Updated: Jul 28, 2021
(based on a true story)
Monsoons had just arrived!
My three close friends and I had scheduled a very short trip to Matheran- the nearest hill station to Mumbai. We had already heard a lot about the panoramic views of mountains in Matheran. Besides that- The old British-style architecture, amazing waterfalls, old Parsi bungalows, dense forest, and many other things. We were too excited! Hiring a cab we started our journey. From Neral junction, we had to pick up the toy train which runs on the meter-gauge railway track to Matheran. But for some reason, the toy train was closed that day. We had no choice left. I had already asked Surjit one of my friends to book a two-bedroom kitchen bungalow in Matheran in advance. And he did it.
‘Hello, friends! No toy train, so get ready for walking. Hey Rakesh, what do you think? Can you walk?’ I said mischievously looking at his thin body.
‘Shut up- yaar! Don't underestimate me, ok! Let’s move.’ He punched my tummy grinning at me and we all walked fast. With a backpack, we walked up as if we were trekking. We were really amazed looking at the dense forest full of varieties of trees! The roads were, packed with red laterite earth. It was a windy day! With the howling sound of wind, rustling of leaves made the whole surrounding too dreadful, though it was a scenic view.
‘Hey Surjit, it looks so scary like a witch’s domain in the forest! More likely a scary scene in western movies, isn't it?!’I spoke gasping my breath.
‘Yep,’ he nodded his head. ‘First time visit- yaar. No idea at all. Let’s see how is the bungalow.’
“Uh! So difficult to walk with this heavy backpack, yaar! If that toy train hadn’t…”, Aman began
muttering his grumbles, tired from the trek.
I patted Aman on the back, ‘Easy- easy, yaar! Few more steps left. We’ll be there about ten-fifteen minutes, ok, relax!’
At last, as I predicted, we reached our spot shortly. When we looked around, Aman gave a cheerful shout, ‘Ooh! What an amazing spot! Aare yaar- Paradise on earth!! Beautiful!!’
Energy restored, we went ahead to the bungalow. Surjit traced out the location on google map said, ‘Ok, friends! Come on. Let’s move to our bungalow.’
‘W- what?! Walk- walking…no, not again. I’m tired, yaar. How long?’ Aman moaned.
‘Aman- come on, man! Few more exercise. You’ll sleep early, ok!’
Surjit led and we three followed him. The road looked like a little wide aisle in a supermarket. The same red laterite earth, both sides trees and trees. We heard only the sound of birds chirping in the trees. By the time we reached there, it was almost evening. Feasible light was there to have a glance of the rooms and its surrounding. It was a British-style building. The guard rushed to the gate, opened it. With a warm welcome, he unlocked both the rooms and showed us the kitchen room too. He switched on the lights and informed us that he would be there for another two hours only.
‘O boss, don't switch off that corridor light while going back, ok? Let it be there,’ I requested him. But he said that if the light would be there, fair chances is there for the snakes to enter as their prey- frogs enter into the room.
‘Don't worry! We’ll take care.’
Without any prolonged argument, the guard went away for his other work. We kept our backpacks in the room and strolled around the area. Huge bedrooms- the typical high roof of old British style palaces, a narrow corridor, and the kitchen room was quite spacious. The backyard of the kitchen room was filled with full of big trees. Too terrifying appearance! The rooftop of the whole building was covered with dark brick colour tiles. The area was totally quiet except for the howling sound of air and the severe rustling sound of leaves.
First night in the bungalow of Matheran, so nowhere to go that night. We settled down and finishing our dinner we sat on the huge bed in one bedroom and started gossiping.
‘Surjit, I think we should have booked one bedroom. It is such a big room with, huge cot. We all could sleep in one bedroom.’
‘How do I know?! I thought for four people, we need two-bedroom, right?’
‘Hmm… no problem. By the way, have you marked one thing?’ I asked curiously.
‘What?! I didn't,’ he said innocently.
‘Arre yaar, a candle and a matchbox are kept on a small tool on the corner of that corridor. I was surprised! Does it mean the electricity cut off?!’
Again we were engaged in our chatting and didn't bother for light. Suddenly I noticed the corridor was dark. ‘Uh! That idiot man switched off the light. I repeatedly told him not to switch off but he didn't listen.’ I went hurriedly and put the light on. Aman was yawning continuously. He looked too tired.
‘Um…. friends, I am going to hit the hay. I can't sit anymore. See you tomorrow, Good night!’ strolling around he went to the other room for sleeping.
‘Hey, Aman..switch off the light but keep the door open, ok? Don't lock the door inside. I’ll be there soon,’ Surjit yelled.
‘Ok, ok, got it.’ He went away and slept.
We three were lying down on the bed and talking, laughing, in a full-fledged mood. Amidst the talk, Rakesh played one of his favourite Hindi song on his mobile——
‘Aaj jane ka ziddi na karo…………
Two minutes later I said, ‘Stop it Rakesh- not this one. Put some other music- yaar, no song, please! Oh! Surjit, Rakesh see the time. It's 1: 45 a.m- yaar, let’s sleep.’
‘Ok, ok, just one music then we’ll be in bed,’ Rakesh pleaded.
He played one western music. Good one. The music was going on, suddenly after two minutes it stopped and the same ‘Ajj Jane ko side a Karol repeated. Surjit looked at Rakesh yelled, ‘W-h-a-t?!! Again that—-?!’
‘No yaar, I didn't! For God’s sake, believe me. I didn't play it. Suddenly it came on its own. Ok, let me change it.’ Rakesh put another music.
The music was going on, again exactly after two minutes it stopped and the same ‘Ajj Jane ko’ repeated. This time Surjit snatched the mobile from him and put one English music. But by that time we felt a little weird. All of a sudden the music stopped and ‘Ajj Jane ko’ restarted. All of us were so scared that Surjit instantly switched off the mobile. It was already 2:20 am.
‘W-h-a-t the hell is going on?!!’I stammered aloud.
We were really in a dire strait! And the climax of the scene shocked us, we got cold feet when the same song played again on the mic even after the phone was switched off! Our eyes bulged out. We almost lost our heartbeat! Like adding salt in the wound, suddenly the electricity was cut off! As the night advanced the whistling, howling sound of wind pinched our ears. Immediately I put the flashlight on my mobile, gushed towards the corridor for that candle. We were already scared to death!
‘I can't sleep in this pitch dark- yaar. Let me lit that candle,’ I stammered.
Rakesh was shaking terribly. He pulled my hand tightly said, ‘Who closed that door?! I saw Aman had kept it opened and slept.’
Together we went to see Aman. Luckily the door was not locked inside. He was in deep sleep. Surjit didn't dare to sleep in that room anymore as Aman had already slept. Neither one of us slept peacefully that night! Suddenly I woke up. It was pitch dark. I couldn't see my own hand. I put my mobile flashlight on, and my eyes fell upon the ventilator.
I shrieked, ‘ Guys, look at that ventilator. On its side wall, it was written in red ‘Hi’!!!’ We all shivered terribly. Maybe around 3:45 or 4 O clock, Rakesh, Surjit and I dozed off on that other room bed. The night was a nightmare for all of us! But no more that song replayed.
The next day at 8:30 a.m we got up one by one. Aman was totally ignorant of last night incident. He shouted at Surjit. ‘What nonsense, Surjit? Why didn't you come to me?’ he asked him angrily. Since we decided not to tell him anything there, we kept silent.
However, all of us finished our morning work and moved out of the bungalow to enjoy the scenic views of Matheran. We went to Louisa point- one of the most famous and a perfect place to hang around. It was wonderful!! Beautiful place to capture the natural scenic views!! Excitedly Rakesh stood near the edge and took the snaps. He had a full view of the city from that point. I was a little behind the other three and took as many snaps as I could, including my friends' different poses.
At some places, the dark grey colour clouds shifted in too low level touching the peaks of the hills. That was mind-blowing!! Besides us, every single visitors were busy taking snaps on their mobiles.
After roaming around the famous spots in Matheran, we came back to a small stall to have some snacks and coffee. Excitedly we showed our snaps that we took in the spot. We enjoyed our trip to the fullest. Suddenly Rakesh’s expression on his face changed while shuffling the pictures on my mobile. Eyes widened and fixed on the mobile, mouth opened and literally, he became numb!
A second later, he stuttered, ‘Hey guys! Have you seen this??!!’
‘What, what Rakesh?! Why are you so scared? What's wrong?!’ we all asked at a time.
He silently handed over my phone to Surjit. Aman and I hunched around Surjit to see. Surjit jumped off from his seat and screamed, ‘Nooooo……..It can't be possible!!’
Aman snatched it from him and stunned. The edge at Louisa where Rakesh was taking snaps, exactly a few yards below that edge, was written in capital letter- ‘RAKESH’! It is next to impossible for anyone to go there and write his name!!! Why?!! Who could be?!!! We were utterly shocked!!!