We came face to rotting face with the Goan ghost of Christalina.
I am writing this because nobody believes me. But I have to tell someone. I have to let it out... document this episode... Maybe this little post will give me the catharsis I need so badly to move on.
We loved the outdoors. It’s not often we find friends with similar tastes. The four of us – Mahesh, Lokesh, Kishore and I – were lucky that way. We loved to travel and loved to capture the thrilling moments. Immortalize them. This was our 100th trip and we wanted to do something cool. We’ve done it all - river rafting, wildlife safari, bungee jumping, skydiving, you name it. The only thing missing was a 'ghost' encounter. For thrill seekers such as ourselves, ghosts were just like a magician’s card trick. Exciting to watch, but once you know it’s not real the excitement factor takes a back seat. Kishore was the only one who believed in the supernatural and hence a constant target for Loki (aka) Lokesh.
I still remember how we set our 'ghost' plan in motion. It was at a campfire, one of the many we organise for ourselves at the Western Ghats. I suggested that we should start trekking more often, train ourselves so that ultimately we could do Everest Base Camp. Of course, as with all plans, someone had to 'up' that and suggested 'K2'.
“K2,” Kishore challenged, “that's the most difficult... and um, it's haunted.”
Haunted. It was enough to set the tone for the night. We laughed at Kishore’s beliefs in the otherworldly first, and then at everything else of this world. It was a good night. It was the night when we all agreed it was time to give Kishore the chance to conquer his fear of 'ghosts'. Kishore resisted. But resistance with us is futile.
Next trip: Saligao.
Only a week later, I was next to a very pale Kishore who was constantly muttering under his breath, as we raced down to the village in Goa. We took a small break at the local tea shop. Loki and Mahesh were reminiscing about the time they got laid in Goa and were discussing who got the best girl. Kishore on the other hand, was pale and barely drank his lemon tea.
“Hey man chill, we needn’t do this if you don’t want you know,” It was true. We had this pact where we would back out from an adventure if one of us was not ready to face their fears. We respected each other that way. Well, except for Loki.
“I’m fine,” he grunted and turned away. I knew he was just trying to put on a brave front because Loki would annoy him later. I knew how he felt, so fifteen minutes later we were back on track.
We finally made it to the infamous Banyan tree of Christalina atop the Saligao hill and Loki was the first to run out. The banyan tree was haunted for many years and there was an old man who was once beaten to death there. No one dared walk this path, we were told.
The tree was of course a normal-looking banyan tree. Meaning, it was a creepy looking tree and that was enough for the locals of Saligao to make up stories.
Christalina tree. Image source: redrosechain.com
“Christalina!” yelled Loki, laughing hysterically and running around the tree, “We have a date for you, my sweetheart!”
“Loki, don’t! Please!” Kishore pleaded.
“My baby doll, Christalina! We have Kishore for you!”
The place suddenly felt like it was getting a bit foggy, I rubbed my glasses and realised there wasn’t anything wrong with them. That wasn’t the only unusual thing that happened. Loki’s face went blank after a second and he hit the floor. His head hit with such force, the dust on the ground swirled around him.
“Loki!” we screamed in unison and ran towards him.
We dragged Loki to the car and drove back to our cottage. Sprinkled water on him and watched it evaporate right before our eyes. 'He had a fever' was definitely the understatement of the year. He began groaning. Then began growling, his eyes closed all the while. Kishore was worried and I could see him visibly shaking after these events. I knew what this must be doing to the poor guy but what’s worse was, we don’t know what was going on with Loki.
A high pitched scream escaped Loki’s mouth, an unearthly scream that we knew he wasn’t capable of. He shot from the bed straight to the ceiling. His nose barely an inch from the ceiling.
Suddenly, a faint noise came from the corner of the room. We turned ever so slowly, as the noise became that of a woman sobbing. There was a woman, crouched at the corner with her head on her knees crying her eyes out. Was she here all this while? Was she the maid?
Fear always tries reasoning before it resolves to the obvious judgment. The obvious judgment came when she looked up at us. Smiling. A smile that sent chills down my spine. A smile that was nothing short of sinister and you knew for certain that you were going to die the next minute.
The next moment, she was in front of me, snarling. Rotten meat, rotten eggs and everything rotten was the nauseating smell emanating from this horrible creature. If she wasn’t going to kill me first, the stench was going to do the job.
I heard a horrible crack next to me. Kishore went down. As I turned to look at Kishore’s lifeless body, Loki dropped down to the bed as well. The lady had disappeared immediately after Kishore was killed.
We don’t know why or what made her kill Kishore, we don’t know if Loki could ever live his life without therapy. We were banned from ever going back to Saligao and we deserved it. Mahesh has never called us after that day, that trip.
I wrote this as my way to deal with everything that happened that day. It’s a way to bring closure to us as a gang of fearless men finally disbanded by that woman. Christalina.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and bears no resemblance to any real person or events.
Cover photo credit: imgur.com