The Ghost on the Boundary Wall
I can still remember my first encounter with the fear of supernatural. I was about 8 years old and my younger brother Sonu was 7. We lived in Meghalaya – a really beautiful part of India, and this was long before civilisation really came to that part of the country. We were allotted a huge bungalow, complete with outhouse and servants quarters and sprawling lawns. The net result was that we were isolated from the hoipolloi.
It was about mid June, on a Saturday. May brother and I had just finished dinner. Our parents had gone to the club when it started raining in earnest. Father rang up to tell us that they would not be driving home in the storm and that us kids should lock the house up from inside after informing the guards. Now this left us alone in the huge house i the middle of what appeared to us in the night like a huge jungle. All of a sudden, there was a huge crack of lightening and the power failed. I was in my bed at that time – and started quaking with fear. My younger brother came running into my room absolutely terrified. Dee …. dee, can I sleep with you?
Now I could not admit that I was scared too. So like a very brave elder sister … I took charge. I smiled and told him, “Sure, but let’s play knots and crosses”, a game he hated and I was addicted to. He agreed making a face. Both of us together lit a lamp, got out our pencils and some paper and started playing. As time went by, it was more like a night without parents and we were savouring our independence. We took the lamp and went to the kitchen, got ourselves some cookies and lemonade, and had a party. Then we sat down to laugh and discuss the daily happenings in school. The fear receded and we feld very brave and grown up – two children in a seven bedroom house all alone. We both pretended that it was quite okay and together we could face anything. Soon the oil in the lamp went down and the wick needed trimming, the lamp-light became dim. So we decided that we should sleep together and got into my bed for the night.
There was a loud crash followed by a huge earthquake that woke us up. All pretence at bravery was over. The lamp had gone out and we did not even know what time it was. On the top of that, we could not find the matches. I had started crying and it was Sonu’s turn to be the brave, macho brother. Both of us held hands, I was holding the lamp and we walked to the kitchen, Sonu leading the way. That walk is etched in my memory – a wooden floor with creaky floor boards, an open window slamming again and again in the storm, and tree branches rustling and groaning in the storm. We never reached the kitchen. We had reached the living room, which overlooked the boundary wall of the bungalow lawns – about a mile away. From the distance we could see the wall on and off in the flickering lightening. All ourfears were realized!!! On the wall looking straight at us in the flikering light were two heads. I forgot all reserves and started wailing. The lamp slipped and fell our of my hands and broke. Sonu somehow managed to hold on to me and take me to the two seater sofa close by. Bothe of us sat down on the sofa with our eyes focused on the wall. We could not take our eyes away from the two people peering at us. I whispered to Sonu “Shall we scream for the guards?”, Sonu did not even waste a minute and started yelling “Chowkidaar, Chowkidaar” but most probably the guards were sitting inside the room, away from the cold rain and could not hear the screams of a terrified seven year old boy. I had lost my voice and could not say anything – all efforts brought just a quavering “Help .. bachao” from me.
Both of us kept sitting on th couch – our horrified eyes fixed on the heads that were looking at us menacingly all through the night. After a while, the tears and fear took its toll on us and we drifted into an uneasy sleep, cuddled into each other. I woke up with a start in the morning, weak sunbeams lighting up the room … Our parents had just come home. Father and Mother came into the house, saw us both on the couch, and woke us up. We had eyes for nothing but the boundary wall. What we saw had us speechless. Some one had apparently picked up coconuts from the palms growing near the gate and place on the wall were two halved coconut shells and we had actually spent the entire night petrified because of two coconut shells.