Don’t read further if you are weak hearted . . . . .
Probably I should say, ‘On a wintery morning’. It felt like night, so I put it that way.
After quite a long time, I set out today, to do some early morning ride, to be precise, at 4:45 am. And after an initial tussle with the security, as to why he was sleeping instead of patroling, that too with the lights off, I moved on to the main road. It was like any of my other morning rides. Riding some 4 kms and on to the Express Way of Outer Ring Road, I realized it was quite chilly. I couldn’t believe it was so cold right here in India, in Hyderabad, so bone-chilling cold, me having survived seven Chicago winters. There was not a bitch on the road, leave around human population. Too early for most morning walkers. Other than an occasional vehicle that would pass by, trying to reach the airport in a high speed mood, the road was totally deserted. Surviving the cold, I pedalled and pedalled. The idea was to do a 25-30 km ride at minimum. As always (or mostly), I decided I will pedal until it was a little less than half time of my confortable return time. For this day I set that at 7:30 am when my son leaves to school. I eventually completed 50 kms in this ride.
It was quite dark and if I did not have my cycle light on, it would be barely possible to pedal, although I knew it is unlikely there are pot holes on the express highway. After riding through some 15 kms, at Police Academy, I took a diversion to Chilkur road. the diversion takes down to the road from express way. It was so dark, so dark that I actually had to slow down to near stop, since I wasn’t sure where I was riding, although it was a well known diversion to me. And here comes the main story . . .
The Chilkur road was pitch dark, much darker than I explained in previous sections. God forbid, if I my light stopped working, leave alone riding the bicycle, it would be difficult to even walk! I wouldn’t feel comforable not knowing if I am stepping on to an odd snake crossing the road. There were plenty of bushes on either side of road to support this possibility. To admit, I felt a little eerie to ride on that road, all alone with not a soul around; unable to see anything other than the very small road section that my cycle light lighted. I have no idea of the road taking a curve until I actually reached it.
And . . . . I saw someone from a distance crossing the road from other side of divider on to my side. I could only see a somewhat darkish frame. As I approached the person crossing, I felt it could be someone in a burkhah since face was not visible (there was a small amount of my cycle light reaching that area). And I wondered why would a muslim lady walk on the road at this hour, when it was so ‘pitch’ dark (I shiver even now, as I write). As I further bridged our distance, the person appeared even darker, now completely black, and I am still not able to see the face. I asked myself, what am I doing here, at about 5:30 am, so chilly, so dark, with no soul around, and no signs of sun coming up (Sun is also lazy during winter to show up early). It is unlikely that a burkhah clad muslim woman would be walking on the road in this hour. Should I return back? No. Not me. I don’t like calling myself a scary cat! Surely ghosts never existed. Although I did have some experience from my childhood, I never wanted to admit myself that ghosts existed. And if they did, they wouldn’t be visible.
So I continued my ride, to face it as it may. Let that be a burkhah clad woman. Or, a ghost! It showed up even darker as I approached, and by this time, it had crossed over the median completley and came on to my side. And still face is not visible nor clothes in any color. Now there is barely any gap between us. Let’s face it. And that’s when I realized . . . . . it was my shadow!
Evidently, there was a vehicle (in my climax, I could hardly notice if it was a four or two wheeler) behind me following from a distance. As it got closer and trying to overtake me, it my shadow move from right to left and darker (since the light from behind became brighter).