Recounting his interesting years growing up in a village, my dad has many tales to tell. This village was situated very close to a beach and the soil was quite sandy. Coconut palms and paddy crop were cultivated aplenty. A fully grown coconut tree can be as tall as a five storied building although the younger ones are around 10 to 12 feet tall. A main road curved its way through this area connecting a major town and a famous shrine.
Often after watching a late night movie, my father and his friends would board a bus and then take the unlit pathways that a car could barely squeeze along. These sandy pathways wound along unnecessarily making the walk too long. Often enough when it was quite late, it seemed a better option to take the shorter route that took half the time and went through properties that belonged to various people. There was no fear of being accused of trespassing. Everyone did it those days. No walls were built either and if there was a wall, there usually was an opening to allow easy passage for a pedestrian.
And one evening after having watched a particularly scary movie about a Yakshi my father was returning home when he decided to use the short cut. Now Yakshis are supernatural creatures akin to vampires although these have the ability to change appearances. Their original form is hideous but they can transform into beautiful beings. They entice their victims to their deaths and mostly they look for young men.
He was hardly half way home when he espied in the moonlight a huge form heaving not far from where he stood. It stood along a coconut tree and seemed to wait for my father to make the first move. With his heart in his throat, my father stopped, considered turning back and taking the longer route and realized it would be an unnecessary hassle. Moreover this creature that seemed to await him was surely going to give chase if he turned back. With several thoughts hounding his head, he groped around on the ground and found a largish stick. It wouldn’t help much, but it would have to do. He inched his way closer to this creature in the dark.
And for the first time that night, he wasn’t regretting his choice of route. For the heaving dark shadow turned out to be nothing but a dried up coconut leaf that was ready to fall but remained attached to the tree. Also for a long time after that, my father used the circuitous path playing it safe and avoiding chances of a run in with the supernatural.