No matter who it is, standing in front of a grave always gives me the chills. I bent down and put a bouquet of white flowers in front of the tree before me. There once used to be a rock slate here, stating the name of the dead life. But with time, the slate had withered away. The soul too, might have withered away by now.

. . .

Those were the most carefree days of my life. Taking a slight detour from school to home was only natural. My usual path included wandering around a little temple amidst a small forest in the backyard of my neighborhood. Sometimes I would sit there and stare at the sky for what would seem like hours. Soon after reaching home I would always get to eat the sandwiches that mom would prepare speedily when I bugged her that I was hungry. Life was as simple as could be, even boring to some extent. I wished for a superhero to suddenly appear in front of me and ask me to join forces with him and then we would save the world, and someone did appear, but he was far from a superhero.

Roughly thirty years ago-

My semester was about to end soon and I was excited to be promoted to middle school. I wanted to grow up as fast as I could. It is only now that I understand the importance of that encounter which took place on that dry September afternoon.

“Oh no I fell asleep!” I got up shouting and panting. ‘Mom would kill me. Mom would seriously kill me- ‘was all I could think of. Fumbling, I got up and picked up my bag with one hand while rubbing my eyes with the other. I had fallen asleep on the warm grass of the temple’s garden.

“Calm down. It has only been 10 minutes.” A hoarse voice startled me from behind. I spun around and saw an old man sitting on one of the two benches behind me and holding a bouquet of white flowers. The man smiled at me and for some odd reason I felt extremely embarrassed and ran away.

Slowing down when I was about to reach home, I realized something, “That old man took my place!”

Unlike my other friends, I didn’t have a tree house or tent house that would be my secret place. So, I decided that, that temple would be my base. But what if that old man takes over it and starts coming every day? I would have to settle this tomorrow.

(The next day) –

I ran towards the temple with full speed after school and stopped in front of the benches panting. The old man was not there. I sat down on the bench and closed my eyes. Maybe he understood that this is my territory-

“Hi, are you going to sleep again?” the same hoarse voice chuckled from behind me.