Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
WHAT UNCLE SAW.
"What would come in Uncle--what?" we asked.
But uncle had fainted.
The doctor was called in. He arrived at about ten in the morning. He said it was high fever--due to what he could not say. All the same he prescribed a medicine.
The medicine had the effect of reducing the temperature, and at about 6 in the evening consciousness returned. Still he was in a very weak condition. Some medicine was given to induce sleep and he passed the night well. We nursed him by turns at night. The next morning we had all the satisfaction of seeing him all right. He walked from the bed-room, though still very weak and came to the Central Baithak where he had tea with us. It was then that we asked what he had seen and what he had meant by "It would come in."
Oh how we wish, we had never asked him the question, at least then.
This was what he said:--
"After I had gone to bed I found that there were a few mosquitoes and so I could not sleep well. It was about midnight when they gradually disappeared and then I began to fall asleep. But just as I was dozing off I heard somebody strike the bars of the windows thrice. It was like three distinct strokes with a cane on the gratings outside. 'Who is there?' I asked; but no reply. The striking stopped. Again I closed my eyes and again the same strokes were repeated. This time I nearly lost my temper; I thought it was some urchin of the neighbourhood in a mischievous mood. 'Who is there?' I again shouted--again no reply. The striking however stopped. But after a time it commenced afresh. This time I lost my temper completely and opened the window, determined to thrash anybody whom I found there--forgetting that the windows were barred and fully 6 feet above the ground. Well in the darkness I saw, I saw--."
Here uncle had a fit of shivering and panting, and within a minute he lost all consciousness. The fever was again high. The doctor was summoned but this time his medicines did no good. Uncle never regained consciousness. In fact after 24 hours he died of heart failure the next morning, leaving his story unfinished and without in any way giving us an idea of what that terrible thing was which he had seen beyond the window. The whole thing remains a deep mystery and unfortunately the mystery will never be solved.
Nobody has ventured to pass a night in the side-room since then. If I had not been a married man with a very young wife I might have tried.
One thing however remains and it is this that though uncle got all the fright in the world in that room, he neither came out of that room nor called for help.
One cry for help and the whole house-hold would have been awake. In fact there was a servant within 30 yards of the window which uncle had opened; and this man says he heard uncle open the window and close and bolt it again, though he had not heard uncle's shouts of "Who is there?"
Only this morning I read this funny advertisement in the Morning Post.
"_Haunted Houses._--Man and wife, cultured and travelled, gentle people--having lost fortune ready to act as care-takers and to investigate in view of removing trouble--."
Well--in a haunted house these gentle people expect to see something. Let us hope they will not see what our Uncle saw or what the Major saw.
This advertisement clearly shows that even in countries like England haunted houses do exist, or at least houses exist which are believed to be haunted.
If what we see really depends on what we think or what we believe, no wonder that there are so many more haunted houses in India than in England. This reminds me of a very old incident of my early school days. A boy was really caught by a Ghost and then there was trouble. We shall not forget the thrashing we received from our teacher in the school; and the fellow who was actually caught by the Ghost--if Ghost it was, will never say in future that Ghosts don't exist.
In this connection it may not be out of place to narrate another incident, though it does not fall within the same category with the main story that heads this chapter. The only reason why I do so is that the facts tally in one respect, though in one respect only, and that is that the person who knew would tell nothing.