I believe in ghosts
Not the scary kind that climb out of TV sets
Or the ones that seek vengeance in a creaky wooden house on the top of a blue moor

I believe in ghosts
But The kind that are soft memories
Lingering in doorways where you once stood
Running down halls
And seated on stairways
I believe that every moment cherished
Is a moment frozen in time
Stuck in that place
Forever playing over and over again for you to see

I believe in ghosts
The kind that are warm and light
And smell like sweat and your best friend’s deodorant
The kind that sound like laughter and teasing
The kind that taste like tiffins filled with soggy and cold food

I believe in ghosts
The ones that haunt a two story institute in the middle of a large campus
That lurk in the old classrooms
Dancing along to Bollywood songs being played on the projector
The ones that climb one on top of another to fit 15 people in a space meant for 8 just so they
don’t need to use the stairs
I see them rummaging through attendance sheet piles
Or sitting in huddles and talking
Or laughing
Or sleeping in every corner of this space

I believe in ghosts
The kind that haunt the cafeteria and wait for overpriced oily dosas
And plates heaped with Chinese biryani
The kind that stand at the juice centre
And drink out of old glasses with questionable stains
The kind that run across campus for a quick and watered down coffee
Or a cigarette break at a busstop where I’ve never seen a bus stop before

I believe in ghosts
The kinds that have bitter fights
And the kinds that hold hands as they walk
The kinds that are always huddled in impenetrable groups
Or the kinds that loiter alone
Their headphones plugged in
Their heads bobbing as they trip over their untied shoelaces

I do believe in ghosts
The kinds that are warm memories
Moments, Frozen in time
Playing over and over like a VCR tape on repeat
Waiting for someone to come back
Waiting for someone to squint hard enough to see them
Waiting for that sudden widening of the eyes in recognition
And waiting for salvation with their smile.

Nairika Lodhi
(Batch 2019)