My Conversation with a Ghost

"It's late", she said, "we must leave. I heard the locals say the palace is haunted." "Come, don't be a child", I told her, secretly wishing her to stay so that I have company. But as expected, she went away. Adult friends don't accompany you to haunted palaces; they only console you after tragedies. I decided to visit the palace on my own. Atheism helps; to be a non-believer works both ways. As I entered the darkness, I switched on the mobile torch. I could barely see discoloured walls, spider webs, hanging roots and furniture covered in white sheets. The entrance led to a long pathway. My heart pounded fast; I could match my footsteps to my heartbeat. I remember walking into a dungeon and eventually waking up in a tiny room without any windows. As I opened my eyes, I was greeted by a ghost - my host that evening.

💀 Welcome to the world of ghosts!

😲What? A Ghost? How did I end up here?

💀Destiny, my friend. Get ready, you have an interview in some time.

😲An interview? What kind of an interview?

💀Based on your karma credentials and your performance in the interview, the Board will decide about your rebirth.

😲What? We were never told about the application process.

💀You see, nothing comes easy.

😲Oh No! I need time to process this information. How? Why?

💀Relax! It's pretty similar to what happens on Earth. Answer with confidence. Let me help you with a mock interview.

😲How do we begin?

💀Tell me something about yourself.

😲Well...ummm.....I am ....I mean....I was Ritika before I came here. I taught at a University. I had a child and a husband. I juggled many roles, trying my best, but ultimately feeling guilty about not being the best.

💀Oh No! Don't act so vulnerable. It is an interview. Let me ask you another question. What are your key achievements?

😲I came here too young. I was waiting for my responsibilities to be over before I could do what I had planned.

💀No, no! This makes you sound selfish. You could be sent back as a lizard.

😲Ah, I tried to do whatever was my responsibility.

💀With such answers, you will be sent back as a cockroach.

😲I am scared of cockroaches.

💀Don't say that. Feign kindness.

😲Oh! I am kind.

💀No, show rather than say it. Basic rules, babe!

😲What do I do now?

💀I will connect you to a friend who runs Communication classes for Ghosts. She has 1 million Ghostcribers on GhostTube.

Doorbell rings.

💀I must leave. The bell is ringing.

😲Wait! Why? Which bell?

💀 It is constantly ringing. I have to leave.

The doorbell rings again and again. Rani enters the room.

👩🏽‍⚖️Didi, don't you have to go to the office? I have been ringing the bell for 15 minutes. Finally, I got the spare key from the neighbours.

😲 Sorry Rani. Make me some chai. I have so much to do and so little time. I cannot wait till I am old and about to die...."

Open AI Surprise (credit:

Disclosure: This piece is in response to the writing prompt for February in our writers' support group: "When I am old and about to die...."

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Assistant Professor, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur. PhD, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.