By – Ali Tarab Rizvi (LTSL)
I was always fascinated about driving in hilly areas and therefore, once in a year I used to take a trip to the hilly areas in Northern India. I had driven a lot on those zigzag roads and had enough memories and experiences, to write a travelogue.
Among all those memories, there remains one which I never shared with anyone. A memory which changed my perception about a particular thing, and made me realize that not everything we see is real.
It was summers and I decided to go on a trip to Uttarakhand. A friend of mine told me about this place called Madhavpura, a remote town somewhere ahead of Lansdowne, renowned for its scenic beauty and apple orchards.
I left Delhi at around 6:30 a.m. After speedily passing through the populated cities of UP and foothills of Shivalik, I reached Lansdowne after six and a half hours. Thereafter, it took me another hour to reach Madhavpura.
As my friend had told me, Madhavpura was indeed a place worth visiting. Beautiful mountains, lush greenery, clean air and less crowded roads, everything that a typical Delhi-ite like me desired for . The relative of my friend had an apple orchard a few kilometers outside the town so I decided visiting it. At the orchard, me and my friend’s relative spent quality time together and while returning he gave me a box of apples as a gift, with a promise to meet again.
It was dark by the time I left the place. The road was through a forest and was empty. I was driving at a low speed. Suddenly, I spotted a woman in white robes waving at me. I was surprised to see her alone in the forest . I speculated that it was possibly a manner to trick me and rob me en route. I used to keep a licensed revolver along with me in the car. I took it out and hid it beneath my lap.
I stopped the car near the woman. She bowed down and asked me where I was going. I told her I was heading to the town, with a fear in my mind that I could be attacked by someone. She didn’t ask anything again. I offered her a lift and she sat inside my car. I sped off. Luckily, no mishap occurred.
As I was driving I tried to talk to know what was she doing here in the forest but she didn’t utter a word. Her face was pale and emotionless, and she sat still. As we entered Madhavpura, she asked me to stop the car at a gate. It was a rusty gate with an arch signboard on it. I wasn’t able to see clearly, what place it was.
Anyhow, I stopped. She got off and after closing the door, she turned and said, “You’re a nice person.” I thanked her and drove forward.
A few meters ahead, I found a hotel to spend the rest of the night. I parked my car, put the revolver back to its place and got out. I could hear the generator working, clearly pointed that the power supply was tripped. I went to the desk and checked in. My room was on the first floor. I entered in, freshened up and headed towards the bed.
Next morning, I went downstairs to ask if I could get breakfast. “I’ll send the boy, please give me 15 minutes.” The manager said. I came back. In another 20 minutes, the breakfast was served, accompanied with an English newspaper. I opened the newspaper to catch a glimpse of what was happening in the world. As I turned to the 5th page, a particular headline caught my eye. It read, “Man gets life-term for murdering medical intern.” It had two photographs, that of victim and accused respectively. The victim was a girl named Suhasini, and the face in the photo resembled the girl I ferried last night. I was flabbergasted. How could it be possible!
I went through the whole news. The murder took place almost 8 months prior to the date. The girl was appointed as an intern at Madhavpura Dispensary, and a compounder named Ram Kumar fell in love with her. The girl complained about this to the Medical Officer, who in turn fired Ram Kumar. Humiliated by the entire episode , Ram Kumar had raped and killed the girl.
Now, this was strange. The girl, or whatever it was, whom I saw last night seemed all perfect with no signs of injury. I checked out of the hotel, and reached the gate where I dropped that girl last night. The arch signboard read “Government Dispensary, Madhavpura”. I went to the guard and inquired him about the last night happenings.
“I came here at 7 in the morning. I don’t know.” he shrugged.
“Was there any other guard, who was there on duty last night?” I asked.
“Yes, but he remains drunk all the time. So, he may not know much.” he replied.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked. “Yes.” he replied.
“Someone at the hotel was telling that a girl was murdered here in the dispensary. Did it really happen?” I questioned.
“Well, yes. Who told you?” he enquired in surprise .
“Two people were talking about it. So, I heard them.” I lied.
“Yes. 8 months ago, a girl from Dehradun was appointed here. A compounder, Ram Kumar, fell in love with her. He used to stalk her all the time. The girl complained about him to the Medical officer about this, and Ram was fired. One evening, as the girl was returning from the dispensary, Ram Kumar took the advantage and kidnapped her. Girl’s body was found three days later in the forest nearby. Ram Kumar who absconded after the incident was arrested from Haridwar.” he told.
“What happened after that?” I further enquired.
“Girl’s father was a politician. He took the body to Dehradun for postmortem. God knows, what happened afterwards.” He told.
Maybe this was the reason why all the further proceedings, the punishments and all were so swift.
“They were saying that her ghost still haunts Madhavpura.” I joked.
“Well, people spread rumours as they like. A lot of people say they see the girl in the forest at night. I don’t believe it. There’s nothing called ghosts.” he said.
He wasn’t wrong from his perspective, but I couldn’t deny what the other people said as I ferried the same ‘ghost’ all the way from the forest to this dispensary.
I waited till the evening. As it grew dark, I drove towards the forest area. I didn’t remember the exact location where I saw that girl’s ghost so I drove for a kilometre and then returned. However, I didn’t see it again this time.
I came back to the Dispensary gate. This time, the lamp post over the arch signboard was working.
I parked my car beside the gate and decided to go inside and check. On one side of the gate, the night duty guard was sitting and was drunk. As I entered, I saw a CCTV camera installed on a tree. I wasn’t sure whether it captured the ghost the other night but it would surely record my presence, so I came out.
I sat in the car and started moving. I might’ve covered a very small distance when I saw, in the rear-view mirror on my right hand, the reflection of that girl standing and waving me goodbye. I immediately stopped the car, the reflection still waving at me. However, the moment I got out of the car, there was no one standing. I went back at the gate, saw here and there but found nothing.
“Who are you?” I shouted. No reply came.
After all the failed attempts of provocation, I came back to my car and sped off. This time I didn’t see any reflection.
I spent the whole night driving and thinking about what was it that I saw.
I never believed in ghosts, spirits or any paranormal powers but in the past 48 hours whatever I encountered was unbelievable. A lot of questions clogged my mind. Was it a ghost, a spirit or what? How was it able to open my car’s door? Why didn’t it attack me when I ferried it till the dispensary? Questions for which there were no answers.
However, only one thing was certain. It didn’t haunt anyone.