Come during day time, don’t take the late-night train, my maasi looked worried as she uttered this. She lives in a village which is 3 km from the nearby railway station. Summers in Bihar are painful because of heat, mosquitoes, power cuts.

I was done with my class 8th exams and had 60 days of holiday. I decided to see my maasi for a few weeks. They have mango orchards on many acres and nobody to eat. Maasi daughters were married and, their son was working in the metro. She lived with mausaji, who was a hermit.

Childhood makes you a rebel and, you would find pleasure in doing things seniors tell you not to do. I had my dinner at home and told mummy about visiting maasi. I promised her I would take the early morning train, not the night one. I was at the platform along with cows, dogs, mosquitoes, beggars, and an obese colony of rats.

Train running late has been a common occurrence. The 9 pm train was arriving at 11 pm. A train would stop at every village, thanks to frequent chain pulls. The two hours journey became three hours. It was pitch dark at the station. The only person carrying Laltan must have been the person on station duty. I should have stayed at the station and headed to maasi’s village in the morning, but I did not.

The night was dark, and crickets were playing orchestra. Once in a while, the foxes would howl too. After crossing the pipal tree and pokher (pond), I felt someone was following me. I stopped and looked back, and there was no one. I was shit scared and started reciting Hanuman Chalisa and thinking seriously if this was the reason why maasi asked me to come during day time.

Lady: Khaini hai kya beta? (Do you have some tobacco, son?)
Me: Aree amma, itne Raat Gaye khaine kahe khaoge? (Why do you need tobacco at this late?)
Lady: Kaini hai kya beta?
Me: Nahi hai.

I woke up with a dog licking my face and a swollen head. Was it coconut falling on my head, or someone hit me? I have no clue, but I realized I was in an unconscious state.

Maasi: Why so early? What train did you take? You could have come in the afternoon.
Me: Yeps.

I was too scared to tell her or anyone else about this incident so far. Thinking about that night still scares me.