Lilly explores the caves to disprove the myth of man eating monster or ghost's presence.
Exploring the Caves
"Hey Lilly, did you hear the news, Michael's brother, the guy who repairs cars is missing " John screamed, as he approached me holding his breath.
"No, what happened? Did he run away or what?" I doubted, "He had run away with a motorbike last year to find a job, returned after a month . It may be one such or what else ?
"Don' know, people say the monster from the caves snatched him, they say for sure!"
Soam laughed loud "Ye believe? Ask him" pointing Michael coming to us.
"Hey, is it true, your bro's missing?" I asked him.
"Ya, he didn't return past two days. Cops are in search" Michael was evasive.
"What did you hear people saying?" John wanted to know from him.
"Gossip!" "I don't believe it. It must be some thin' else". My bro's not so meekish" he left us in a hurry.
"Let's wait for the police search" I concluded.
Soam laughed, "Some enjoy Gossip saying he's victim of ghost or monster in the caves. Everyone else believe!"
"Not only believe, they spread the rumor all around!".... "We must stop such myths and beliefs" John was emphatic.
"It's not so easy as you think. Such myths and beliefs are deep routed with our folks. They swear it by bible. Anything lost or disappears; Lo' they connect with Cave's story!" Soam nodded
I asked "What's it they swear? Do they prove them?
"It's a belief of the community for ages, no one dares to question it......" Soam went on saying.
"So what? I want to know what exactly do they say?" I interrupted.
"Some believed there is a deadly ghost staying in the caves, comes out at nights, abducts any animal or human spotted around the cave. Others say it's a monster not a ghost! But everyone swear, none has returned, entering into the caves. Some old instances they quote their elders telling them; hesitate to reply for any probing question" Soam explained.
"I too strongly feel it's a false belief, people enjoy as a matter of gossip. We should stop them! It's our duty as youngsters, what do you say?"
I expected their views.
"We too" everyone agreed.
"How about challenging it? We can verify if ghost or monster, exists. We can go into the caves and check it up." John suggested.
'Interesting, why not take it as an adventure, it's thrilling too." I seconded his suggestion.
We asked friends to join our adventure if any wish to. Many were ready, we thought it wise to limit the team to four or five, not more. We wanted one or two more; Michael readily agreed. We knew Soam , a Sherpa has the expertise of mountaineering and exploration of caves, he could share his experiences to plan. Soon the plan was ready, we announced it in the village and at our school. A small group with Henry, was making fun of us, but everyone else, villagers, our teachers and our parents agreed. Parents were hesitant, but we pursued and won their consent. Everyone in the team is ready with our kit and equipment. Soam checked and confirmed all is well, we can start!
Sky is becoming dark as sunset approached, mountain peaks are covered with dark clouds. Swarm of birds appeared as big dots moving high above the sky flyingÂ fast, anxious to reach their nestsÂ in the crevices of the rocks. The sinking Sun appeared red ball of fire as though it's trying to hug the dark night in open arms.
"Get ready guys" Soam , the Sherpa guide shouts at the top of his voice and blows the whistle...
Aloud clap goes up in air by the gathering of villagers and parents, who came to the cave entrance. The flashes of cameras by the press reps illuminated the twilight darkness like lightning flashes.
"Yes ready Soam, Let's start..." Me and John marched towards the caves waving good bye to the gathering down at foothills.
As we approached the entrance, twilight got dim progressively, darkness began to engulf all over.
Teachers and the students were talking about the risk we embarked upon, some approving of it while others opined it not a good decision by us. Henry, jealous of us getting the lime light, was making sarcastic remarks at us in a small group of his supporters.
Waving green flag we entered the cave. Soam advised us to switch on our headlights, alerted "Take care guys, here's a cleavage, carefully jump across"...... waited other side for us to cross.
With me and John assisting, Soam split us into two groups, one with me and Soam the other with John and Michel . We chose to go into the two branches of cave to explore independently. Kept communication with each other through the intercom. John and Michael had to descend slopes down and soon disappeared from our view.
On our way, it turned hard to enter the narrow stretch filled with debris of a recent wall collapse. The rubble had to be spread out to get access further into cave. Soam started the process while I sat aside as only one person could do the job in the narrow space. At that grim momentÂ I thought of the risk it entails. "What if the ghost pounces on us from the dark behind? ...." "No its all farce, buck up child, you are here NOT to be afraid. It's a false belief..." I pep up.Â Soam held my hand to help cross the cleavage on the floor of the cave. It's dark all over.Â I am anxious about John and Michael's location; try to decipher the weak intercom signals from them but could'nt. It's all dead silence everywhere! SoundÂ of bats flying around in search of their huntÂ and their screech echo all through the caves . A frightening darkness! The flood lights are just sufficient to guide us move. It's already eight at night and the three hours of her moving deep in to the caves has made us exhausted.
We stop to eat food on a flat boulder . Lizards chase each other, their screech reverberates all around. I recall my Hindu friend talking about the myths surrounding lizards. They believe the screech foretells about doubts one has in mind at the instant it's heard. If it makes sound from north it's all success; it's a failure if it's from south!!
Bang, a big dislodged boulder came rolling down the caves frightening to pound us ! SoamÂ catching my arm pulls aside, we jump to safety . Frightened,my heart races, shivering with shock and fear, I hid my face in his arms .
We continued our exploration deep up the cave. The temperature inside the cave became uncomfortable. I got drenched in sweat, gasping for fresh air. Slippery rocks turn hostile, tough to slow us down. My legs are uncomfortable with sweat. Suddenly a pair of bright dots of shining lights appear moving towards us fast. A loud roar echoes, I take back fearing a suspected monster; shiver and grasp Soam tight in fear!! It's a common sight for him. He dares waving the lamp around the dots of light. Oh, it's a jackal, trying to escape, spotting us! I pick up courage and shoot itsinfrared picture in my camera. Sooner a wild cat zips past, chasing a grunting boar. The boar disappears entering into a narrow burrow leaving it disappointed!
We proceed deep up in to the cave, it becomes harder to move, obstacles impede us to move up. Sharp spikes of boulders project down roof top of the cave, obstructing passage. Dripping hot water and wet fumes cloud the visibility even with strong flood lights. Serpents move across frightfully force us to stop for a while. It's echoes of nocturnal creatures chasing hither and dither everywhere. Tired we sit on a big elevated boulder watching serpents chasing rats, bats flying all around screeching , sickening our morale.
We wonder, where is the monster? Or the ghost? Are the villagers kidding? I laugh loud! We kept eyes and ears wide open, and alert to spot them if at all they exist! Loud roar of a wild beast makes us stand at ease to run clear of the danger. The darkness beyond lights and obstructions of projecting sharp spikes from the cave's roof make it difficult see the source of the roar; keeps us anticipating it anytime from anywhere! It's a tiger coming in from the cave's entrance! It's walking majestically sniffing for its kill! It slowly moved around us, lazily watching us unmoved and shivering! Soam whispered "Lilly keep bold, don't worry, the beast isn't interested in us unless it senses danger!" The tiger jumped on to the boulder, sniffs the us again, walks disinterested! It's all shivering and frightened, we took to our heals away from the spot holding the breath!
"It's an hour past midnight, if we start return it will be 7 o'clock in the next morning we could reach the entrance of the cave" Soam alerted me. I sent out message to John and Michael asking them about their location, safety and findings if any. I directed them to return and gather near the mouth of caves by early morning 7am. With a sigh of relief learning they are safe and keeping fit, I got relieved ! "They too didn't encounter any monster nor any ghost!"told Soam.
Villagers, press and media as well as school staff and students gathered eagerly waiting to hear the team's experiences in the morning.
Our team returned to a grand welcome by all gathered. WithÂ a beamingÂ smile of success, pride of achievement we join the welcome gathering. We explained the gathering our chilling moments inside the caves and thrills. I thanked all gathered, my team members, helpers and other supporters.
It was the talk of the town for many days ahead! Â Local newspapers and TV made headlines:
"No Ghost , No Monster, It's all false, myth!"
Lilly and Team announced to a large gathering assembled in the morning to give them a grand welcome back from the caves. They confidently state that the age old belief in the community about the monster and ghost that exist in the caves is a bundle of myth, baseless false belief. Explaining to reporters, they shared their experiences of adventure encountering deadly beasts, swarm of bats and varieties of snakes and other reptiles. Daring dangerous beasts like Lions, Tigers overcoming dangerously slippery slopes the team has successfully explored the caves last night. Congratulating the Team, Principal of the local high school appreciated the spirit of these youngsters, in creating social awareness against myths and false beliefs prevalent in the community. He called upon the community leaders to encourage such activities for the benefit of the society.
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