IN 2008, as an MCA student into his second semester, I was looking for a place to rent, so that I could be closer to my college, which was in Ghaziabad. Luckily for me, I managed to find a two-bedroom flat, and that too for just Rs. 1,500 per month.
When I first visited the house, I remember the unusual chill and mustiness of the rooms that were devoid of sunlight and ventilation. My landlord stayed in Punjab, and said he would come only to collect the rent every month. I was quite thrilled at the idea of having a whole house to myself.
The problems started with a mirror I bought and placed on a shelf. I woke up next morning to discover it shattered. Thinking it must the rats in the house, I went about my business. It was only when I bought another mirror, to find that it too had broken, that I started getting wary.
Strange as it may seem now, I did not pay much attention to what happened at that time. I guess, I was too rational for my own good. Meanwhile, the uncanny incidents persisted. I returned from college one day to find a bottle of Romanov vodka broken in a bizarrely clinical manner. The bottom half was on the floor but the top was nowhere to be found. Rummaging through a carton of old books a few days later, I was shocked to find the top half of the bottle inside it. There were no traces of glass pieces anywhere. I found this incredible, because the only way the bottle could have broken the way it did, was if it had been sliced into two, mid-air while falling. That was clearly impossible. It then dawned on me that the house didn’t have a single glass object: the mirrors had broken earlier and the bottle had magically split into two!
Sometime later, my landlord moved in for a couple of days with his family. I felt comfortable at the thought of having someone else around. Maybe their stay would change things. However, that was not to be. I discovered that there was something strange about my landlady. It happened when I was about to hit the bed after a long night of studies. I heard a whooshing sound. It was as if someone had left the tap in the bathroom open and the water was gushing out into a bucket. Too scared to turn on the lights, I tried peeping from behind the curtain. However voyeuristic it might sound now, I did that only to convince myself that I was not hearing things. What I saw left me stunned. My landlady was violently pouring water on herself! She did not seem to be in her senses and looked possessed. Scared shitless, I rushed back to my room and locked myself in.
The strange incidents continued. I left a bowl of curry on the table and went to wash my hands in the bathroom, only to come back and find it turned upside down. I was convinced by now that my imagination was not in overdrive and something was terribly wrong. My fears were confirmed one night when I was sleeping, or at least was in that state between wakefulness and slumber. I could feel someone walking to and fro near my bed. When I turned, I saw nothing. Horrorstruck, I began to spend less time at home. One day, a local shopkeeper informed me that a girl had committed suicide in the house. This was the last straw. I simply refused to enter the house again. I went to a real estate broker the very next day and got a new place.
While leaving, I could not resist looking back inside one last time. The house looked dark and grim without any sunlight, bereft of life. The darkness, perhaps, was symbolic of the many demons it was fighting. I later learnt from a friend that a group of young boys who had shifted into the house after me had met with a serious accident. All this had happened within a month of their arrival. It’s a miracle I lived to tell my tale.