The Shadow Man!

Samuel Johnson wrote ‘Friendship peculiar boon of Heaven, the noble mind's delight and pride, to men and angels only given, to all the lower world denied.’ And he was right. Friendship truly is a godsend. You’ll probably agree too for it takes just one genuine friend to believe in this notion. I have many good friends undoubtedly. But it’s only Rimli who has forever been the anchor to my wayward ship of friendship; my best friend, my soul sister. We have known each other for most of our lives.  Our friendship truly has matured like old wine; fine and invaluable.

Me feeding my birthday cake to Rimli while my sister focuses all her attention on tv

Together as coy 13-year-olds we watched foreign tourists kiss at the entrance of Fatehpur Sikri. As mischievous teenagers we made blank calls. In nursery we began our tiffin exchanges, boiled eggs in my lunch were invariably meant for Rimli even at that age. When I needed a hair drier she made the guy wooing her gift me one on my birthday. To this day our ‘therapeutic gossip sessions’ metamorphose into pleasant reminiscences to be looked back at fondly. Truly our camaraderie is a galaxy with innumerable twinkling stars; each of delightful memories.

Though we have had countless experiences, a number of which undeniably fall within the realms of what we call ‘an adventure’ there is this one specific incident that we particularly remember. It happened in Bangalore when we had come together with our dads to appear in the Common Entrance Test for Karnataka. It was after our 12th boards and truth be told we were hardly in any mood to study for the numerous entrance exams lined up for us. All we wanted to do was travel, shop and eat for studying for the 12th boards had already drained us completely.

Rimli & I when we were in 12th
It was in a resort on Mysore Road that we had put up. Our fathers had taken two rooms and we had convinced them to let both of us stay in one. We had to study we pleaded which ofcourse was a lie. All we did was watch television; memorize the menu for dinner and ofcourse talk, talk and talk! It was only when sleep crushed our enthusiasm of an all-night chatting session that we decided to turn in.

There was a wedding taking place at the resort that night so it was brimming with people. Loud music filled the atmosphere but we fell asleep without trouble. It must have been around 3 or 4 in the morning that Rimli suddenly woke me up. She was distracted and scared as she blurted these words “Babes a man just came out of the bathroom and walked out the door through our room”.

For just a fraction of a second I thought she must have been dreaming. But the gravity in her voice told me otherwise. So we both climbed down the bed and before doing anything else went to check the door. It was unlocked which meant what she had seen was not a dream for we had clearly secured the door before going to sleep. Our stomachs felt funny due to fear that rose through our guts. We turned the lights on after bolting the door and then made our way to the bathroom. How was it possible for a man to come out of there we thought? And that’s when we saw it. The glass ventilator in the washroom was broken. And it was indeed possible for a man after much effort to squeeze through it.

We had to call our dads who were in the next room. But we were scared to come out of the room. So we sat near the door looking out through the key hole. What if the man was around and he got to us before we got to our dads? So we waited, not really sure for what. At one moment we even thought of just going back to sleep but then the ventilator glass was broken and what surety was there of the man not coming in again. And what if this time he didn’t leave us unharmed? So we took a leap of faith, opened the door and ran to our dads’ room. Ofcourse, from there our dads took over and we knew we were safe.

The next day the hotel authorities told that they had found a ladder directly against the ventilator of our bathroom and it wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. For some strange reason a man had decided to walk through our room into the hotel and yet leave us without a scratch. We still wonder to this day why he didn’t hurt us. Ofcourse, we also joke that since Rimli had seen him first that made her the lead actress as in horror movies. We laugh now that if it were a film she would be caught by the man and I would be slaughtered in sleep like those naïve supporting actresses.

Rimli & I Today!

Years have passed since that night but it’s still very much fresh in our minds. Ofcourse, we think about it amusingly now. All witticisms aside, we do realize that this was a one of a kind experience, not really pleasant but an experience nonetheless. An adventure in its own right!

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