Indian Ghost Stories

THE GHAT

Hi, I am Alex. I found your website and thought I would share my experience with you all. I have encountered a number of strange things in my life, but this one almost drove me insane.

During one of our Diwali holidays; my Brother, Johnny; his wife, Meenu; two colleagues, Kareem and Joel; and I were in Goa for the weekend. We found Goa amazing. We had a great time visiting picturesque places, taking pictures, dining, and drinking. On Sunday night, our last night there, we were having so much fun drinking and singing at a pub that time slipped us by unnoticed.

“Hey, Alex, it’s almost 2 A.M! I have to be at the office at nine in the morning!” Johnny blurted out.

My brother was a Hero Honda sub-dealer in Pune, and there was an important order that he had to fulfil urgently. He was anxious because he had not done any sale for the month, so this was a big deal for him. We took our last drink and left straight for our spacious Mahindra Scorpio, which was parked close by.

“You are going to drive, Alex?” my sister-in-law asked, wrinkling her forehead.

“Don’t worry, bhabhi,”[elder brother’s wife] I am perfectly sober, I replied and hopped into the driver’s seat. The rest of the boys had drunk more than I had, so I believed I was the most qualified to drive.

It was a dark night, and we had to go through rural pathways to get to Kholapur and then to Pune. Soon, we arrived at the foot of a hill and stopped at the police checkpoint.

“I’ve been through here before and it was always busy with traffic. Why is it deserted tonight?” Johnny said as we waited for the sentry guard to attend to us.

“Yeah, you’re right. It’s strange to see no cars before or after us. It’s kind of spooky, no?” Kareem said from the back.

A thin, young cop in a baggy uniform approached the Mahindra, looking somewhat surprised to see us.

“Where are you guys headed?” the copper asked with a slight smile.

“Pune,” I said.

The young man’s smile disappeared instantly. Seeing his face paled out, my fingers, which were drumming on the steering wheel, also stopped.

“Why does he look shocked?” Meenu whispered from the back seat of the jeep.

Before anyone could say anything, the cop asked, “Do you plan to go through the Phonda Ghat?”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s the fastest way, no?”

The young cop pulled up his rifle sling that had slipped down his shoulder. “Do you know what night tonight is?”

I thought it was a strange question, and I didn’t know what to say, so I turned to look at my brother seated beside me. He curled his lips down at the ends and shrugged. I turned back to the man in khaki.

“No, what special night is tonight?” I asked, almost mockingly.

The policeman’s eyebrows lifted. “My dear friends, I think it is better you take a pit stop and resume your journey in the morning.”

“Why?”Joel asked from behind.

With his face slightly in a grimace, the cop came closer to the window. “Friends, tonight is Amavasya(Night of no moon), and this terrain is haunted,” he said in a slight whisper. “On a night like this, it is not a good idea to travel through the Phonda Ghat. In the past, people have gone through this terrain against my advice, and they are either never seen again or dead.”

I would have laughed if I hadn’t seen true fear in his eyes. Even then, I waited for a laugh and a ‘Gotcha!’ but no, he was dead serious. Seeing his face paled and worried gave me a shudder. I was a former Marine Commando(MARCO) and I didn’t believe in all this supernatural stuff, so I was surprised that I was getting sucked into his story. I decided I had to turn my nerves around and brush his tale aside.

“Come on, Yaar, there is no such thing as a Ghat[passageway over a mountain or hill] that can decide to harm you.”

The wiry cop stepped back and shook his head, the entire of his pupils floated against the whites of his eyes. He looked terrified, but not for himself—for us.

“Maybe we should listen to him,” my brother’s young wife said from behind.

“Oh, come on. He’s pulling our legs. These rural people believe in all sorts of nonsense. Don’t believe them, Meenu.” My brother shook his head and flicked his hand with a twist of the wrist.

I opened the glove compartment and checked if I had my Berretta 9 millimetre in there just to reassure myself. As an ex-marine, I was allowed to carry one, and I always carried the license for it too.

“Brothers and sister, I urge you to consider my advice. Please take a rest until morning,” the dark-skinned policeman said, wobbling his head.

My brother shook his head to me; he wanted to get back ASAP.

“Let’s just go, na? This small-time copper is getting a thrill by scaring us.” Kareem too preferred we left right away.

I squinched at the young cop. “Thank you for your concern, Yaar, but we have to go ahead and drive to Kholapur tonight itself. Can you let us through, please?”

The coppers expression turned from fear to regret. His straight but thin frame suddenly drooped. The failure to convince us of the dangers he perceived ahead truly weighted down on him, I thought as I watched his spindly legs drag his oversized boots to the entrance barrier. With one arm holding back his rifle from swinging to the front, he lifted the barrier beam. As soon the bar went up, I drove under, and we were off. From the mirror, I saw the cop mumbling. I figured it was a prayer for us. I watched him until we drove round a bend.

“Wow, that cop was something else, wasn’t he?” I said.

Johnny puffed a laughter that never made out of his mouth. My two colleagues and my sister-in-law were reticent in the back as the vehicle swayed on the precarious, meandering road. About an hour in the ride up the hillside, Johnny and I noticed something large moving at the side of the road a hundred metres ahead.

“What is that? Is it a person? What is anyone doing walking all alone at this time of the night and in a place like this?” I said, moving my face closer to the windscreen.

“In such a dark night, he’s walking without a flashlight? How the heck can he see anything?” Johnny wound down his window.

“What are you doing, Johnny?” I said in a suppressed yell, not wanting to wake up the three at the back.

Johnny ignored my call and popped his head out. In a few seconds, he came back in.

“It’s a woman. She’s not alone. She’s with a child.”

Knowing she was with a child seemed less unusual.

“They must be villagers from around here,” I said.

“So much for the evil spirits lurking around.” Johnny blew a gust in disdain. “These two don’t look scared at all.” He then waved his hand down near the dashboard. “Slow down.”

“What for?” I frowned.

“We haven’t seen a village anywhere, and I don’t think there is one nearby, so let’s give them a lift. We have enough room in here.” Johnny thumbed back over his shoulder.

I could see my brother was not joking. I was not afraid, but I was not a fan of picking strangers up. Nevertheless, I slowed down, but not before taking out my Berretta from the gloves compartment and placing it beside me.

Johnny looked at the weapon and then at me. His mouth opened up, but he didn’t say anything.

“You never know, Johnny, this could be a dacoit’s trick.”

My brother shook his head in disbelieve and turned towards the opened window. “Nameste bahanji,” he said to the woman who had not reacted in any way to the jeep crawling beside her.

After a few seconds of ignoring us, the woman and the kid stopped in their tracks. The adult turned her body around to face the jeep. From the ground, her eyes moved slowly up to look at Johnny but stopped at the bible on the dashboard. I could not see her entire face behind her dishevelled hair, but I could see one of her eyes burning with hate for the Bible.

“B’hanji, Kya apko lift cahie?”(Sis, do you want a lift?) My brother was very polite.

Instead of answering, she took a step back and eyeballed the ground. Since I couldn’t see her face, I lifted myself as high as I could to catch a glimpse of the kid. But, she was too small, so I could only see the top of her head. Frustrated and testy, I threw some firm words at the stranger.

“Hey, woman! We are asking you a question! We want to help you here!”

Startled by my hard words, she looked up in an instant. Unfortunately, instead of looking at her face, I turned to the back seat; a loud thud had distracted me. Meenu was kicking the back of Johnny’s seat like a maniac. She was trying to say something, but the only thing that came out from her mouth was the sound of retching. I panicked seeing my sister-in-law that way, so I slapped on my brother’s shoulder. But the long-haired Johnny did not react at all. My two colleagues seated in the last row were looking out of the window with their mouths open and seemed to be somewhat in a trance. Meenu was now lying flat on her back with mouth wide open and gasping for air. She was pointing outside the window and trembling as if a current was surging through her body.

“Johnny! Johnny!” I shouted, but my brother did not even flinch. I opened my door and pushed, but it felt as though someone was pushing back from the outside.

Must be the child, I thought. But how can she be so strong?

“GET OUT OF HERE!” My brother, who was frozen a moment ago, suddenly yelled out.

I slammed my foot on the accelerator pedal and the Scorpio screeched like a beast in agony. I was speeding at almost 80 kilometres per hour on the curvy road without realising that at any moment we could plunge off the side of the hill. But, under pressure, my mind was so sharp that I could control the Scorpio like a Grand Prix driver.

In the vehicle, there was chaos: Meenu was gasping for air, Kareem and Joel were yelling and shouting, and Johnny was hyperventilating. I was the only one with a balanced mind. I was steadfast in getting as far as I could from the devilish woman and the child. I demanded high performance from my jeep, and it delivered; the Mahindra Scorpio swerved and wobbled but remained firmly on the tarmac.

“IT’S HER! THE BHOOT!” I heard a chilling cry from the back seat.

The woman, with screaming red eyes and cursing long fingers, had her arm stretched out and was trying to reach for me from just outside the window.

“THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE,” I yelled out, “I’M GOING AT EIGHTY!”

My brother grabbed the bible from the dashboard and slapped it on my arm. “PUSH THIS AGAINST THE WINDOW!” he yelled.

One hand on the steering wheel and the other pressing the bible against the glass, I began to pray like never before. A soul-piercing shriek exploded right outside the vehicle. It sent the most frightening chill through my flesh and right into my bones.

If I had not been so focused on driving, I swear I would have frozen stiff like the rest of them in the jeep. They could well have been corpse riding with me in the vehicle; no one said a word, no one made a sound, and no one moved.

I felt the jeep going down a slope and picking up speed. Even though reluctant, I shifted to lower gear. My eyes went to the rear view mirror and right out the back window. I was glad not to see the bhoot[ghost].

“Everyone okay?” I called out.

It was the first human voice heard after the scare. Soon after, there were sounds of breathing again. My brother stretched behind and held his wife’s hand while my colleagues looked around nervously. I took deep breaths to calm my nerves. My hands were shaking, but luckily, they did not interfere with my driving.

Good thing nothing else happened. When we reached the police checkpoint at the foothill, we jumped out of the jeep. As soon as the sentry guard heard the commotion, he came out of his box. Seeing us yelling and scurrying out of the vehicle had him clutching his rifle, ready to aim.

“Bhoot! Bhoot!” Joel cried out as he staggered to the middle-aged sentry guard.

The cop’s eyes sprang wide. “You saw what?”

We told the elderly man everything.

“Oh, you all are so lucky. Most people do not get out of the ghat alive. They either are frightened to death or get into fatal accidents, and some are missing to this day.”

I suppose we have the Bible and the young copper to thank. I did see his lips move as we were driving away before entering Phonda Ghat. I’m sure he was praying for us.

We had planned to drive through the night but because we were so traumatised, we spent the night at one of the small hotels nearby instead.

Alex, 29.
SEM, Maharashtra Pune, India