Living by the coast I grew up spending a lot of time on the beach. Summers and holidays zipped by with hours of swimming. One particular Sunday in May I decided to stay in the sun the entire day and that earned me a pretty nasty sunburn. Swimming and moving out of the house for the following week was forbidden. Much to my grief I was under house arrest.
The next day my parents decided to spend the evening by the pool along with some of the their friends and took my brother along. I was thirteen and my mom thought I was old enough to stay on my own for a few hours. She promised to be back by sunset. I was okay being alone in the house as long as there was daylight. The big sprawling house would turn into a nightmare once dusk turned into night.
There was a huge neem tree just outside the kitchen. For some reason it would instill fear in me. I switched on every possible light downstairs and waited over-anxiously for my parents to return home. I walked to kitchen to get a drink of water. It was a sultry summer night, not a hint of breeze. I heard the neem tree shaking violently. I left my drink on the counter and rushed outside. My next door neighbours were out as well and the street I lived on was empty. Chanting prayers in my head I walked gingerly to the streetlight.
I slowly turned towards the incinerator. Earlier in the evening I put out every single spark there was by chucking fistfuls of sand into the grid. A few seconds after staring at the incinerator it suddenly was alight. The flames danced 4 feet high. Now I was really scared. It was close to 8 o'clock, the fire had been put out at 5:30. I stared in disbelief at the fire, watching the flames grow higher and shrink and then grow higher again. I thought the garage wall would turn black by the way the fire kissed the walls. As mysteriously as the fire was started, it disappeared. There was no trace of it. I convinced myself it was my imagination.
The prayers did not seem to be working. I tried distracting my mind. I was hoping for some summer breeze but the night was as still as a church mouse. My eyes stared ahead of me at the entrance of the sprawling mansion I hated. My heart was pounding painfully against my ribcage. My mind was racing faster than a locomotive.
I heard the rustling of leaves as though branches were being shaken rather violently. The night was still not showing any signs of any wisps of wind. I, very reluctantly, turned my head towards the neem tree. The tree was still but I could still hear the leaves rustling. I turn my head upwards and I saw a small shadowy figure on the top of the tree shaking the tree with all its might. The shadow turned my way. By this time I was so frightened I didn't know whether I wanted to stay rooted to the spot or run away. My heart felt like it would explode. I had goosebumps all over my body. A chill ran down my spine.
At the top of the road, heading towards me was a pair of headlights. I was going to flag the vehicle down and make whoever it was in it, get out and wait with me until my parents returned home. The vehicle stopped in front of me. To my utmost relief it was my father's jeep that halted. My mom was shocked to see me standing on the road. She walked over to me and noticed I was trembling. I told her what had happened. She was aware of my experiences from the past and she was sympathetic.
The next morning I rushed to the incinerator to inspect it inch by inch. Equipped with my trusty magnifying glass, I studied the entire grid diligently. There were no marks on the wall, the garbage had been turned to ashes.
I spoke to my parents' maids when they came to work. They told me that all neem trees are owned by jinns. I pestered my dad to cut the neem tree down and finally he agreed after much debating, haggling and cajoling. That was the end of that experience and the jinn. I still don't know for sure what was out there that night and I probably never will find out.