Caution: If you want something badly enough, the universe might just help you achieve it.
“Chintan come out man. What the hell is keeping you in there? I have to get up early and meet Sounchita tomorrow. Then we have our flights back to Mumbai.” Ronnie felt helpless, yelling at his friend for 'overstaying the visit'. Chintan was famous for this – keeping people waiting. But Ronnie never expected he'd be waiting outside one of Kolkata's most haunted places – Writers' Building – like this.
Writer's Building now serves as the secretariat building of the State Government of West Bengal. It was built to house the junior staff members (the help) of the East India Company. Writer doesn't mean writer literally, it means the clerical and administrative staff residing in the building.
The building is famous for its many haunted tales – footsteps and voices heard inside at night, appearances of a lady in white, regular apparitions, sounds of crying and howling through the night and so on. Most of these tales are random, nothing rooted in the history of the place.
There is however, one, that has a back story. It's a story of patriotism:
On December 8th 1930, three freedom fighters – Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta, Dinesh Gupta – entered the building with one mission - to find Colonel N. S. Simpson and shoot him dead. N. S. Simpson was the serving Inspector General of the Police and he was notorious for the brutal oppression of the prisoners in jail. They succeeded. The patriots then chose to kill themselves rather than surrender to the British Raj.
“It's a haunted house man. You should be running out of there. Not looking for trouble. What are you looking for anyway,” Ronnie could see Chintan's flashlight survey the inside of the building.
Chintan walked out to Ronnie and with one arm on each shoulder said, “Wait. I've only just seen the ground floor... a few minutes won't kill you...”
“It won't kill me... but what about you,” Chintan was already walking away into the building. “Chintan, don't go looking for spirits, they might come looking for you.”
Ten minutes later, Chintan walked out, pale-faced, sweating.
Chintan sat down, at the side of the road, shaken.
Chintan looked Ronnie in the eye. He burst out laughing.
“Gaand fatti na, Ronnie... Fattu saala...” (Scared you, didn't I? You pussy.)
They headed back to their hotel. Ronnie, relieved. Chintan still laughing.
Looking for trouble. Image source: loversiq.com
It was a week later, Ronnie and Chintan were back home in Mumbai.
“Chintan, share kar na cigarette,” Ronnie needed a drag. “Bro, I specifically told you to get cigarettes and come over, waise, you shouldn't be smoking... Smoking kills, you know. Jaldi marna hai? (Do you want to die early?)”
“If it happens, it happens. I'm not scared of death really. All I want is a drag. Give na...” Ronnie begged.
“Oh, so then the other day at Aarey Milk Colony, you weren't scared? You weren't scared when you were reciting the Ramraksha Stotra on repeat all the while we drove through the dark? Hah... not scared of death. Tu toh sabsa bada fattu hai... (You're the biggest pussy I know).”
“Chintan, this hobby you have of visiting haunted places...I'm warning you, sooner or later it's going to bite you in the ass.”
It was the Diwali long weekend – long because everyone in Mumbai had taken Friday off. Ronnie and Chintan did the same. They did what most Mumbaikars do on a long weekend – fly down to Goa.
For Ronnie the trip was to unwind, relax, and go back home rejuvenated. For Chintan the trip was to go and explore Goa's famous haunted houses. The trip however took a turn for the worse when Chintan's boss called him and asked him to spruce up a client presentation that needed to be sent out on Monday.
“Yes of course sir, not a problem,” Chintan said as he left Ronnie at the sea-side shack to start his work. On his way to the hotel, he saw a group of teenagers looking anxiously at an abandoned row house.
This house was old – the 'Since 1732' sign was still readable through all the moss and creepers growing out of the walls.
Chintan could see a flash light bobbing about inside. He knew instantly what this was – another Indiana Jones with a thirst for the paranormal looking for a 'horror' high. He asked the kids what was going on. He was right. This was the house where an old couple had been brutally murdered – strangled by a madman.
Chintan's eyes lit up. He decided, as soon as the presentation was over, he would make his way here. He called Ronnie and told him.
Ronnie as usual, hesitantly said yes. He'd come as well.
With Marilyn Manson blaring out of his headphones, Chintan suffered his presentation. “It looks fine to me,” he thought to himself, “what sprucing up could I possibly do?” After pushing himself for a couple of hours, he was finally done. He rubbed his eyes and shut the laptop.
While getting up from the desk, he felt a sudden chill in the room. He looked around. The windows weren't open. The AC vent wasn't facing him. He shrugged it off. And went to the bathroom to wash up and join Ronnie for a drink and some dinner by the sea.
He walked out of the bathroom, wiping his face. Again, he felt the chill. This time it was colder. Chintan suddenly felt he wasn't alone in the room – he felt he was being watched. While he surveyed the room, he looked at himself in the mirror and smiled. All the working out he'd been doing has worked. He was proud of his v-shaped torso, and the small cuts that had started to show on his lower abdomen.
He turned around and screamed.
Facing him were an old couple. There were bruises, marks around their necks. The old woman had an open wound – flesh hanging from her face. They smiled at him. They made their way towards him.
Chintan backed away, slowly into the bathroom. He locked the door. The old couple walked right through it. Chintan was backed into a corner. He cried, he screamed. Till he couldn't scream any longer.
The old couple were only looking at him. But he could feel a grip across his neck. He could feel his life escape him.
His last thoughts were that of Ronnie, in Kolkata, saying, “Don't go looking for spirits, Chintan. They might come looking for you.”
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com
By Rahul Gavankar
Cover photo credit: cnewsmatin.fr