Vinaya Patil
Saturday, 28 October 2017

As the world observes Halloween Day on October 31, Vinaya Patil brings some ghost stories — spine-chilling, spooky and some even turning funny.

The thought of walking alone on an isolated stretch of road covered with a thick canopy of trees in the middle of the night gives you goosebumps. Listening to scary tales of haunted houses or figures covered in white cloth sends chills down the spine. Many of us may have had some supernatural experiences — big or small —  at some point in life. Our childhood would be incomplete without all those ghost stories that unfold at midnight.

While some of these are simply made-up and modified stories, some are real experiences. And then there are some that either end in humour or become humorous over years of their repeated narration. Some lie hanging in mystery. This Halloween, we bring to you some varied experiences of the supernatural from people across the country.

The moving corpse

This happened when I was studying at NRS Medical College in Kolkata. We had to identify nerves and tendons on a cadaver (a corpse for dissection). So, we decided to visit the morgue the night before our exam to see the cadaver and get first-hand knowledge of what could be asked the next day. Needless to say that it was not under approval from authority. We fixed it up with the caretaker who told us to come at 10 pm and he would arrange for a dead body. 

Five of us trooped into the morgue at around 9.45 pm. There was no sign of the caretaker, and a trolley with a dead body covered in a white sheet was kept outside the door of the morgue. As morgue caretakers are usually drunk 24/7, we thought he had kept the body for examination outside the door and must be drinking somewhere. We were standing in a dimly-lit morgue and felt a bit uneasy. Okay afraid!

We decided to pull the trolley through the dimly-lit hallway into the adjoining room where there would be adequate light to study the cadaver. Midway through the hallway, to our utter horror, the dead body covered in white sheet sat up on the trolley. Most of us fainted. My last visual was of the white sheet covered dead body getting off the trolley, after which I passed out. When later I was brought to my senses by my classmates, the whole story became clear. The morgue guy, as usual totally drunk, had decided to sleep on the trolley outside the morgue and covered himself with a white sheet. When we were moving the trolley, he woke up and the rest was a hair-raising experience that I can never forget.
-Dr Santanu Deb, Eye surgeon

A tap on my back

It was sometime in 2002-03. I was at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, for my exam. TISS is an extremely forested area; and since monsoon had set in, the entire campus was green and gorgeous. Groups had formed in most hostel rooms and one could hear bursts of laughters from the rooms at regular intervals. That night, we went to sleep around 2 am.
I have this habit of sleeping on my stomach.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I don’t know for how long I’d been asleep, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It’s been 15 years and even remembering that night gives me the shivers. So, someone tapped me on my right shoulder. Assuming it was my roommate, I looked up. Only it was this lady, a very familiar-looking lady whom I couldn’t locate back then, standing there. Her hair was jet black and straight. She was fair skinned and had a serene smile on her face. I suddenly felt a jerk. Her left hand was on my back and with some weird magnetic energy, she was pulling my body up. I looked back again and I noticed my body was firmly on the bed. And yet my body was moving up. I screamed loud with all my might. 

Suddenly there was another scream and the lights of my room switched on. It was my roommate, woken up scared. She was screaming too, and had somehow managed to switch on the light — the switch was right above her bed. We looked around. The door to the verandah was open. We both knew it was not open when we went to sleep. But it was open now. 

She ran out to see if someone was there. She came in and locked the door. It was 4.45am. We sat there talking until daybreak, because we couldn’t dare close our eyes. I’ve always felt that whoever or whatever it was, had been trying to extract my soul from my body and I’d screamed myself into living that night. The next day, when my roommate and I were discussing what to tell the others if they asked about the scream, we discovered that nobody else in our hostel had heard our blood-curdling screams. Nobody!
-Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma, blogger

A haunted Portuguese hotel

I had an eerie experience in a 200-year-old Portuguese hotel in Fort Kochi (back then Cochin) some 40 years ago. I was visiting Kochi for an official visit and my company put me up in this hotel. After finishing the day’s work and attending a wedding reception, I checked into the hotel around 10.30 pm. The two-storeyed bungalow converted into a hotel was located close to the factory and away from the city. It had wooden flooring and even the stairs were made of wood. 

As I was very tired, I hit the sack but soon was woken up by some strange noises. I heard dancing footsteps around my bed. The wooden flooring made the sound very distinct. I immediately took out my torch from under my pillow and flashed the light and felt the footsteps leave the room and go down the stairway.

I sat on my bed for a while with the lights on because I was scared to sleep, but then I heard someone snoring in the corridor. Thinking it was one of the members of the hotel staff, I switched off the lights again to rest. But after a while, I felt someone sitting on my chest and I was breathless and sweating profusely. Somehow I managed to flash the torchlight and then again everything was fine. I kept the lights on for the rest of the night and stayed awake. 

Next morning, I rushed to the front desk to narrate my experience to the hotel manager and asked him whether there were any other guests or hotel staff on the first floor and he gave me a nonchalant smile and said no. I instantly packed my bags, checked out and moved into another hotel. 
I have narrated this spooky experience to my sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces at many adda sessions in Kolkata. They have had a good laugh over it. Whether they believe or not, it was a chilling experience for me and I can never forget. 
-Prasun Dasgupta, packaging consultant

Saviour in disguise

I was around 12 years old when I was a part of the Scouts & Guides back in Kolkata. We’d often go for outdoor camps and this one time, we were camping in the outskirts of the city. It was January 2008, and it was a huge group of people — at least 50 of us together. The dining kiosk was around 200 metres from the bungalow we were staying in, and since we had to walk past the bushes in the dark, we were asked to carry torches. 

It must’ve been past 8.30 pm when we were walking back after dinner. I was the last person in the line since I had to make sure everyone was walking straight. All of a sudden, my torch stopped working. It was weird because my dad had filled new batteries that morning itself.

Anyhow, I looked up and couldn’t find my group of friends. There was no one and I was walking in the dark. It was pretty scary, but then my friend walked up to me with a torch. It was weird again because I remember her walking in the front of the line. There was no way she could be back here. “Weren’t you with the others in the front?” I asked. “Nope, I was right here with you. Here, I have a torch,” she said as we started walking. 

While walking, I felt warm — like there was a sudden rise in the temperature. I asked her if I had fever, and she said no. The vibe around her was oddly different and I couldn’t quite understand why. I reached the bungalow, and felt safe. I opened the door and walked inside only to see my friend sitting there with other friends. I looked to my right, and she wasn’t there. I asked her how she got there so quick and she said that she had been there for quite a while and that the others were looking for me.

I still don’t know what it was — a spirit or what, but whatever it was — it protected me that night. Surprisingly, my torch started working the next day.
-Sulagna Chatterjee,  associate creative producer

The ghost rider
My uncle was returning from a wedding at about 11.45 pm when he stopped at a pan shop and ate one Calcutta pan. He took the Red Road in the then Calcutta. He was almost halfway through the road when his car’s pillion rider door opened on its own.

The seat looked like someone sat on it — it was pushed below and the car door shut on its own. My uncle accelerated his car to a very high speed as he was super scared. When he was about to exit the Red Road, the door opened on its own again and in that high speed someone seemed to have gotten off as the seat was back to normal and the door shut again. While the incident itself must have been quite scary, over years of narration, it has become a joke in our family.
-Abhilasha Daga, Communications Professional 

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