I woke up with a start that night. I felt as though someone was shaking me violently to wake me out of sleep. And exactly as I mentioned before, I woke up with a start and startled to find that there was nobody else in the room, but just myself. Now I was not sure if someone indeed shook my body hard to wake me up or if it was a dream. I sat upright, tried to decide whether to fall back to sleep or ponder over what happened. I was sure that the guy who shook me out of my reverie would get bored hiding behind wherever he was hiding and come out after a few moments. And when it did not happen, I laid back again on the bed, wondering whether someone really woke me up. Soon I was back where I was a few moments before, snoring away to a blissful sleep. Then it happened again. I vaguely remember this hand on my shoulder, shaking me like you would to make cold coffee in a shaker. I sat up on bed, switched on the lights and scanned the entire room. Everything seemed in place except that the guy who disturbed my sleep had simply vanished. The room was locked from inside, the windows had iron grill over which mosquito net was tightly fixed, through which even the smallest baby of a pigmy ant couldn’t crawl in. If someone really woke me, he was in this room, hiding somewhere. I checked under the bed, in the closet, in the waste basket and even under my own bed sheet, with the same result.
I had moved into this house only a few days back and really liked everything about the house. The owner of the house had died in a car accident and his wife wanted to move out of the house as everything about the house reminded her about her deceased husband. She would often hear his voice in the bed room; vaguely see a silhouette of him in the dim light, in the night, watching over her. I put it down to a young widow’s depression at her loss, which made her see visions. Now, thinking back, I knew she was telling me the truth. The dead man was still in the house and did not like me sleeping here. He never bothered me while I was doing something else like watching Oprah Winfrey on TV or reading cartoon comics or taking a bath, but now that I think about it, it was probably because he was sitting by my side, watching the TV with me, reading the same cartoon comics that I was reading and had enough decency not to pop into my bath room when I was taking a bath. But why would a spirit who shared the same interests, such as the ones I mentioned earlier, bother to wake me up in the middle of the night, unless he needed my help.
I forgot to tell you and being modest as well as most humble in my ways, I always do forget to add that I work in the police force and popularly known as Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri. As a matter of principle, I never seek publicity or let anyone know how important I was in the social circles that included politicians, top ranking police officers, the erstwhile Raja himself and other important people. It was my wont to act a little dumb and portray myself as a nitwit in front of strangers, before I let it sink in slowly that I was one of a kind and a genius. People from all walks of life have come to respect me for the swift and effortless ease with which I have solved puzzling police cases, the most famous of them being the case of the missing ring of the erstwhile Raja of Vadakkancheri. Members of his family always liked to joke that if it was not for me, the Raja would be wearing his diamond ring around his small intestine. To make a long story short, I was instrumental in finding the missing ring, which he would have swallowed had I not, with my thoughtful and leading questions, pointed out that the ring was not exactly missing but was worn on the wrong hand. However, this was the first ever time a ghost wanted my help and I did not how to get in touch with the poor chap.
I had heard of ghosts which try not so desirable means such as scaring you by appearing before you in the dead of the night, to let you know he wants to communicate with you. He may not have any intention of putting a fright in you, but may want only some attention to his burning problems. I have seen in some movies where ghost appears to engage in actions like closing and opening the door several times, letting the tap run for a long time in the bathroom, wait for you in rooms that have no electric connection and light, and even make your dogs howl in horror throughout the night. They are able to move faster than you and may appear in front of your car one minute and sit beside you the next minute. They can move in through walls, doors and even fire, but they prefer not to talk to you when you run into them. They either stay still and simply stare at you or disappear the moment you stare back, only to appear somewhere else. Surprisingly all women ghost can sing and do it all the time, going by some depictions in movies. I have never seen a singing male ghost in my life or in movies. All ghosts in movies seemed to be women and they sing so well. And yet, for a life time of non stop chattering and bickering, these women refuse talk to you at all when they become ghosts. By the way, these women ghosts can laugh too; probably their practice of giggling a lot, when they were alive, developed or matured into such explosive hysterical laughter.
I ascertained that this ghost which was trying to contact me was a male ghost as he did not sing or laugh out aloud. He seemed to be the strong, silent type who used a lot of body language to tell you what he wanted. I decided to find out as much as I could about him and help him out if possible. Experience had taught me that the best person to talk to, to find out more about a deceased person was his wife. And this lady obliged me by telling me about her husband. He seemed to have a passion for bikes and even owned three when he was alive. He met with his death when the bike he was riding collided against a parked car, much late in the night. The place he met with his death was very close to where I was staying. There was a large commercial centre in that locality called Narmada Shopping Complex. The road from Narmada to the next junction, Kawdiar, was a very wide one, with lots of trees lining on either side. Needless to say, that part of the town always had a chill in the air even on the warmest of nights. And it was here that the ghost of the person..er..person of the ghost…errrf…the person who later became a ghost met with his accident and death.
More and more pictures started to emerge as I tried harder to find as much as possible about this guy. A shop owner told me that a ghost like apparition would appear occasionally at the place where this guy died. He would be clad in white, wave at bikes which had no pillion riders and show thumbs up sign that he wished to get a lift. If the bike rider stopped, the ghost would hop onto the pillion seat and tap gently on the rider’s shoulder to get him moving. A few meters further ahead and this rider might want to know where the ghost wanted to get off, which would be answered by total silence. This would make the rider to turn around to look at the pillion rider and would get the worst ever shock of his life to see that there was no one at the back seat. The ghost would disappear after riding a few meters causing the rider to swerve violently to the side or go berserk by riding at break neck speed. The more people I talked to, more terrifying stories of such ghastly acts by this ghost came to light. The road from Kawdiar wore a deserted look after 11 pm in the night and I assumed the ghost played a big role in making it that way. I thought he wanted the entire space to himself and still could not come to terms with the fact that he rammed himself into a parked vehicle. Anyone who passed by the area on two wheelers made sure they had either a pillion rider or wore a helmet just to make sure that the ghost could not bite the neck if he wanted to.
Slowly, but steadily trickled in more people to meet me, to narrate their stories of encounter with the ghost at Narmada-Kawdiar road. There was this guy who ran into a man in this area who wore a white shirt and “mundu”. This man waved at the bike rider to stop, with a “I need a lift” signal, and the bike rider obliged. Without a word, the man in white clothes clambered onto the back seat and tapped on the bike rider’s shoulder to move on. But the bike’s engine died down and refused to start however hard he tried. The bike rider, without turning back, asked the man in white to get off and looked back when he got no response. There was no one around. The man in white had disappeared. This puzzled the bike rider who did not suspect any ghost play in this and so started to look around. He looked into the drains, up the trees and even screamed “yooo hooo” a few times, to no avail. But this got the attention of another man who passed by in his car, who did not take kindly to being “yooo hoooed” at and called in the cops. The cops, of course did not believe him and had a lot of laugh when this bike rider narrated his story. But that bike rider who was an atheist became a believer, sold off his bike, never traveled alone anywhere, always used a bus and never ever let any of his children and wife wear white dress.
The ghost had become more and more persistent during the nights with his efforts at trying to wake me up. Sometimes he would shake me so violently that I would, upon waking up, continue to shake uncontrollably for a few minutes before coming down to a virtual stop. For someone who was hell bent on getting my attention, this ghost refused to appear before me at all. May be it was just that the only place anyone could see him was where he met with the accident. Could he be trying to tell me this? I believed he was. He probably made a few appearances at the place of death before walking into my house and then, involved himself in the process of waking me up, the whole night. Sleep deprivation was something that interfered with your brain activity and I had reached such a state that there were days when I couldn’t think of anything at all but how fast I could get to bed. One of my friends suggested then, that I drink a few shots of Vodka before turning in, which he said, would make me oblivious to all disturbances and trouble. And he was right. After so many days of pure hell, I was able to sleep peacefully in the night. In the morning, I found that the ghost had tried its best to wake me up. My pillows were thrown away from the cot, the bed sheet pushed out on to the floor and even my “dhoti” was not found where it should have been found.
I decided I was going to pay this ghost a visit, since he was so insistent on conveying something to me. This meant that I moved around the place of his death as late as 11 pm in the night. I couldn’t say I was afraid though I admit to feeling a certain stiffness around the chest and an emptiness around the belly. I was only trying to help the ghost and I would not have bothered to track him down had he not been so insistent. I made it a habit to ride along the Narmada-Kawdiar road at around the same time the ghost was said to make his appearance. But funnily enough, the ghost never appeared before me. I wondered what game this guy was upto. Drinking a few shots of Vodka every night had made me immune to his overtures in the night and I was getting a little too drawn towards this habit of drinking in the night. Also, the few months of riding up and down that road every night, without ever running into the ghost, was taking its toll. I decided that I had tried hard enough to help this ghost out, but it was the rude hand of fate that had drawn a curtain of invisibility between me and ghost. I was going to have to give up trying to meet up with him after I had tried just one more time.
And then it happened.
The thing about the human mind is that it could not focus on anything for too long unless it was something that had an element of entertainment about it. I was very focused initially on the matter at hand, my eyes moving from side to side, up and down, scanning the road from side to side and watching the skies and then the road; for all you knew, the ghost could descend from the skies and appear in front of the bike. But a few weeks of this exercise had tired me out and I was bored to death of this exercise. I had a sense of duty which compelled me to do something for this poor ghost, that which pushed me out on to the road every night, but lost the mental focus to keep my eyes open for the unthinkable. And when this very tall person appeared out of the blue in front of the bike, it scared me so much that I screamed as loud as I could. I also, shifted the gears of my bike from third to first and revved hard on the accelerator to get out of area as fast as I could. But the unbelievable happened. The bike stopped moving altogether and the head lights of the bike simply blew a fuse. It was suddenly so dark everywhere that I thought I had become blind. I jumped off the bike, ran as fast as I could and reached the next junction where I saw a police car was parked. I crashed against the car, causing the sleeping policemen to jump a few meters high before protesting loudly with expletives I had never heard in my life. But they recognized me immediately and apologized before asking me to explain my crash landing on their vehicle. I told them my story.
“A ghost stopped your bike? He hehehe.”
“How come you were not so scared while you were tracking this ghost but jumped out of your skin when you found him?”
“I have been patrolling this road for years and never seen any ghost nor heard any such stories. This probably was the ghost of original Sherlock Holmes, who must have gotten too sick and tired of this guy making a mess of his name, appearing in his front”.
“Now, look at this, guys. He was riding an Yezdi motorcycle, which has a neuter point between every gear. He must have, in his frozen state of mind and that which is always so, put the gear into neuter which was why the bike stopped moving. The head light is powered by the engine and revving the engine so furiously must have caused the bulb to blow a filament causing all the immediate darkness around”.
“Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri, if ever there a competition for the most dimwit of all fruit cakes, you would win hands down”.
I could not take it any more and went back home immediately. The vodka helped my crying mind ease a lot of pain and I kept on drinking until it eased off the entire lot of pain, causing me to fall asleep immediately. I woke up the next day more determined than ever to solve this puzzling ghost appearance. I could not believe that I panicked at the sight of the ghost and acted in the most stupid way. Thinking back, I re-lived the terror filled moments when the ghost appeared out of nowhere and caused my bike to stop. Yes, it was true that the Yezdi bike had a neuter in between all gears and that I, in my horror stricken stupor acted in the silliest way possible, which did not suit my image. The cops I met that night were sure to spread the news and I had to come up with some face saving measure to prevent the news from spreading far and wide into the police force.
I resumed my nightly vigilance of the Narmada-Kawdiar road. I sold my Yezdi, bought a new bike, fitted a rear view mirror on either side of the handle bar and wore a helmet too. The rear view mirror would help me spot the ghost in midst of trying to disappear from my rear seat and helmet would prevent him biting or attacking any part of the head or neck. I did not believe nor heard any stories of ghosts biting your upper back or tickling your belly or arm pits. They always aimed for the throat, though it eluded my intellectual taxidermy as to why it was always the neck that was bitten and never your back or chest or belly. Ghosts had such funny tastes and refused to learn from past mistakes that the neck almost always had a chain with a cross attached to it, which made them shudder in horror and run away. I did not know anybody who wore a gold chain with cross, around his chest or upper back. I had seen such fittings further down around the naval area, but never around the chest and upper back. Neck offered only such a small area to bite, but the back was spread so wide that even a blind ghost couldn’t miss it.
Days passed by, so did weeks and still no sign of the confounded ghost. My vigilance became as laxed as it was before. There were days when I would pass by the ghost junction without even thinking about the ghost. But if there was one thing I was very strict on, it was my daily bike ride along the ghost lane. Then one day, when the chill in the air reached its highest ever peak, when you hunched and crouched because the cold wind tore into your body to freeze your bones and bone marrow, the ghost appeared again before me. He was clad in white shirt and white dhoti, his face hid behind the glare of the blazing whiteness of his clothes and his left hand waving at me to stop the bike. How these ghosts come to find out that your mind is focused somewhere else and manage to appear in front of you beats me, but until this one appeared before me, the only thing on my mind was the soothing comfort of the few shots of vodka I would have when I reached home. I almost stood up on the brakes and skid to a halt in front of ghost. He hopped onto back seat without as much as a ‘thank you’ and as was his habit, tapped me on the shoulder to move forward. I was shaking violently with fear like the mud flap on the rear wheel of my bike as I checked through both the rear view mirrors to make sure that the ghost had really taken the pillion seat and was in position. I also tugged at my helmet hard just so that it would cover any open part of my neck, shifted to first gear and started to move forward.
It must have taken me hardly about fifteen seconds to shift down to the fourth gear and in my terrified stupor, I was pushing the bike past sixty km per hour before I dared to check the rear view mirrors again. My heart froze to a complete standstill and my eyes shot a few inches out, each of them glaring at the rear view mirror on its side when I realized that the ghost had disappeared. My fingers reached forward to clutch the front brakes of the bike and my leg rammed hard on the rear wheel brakes. The bike which had reached around sixty km of speed spun around violently, screaming obscenities as loudly as possible and I felt a heavy blow on the rear side of my helmet before I was thrown off the bike. I did not dare to move for a few minutes from where I lay down and scanned the road for any help that may come by. The entire world had become very silent and seemed so deeply asleep that I thought for a moment I had just woken up from a dream. I got up slowly, holding myself upright, looked around again. Everything seemed okay except the bike which was laid a few feet away from me. I started to move towards the bike when I heard a low, deep growl behind me. It was unlike any sound that I heard before.
I spun around in horror and found myself face to face with the ghost that had disappeared before the accident. This time he did not hide his face behind the glow of whiteness emanating from his shirt. As I stood dumbstruck before him, I saw blood dripping from his mouth and his bloodshot eyes glaring at me in anger. He slowly walked towards me with outstretched hands, as all ghosts do and opened his mouth, probably to bite me and the only thing I remember seeing was more blood in his mouth before I fainted.
I realized as soon as I opened my eyes that I had left the earth behind me and reached heaven or somewhere close to heaven. I was cozily snuggled against two pillows and there was white light everywhere. Everyone was dressed in white and there was laughter all around. Where else could this place be except heaven or a station closer to heaven. I turned to one side, pressed harder against one of the pillows and peeked at one of the angels which was peeking back at me. It was obvious he was smiling at me, as his teeth flashed a gleaming whiteness only angels and Gods were supposed to possess, though his face was still not in focus. Upon peeking harder I found that this was no angel that was smiling at me, but the same ghost and it was laughing aloud. There were a few more angels around the ghost and all were chuckling too. I passed out cold again.
I was not Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri for nothing and had solved many puzzling problems such as this one. Even in my most unconscious state of mind, my brain was racing back and forth, analyzing all data, before coming to a conclusion. I realized that I was instrumental in bringing the ghost along with me to heaven. The ghost had become an angel, thanks to me, which explained the absence of blood from his mouth and teeth. Then I heard a very familiar voice that said,
“How did you end up here?” It was the voice of one of cops who made fun of me about the ghosts and I knew the others were not far away.
“I work at this store along the Kawdiar – Narmada road and it is usually past twelve in the night before I close down my shop and start off for home. I have seen this idiot ride past the shop every day. This night I waved at him for a lift and he stopped. I hopped on and this guy started to ride very fast immediately. I remember him checking both the rear view mirrors many a times, which made me wonder if everything was normal about this buffoon. It was very cold and I assumed a crouched position behind him, holding my head directly behind his helmet. In this position, the wind did not hit directly on my chest and face as I was completely covered up by his body. There was no one on the road and I did not understand why this clown clamped on the brakes all of a sudden. My face, nose and lips crashed against this idiot’s helmet and blood started to ooze down from the head, nose and mouth. Then I remember being thrown off and luckily for me, fell on a thick cushion of grass on the road side. As soon as I woke up, I saw this guy standing up and looking around. I wanted to murder him and I would have had he not fainted. Now you know how I landed here, in this hospital”.
One of the cops put in his inference of the whole matter. “He must have thought you were a ghost. After checking you were seated on the bike, he probably did not see you in the rear view mirror when the bike started to move and assumed that you had disappeared. He could not see you because you had assumed a crouched position behind his back. This ghost he was hunting was supposed to disappear as soon as the bike started to move and you couldn’t blame him for arriving at that conclusion. He must have become very frightened and applied the brake immediately, which you did not expect at all. And you crashed your face against his heavy helmet”.
“You had better leave while you can, before this gooney ape wakes up. He could lead you to more trouble and stupidity, given half the chance”. Said the other cop
“But I still wish to kill him when he wakes up. I hope you will not grudge me that. I think I’ll be doing the world a favour.”. I heard this ghost guy hiss. He may not be a ghost yet but had the same criminal bent of mind and would make a wonderful ghost when he died.
“And pray tell me who will provide the police force with so much fun and entertainment if our dear Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri kicks the bucket?” the cop kicked in.
There was more laughter and the angels clad in white roared as loudly as possible. Even in this most unconscious state of mind, my fast acting brain, after analyzing all the available data decided that it was best to keep my eyes closed for a while until this angelic ghost disappeared completely from my presence. I was not Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri for nothing and knew how to get out of messy situations such as this