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Section I

Have you ever heard the sound of the wind? It sounds like who, whoo, whoo. Here the author is telling about the Himalayan region full of snow, where we have tall pines and deodar trees. You can hear the sound over the hills.

The author is describing a hill, which he calls as haunted as there were people in those areas some years back, but there is no one there now only a few trees and bushes.

He is telling about a hilly region where we can always see a small village on the slopes of the next hill. People kept some large stones on the tin roof so that they doesn't blow away. In those area's whatever is the weather sunny or cold, there is always wind blowing and doors and windows rattled, chimneys choked, and clothes which were hung on clothe hanger blew away.

In that village, three children were drying their clothes. They kept a stone on each clothing so that it won't fly, but still, the clothes were fluttering.

Usha was one of them. She had dark hair and rosy cheeks. She was struggling to hold her grandfather's long loose shirt. She was just eleven/twelve years old. She had a younger brother named Suresh who was holding the bedsheet. Usha's friend and neighbour called Binya, who was older to Usha, was handing them clothes to dry.

Finally, they made sure that the clothes were held by rocks on the wall, after that they sat on a flat stone just looking at the fields and the ruined Haunted Hill.

Usha told Binya and Suresh that she wanted to go to the bazaar or market.

Though Binya wanted to accompany her, she said she could not as her mother was not well, and she has to help in the household chores.

Suresh was ready to go with Usha. The market was 3 miles away and on the other side of the Haunted Hill.

Usha said she could not take Suresh as he has to help his grandfather to cut some wood.

Usha and Suresh's father was in the army. So, only Suresh and his grandfather were the only men in the house. Suresh was younger, and he was just eight years old and was chubby with almond-shaped eyes.

Suresh was worried if she can come back alone from the market.

Usha said why she should be worried.

Suresh replied that there are ghosts on the hill.

Usha replied that she will be back before night and that ghosts will not appear during the day.

Binya asked if there are any ghosts at the ruins.

Usha told that her grandfather always told stories that many years ago, there was a British people who lived on the hill. But that place was not safe as lightning often struck there. So, those people changed to another area on the next range.

Binya was still not satisfied. She asked if the people have moved away, then why would ghosts be there.

Usha said that according to what grandfather said, everyone, even the children were killed hit by lightning in one of the houses.

Binya asked if there were many children.

According to Grandfather, two siblings (a brother and a sister), used to play in the night and that he saw them many times.

Binya was amazed and asked if Usha's grandfather was not afraid of ghosts.

Usha said that old-people did not have much fear.

Usha started walking for the market at around $$2.00$$ pm. She had to walk an hour to reach the market. She walked through the mustard fields, then through the ruins.

The road leads to the ruins. Usha knew that route well as she always went for weekly shopping to the market or her aunt's house through that route.

The path was full of wildflowers, and a plum tree grew out of the hall of the ruins. She could see the lizards and a purple coloured bird named whistling thrush sang.

Usha also enjoyed and sang tripping on the path a bit. Soon she has crossed the ruins and reached the market town down in the valley.

Usha did her purchasing in the market, and she bought some soap, matchboxes, spices, sugar, a new pipe stem for her grandfather's hookah, and a math exercise book for Suresh. She even bought him some marbles. She went to the cobbler to repair her mother's slippers, but the cobbler was busy, so he asked her to come after half an hour.

She had saved two rupees for herself, which she used it to buy amber coloured bead necklace from a Tibetan lady. The lady had a shop at the end of the market, and she used to sell charms and trinkets, which is a small jewellery.

Meanwhile, Usha met her aunt, who took her home to have some tea.

Usha spent almost an hour listening to her aunt, who told her about all the ailments she has like pain in left shoulder, stiffness in joints, etc. She had two cups of tea, and when she looked out of the window, she could see black clouds.

Usha ran to the cobbler and took her mother's slippers. The shopping bag was full, so she hanged it over the shoulder and started for her village.

Section II

Suddenly to her surprise, there was no wind, the trees were standing still, and the insect-crickets were silent. The crows flew in a circle and then settled under an oak tree.

Usha almost walked fast as she wanted to reach home before dark, but the sky was getting dark; the clouds were black over the haunted hill. It was March month, always had storms.

There was a rumble of thunder, and the Usha felt the first raindrop on her cheek.

Usha did not carry her umbrella because when she started, the weather was perfectly fine. So she took her scarf and tied it over her head and pulled her shawls across her shoulders. She held the shopping bag close to her body and walked faster, but the rain had already started, and it was heavy too.

Suddenly there was a bolt of lightning, and she could see the ruins. Again it was completely dark as it became night.

Usha was now sure that she could not reach home as the storm was heavy. She has to take shelter somewhere, maybe the ruins as it was just a few feet away. She ran to the ruins as she knew how to go there.

Again the wind started with rain and hit on her face. It was cold, and due to rain, she could hardly open her eyes.

Now the wind grew more, and it made a noise like a hum or a whistle. Usha was being pushed up towards the hill by the strong winds.

There was another thunder and lightning, and she could see the ruins unwelcoming and unsympathetic.

Usha knew there was a roof on one corner that can give her some shelter as it would be better than going on towards her village. It was dark, and she had to go through the rocky cliff.

The wind started to make noise again like whowhoo - whooo Usha saw how the plum tree was swaying due to the heavy wind, and it almost bent to the ground.

Usha reached the ruins with the help of the lightning and some memory. She moved along the wall to reach the place to hide from the wind. She walked through the stones and slowly moved sideways. She touched something soft, and with a startle, she screamed and removed her hand. Someone answered her, it cried and went away.

It was none other than a wild cat. Usha was now clear after she heard the cry. That cat lived there, and Usha has often seen it there. But at that moment she was frightened. Now, she started walking quickly towards the roof. She heard the rain on the roof, making a noise like a drum.

Usha tried to find a place away from wind and rain under the roof. The tin sheets made loads of noise, and it appeared as if it would blow away, but the tin sheet was held down by a branch of an oak tree.

Usha remembered that there is a chimney over there since it was clogged, she can take shelter under it. It would be drier over there, and she wanted to find it. But, she just wanted to take some time; otherwise, she might lose the way altogether.

Usha was wet, her clothes were soaked, and water tripped from her hair. She stamped her feet to keep herself warm. She again heard a faint cry, maybe again the same cat or an owl, but the sound of the storm drowned out other noises.

Till this time, Usha did not remember about any ghosts, as she was doing things unplanned. But since she is in one place, she suddenly remembered Grandfather's story about the ruins. She just prayed that lightning should not strike there till she takes shelter.

There was heavy thunder, and lightning struck almost every few seconds now.

Then there was a bigger flash, and the entire ruin was lit-up for a second or two. A blue streak blazed along the floor from one end to another. Usha was looking straight ahead. On one wall, she could see two small figures in the unused fireplace. She was sure they were the brother and sister.

The ghosts stared at Usha, and everything was dark again.

Section III

Usha was very frightened now, she was sure she saw two shadows, and they looked like ghosts. She just wanted to run away from that place.

She tried to venture out from the place from where she had entered, the big gap between the wall. When she was just halfway, something fell on her. She got up but stumbled again on something. She screamed, but there was someone else also who cried along with her. And then there was a shout, Usha recognized that voice, she was sure of that.

She called out to her brother, "Suresh!"

Usha called out again, "Binya!"

It's me, Usha here.

And the reply was, "It is us" Binya and Suresh.

All three children fell on each other, and they were all so glad, so they all just laughed at each other and repeated their names.

Usha said that she thought they were ghosts.

And Suresh replied that they thought she was a ghost.

Usha asked them to come under the roof.

They hugged each other and started talking.

Binya said that they both came looking for Usha as it grew dark, and suddenly the storm started.

Usha asked if all the three of them run back together, as she didn't feel like staying there anymore.

Binya said that they would have to wait as the road has fallen away in one place, so it will not be safe for them to go in this night that too when it's raining.

Suresh was feeling hungry and asked if they have to wait till morning to go back to their village.

The wind, rain, thunder, and lightning continued, but now they were feeling better, they were not scared. The children had faith in each other, and the ruins were not scary anymore.

After almost an hour, the rain stopped, but the wind continued to blow and took the clouds away, so there was no thunder. Slowly the wind also was not there, so everything was calm. The whistling-thrush bird began to sing again, and it was so sweet that the ruins were full of music now.

Usha asked if they all can start.

Suresh was still hungry, so he was reluctant to walk.

Sometime later, they saw the plum tree again though there were no blossoms, but it stood straight once again. They all stood outside the ruins watching the sky, which has turned pink. There was a slight breeze now.

They started towards the village after sometime when Usha turned back to the ruins she asked others if they could see something on the wall, maybe a hand waving.

Suresh said that he could not see anything like that.

Binya cleared that it is just the top of the plum tree.

They went ahead till the end of the hill.

Usha heard someone saying, "Goodbye, goodbye!"