Friday, December 12, 2008

The Others.

It’s funny that I’ve never discussed this on my blog, but I’m a total sucker for ghost stories. Once I feel I know a person well enough for him/her not to think I’m a weirdo for asking, I ask them if they have any ghost stories they can tell me. Most often than not people say they do believe in ghosts but never have any concrete instances to tell me about.

Of course the next question is, “Do I believe in ghosts?” The answer is No. In fact I don’t scare easy either. But that doesn’t stop me from getting that pleasurable goosebumpy chill when I hear stories about things that go “Do you remember me? I’m back!” in the night.

I, in fact; had I been a believer, have had ample ‘evidence’ of the supernatural. Who hasn’t woken up from a perfectly undisturbed sleep in the middle of the night with one’s heart thumping, and eyes swiveling around looking for…God knows what. It isn’t a bad dream, it’s a sudden certainty of something horrifying in the room with you… you just can’t SEE it.

Then there was that time when I was 7 years old and I had a 104 degree temperature. It was broad daylight and I saw a man, dressed all in red, grasping the second story window grille from the outside and looking in on me as I lay alone in bed. I had been so sick that both my parents were at home looking after me, and my panic stricken screams made them rush in from the next room. Of course that can easily be explained as delirium, which it was -- or Spiderman. My point is, if I wanted to believe, I had an actual ghost sighting – right there.

Then much later, a very lovely couple who still are very good friends took me in when I was a singleton in Hyderabad. They had a soft spot for strays so I and the two stray dogs fit right into the establishment. Weird stuff used to happen in that house. (No I don’t mean my money disappearing; that was the maid.) They would some times go out to do couple things like attend parties and whatnot and gave me and the dogs the run of the house for the entire evening.

I’ve always enjoyed having a house to myself. When I was a kid in Calcutta, I would try on my mother’s lipstick and my sister’s earrings. During this Hyderabad phase when I got some time alone, I would watch all the TV I could manage without having to worry about intruding.

One such night, as I watched the same Friends rerun for the umpteenth time with my favorite dog, Tiger (a mongrel with Alsatian blood) curled up next to me, a strange thing happened. He sat up with a start and looked directly at a point several feet off the ground in the doorway connecting the bedroom (where we were) and the living room. I thought maybe my friends had come back much earlier than planned, and expected to hear the front gate open any minute. (Tiger had wonderful hearing, he could tell his masters were home from the time their car drove up 3 storeys below.) What must be obvious to those who’ve got the drift of my story by now, no such thing happened. Tiger growled low and deep in his throat and stared unblinkingly at the connecting door for a few more seconds. Then, growling all the while, his eyes moved from the door, following a trajectory that cut across the TV, past the dressing table mirror and towards the bed where I lay.

It was at that point that the charm of having the house to myself began to pall. I had watched enough TV and felt an overwhelming need for human company. So I called a friend up and kept up a hectic pace of conversation until my friends returned from their party.

Another story, of course no ghosts feature in this, I find fairly sinister. I moved out of these friends’ place (I leeched off them for 6 whole months and we still remain friends!) and into a shared accommodation with two other girls. I was an illegal sub tenant of one of the girls, and was to share her room. I was her ‘sister’ if the landlord ever asked. Well this girl was terrified at night. She would ask to leave lights on, she would start at the slightest noise, and by the end of it I was as much of a basket case as she was. Later I heard from my second flat mate that this girl was a widow and that her husband had been cruel. He beat her and never let her meet her family or friends. When he died of a heart attack, she was glad. At least that is, until night fell every day and she drove me up the wall with her “what was that? Did you HEAR that??”

I cleared out of that place in double quick time let me tell you.

What was the point of this post you ask? There isn’t that much. Except that I’m alone at home, and had just turned in for the night. As I lay in bed, my mind had just started to skate into nothingness, when all of a sudden I was jolted wide awake…

So I turned the lights on and sat down to write this post.

;)

11 comments:

Rashmi said...

Hebby ending, besh monihara style. Do you think the alsatian was staring at some little insect on the floor? It's amazing what a little cockroach can do to bring out the wolf in a dog!

shreyasi said...

Your nephew often stares at a point just over my shoulder as if there is someone else in the room but that's more likely to mean that everything interests him at this point in his life (7 months for those not in the know) rather than being able to see dead people. On the other hand, do you remember Wordsworth's Ode to Immortality where he expounds his theory about babies being closer to all things spiritual? Well, when we went to Haddon Hall which is very very old, he was happy through the trip except in a dimly lit corridor which was the oldest part of the manor dating back to Norman times. He didn't like it one bit in there, so I do wonder if babies get vibes that we don't because our other senses take over as we age...

Ushasi said...

No Rashmi, if it was an insect it would have to be travelling in a steady, unwavering line atleast 5 feet off the floor, and skirting the TV and other furniture. And oh, it would have to be pretty damn small for me to miss it for that long.;)

Funny that you mention that Rimky. Reemember Tiltil's story about Gughlai when he was a baby? Their Birati bari has jali work along the outer wall of the staircase. When he was a baby he would stare through the jali work that looked onto the trees outside and cry his head off as he was carried past that portion of the stairs. Apparently, until he was much older he refused to go upstairs alone by those stairs at night.

Prog Power said...

Blood supply irregularities, discomfort due to inefficient breathing, etc.

That's why you wake up with a jolt :)

Haimanti said...

That dog story was scary! ami barite ekhon eka, thank god, i dont have a dog, nor are my senses so sharp. ami tor jaygay thakle just more jetam

diya said...

i'm not a massive believer in ghosts - probably because thinking about them too much would freak me out, because I get scared pretty easily! Our new house in Cambridge is actually quite an old house - some schoolkids have done some research and discovered that Charlotte Ellis, a dressmaker, lived in our house in the 1800s. Anyway, barita rattirbela ki prochondo awaj kore re! For the first few days, i was absolutely convinced someone was coming up the stairs - they creaked so! Even Shaun, who doesn't believe in ghosts (but believes in intruders!), went to investigate. We're much more used to the sounds now - they've even beocme friendly accompaniments as all three of us - Shaun, me and the house - settle down for the night!

Rashmi said...

Diya, if I remember correctly about a certain Darjeeling trip, you do not believe in ghosts, but do think that spirits exist! hehe

diya said...

hehehehe. that's so silly! i was 19, you monkey - give it up!

Ushasi said...

Science is Boring, Prog. Give me little evil things carrying lanterns in the marshes to lure unwary travellers over a natural gas emission any day!

db said...

Scary story, that. And well-written.

Incidentally, the new place we just moved in to has huge sliding windows all around, with no grilles - and some of the clasps don't work. Scary place to be in alone, at any time of day or night.

PS: 19 or not, Diya - I think it was 'fear of the unknown' you quoted in Darjeeling. :P

Shrimoyee said...

I love these ghostly tales and I believe they may exist who knows. Kind of romantic.
Ask me sometime and I ll tell you nice scary stories. :)