This was it! The ideal getaway for friends and family to a mutually agreed place, bordering our home town. And as the clouds gathered in the southern sky, I could not help but feel a bit romantic. The cool breeze brushed against my clammy perspiring skin, as I made a bee line to the nearest cluster of trees to hide!

Silly as it may seem; I was enjoying a stint with some members of our group in playing hide and seek. It was so nice, and challenging too, as we were no longer young. We had to be very careful, to guard against getting discovered.

As I was keeping a watch on others, who were scattered around me, and hoping to not get caught, I noticed that the clouds had parted, but twilight was approaching.

As the game progressed, it was my turn to be the seeker, while others were to hide. The dusk was descending along western skies, and I had decided to call it a day, after finding at least one  of the players.

Then, I saw someone lying huddled near the broken branches of trees. As I made myself comfortably close, I was disappointed to find the object of my interest to be some soiled pile of clothes thrown on a network of exposed tree roots.

The trees around had thick trunks. In the late evening scatter of light, the barks attained a rosy hue. And as I progressed with my superfluous thoughts  my eyes got arrested yet again in the distance.

A little distance from this was another space with scattered roots. But  the clothes here, seemed to have been pulled half way into the soil.

A low hum of music reached my ears. Slowly but surely, the music attained a higher pitch, to the extent that it became uncomfortable. And I decided to turn back.

Then, before I knew it, I felt someone trying to grasp one of my feet.

‘ Now! Stop it, will you! I am coming!’

Turning back, I saw none! At the same time, I could hear a scraping sound.

Near my feet, I saw roots sprawled around. In my endeavour to go near the pile of clothes strewn on the ground, I had ventured quite some distance from where I had started.

What I witnessed next, quickened my heartbeat. And I wanted to cry out! I stood frozen, but not for long. For I could hear the pounding against my chest. The roots that had hitherto laid scattered, were now inching towards my feet from all sides, like a huge octopus like creature.

Their tenacity increased, so did the rumbling sound under my feet; as if something was creeping under the top soil, trying to catch me and scrape me down.

I kept running, and zig zagged my way, to avoid the trees as far as possible. It seemed the roots were sending signals to one another to hook on to my feet and pull me to their place, under the soil. With the rising hum of gnats and insects, I could  hear my own voice, thinned, terrorized and helpless. Nothing mattered now, except the run to safety.

Long after, I thanked my stars, and today I am a changed man.

Till date, I refuse any outing. I shout hysterically at my neighbours, when they bring potted plants home. When I have to go out, I am accompanied by someone whom I can trust. I was taken to psychiatrist, but no one can dissuade me from breaking a potted plant that comes in my way! I am living a nightmare.

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