She uses backdoor while hubby plays back 9.
So I signed up. And after a long argument with my parents over the phone, managed to get their permission to go.
It was a decent sized group - 22 boys and 5 girls including me, and of course the two professors. Early morning one Saturday, we took a state transport bus to the nearest stop. Hiked 6 kilometers from there to the base of the fort. And shortly after lunch, started making the climb. The climb isn't relevant here, so I'll skip over it. Suffice it to say that we made it to the top. Explored the few remaining ruins of ramparts and other fortifications. And then settled around a campfire.
Outdoorsy stuff in India is pretty basic in terms of equipment and facilities, and it was even more so back in the 90s when the economy had only just begun to take off. We couldn't afford tents or sleeping bags. We slept under the open starry sky and we slept on thick sheets and blankets. And of course, there were no toilets or portapotties at these locations. The trek leaders designated one far off area for the guys, another far off area for the girls, and that was that.
After spending several hours singing around the campfire, roasting yams and coconuts, and telling some pretty outlandish horror stories, we called an end to the proceedings shortly after midnight. before sleeping, the professors in charge sternly told us to adhere to certain rules. There was to be no hanky panky between the guys and the girls. We were to stay away from the steep edges at all costs. And when going to the designated bathroom area, always go in pairs. They repeated these multiple times. You absolutely HAD TO go in pairs even if one person didn't need to go. If someone tripped or slipped or hurt themselves or got bitten by a snake, their companion could rouse the rest of the camp for help.
I woke up a couple of hours later needing to pee real bad. Everyone else was fast asleep. I poked the girl sleeping next to me.
"Shreya, Shreya, wake up, I have to go to the bathroom."
"Please wake up and come with me."
The girl refused to wake up. I tried another girl.
"I have to go to the bathroom."
"So go! Why are you waking me up?"
"But Sir said to...."
"Screw what Sir said. They're just paranoid. This isn't Mount Everest to be so paranoid. I went half an hour ago. I didn't wake anyone up."
"But Sir said...."
"Stop being such a kid!"
So I got up and started walking towards the designated area. Maybe Gayatri was right. The climb had been difficult but the fort didn't have any sheer cliffs. Plus the moon was out.
I walked to the designated area about 300 meters away from the campsite. It was behind a small hillock and some shrubs. I made sure I was hidden from view. And then i relieved myself. Now at this point, I wasn't even thinking about "it". It wasn't even lurking in the sidelines of my mind. My priority was just to walk back to the camp and sleep.
And then I stepped on something that made a crunching sound. It was glass from a broken beer bottle. I cursed idiots who littered such beautiful and historic places. Not only does it make those places look dirty, it also is dangerous. What if I hadn't been wearing these shoes? Something poking the feet hurts. And I remembered how my foot had hurt that time when I was trying to retrieve the key and I stepped on a jagged pebble. And that did it. "It" was in the building.
I stood there in the moonlight, staring at the campsite and wrestling with conflicting emotions. The horned me made a comeback after months. How have you been, she asked. Leading a staid life I hear.
No, NO! Don't even mention it!
Oh come on, you know you want to do it.
Are you insane? There are all these classmates right over there. And professors! And I am already breaking their rule by being here alone.
Rules schmules! And they are all asleep.
The moon is out.
So? I am not asking you to do it right here.