A Ghost Story…
October 21, 2013 § 11 Comments
I live in somewhat of a close proximity to Aarey Milk Colony. For the uninitiated, Aarey Milk Colony is a vast (by Mumbai Standards) expanse of greenery, sparse forest, foliage and tabelas(cattle stables). It usually appears in the news for a leopard attack here and there or for random crimes like chain snatching, dacoit gangs that operate in the dead of the night etc. That is nothing out of the ordinary, you will tell me. To which I’ll reply, 10 sq. Km of greenery in the middle of Mumbai is not out of the ordinary for you? Oh, maybe I forgot to add that it was also famous for stories of ghosts and assorted oddities and things that go bump in the night. Did that pique your interest? Of course it does, it says Ghost in the title itself, doesn’t it? 😛
Aarey was famous for being the lair of many a malicious spirit, some of which were reported to disembowel you for the mistake of crossing their path or for having the guts to go into some buildings built on that land. This was about 20 years ago. People would stay away from Aarey after the dark and before light. But then it had clean air and greenery and what not, making it ideal for a walk, stroll or a jog. A lot of people from the area would go for such activities in Aarey. One of those people was me.
Aarey colony has a road that runs through it, with a fair amount of traffic and it has many smaller roads that lead off to places deep within. One of the places in there is called ‘The New Zealand’ hostel, which is a boarding school (I think, not sure, never quite got to know, for reasons that will become apparent in a little while). I was curious about this place with the exotic sounding name and the mysterious air about it (none of my friends had seen it). So one fine day, which was also a summer vacation day, I set off to find this place and see what it looked like. This was before the Internets or Google maps or mobiles, so I relied on helpful signs that told me that take this road to New Zealand hostel and it is x km’s away. I trudged on, mindful of the time, for I did not want to be in Aarey after it got dark.
The thing with Aarey’s internal roads is that once you are a good distance in, it gets quieter than an exam hall. And colder. This has to do with the good amount of tree cover, of course. I know this now, but 12 year old me was inclined to believe that it was so because the ghosts of Aarey preferred it so. So there I was (somewhat) merrily walking along one of the internal roads, that I spot a car parked on the road. A Tata Sumo, to be exact. I spotted it at a distance, parked on the road. At that point in time, cars were not as common as they are now and the Tata Sumo was a new entrant, so I was quite interested to see how it looked from near and all, so I walked towards it (as it is I had to walk past it on my way). As I got closer, something weird happened. I noticed there was nobody in the car itself and by that I mean, none of the usual silhouette that one can make of a person in the car. Then something weirder happened. The car started swaying. Slowly at first and as a horrified me stood still and watched, a little more, then quite a lot.
I was 12. I had heard a lot of things about Aarey Colony and its malicious spirits. And here I was, alone and believing that I was witnessing the manifestation of said spirits. I did the one thing a scared, out of his wits, 12 year old South Indian boy would do when faced with such a situation. I ran away. With furtive glances towards the car to see if the malignant spirit that was rocking the car had noticed and by any chance was following me 😛 I only started walking normally(i.e not running) after I got to the main road. After that it was a couple of days of worrying recollections and thanking all assorted Gods. Then I forgot about the incident. Until it made a reappearance in my life.
About 3 years later, as I sat watching Star Movies, indulging in what was one the favorite pass-times of my generation (watching angrezi movies, to appear cool), I had a vivid recollection of the events and a final realization of what spirits were rocking that car that day. The movie I was watching was The Titanic. In the movie, as a hand created a hand-print on the steamed up window of the car, the last vestiges of the mystery behind the swaying and rocking of the car disappeared.