The Summer Of 99
My board exams had just gotten over and I headed to my grandfather’s place at Bhopal for a long summer holiday. It was a tradition of sort. You wake up late eat good food all day, enjoy ice candy and roam around in a two wheeler through the lanes around and around the beautiful lakes of the city with your cousins. Being of the same age group my cousin Joy was the closest of all and a partner in crime. The hot days we used to spend inside in the comfort of the cool air from the desert coolers (possibly the only survival in the scorching heat) and once the sun would set we both would start our nocturnal activities which was mostly hanging out with friends or spending hours at the habibganj railway station looking at the passing trains. Ghost stories and discussion on paranormal behaviors was a very common thing and one day such discussion led to a PLAN.
There was a haunted villa situated in old Bhopal for which the locals said that if you come to Bhopal railway station and say to auto driver that you want to go to the haunted villa of Bhopal, they will take you their without asking or confirming directions from you. During the travel the driver would narrate to you the horror stories that he had heard and some that got published on the local newspaper, like the story of an exorcist who claimed that he would exorcise the villa by staying there for a night and for a price. Next day morning the exorcist was found dead of medical reasons that confirmed a sudden heart failure. Then was this incident that got a lot of coverage from the local media for the sheer comic angle in it. It so happened that the government decided to set up a police station in the villa as they realized that the villa was such a wastage of land in the heart of a city as no one dared to do something useful with the piece of land. So the day arrived and a few cops where stationed to duty in the villa, as the night crept in the cops ran away leaving the police station deserted as they claimed later of several paranormal activity which scared the hell out of them. One of the cop claimed that he even felt a weight on him as if someone was sitting on him and only felt relieved once he moved out of the villa. Our PLAN was to go to villa in the middle of the night and have an experience of our own.
Some excuses were made as the elders would not allow us to do what we intended to, and the stage was set. I, Joy and his friend Deepu met at a place that was predecided and we headed towards old Bhopal. Old Bhopal has a majority of Muslim population. Although not famous across India, but if you venture into the small lanes you will come across some amazing food joints where kababs and roti are a must eat. We went to one such small and shabby outlet. As expected the food was delicious and added to the excitement of the adventure we were heading for. We throttled our two wheelers and whizzed pass the old buildings. The orange street lights and the emptiness of the road made me feel a sudden crunch of excitement in my stomach when Joy lifted his arm and said to me pointing towards the right, “that’s the haunted villa…”.
It was a huge piece of land with many tall old trees which had hardly any leaf on them making my gaze pass through them. In the middle of the land was the villa that was visible due to moonlight reflection on it, it was very clear from a distant that the structure was broken or about to break at various points. The thing that appeared to be very creepy from outside was the main gate. It was almost broken but had some very odd animal statues over it, like a hen and a big sized mouse. In India normally people would design the main entrance gate with the picture or statue of gods and goddesses chiefly Lord Ganesha, as an auspicious sign, a sign of welcome. In this case absolutely nothing was welcoming which actually led to my first small panic burst of the night and I was almost about to run away until I was calmed by Joy who made me realize of the excitement that lied ahead. We parked our vehicles at an adjacent Paan shop, where we met an old cop who was returning home after a day long duty. We were very young and the policeman didn’t take much time to realize that we were out there for something not ok. He enquired and I told him our plan without hesitating or thinking of what might be the consequence, like he might force us to leave bringing an abrupt end to adventure we intended to. Joy and Deepu looked at me with anger as they were certain of what was about to happen. But to their surprise the old cop smiled at us and said you can go in but don’t go into the villa. That was it, the moment teens are asked not to do something and you can be rest assured that they will do it. Our eyes beamed with excitement and as the cop left we asked the shop owner why he said no to enter the villa. The shop owner told us that the villa is cursed from the day it was erected. The brothers of the family killed each other over ownership dispute and since then the villa has witnessed only horrific incidences and no one exactly knows what lies inside. At this point I suffered my second panic burst and told the guys that we must leave as I felt something bad, very bad was waiting for us. Somehow Joy managed to manipulate me again this time with “are you a coward”?
The side boundary walls where broken and we entered from one such end. As we moved near the villa Deepu said he felt he saw someone staring at us from the window of the room on the upper floor. A chill ran through our body as we kept on moving while staring at each other as if a regular assurance of looking after each other’s back. The villa appeared from outside to be designed in perfect symmetry and as we stood in the front we saw four big steps that led to the main entrance. From outside we couldn’t see anything inside, although it was full moon but somehow no moonlight was entering inside the villa. We three stopped for a few minutes to confirm whether or not to enter. This time somehow Deepu too agreed with me that we already had our share of adventure and that we must now return, but Joy was determined to enter. He assumed the role of a leader of a pack of soldiers who weren’t ready to proceed to warfront. He declared that with or without us he would go inside and took the torch in his hand and motioned to proceed. Deepu quickly fell in line and nodded with agreement. I was left with a dire choice to make, either I proceed and face the ghosts inside or I stand alone outside with the haunted villa staring at me from the front and the creepy hen at the gate staring at me from the back, I proceeded too. As we went inside we came across a huge living hall, we further moved on to come out of the living room and infront of us lied a huge garden on the front and two staircase on the left and right side that was the way for the upper floor. There was something strange about the garden that we all noticed in silence. The villa was broke from outside, the boundary walls were almost nonexistent, the paint of the building was just a remnant but the garden appeared as if it is being taken care of everyday, watered and trimmed to perfection. The moonlight lit up the garden as the white flowers sparkled through the night and created a beautiful image to watch. We then looked towards the staircase and it appeared as if someone was inviting us to come up, as if some energy was attracting us to take steps towards it. We stopped and whispered amongst ourselves, our leader wanted to check out the upper floor but had to bow down infront of his soldier’s decision not to proceed further. We decided to end our adventure and start our way back. I could see a smile on Deepu’s face, as if a sense of relief and a sense of victory. Joy on the other hand was upset due to the sudden change in plans. Slowly we started taking our steps towards the exit, we could see the main entrance in front of us when suddenly a high flapping sound came from behind as if someone was running at us. For a moment I stood frozen with eyes wide open as I was sure my end was coming from behind, but Deepu reacted and started running towards the exit while chanting the name of his lord whom he worshipped “ Aiyappppppppppppaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Swaaaammmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy….”. His reaction acted as a reflex to us and we started running behind him only to realise soon that it was a bat that came inside the hall and the silence was so intense that its wing flapping sound appeared as if some one was chasing us from behind. Inspite of the realization we ran as the fear was so strong that it had beaten the logic and fact in our mind. We ran and ran until we all were out in the main road gasping for air. We looked at each other and started to laugh celebrating the fact that we had come out safe and undefeated.
We walked towards the paan shop and kept looking at the villa in silence, all of us merged in their own thoughts of what we had experienced. I kept wondering that although we didn’t experience anything paranormal that night, but the feel, the air around and the atmosphere in itself gave a creepy feeling throughout, a summer that ill never forget.
Experienced & Written By