Professor Venkat was a Mad Man. So thought many. It was ironical that a man of a caliber of Professor Venkat who had presented some ground breaking research on “Human Labor and Productivity” was labeled a Mad Man even among intellectual circles. Obviously, no one liked his new research into the ghost world, but Prof. Venkat vowed to make a detailed scientific thesis on his observations and experiments. He slept at cemeteries, battlefields, old dilapidated homes, open fields and many places and recorded his observations. The results were shocking but he wanted to present them in a way that would make the world really believe in him. While it is scary to be alone at cemeteries or burial grounds or smashans (Hindu cremation grounds), no one loves to have strangers snoop at such places as it is too sensitive for them. Professor Venkat though took on this challenge to unearth the truth behind his discoveries. Armed with a digital camera, Professor Venkat spent 48 hours in a cemetery near Mahim. The children around were curious to know what he was upto. It was difficult for him to carry around his research as many were sensitive or were not obliging enough to allow him to carry out such weird tasks. In a recently held seminar, he remembered talking on “The Science and the Paranormal”. His colleagues and scientists who were present alongwith him mocked about his crazy ways and suggested that he needs to see a good psychiatrist. He smiled to himself remembering this, as he proceeded with his crazy task. Prof. Venkat was 41 and not married. No father would give his daughter to such a madman who dreamt of sleeping with ghosts. He was always seen mingling with Rickshaw pullers, migrant labor, sharing food with them and listening to their ghost stories. The problem with stories on ghosts is that you can never believe them but do get scared when you hear them. Prof. Venkat believed that there has to be some element of truth that ghosts exist and atleast 45% of the ghost stories may be true. The watchman of the cemetery Raghu could not help but laughing at Prof. Venkat. Yet he was furious with Prof. Venkat not leaving the designated place despite given only a day to be around. Raghu thought to himself that he has been working here for more than 10 years, but has not seen a ghost. Here was a Professor, who was too crazy and was doing even research on that. He shooed away Prof. Venkat. “48 hours have passed since you are here, and I do not want this place to turn out to be a resting point for people like you. Enough of your idiosyncrasies!” Prof. Venkat was used to such taunts, but looking at the stern face of Raghu, quietly decided to move away from the place. He said with a somber look, “I think I will come tomorrow.” Raghu was getting irritated, but Prof. Venkat was calm and collected. Prof. Venkat walked along past noon. The hot scorching Sun made his throats feel parched. He was already very hungry. Luckily, an auto came near him and made a screeching halt. Prof. Venkat paused a bit and got in as he thanked the auto driver for his timely presence in such a remote area. The auto driver asked him, “What happened Sir, you look disturbed. I saw the watchman shooing you away. He is my good friend.” “No, no. It’s ok. I have no issues with your friend. You go ahead.” Prof. Venkat calmly answered as he sat inside the Auto. “What were you doing inside the cemetery Sir, are you Christian.” “No, I am Prof. Venkat.” The auto driver cheerily said, “Ok, I am Peter. Where do you wish to go?” “Bandra” Peter pushed the accelerator as the Auto zipped past the empty roads on a lonely afternoon. “Do you believe in Ghosts, Sir”, Peter asked Prof. Venkat. “Ya, I believe, I do research on Ghosts.” Peter’s expressions became pale, as he heard Prof. Venkat saying this. He recollected himself and had a hearty laugh. “I think I have never heard someone saying like this” Prof. Venkat said, “Everyone sounds skeptical at first, but we have all experienced enough to believe in Ghosts.” “Interesting,” said Peter. “You look very educated, how come you are into this auto driving business.” quipped Venkat. “I have done M.A., M.Phil Sir, but the jobs are not there for my category. The India Shining Story belongs to only the software guys.” Prof. Venkat was positioning his camera lens and fidgeting with it. “Can I know what you are doing Sir?” “Nothing, this camera is my companion. I hope you won’t mind.” “No, no, can I help you” “I will take care of it, by the way, what you think of Ghosts?” Prof. Venkat asked Peter. “I think it is something which happens as soon as someone dies.” Replied Peter as he laughed heartily. Prof. Venkat was not amused. Peter asked again, “How can you tell, if there are really ghosts around. Can you sense their presence?” Prof. Venkat replied, “It may sound easy, but its not. It is like tuning a radio to a particular station for listening to music. Not everyone can see a ghost. You really have to rule out the natural before considering the supernatural. Ghosts don’t always perform on cue, but they are around us.” “I think you are scaring me”, laughed Peter. “No, no, I don’t find Ghosts scary; they do not always resort to physical abuse like living humans.” “I liked that.” Prof. Venkat continued, “Spirits are all around us all the time. They can be seen and heard anytime during the day and the night.” Peter got engaged in the conversation, as he drove the auto along. “Sir, I know few friends of mine driving in a hired Tata Sumo on a picnic on a road adjoining a field. They saw a woman ahead waving her hands signaling them to stop the car. As they slowed down, she asked them for a lift. They could not believe her asking them for a lift as the Sumo was packed with friends drinking beer and they did not want the presence of a woman alongwith them. So, they refused.” “Then what happened.” asked Venkat. “As the Tata Sumo took speed, the women began running along and believe me, she was running at 100 kms per hr, peering at the window and asking my friends why they were not letting her in.” “It’s scary, she was a ghost.” Said Venkat. “No one believed in their story, probably thinking that they were drunk.” “What happened to the woman, then?” Asked Venkat. “She continued to run for a while, and then disappeared,” Said Peter. “Like humans, Ghosts too have self made boundaries beyond which they do not move around.” explained Venkat. He continued, “Children can see ghosts better than adults.” Prof. Venkat wanted to lighten the situation. “Yesterday, I saw a female sitting atop a coffin alone in a cemetery.” “Then what happened,” asked Peter. I asked her, “What she was doing at this unearthly hour at this strange place.” “She replied, “It was feeling hot inside, so I came out to have some air outside.” Both started laughing. Peter said, “Come on Professor, you do have a wonderful sense of humor.” “Yes, that is why, people say that I am a mad man,” laughed Venkat. It was time to bid adieu to Peter, as Venkat got down from the Auto and walked ahead. Next day, Venkat chose to go to the same cemetery in the evening hours as the sun was about to set and the sky was turning pink. Raghu was chatting along with his friends and cracking jokes with them. Seeing Venkat, Raghu queried, “What made you come here again? Do you have any appointment with some ghosts again?” His friends had a hearty laugh. Prof. Venkat said, “Just came to see you and hand over this gift to you.” Raghu took the cover from Venkat’s hand and opened it. It contained snaps taken by Venkat of Raghu, Peter and his friends. Prof. Venkat had amazing skills of photography and the photos did not appear to have been taken right inside the cemetery but in a picturesque cinematic location.” Raghu asked, “When did you take this, Venkat” gasping Venkat said, “Sorry to have taken this without your permission, but I loved this. I have much more moving videos also saved in my camera. Your friend Peter met me yesterday and also gave his mobile no99673xxxxx. It was lovely talking to him.” Raghu fainted and collapsed on the ground. Prof. Venkat rushed and sprinkled few drops of cold water to bring Raghu to senses. “My Dear, are you alright.” “What have you done, Prof. Venkat?” asked Raghu. He continued, “Do you know, Peter died a year ago.” Prof. Venkat smiled, “Dear Raghu, I knew this. In fact, Peter dropped me in his auto. It is a part of my research. He talked a lot about you too. So, I thought of giving this photo to you to keep as a souvenir.” Raghu stood still looking at the photo, speechless. “Ok Raghu, I will take leave of you as I have to do a lot of work on my project.” said Prof. Venkat as he moved ahead.