palms and heaved loud, long sighs. The gate to the fort was closed, but not locked. Thank God! We slowly pushed the gates open and went inside. We walked to the back of the fort and started looking around for people, but nobody was visible. We looked around for a while, but failing to see anyone in the moonlit night, we sat down on the soft grass. Suddenly, I saw a figure darting across the lawn about twenty meters away from us. All of us stood up and I gulped loudly… Then, all of a sudden, someone kept a hand on my shoulder… I yelled as loud as I could!
But then out of the blue I heard my mom’s voice… She said it was already 7AM and we had to leave for the big temple… I realized that all of this was just a dream. We were all so tired that we couldn’t even hear our alarms. Instead, our parents had to take the pain of finding the alarm clocks, switching them off and then going back to sleep. This is how our nighttime adventure came to a sweet end.