This is a work of entertainment fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Ghost stories are always intriguing. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts you can’t resist the temptation to read what happens next. Put together worthless beliefs corroborated by unverified sources, with hallucinations to spice it up and you have a potent story about ghosts. Invariably, there is a great design or motive in spreading such stories. Hearing ghost voices relies on pseudoscience and fallibility of human perception
The Ghost of Gangaram was a typical case that made Rajesh scratch his head. What could be the motive?
He loved to go cracking at the unsolved mysteries.
Did P. D. and neighbors detest his entry so much that they cooked up ghost stories to scare him?
Or that they really secretly believed in such stories to add spice to their mundane existence as the employees of a small company tucked away in a far corner of Ahmedabad?
Rajesh concluded it was a mix of both. He had devised an ingenious plan to bust the myth. This was his first job so he could not think of throwing it away even if he was not scared. Resistance to the entry of a new young guy who might question their manufacturing methods and their policies was understandable. Safely ensconced in their age-old processes and policies why would they take a chance to let the new guy firmly entrench himself amongst them?
It turned out to be just the night for perpetuating ghost stories. He gathered his stuff he had brought into a mid sized bag; had an early dinner and set out to conquer the ghost of Gangaram. The motley group had already gathered at the usual table to watch Rajesh fling himself to be devoured by the ghost. A strange sense of foreboding was writ large on their faces. Why, some people even started praying for the well being of this young man. Why should the life of a young Engineer be sacrificed at the altar of mysterious ghost?
No human being is completely black or white. It is always a shade of grey – and that shade too is not constant. No wonder a few had turned sympathizers to Rajesh, the vivacious Hema included for an entirely different reason. “Stay away, no need to engage with the dreaded ghost “ was her silent prayer.
P.D. too had mixed feelings. He wondered if there was a way to dissuade Rajesh from committing the hara-kiri but now it was too late as Rajesh emerged from his quarter with a bag in his hand. Hema, watching from her window let out a sigh. P.D.’s wife could never understand why Rajesh had to prove something that couldn’t be. “E to maraa vaalaa ne je gamyu ee haachun” was her solace (Whatever the Lord desires will happen any way) and went about her daily chores stoically.
People watched aghast at this distorted sense of misplaced bravado.
“Arey Rajesh bhai, why so early? And what is in that bag you are carrying with you?” The timekeeper, unshaven, clad in his customary flowing kurta pyjama and chewing gutkhaa, (Tobacco) Harshad bhai fired the first salvo.
“Look Kaka, I need some weapons and implements to fight the ghost, don’t I? I am going early to wait for the ghost rather than your ghost waiting for me. The ghost doesn’t know that I am going to challenge it but I know I am going to have an encounter with him” Clarified the cocky Rajesh as he went past the group.
It was only 10:30 PM. The sky was awash with flashes of lightning. One could hear the thunders far away. They saw Rajesh wearing military type of rough leather shoes, with nails embedded on the soles to walk in the muddy path.
“The guy has done his homework, hasn’t he” Someone in the group commented.
“At least he would be able to run back with those shoes on sighting the ghost” theorized Motillal – the gardener-security guard for the colony.
Everyone watched in astonishment as the lone dog joined him till both disappeared in the darkness. The tiny speck of light from the flashlight too disappeared.
“Saalo marvaano chhe aaje (The crazy nut is going to die today)” P. D. thought.
The ladies stopped watching the ghastly event to unfold and scurried back into their houses, instructing their husbands not to hang around in open till late. What if the ghost runs back to the colony after slaying Rajesh?
“Whatever happens to Rajesh bhai is going to happen” a local version of ‘Que sera sera’ by P. D‘s better half.
Motilal walked up to Chamanlal guarding the factory gate. Chaman’s story of a ghost loitering in the factory on the previous night confirmed the existence of the ghost. A scared Motilal rushed back to the colony, viewing in the direction of the haunted factory building with a million anxieties.
Rajesh kept walking through the muddy path, past the bushes with the faithful dog in the tow.
The sound of thunders grew louder now.
He strode into the factory building though the collapsible door at the back and quickly made his way to the second floor near the switchboard.
“What is the matter tonight? No ghost tonight? Good. Rajesh is lucky. But I must say he has the guts to enter that haunted factory building – ghost or no ghost” Someone in the group prompted
“It will be our bad luck if he is lucky” winked P.D.
“But by now he should have reached the second floor. What is taking so long?”
“The ghost must have cornered him. That’s what he deserves”
Speculations were rife in the group.
“Arey baba but why is there no noise?”
After a full half an hour they saw the lights being switched on and off again and on .. Three times!
“Oh my goodness. So Rajesh made it!”
“Shut up you …” It was P D’s turn to get irritated now.
Then they heard. Someone rushing into the factory building, the dog barking continuously and then the sound of a blow! The dog shrieked in pain and then all quiet.
“At least there is some hope. The ghost is there.” P. D’s expectations heightened up, his pulse racing.
The group fell silent. What must be happening there? Where is Rajesh? Has the ghost finally caught him?
Then they heard someone run out of the plant, shouting ‘bhoot, bhoot, mari gayo re baapaliya’ but no one had any clue as to what it was? “Was that the voice of Chaman lal? Why did the fool rush into the spooky building? Now you suffer” Motilal cursed
They heard some grunts, moans and a frightening laughter; then the sound of someone falling to the ground with a huge thud in the puddle. All quiet then.
It must be the Ghost of Gangaram.
Was Rajesh dead? Poor guy. Why is it so quiet out there? Has the Ghost disappeared after teaching the cocky man a lesson?
What they would not know was that it was the guard Chamanlal at the gate, chastised by Rajesh in the morning, who had a rush of blood on seeing someone switch on the lights on the second floor. Now his duty beckoned him and he gathered all his courage and ran to towards the plant building with a big stick in his hand. The dog, for some inexplicable reasons, ran menacingly towards him, Chaman threw his stick at the dog in exasperation that made the dog cry out in pain. Poor Chamanlal was sure that Gangaram’s ghost had transformed itself into that little dog he had seen chasing him and he ran for his life, shouting ‘bhoot, bhoot, mari gayo re baapaliya’; (Ghost, ghost, I am doomed now, ), took out his bicycle and took off.
Back at the colony:
What if the ghost ran this way? Fear was writ large on their faces.
A few of the people in the group decided to leave and get back to safety in their homes. Only the three guys remained to witness the event till the end. Motilal held the large stick a bit more firmly in his hand. Harshadbhai and P. D. got up from their chairs.
They waited and waited for full one hour. No sign of Rajesh, no sign of the Ghost causing any more trouble.
There was no end to questions.
Was it safe now? What happened to Rajesh? Why has he not returned if he is unhurt? Shouldn’t we go and check? If Rajesh is indeed injured or dead P. D. will be answerable to the management, wouldn’t he be?
But who will go and check? They followed the maxim “Unity is strength” and together slowly trudged towards the back of the plant door, watching out at each step for signs of ghost.
Motilal had a huge torch in his hand. The occasional flashes of lightning made the whole scene eerie. Still Rajesh was nowhere to be seen. No ghost either.
The group of men neared the back door where Harshadbhai suddenly slipped in the mud and landed right inside the plant building ahead of others. The other two ran after him where he lay in pain.
And then they spotted the ghost.
It was Gangaram’s ghost, clad in the same kurta pyjama that he used to wear, the worn out shoes were also easily identifiable. Gangaram’s disembodied soul was right there in front of them, fully clothed, as they had known him. The ghost had a funny headgear, it had a hoarse, scary rumbling voice, letting out booming growl –
“Ha Ha Ha, so you are all here. You are going to die, just like this cocky Rajesh..” the apparition pointed to a body, covered with a tarpurlin sheet, lying in mud next to the pipal tree, The military shoes that Rajesh wore were visible, peeping out of the sheet. He lay motionless. Was he dead?
“Ha Ha Ha. So are you ready to die? Don’t you try to run back. I will kill all of you.”
The three men just stood there, frozen with fear. The injured dog was lying nearby, moaning, licking its wounds.
“Gangaram please let us ggggoooo. Wh…at do you want, ?” P. D. barely managed to speak in quivering voice.“This damned Rajesh lost his life. He could not give me what I want”
“Sssssso wh….at is it that you want?”
“Ha Ha Ha. ,” the ghost moaned and rambled on “P. D. why haven’t you paid my salary for three months? Why? Why haven’t you paid my gratuity yet? I slogged and died in the service of this blessed company. Who cares?” The white kurta pyjama that the ghost wore started fluttering in the breeze, adding to the grimness.
“”Saheb….,, Arey Gangaram, I I, I, pro…mise that your dues will be paid but let us go, please” beseeched P. D.
“You P. D.?; I will come again and kill all of you in your homes tomorrow night ; Ha Ha Ha” the ghost laughed his heart out uncontrollably.
“I give you my word, Gangaram. Spare us. Jai Bajarang Bali, Jai Bajarang bali…” P. D raised his voice and signaled everyone to run without looking back. That is what they had been taught. Never look back at the ghost. Or it will get you.
The three men took a deep breath and bolted towards the quarters. The Ghost kept letting out threatening screams.
They all sneaked back in their homes and everything was quiet. Not a soul had the courage to look out of their window, much less stirring out in the open.
The three gullible mortals witnessed what they had imagined. So what if they were terrified? The ghost drama was over and so was the nature’s drama of unseasonal rains. When they finally woke up to a new morning the sky was clear with only a couple of fluffy white clouds floating around.
P. D. got out of the house a bit nervous, with a sense of trepidation. He had no gumption to describe to his wife what happened last night. What would he say? That they saw the ghost of Gangaram and they were all scared out of their wits? That Rajesh had been killed by the Ghost for defying its existence?
The other two guys Harshad bhai and Motilal too stepped out timidly and saw P. D. in deep thoughts.
“So what do we do now? Retrieve the body of Rajesh and break the news to the office? “ Harshadbhai raised crucial issues
“And arrange to clear the dues of Gangaram today? P. D. saheb please talk to the accountant Shah bhai. Let us not delay it. It is a question of complying with the Ghost’s wishes. I don’t want to die” said the wise old Motilal
Hema emerged with a tea and one look at Rajesh’s verandah virtually shrieked out in ecstasy. “Rajesh bhai is safe!”
They all turned to witness the miracle! Rajesh had just come out and was going through the mild stretching routine in the verandah.
“Oh my God. Look! “ Motilal’s voice cracked; his heart was in his mouth
“Are we witnessing the ghost of Rajesh now? In broad daylight?” Harshadbhai’s jaws dropped even lower
P. D. just had no idea how to react. He just continued to stare.
“Kem chho badhaa?” Rajesh called out from his verandah
“Joyun ne? Koi bhoot boot n hatu. Tame joyu ne sharat mujab me tran vaar light chaalu bandh kari aapi?” (How are you all? Did you see how I alternately switched the lights on and off three times just like what the challenge given by you)
He continued “that Chaman character got so scared, viewing the lights come on and off tha he threw his stick at the poor doggy – hurting him. I checked and found he was safe so I went around the main gate that Chamanlal had abandoned out of fear; closed the gate, locked it and then came back and slept like a log. I thought you all had gone back to sleep;
“Are you so disappointed that I won the challenge? Hey you did not have the courtesy to congratulate me on my return? “
Shaking off his fear, it was P. D. who mustered up to say “Arey ame to Gangaram nu bhoot joyun?” (We actually saw ghost of Gangaram) and then narrated the entire episode to the visibly amused Rajesh who steadfastly refused to believe all that nonsense.
“You are all out of your mind. I saw no ghost. It is all in your mind, friends”
The trio had the shock of their lives. They persuaded Rajesh to go with them to the backside of the factory to corroborate their version of sighting the ghost but there was nothing. It was as if nothing had happened. Except that the dog looked all right now.
Rajesh just stood there, with a mix of disbelief and amusement.
Rajesh had successfully master-managed the entire drama. He smelt something was fishy about their version of Gangaram. That day he located Gangaram’s house at versana, spoke to his family and learned about the non payment of dues. He promised them that dues would be cleared soon but wanted some of the stuff that Gangaram used to wear to work.
At the factory he donned the Gangaram’s outfit, stuffed some small empty drums and covered them with tarpurlin to look like his own body, complete with his own shoes at one end, to make it look real, cultivated his voice like a ghost would and confronted the trio who he was sure would come as soon as they lost track of him after the 3 signals.
Rajesh had to dramatize his avatar as Gangaram’s ghost to teach these guys a lesson.
P. D. and the two guys could never fathom the story. They were all stupefied to decide what to believe!
Gangaram’s dues were paid on the very day.
Rajesh resumed work as if nothing had happened
Hema could not stop singing some of her favorite garbas.(A form of folk dance popular in the state of Gujarat)
The ghost story lived on except that it would not be Gangaram’s ghost any more
Moans, groans, screeches
Hearing ghost voices relies on pseudoscience and fallibility of human perception
A disembodied soul