I was 5 years old. My family (comprising the parents and 4 siblings) along with another one had planned a trip to Netarhaat, a discreet place somewhat 5 hours away from our town, Bokaro. It was a pleasant winter morning when we all left, all dressed up, packed and stuffed in our respective cars. So, our cars moved with 2 families enjoying and thumping and having fun, and why not when young children were there!
The journey of 5 hours got elongated with breaks and photo sessions and little bit of entertainment here and there. We crossed through woods, beautiful greenery and unseen jungles to reach the place quite uninhabited due to occult reasons.
We didn’t have maps to follow back then hence had to ask people the way to Netarhaat. Almost an hour before the spot we enquired a man the way and he helped us showing with his hands with a word of advice – ‘Do not visit that place, please’. The elders didn’t pay much heed and proceeded. After driving for that last hour, there we were, through those unconstructed roads, inviting to our destination. It was evening already due to winters. I had heard that Netarhaat was knows for lakes but they had stories…
We got down of our cars and the fun restarted. Parents photographing, siblings playing – all were busy in their fun activities. I was among the youngest besides my brother who’s younger to me. I sat down at the lakeside and watched the broad water. A while of wait with a feeling of blankness I bent forward and touched the water with fingers. It was cold! I liked the feel and wanted to play and splash. The water level was quite low to feel through my hands. I bent a little forward to let my hand in and slipped. In a second I was in water with my head and body immersed. I was unaware what was happening to my legs as I could only see that half my body was in water and eyes opened.
I saw some people there, deep inside. They were in as if calling with some strange noises of agony. Who were they, I thought. There was an old man who had held my hand, and an old lady beside him held a small infant crying profusely. I saw them saying something, as if they needed help. They seemed to be in some kind of pain, the atmosphere inside was so gloomy, unusual. I could see and I could feel something.
In a few moments I was pulled out. My sister sitting closely somehow had grabbed my leg. She shouted and elders came for rescue. I was taken out, nobody scolded me. I was wiped, I changed and warmed up with new clothes on that cold evening. I shared what I experienced in water and all took that as fun, additional fun…
I don’t remember when we had returned home, but sitting in the car I was just thinking – Who were they? Why were they there? Why did I feel that? That….