Photo courtesy Sue Vincent
I woke up with a start, completely disoriented. I had no idea as to where I was, or what I was doing there.
I shrugged my head in an effort to clear the grogginess, and looked around me to try and get my bearings. Good that I made that effort, for the view that greeted me was mesmerizing. The rising (or was it setting?) sun on the verge of kissing the deep blue sea, far on the horizon. And then it struck me, it was not just the sea which was deep blue in colour, but the sky too, as well as everything around me. It was like a blue filter had been placed in front of my eyes- wherever I looked, everything was of a blue tint.
That shook me up pretty bad, and I realized that something was seriously wrong this morning (or was it evening?)
Deciding to investigate, I walked down the beach, looking for a clue, any clue as to what had gone wrong with me, or with the world.
At first, all I saw were some crabs scampering around wildly in the sand, with seagulls zooming in repeatedly and trying to make breakfast out of them. But then, further down the beach, where a thick line of coconut trees started taking shape, I saw a sight which filled me with hope- a bunch of people, lying asleep on the sand.
I started walking towards them, first slowly, and then, quickening my pace as I neared them. Something about them seemed very familiar. I reached them, and looked at the first guy’s face. I knew him, he had been my friend…I think. His name was….That’s weird, why can’t I remember his name?
Next to him was a girl, I had known her too, I was sure, but again, I had no idea who se was.
I started running now, looking at each one, and realizing that they were ALL my friends, and I didn’t remember any of them.
And then I reached the end of the group. A guy was sleeping with his arms around a girl. I saw their faces….and suddenly, I felt like I had been hit by a brick. I remembered everything now. The girl was my wife, Alice, the guy was my best friend James, and together, they had killed me last night on this very beach, and dumped my body in the sea.
I felt like a tornado was sweeping through my head, destroying everything I knew to be real, everything I cherished, and leaving a strange emptiness in its wake. I recalled how Alice had asked me to meet her alone in the dark last night, after everyone had gone off to sleep in a drunken stupor. We’ll go skinny-dipping, she’d said.
In my excitement, I’d drank a lot, I remembered, and then, when the others had fallen asleep, I slipped off for my little adventure with Alice at the edge of the sea. But Alice had not been alone there. James had been there with her, and together, they hit me on the head with their beer bottles, and then taken my unconscious body deep into the sea, and thrown it there.
But wait….how come I was alive then? And then it slowly dawned upon me, I was not! I was a ghost now.
Devastated at their betrayal, I felt a raw, wild anger build up inside me, a haunting cry escaped from the inner recesses of my throat, from where my heart used to be, and I jumped at them, determined to put an end to their treacherous lives. It would not bring back my life, but at least, I would have avenged my death.
I started throwing punches at them, wildly, hard. They woke up screaming, shocked, scared, and tried to defend themselves, but I was unstoppable, I kept on hitting them, till everyone else in the camp woke up, and physically separated me from those treasonous scumbags.
“Let me go!” I shouted at the top of my voice, “They killed me!” “What are you saying? Have you gone crazy? You are as alive as any of us!” cried out my friend Alex. I kept on struggling like a madman to free myself, when I suddenly realized what Alex had said.
Slightly subdued, I promised them that I would no longer attack James and Alice, and once they freed me, I said in a subdued tone, “I remember them having killed me last night. I’m a ghost.”
James looked at me pityingly and said, “You idiot, if you are a ghost, how is it that we all can see you? More importantly, how are you able to touch everybody, and we are able to touch you back?”
I had seen enough ghost movies in my life to know that there was truth in what he was saying. Unable to comprehend anything, I sat down on the sand with my head held between my hands.
Alice walked up to me now, and sat next to me. Tentatively, she put her arm around my shoulder, and tilting her head to touch my head with it, said in a soothing voice, “Your drinking problem is really making me scared now darling. Paranoia is one thing, but you are experiencing these crazy hallucinations now. I’m worried you might end up hurting someone, or more importantly, yourself. As soon as we get back to our home, we need to consult a good psychologist.”
I quietly nodded my assent, and lay down there, falling asleep within seconds.
And was awake in a few minutes again, though my eyes were closed. And so, Alice had no idea I was able to hear her when she told James in a hushed tone, “How the hell did he survive last night’s attack?”
This is my last story of 2017, an year which saw me take the craziest plunge of my life, without a rope or a safety net. It has been an amazing year in all respects, I quit my job, started writing again, clocking a story a day (totting up more than 200 stories since mid-April as a result), traveling like a homeless bum across the world, and collecting marvelous memories and scintillating stories from wherever I went. And there’s only one person who is responsible for my being able to reclaim my life like this- my wife Medha. Can’t thank her, because mere thanks cannot begin to represent my gratitude for all that she has done for me by standing by me in my moments of craziness.
Anyways, the journey will start again on Monday, January 1st, after this short weekend break. Hope the new year is the best ever for all of us who have dared to dream, and chase our own rainbows, for it is our dreams that are helping us live, not just keeping us alive!