Travel Stories for everybody by anybody

Courage Test Blues

Remember when we were little, and Cartoon Network was our best friend? Wasn’t that long ago now was it? So then, remember that poor pinkish purple dog with fear issues who was ironically stuck with a name like “Courage”? Yea, we all had fun at his expense—and at the expense of the Scooby and Shaggy- the cowardly members of the Scooby group. Anyway, this seems to be getting farther and farther from anything related to travel. What I’m actually trying to get at here is that most of us pride ourselves in not believing in silly supernatural stuff- ghosts, ghouls, zombies- they’re all just things behind the screen. And the characters that super scared at the sight of those things are not to be emulated, but to be laughed at.

……yeah right! That’s all very well in theory. But in reality…well, let’s start at the beginning.

One summer in our vibrant youth (now I sound like I’m 60) during a casual kiddy trip to Shimla, the bunch of us hearty kids decided to pull a stunt that- if found out- would result in a being grounded for a couple hundred years at least. Very close to the place we were crashing at- which was one of our friend’s uncle’s house- was an age-old cemetery- the classy, spooky kind with marble statues at the head of the graves. Now we all know a 5-some of kids talking casually will always lead to something unpredictable. And dangerous to boot. One guy suggested a trip to the cemetery and boy! were we all rabid with excitement when we realized that the “trip” he was talking about was a night-time one without any official supervision and without seeking permission from anyone. Next night was picked as the fated one.

When it came, we were all packed with torches, a couple of bottles of water and cameras- in case we saw disembodied light blobs floating around. (Though I highly doubt any of us would have been had the guts to stand taking pictures if we did see something.) So there we were climbing the wall- since we couldn’t just barge through the gate, given the gatekeeper’s presence- and once we were in, half of our wits had already made a run for the exit. The cemetery wasn’t kept in the best of conditions- which only made things scarier. Sloppily exposed graves, unchecked growth of foliage, weathered marble statues- it was literally something out of a Scooby Doo episode. While the original plan was a quick looking around and then back home, suddenly, someone made a bizarre suggestion and before we knew it, the trip had turned into a test of courage. What?! No way!—that’s how we should’ve reacted, but bratty as we were, we all defiantly accepted the challenge. Each of us had to sit it out for fifteen minutes at the creepiest looking grave, which was not just semi-exposed but had an angel statue with a dug up eye looking at you in the scariest way possible.

Two people braved the test- one after the other.

Into the 3rd person, (I was the 5th as decided by a rock-paper-scissor game) as we waited huddled near the wall, a scream echoed. That was a clear signal of “help me, something just happened” and off we ran- half anxious, half hoping to see some mysterious light. When we did reach the spot, all we saw was a rather shaken friend with her hands trembling as she pointed behind a shrub and said- “There. Something.”

After several minutes of hunting around bits of explanation from the victim- it turned out what she saw was a poor cat that had been out on the prowl for rats and was not utterly disgruntled by the screaming and the scampering of the human feet. A “shoo kitty” later, we decided we’d had enough of the stupid stunt. Little did we know that the worst was yet to come. Coming in we had all the senses about us and we’d remembered to climb the walls to enter unnoticed. Going back however, shaken and disconcerted as we were, we completely forgot all about the gatekeeper and by the time we remembered, we’d already come too close to the gate. Making a run for the other end, we hoped the guard wouldn’t catch up to us- but when have the hopes of a bunch of teen delinquents ever been answered? In two swift leaps, he caught us and had us sent back to the uncle’s place, where we were given one of the most terrifying lectures of our lives. One of us even whispered- ‘I’d rather be haunted by a ghost.’ But that didn’t happen. All that haunted us was our stupidity and the nice uncle’s temper. Well, at least he saved us from our parent’s ire by not telling them.

So then—was this the travel haunting that you were hoping to find? Is there a moral, you ask? Of course there is. Never pull stunts like these. If you do, be sure to not get caught. (Don’t ever tell the nice uncle I said that.)

Happy haunting!

Cost Break-up:
Dignity – Lost completely.
Courage – Flew out the window.
Freedom – Curtailed for the rest of the trip.

Note: Entering a cemetery without permission is technically trespassing. We’d be glad if you did not quote us or refer to us as inspirations when you do something similar.

Contributed by Ateendriya

Ateendriya A literature kid at Lady Shri Ram, DU Combine crazy geek with a yen for writing and photography and you'll get something resembling me. A dabbler by nature it feels at times that I have more interests than I can keep up with. Literature is what I professionally follow- mostly because of my love for writing, partly because it gives me enough time for my dabbling tendencies. Travel writing is one of those dream jobs that I one day wish to make a career out of, because it combines two of my best interests. I have an undying love for gadgets, books and languages- self trained in basic Japanese and bits of Korean, and on the side, I'm an avid science hobbyist- from quantum physics to the genome project- just about everything interests me. Writing however, like I've enough emphasized, remains the uncontested first and strongest passion- fiction, non-fiction or words dripping in sarcasm - it's all me.