The Centenary block of the hostel had a huge sun-roofed quadrangled portico, which led to the ground floor. On either side of the portico were table tennis courts. The way through these courts led students to the continuing dorms on the first floor. So, essentially if one had to go to the other dorms from the Centenary block, they had to pass through the table tennis courts. And everybody did that.
Except at night.
Especially after midnight. No prizes for guessing why.
Suhaas was up till 2 am copying last minute notes from his chaddi-buddy cum Aapath-baandhava (Friend in distress), Naresh. Naresh was away in the other block, copying somebody else's notes. Great brotherhood of notes-copying they had. Of course, Suhaas had been warned about the TT table ghost, because he was from the Centenary block and had to get back after copying the notes. Truth was, it was mostly Suhaas telling stories about the ghost and cooking up numerous anecdotes, with himself a hero, in the midst of it all. Always scaring away the ghosts, never the other way round.
"Man, if the ghost invited me to a match, he'd lose," He'd say, cackling at his own joke.
Now Suhaas was humming happily, notes up-to-date and all geared up for the exams next week; until he came to the TT court. He was around the corner when he heard the ball going 'tok-tok tok-tok' across the court. The lights were off, and he had to get to bed, on the opposite side.
Suhaas started humming a little louder. As he neared the quadrangle, he could faintly make out a fluorescent shape flitting back and forth on the court.
Well, he was up for more than three hours straight - his fingers hurt and his eyes were all fuzzy. He could be seeing things. But then he could even become the subject of the same spooky stories the next day, at school. Or worse, the headlines - "SSLC student found dead beside the TT court with his (finally) updated notes." What a time to get the appreciation of his friends and teachers. What a shame. Most of all, what an embarrassment.
But he straightened up. "I'm Suhaas. Ghosts get their asses kicked by me. What the fuck.."
He was now passing by the court. He stopped for a moment, squinting his eyes. No ball. No sound.
Then the ball appeared out of nowhere and started hopping around on the table.
Suhaas gasped loudly and staggered back, only to miss his step and land on his back. He scrambled back up and ran. The laughter and 'tok-tok' continued. Suhaas started muttering the Hanuman Chaalisa (all wrong of course), and ran for his life.
Nithin took off the black blanket from his head, and the fluorescent ping-pong ball attached to a string. He was still chuckling. Naresh emerged from behind the pillar, turning off the 'night-mode' from his handycam.
"Hey, how'll this title be for the youtube video - Suhaas, the ghost-buster, busted?", Naresh said, putting the handycam back in its bag.
"Perfect," Nithin said, laughing.
"Yeah - I'll upload it for the vacations."
They were headed towards the dorms when the game on the other court began.
Tok, tok, tok, tok...