Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Curious Incident of the Graveyard Visit in the Nighttime

Last night at about 1.30, a bunch of five of us decided to go for a drive. We were all sober, so no, this story does not end with all of us dying in a spectacular albeit tragic DUI accident. No, it’s funnier than that.

After driving around for about 15 minutes, we came to a cemetery. We’d been there before in the night--even gotten inside a couple of times. We parked the car at the side of the road and debated whether it was worth going in. Yours truly thought not. It wasn’t the “ghosts” or the “ghouls” that I feared, but instead, the slightly more tangible batons of any policemen who might happen to pass by. (Yes, I have a soft tush and it can’t afford to take a beating.)

However, I was comprehensively out-voted by the other four--three of whom just happened to be girls! Well, if not my derrière, then at least my self-esteem and masculine ego were certainly taking a hit.

Hmmph! I’d show them! If we’re all going in anyway, I’d lead the way. At least once I was inside, there was a lesser chance of getting caught by a cop--and to me that sounded like a good deal. We walked along the wall of the cemetery--which was about three-and-a-half feet high--until we came to the gate, which was about the same height. I proceeded to get in first, by the simple expedient of jump-sitting onto the end of the wall, just next to the gate, then drawing my legs up close to me, swiveling around, and jumping off lightly onto the other side.

I beckoned to the others to follow suit--as quickly as possible. The other guy standing outside starting making a weird hand gesture pointing to a spot on the side of the gate on my side of the wall. I assumed that to mean, “Someone’s coming. Get behind the wall and crouch down.” I skipped to the side.

That’s when it happened!

It’s hard to tell who was more surprised but I know for sure who was more scared! First he yelled. Then he screamed--this low pitched guttural scream that he repeated again, again and yet again. And he flailed his arms about. I’m not sure what happened after that because by then I had vaulted the gate and wall (with the seat of my pants touching anything but thin air this time), and overtaken the others as we sprinted back to the car! I thought I heard a tinkling sound, like something metallic fall down, but I didn’t even care at that point.

Yes, I’d stepped right onto the sleeping guy that my friend was trying to warn me about. Those hand signals weren’t “get down and hide”, they were “dude! there’s someone sleeping just next to you, don’t move!” He was pointing at the guy, not at a nice hidey-hole for me. As it turned out, I wasn’t too skilled at interpreting sign language, and I gave the tramp sleeping there the WORST nightmare of his life. Imagine you’re sleeping in a frickin’ graveyard! Now, imagine you suddenly feel something fall on you. Then you open your eyes and see this ghastly, wild-haired creature. It can’t be the most pleasant experience in the world.

We reached the car, jumped in and took off.

Two minutes later. “You know, I think I heard something fall as I jumped over the wall. Let me just check my keys,” I said. “Hmmm, yup. They’re there--safely in my pocket. Phew!”

“Thank God for that!”

“But I’m sure something fell. I distinctly heard a metallic sound,” I continue. “Maybe it was just a coin or something.” We were playing this coin game just before we left for the drive, and this was a likely explanation.

“Wait,” said one of the girls. “You probably dropped MY key.” She’d given me her key as we left the house, and I’d put in my breast-pocket! Of course! That’s the easiest place for something to fall out off (especially when you’re hurdling cemetery walls at super-top speed).

“Yeah,” I checked. “That’s it. That’s what’s fallen out. Turn the car around, we need to go get it.”

“No way. My third roommate (the first two were in the car with us) has her key and she’s probably back home by now. Let’s just leave it. We can change the lock. Let’s not go back to get the key!”

I didn’t care about them getting back into the house that night or about changing locks or anything of the sort. All I cared about was doing some damage control to my pride. I’d shown a cleaner pair of heels than anyone else earlier and now I had to prove there was still some man left in me. “We’re going back. I know exactly where the key’s fallen. It’s just outside the gate. Our Charlie’s probably gone back to sleep by now. I’ll just dash out of the car pick it up and scoot back in.”

So we turned the car around and drove back to the cemetery. We crossed the gate, going very slowly, ten eyes peering at the street in the headlights trying to catch the gleam of metal. We were on the wrong side of the road, so a little farther down we turned around and drove back up. One of us thought she saw it but wasn’t very sure.

We saw an old man walking toward the gate--our sleeping beauty, of course. He didn’t look too scary at all--old, white hair, unshaven face. He’d apparently gone to take a walk (or leak, or dump) after the scare we gave him and was now returning to his cozy corner. We turned the car around and took one more round. He stared in at us, not a word on his lips but cursing us mentally, no doubt. By the time we finished another up-down in the car, still not sure whether anyone could see the key or not, he’d packed up his bedding (for an old man he could climb over that wall pretty easily), and was preparing to leave. Obviously, he desired to finish his sleep in a place where there was slightly smaller risk of getting trampled upon by young boys. I don’t blame him.

We stopped the car and I climbed out. “I’m coming with you,” my friend said as he opened the driver’s door and stepped out. We walked back to the gate. I looked at the guy as he was leaving and said, “Aamchi chaavi padlee. (Our key fell.)” I don’t know why I said it in Marathi or even why I said it for that matter, but I did. It seemed fair to let him know we weren’t there to kill him; he looked really frightened.

We found the key. Actually I didn’t, the other guy did. We got back to the car and debated whether it might be worth it to go in now, since the old man, we knew, had left. But people came out with all sorts of bad omens that said we shouldn’t go in. Eyes were fluttering, the position of the moon wasn’t right, a black cat had crossed someone’s path three weeks earlier, etc etc. So we decided not to.

We did go for a long drive though and almost got lost. And yes, from now on, I’m wearing only yellow pants. Just so that no one quite knows when it happens. Except for the smell maybe.

7 comments:

Swaroopa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angel Without Wings said...

man...u actually went back to save ur pride and i thought u din't want three helpless girls to stand outside in the rain....there goes my image of u as a "knight in shining armor"...anyways one of the craziest nights man..and i had no clue i could run that fast...:D

Siddhu said...

Dude, that was f*ckin hilarious. I was reading this in the lab, where meetings were taking place. And as I read this post, I began to laugh like a hyena; the end result being quite a few VERY startled people.

Stepping on homeless people in a cemetery. Nice way to spend a Sunday, innit? ;)

Asis said...

nice blog dude , i like the way u write.

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Have u visited my blog to see my updates of blogcamp!!

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Shantanu said...

Heh! Good one...

Renuka said...

hilarious!

Seriously Funny said...

Absolutely Hilarious...