Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
A STRANGE INCIDENT.
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When I was at college there happened what was a most inexplicable incident.
The matter attracted some attention at that time, but has now been forgotten as it was really not so very extraordinary. The police in fact, when called in, explained the matter or at least thought they had done so, to everybody's satisfaction. I was, however, not satisfied with the explanation given by the police. This was what actually happened.
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The college was a very big one with a large boarding-house attached to it. The boarding-house was a building separate from the college situated at a distance of about 100 yards from the college building. It was in the form of a quadrangle with a lawn in the centre. The area of this lawn must have been 2,500 square yards. Of course it was surrounded on all sides by buildings, that is, by a row of single rooms on each side.
In the boarding-house there was a common room for the amusement of the students. There were all sorts of indoor games including a miniature billiard table in this common room. I was a regular visitor there. I did not care for any other indoor game than chess. Of course chess meant keeping out of bed, till late at night.
On this particular occasion, I think it was in November, a certain gentleman, who was an ex-student of the college, was paying us a visit. He was staying with us in the boarding-house. He had himself passed 4 years in that boarding-house and naturally had a love for it. In his time he was very popular with the other boarders and with the Superintendent. Dr. M.N., an English gentleman who was also an inmate of the Boarding-House. With the permission of the learned Doctor, the Superintendent, we decided to make a night of it, and so we all assembled in the common room after dinner. I can picture to myself the cheerful faces of all the students present on that occasion in the well lighted Hall. So far as I know only one of that group is now dead. He was the most jovial and the best beloved of all. May he rest in peace!
Now to return from this mournful digression. I could see old Mathura sitting next to me with a Hookah with a very long stem, directing the moves of the chessmen. There was old Birju at the miniature billiard table poking at everybody with his cue who laughed when he missed an easy shot.
Then came in the Superintendent, Dr. M.N. and in a hurry to conceal his Hookah (Indians never smoke in the presence of their elders and superiors) old Mathura nearly upset the table on which the chessmen were; and the mirth went on with redoubled vigour as the Doctor was one of the loudest and merriest of the whole lot on such occasions.
Thus we went on till nearly one in the morning when the Doctor ordered everybody to go to bed. Of course we were glad to retire but we were destined to be soon disturbed.
Earlier the same evening we had been playing a friendly Hockey match, and one of the players, let us call him Ram Gholam, had been slightly hurt. As a matter of fact he always got hurt whenever he played.
During the evening the hurt had been forgotten but as soon as he was in bed it was found that he could not sleep. The matter was reported to the Superintendent who finding that there was really nothing the matter with him suggested that the affected parts should be washed with hot water and finally wrapped in heated castor leaves and bandaged over with flannel. (This is the best medicine for gouty pain--not for hurt caused by a hockey stick).
There was a castor tree in the compound and a servant was despatched to bring the leaves. In the meantime a few of us went to the kitchen, made a fire and boiled some water. While thus engaged we heard a noise and a cry for help. We rushed out and ran along the verandah (corridor) to the place whence the cry came. It was coming from the room of Prayag, one of the boarders. We pushed the door but found that it was bolted from inside, we shouted to him to open but he would not. The door had four glass panes on the top and we discovered that the upper bolt only had been used; as a matter of fact the lower bolts had all been removed, because on closing the door from outside, once it had been found that a bolt at the bottom had dropped into its socket and the door had to be broken before it could be opened.