A MEMORABLE NIGHT JOURNEY
By 12.30 at night I reached Rampur.
I went out of the station and was thinking what can be done, when a man walked up and asked, “You need a taxi?”
“How much fare for Amtala?”
In day time, the fare is not more than seventy rupees. At night, there is no bus or share vehicle. The taxi drivers charge any amount. There are no options. I agreed.
I was expecting to reach Ambarish’s house within fifteen minutes. The road was empty. I was planning my next set of activities. The cool Autumn breeze was blowing. We passed Haridevpur. I had visited these lines before. Haridevpur is a small locality in Rampur. “Another seven to eight minutes,” I thought.
All of a sudden, I saw the station infront of me. Our car was standing from where we had begun. The driver was also confused. “Sorry, I must have made a mistake somewhere. Please wait, in another ten minutes you will be in Amtala.” I was annoyed but did not say anything. However, I was not going to give more fare to the driver. Its obvious, he took a wrong turn after Haridevpur which I did not notice.
This time, he started at a greater speed and slowed down at Haridevpur. He drove cautiously. I also knew the road. He was going in right direction. In another ten minutes, the taxi was again infront of station. The situation was unexplainable. The driver could not say anything at first. Then he said, “You yourself saw that I made no mistakes over roads.” He was right. The route was very easy. It was tougher to lose way.
Some travellers claim to face the same problem. They lose way and start moving in circles. Every time they come back to the point were they had begun. This happens only in populated places and not in isolations. They call it a work of a group of spirits. I knew about this, but I always considered this spirit to be a personification of some unexplained condition concerning time, space and consciousness.
I knew what was happening. The driver was nervous. He was also losing money. He said, “It is work of spirit.” He was very nervous and was sweating and stammering. Then, I saw a four people standing under a tree. “Try to get those people in your taxi. If we are more in numbers, the spirit wont be able to play any game.” He came out of the vehicle and asked them, “Where are you going?” One was going to Haridevpur. One was going to Amtala and the remaining two were going to Ravanpur. “Ten rupees per passenger, come in.” The people were happy and quickly got inside.
This time, luckily nothing happened. I reached Amtala and got down. “Are you going back to the station?” I asked the driver. “No,” my home is in Ravanpur. He started the car and sped away. Ravanpur is two to three minutes from Amtala. I was wondering if he will ever take a night trip in the next couple of years. I walked towards Ambarish’s house. A lot of activities were to be done in the coming week.