Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
WHAT UNCLE SAW.
This was a friend of mine who was a widower. We were in the same office together and he occupied a chair and a table next but one to mine. This gentleman was in our office for only six months after narrating the story. If he had stayed longer we might have got out his secret, but unfortunately he went away; he has gone so far from us that probably we shall not meet again for the next 10 years.
It was in connection with the "Smith's dead wife's photograph" controversy that one day one of my fellow clerks told me that a visit from a dead wife was nothing very wonderful, as our friend Haralal could testify.
I always took of a lot of interest in ghosts and their stories. So I was generally at Haralal's desk cross-examining him about this affair; at first the gentleman was very uncommunicative but when he saw I would give him no rest he made a statement which I have every reason to believe is true. This is more or less what he says.
"It was about ten years ago that I joined this office. I have been a widower ever since I left college--in fact I married the daughter of a neighbour when I was at college and she died about 3 years afterwards, when I was just thinking of beginning life in right earnest. She has been dead these 10 years and I shall never marry again, (a young widower in good circumstances, in Bengal, is as rare as a blue rose).
"I have a suite of bachelor rooms in Calcutta, but I go to my suburban home on every Saturday afternoon and stay there till Monday morning, that is, I pass my Saturday night and the whole of Sunday in my village home every week.
"On this particular occasion nearly eight years ago, that is, about a year and a half after the death of my young wife I went home by an evening train. There is any number of trains in the evening and there is no certainty by which train I go, so if I am late, generally everybody goes to bed with the exception of my mother.
"On this particular night I reached home rather late. It was the month of September and there had been a heavy shower in the town and all tram-car services had been suspended.
"When I reached the Railway Station I found that the trains were not running to time either. I was given to understand that a tree had been blown down against the telegraph wire, and so the signals were not going through; and as it was rather dark the trains were only running on the report of _a motor trolly_ that the line was clear. Thus I reached home at about eleven instead of eight in the evening.
"I found my father also sitting up for me though he had had his dinner. He wanted to learn the particulars of the storm at Calcutta.
"Within ten minutes of my arrival he went to bed and within an hour I finished my dinner and retired for the night.
"It was rather stuffy and the bed was damp as I was perspiring freely; and consequently I was not feeling inclined to sleep.
"A little after midnight I felt that there was somebody else in the room.
"I looked at the closed door--yes there was no mistake about it, it was my wife, my wife who had been dead these eighteen months.
"At first I was--well you can guess my feeling--then she spoke:
"'There is a cool bed-mat under the bedstead; it is rather dusty, but it will make you comfortable.
"I got up and looked under the bedstead--yes the cool bed-mat was there right enough and it was dusty too. I took it outside and I cleaned it by giving it a few jerks. Yes, I had to pass through the door at which she was standing within six inches of her,--don't put any questions; Let me tell you as much as I like; you will get nothing out of me if you interrupt--yes, I passed a comfortable night. She was in that room for a long time, telling me lots of things. The next morning my mother enquired with whom I was talking and I told her a lie. I said I was reading my novel aloud. They all know it at home now. She comes and passes two nights with me in the week when I am at home. She does not come to Calcutta. She talks about various matters and she is happy--don't ask me how I know that. I shall not tell you whether I have touched her body because that will give rise to further questions.
"Everybody at home has seen her, and they all know what I have told you, but nobody has spoken to her. They all respect and love her--nobody is afraid. In fact she never comes except on Saturday and Sunday evenings and that when I am at home."
No amount of cross-examination, coaxing or inducement made my friend Haralal say anything further.
This story in itself would not probably have been believed; but after the incident of "His dead wife's picture" nobody disbelieved it, and there is no reason why anybody should. Haralal is not a man who would tell yarns, and then I have made enquiries at Haralal's village where several persons know this much; that his dead wife pays him a visit twice every week.
Now that Haralal is 500 miles from his village home I do not know how things stand; but I am told that this story reached the ears of the _Bara Saheb_ and he asked Haralal if he would object to a transfer and Haralal told him that he would not.
I shall leave the reader to draw his own conclusions.