I entered the dilapidated ageless mansion with certain apprehension!
It was evening and the fading sunlight was playing hide & seek in the edifice in various nooks and corners, pathways, broken down veranda, staircases and all around. The inside from the doorway looked dark and forlorn. The inner view from a few scattered windows presented the same picture. The overgrown trees and shrubs surrounding the structure for miles gave a depiction of closed, forbidding and scary greenery!
This mansion had a long history of being haunted! Stories abounded; it was difficult to understand what exactly made this place creepy!
I looked around. Ronjoy, my friend too was making a reconnaissance.
We wanted to experience a night’s stay in this structure. Our object: Find ghosts! Are they for real?
We must be some millionth ghost seeker in this century!
“This place has something frightening, I am sure” I said.
“Don’t jump to conclusions! Let the night pass”. Ronjoy was the daredevil between us two. He was a strong disbeliever of these phenomenons.
This was his idea after we friends had a stormy argument in the college cafeteria the day before. “There is no ghost… ever.” was his final words “…no more arguments. We will prove it tomorrow”!
“But…” Rohit, another friend had smiled “….it is well known that if you go looking for ghosts .. you will never see one”.
That evening we were prepared for the night. The sun was setting fast- long winter night was approaching.
We entered the mansion through the main door, cleared the cow webs, kept handkerchiefs on our nose to ward off the dust of god knows how many years, walked through numerous rooms, corridors and corners , negotiated a few flying bats and ultimately found a small room which had only one door but was relatively clean.
We settled down for a long wait.
“How long do you reckon?” I looked at Ronjoy.
“You guess is as good as mine! God Knows!” He appeared dismissive.
The darkness was by then absolute, night creatures were making noises and the winter fog seemed to be taking its grip. Worse it was leaking through the openings and making the atmosphere increasingly hazy. Our only flickering candle light seemed to be fighting a losing battle.
Some hours must have passed; we were dozing off, not exactly keeping a tab on the time, when suddenly we heard a low moan! It was as if some person was suffering!
We were instantly alert, looked at each other and after a silent nod got up. With our torches switched on we took our bearings and moved.
Ronjoy was ahead.
Crossing a long corridor and coming near a room from which the low moan appeared to have come, we paused. The door was partly open but it was pitch dark inside.
Ronjoy pushed the door in and flicked the torch beam around.
I gritted my teeth, my heart was palpitating painfully, felt short of breath, and sweat formed on my forehead!
God knows how Ronjoy was feeling.
At first we saw nothing, but in the moving light caught a glimpse of somebody lying on the ground at the far corner! Turning the light, an old man with a white sheet covered up to his chin, came into our view. His snow white hair and flowing beard contrasted in the darkness. But the most pathetic sight was his pinched up thin face, showing despair and deep pain.
He moaned again.
We moved in swiftly.
“Who are you? What happened?” Ronjoy touched his forehead. “My God he is burning with fever”.
The old man muttered…”please help me..I am dying…. give me water”. He started gasping.
I ran out of the room towards our room to fetch the water bottle.
When I came back, Ronjoy was kneeling at the side of the man, holding his hand.
I opened the bottle and gently poured water in his mouth. He suddenly shuddered and closed his eyes. His feeble body became still!
I reached for his pulse, but it was over! The poor man had died!
“What should we do now? “ I looked at Ronjoy with trepidation.
This was something we never expected.
“Let us not waste any time, this man is dead, we must do something.. ..inform the police..”
I nodded and we came out of the mansion, carefully finding our way through the darkness and reached my car parked nearby.
The police said that they will take action and asked us to go home.
I dropped Ronjoy near his hostel gate and drove off to my house, thinking of the unexpected anticlimax to our search for ghosts.
Next morning I was awakened by my mobile ringing. It was bright and sunny, no traces of fog and the time was 9.20 am. I was acutely late due to our night adventure!
The call was from one inspector Rathod whom I remembered we met during the night. “You should immediately come to the police station”, he seemed disturbed.
I entered the room of Rathod; he was pacing up and down.
What is the problem? I looked at him feeling slightly troubled. Police were not supposed to get agitated.
Rathod sat down. “You know what we found when we went to that old mansion around 6.00 am after you and your friend came to us?
I stared at him.
“There was no old man in that room; dead or alive; instead the dead body of your friend was lying there!”
Is this the experience of ghost sighting we had foreseen! Can any rational explanation be given for this? Tears for Ronjoy swelled out of my eyes!
8th September 2015.