Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
A STRANGE INCIDENT.
Prayag's room was in darkness. There was a curtain inside and so we could see nothing from outside. We could hear Prayag groaning. The Superintendent came up. To break the glass pane nearest to the bolt was the work of a minute. The door was opened and we all rushed in. It was a room 14'x12'; many of us could not, therefore, come in. When we went in we took a light with us. It was one of the hurricane lanterns--the one we had taken to the kitchen. The lamp suddenly went out. At the same time a brickbat came rattling down from the roof and fell near my feet, thus I could feel it with my feet and tell what it was. And Prayag groaned again. Dr. M.N. came in, and we helped Prayag out of his bed and took him out on the verandah. Then we saw another brickbat come from the roof of the verandah, and fell in front of Prayag a few inches from his feet. We took him to the central lawn and stood in the middle of it. This time a whole solid brick came from the sky. It fell a few inches from my feet and remained standing on its edge. If it had toppled over it would have fallen on my toes.
By this time all the boarders had come up. Prayag stood in the middle of the group shivering and sweating. A few more brickbats came but not one of us was hurt. Then the trouble ceased. We removed Prayag to the Superintendent's room and put him in the Doctor's bed. There were a reading lamp on a stool near the head of the bed and a Holy Bible on it. The learned Doctor must have been reading it when he was disturbed. Another bed was brought in and the Doctor passed the night in it.
In the morning came the police.
They found a goodly heap of brickbats and bones in Prayag's room and on the lawn. There was an investigation, but nothing came out of it. The police however explained the matter as follows:--
There were some people living in the two-storied houses in the neighbourhood. The brickbats and the bones must have come from there. As a matter of fact the police discovered that the Boarding House students and the people who lived in these houses were not on good terms. Those people had organized a music party and the students had objected to it. The matter had been reported to the Magistrate and had ended in a decision in favour of the students. Hence the strained relations. This was the most natural explanation and the only explanation. But this explanation did not satisfy me for several reasons.
The first reason was that the college compound contained another well kept lawn that stood between the Hostel buildings and those two-storied houses. There were no brickbats on this lawn. If brickbats had been thrown from those houses some at least would have fallen upon the lawn.
Then as regarded the brickbats that were in the room, they had all dropped from the ceiling; but in the morning we found the tiles of the roof intact. Thirdly, in the middle of the central lawn there was at least one whole brick. The nearest building from which a brick might have been thrown was at a distance of 100 yards and to throw a whole brick 9"x4½"x3" such a distance would require a machine of some kind or other and none was found in the house.
The last thing that created doubts in my mind was this that not one brickbat had hit anybody. There were so many of us there and there was such an abundance of brickbats still not one of us was hit, and it is well known that brickbats hurled by Ghostly hands do not hit anybody. In fact the whole brick that came and stood on edge within 3 inches of my toe would have hurt me if it had only toppled over.
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It is known to most of the readers that Sutteeism was the practice of burning the widows on the funeral pyre of their dead husbands. This practice was prevalent in Bengal down to the year 1828 when a law forbidding the aiding and abetting of Sutteeism was passed. Before the Act, of course, many women were, in a way, forced to become Suttees. The public opinion against a widow's surviving was so great that she preferred to die rather than live after her husband's death.