Encounter with a ghost
(This is a feeble translation of a story by Bengali humorist Shibram Chakraborty)
Do ghosts really exist? Even if they do exist, they have never shown themselves to me. I am not sure whether I would have been able to admire them had they taken a liking for me and decided to bless me with their appearance. My heart is rather weak and I have heard that ghosts are very wicked.
I cannot say for certain whether it was a ghost, but I witnessed a strange incident while I was in Ranchi.
Let me tell you about it.
After hiring a bicycle, I set out for the Hundru Falls. Things were all right at the beginning, but after covering around seven kilometres, the front tyre got punctured. I was not carrying the tool kit and no repair garage was in sight. I was passing along a very lonely stretch and the nearest village was almost five kilometres away. The thought of leaving the bicycle behind and walking these five kilometres was intimidating. For almost half an hour I debated with my inner self on the feasibility of walking and resolved that come what may, I will not walk.
The dusk had fallen and the moon had come out. A tiger had been seen in the vicinity of this region and I was on tenterhooks that I will hear its roar soon.
But I have always been an optimist. Something is bound to happen to deliver me from this predicament! I have to bide the time.
I spent another 30 minutes waiting for that inevitable event to occur. Finally, my wait was rewarded. I saw a lorry. It was approaching at a speed which was neither too slow nor too fast. It was a cold wintry evening and the mist had obscured the sight. I drew out my torch and flashed it to attract the driver's attention. But the lorry came near, went past me, and then disappeared from sight. I let out a string of expletives at the driver for not stopping, but he was past hearing. Shame on these lorry drivers! Do they drive with blinkers on their eyes?
It appeared as if I would have to walk the five kilometres, dragging the bicycle along with me. The thought, however, depressed me and I decided to wait for a few minutes more.
In the meantime, the mist had become quite dense and the moonlight grew faint. Just then, I saw two yellow eyes, piercing through the mist, approaching me. Was it a tiger? No, it could not be a tiger - the eyes were too wide apart. I flashed my torch yet again. It was a small-sized car which was approaching so slowly that even a pedestrian could have overtaken it within no time.
The car came near me and I called out, "Hey".
But the car showed no inclination to halt. It continued to proceed at its slow pace.
I was desperate. Something had to be done, and at once! The car owner may not feel it necessary to be hospitable, but it was necessary for me to think of self-preservation.
So, I went near the car, turned the door handle, and hopped inside. It is neither easy nor safe to hop into a moving car, but what could I do? I could not afford even a minute's delay. This car was probably the only opportunity I would have to return home in flesh and blood.
The bicycle remained lying by the side of the road. Let it remain. I do not think tigers like to eat bicycles. I will tell the bicycle's owner upon reaching home and he would on his own retrieve it after reproaching me and my forefathers.
I made myself comfortable in the car and addressing the driver said, "Please drop me at the Lalpur corner, my house is near ....."
I could not complete the sentence. My throat suddenly weny dry and no words would come out, my eyes wanted to bulge out of their sockets, my limbs were paralysed and, despite being a wintry evening, I broke into a cold sweat. The seat that is supposed to be occupied by the driver, was vacant!
"Ghost," the word escaped my lips involuntarily. The ghost, however, paid no attention to me and the driverless-car continued its journey at the same slow pace.
For a moment, it occurred to me that I should jump out. But my limbs, by virtue of their being paralysed, refused to comply. Although there was no driver and the engine was not running, yet the car was progressing in the right direction. So I remained inside.
After nearly two hours, the vehicle almost reached a level crossing. I could hear the sound of an approaching train but the car did not stop. I could now make out the train's headlights. But still my car showed no desire to halt .... Just because I was taking a free ride, did the ghost want me to join its team? I had to get out of the car immediately.
Somehow I managed to hop out. The car also came to halt at that very moment and at that instant, the train too whizzed past roaring deafeningly all the while.
I had lost my senses but after the train had departed, I regained them. No, I was not dead! The car was also in one piece! It was standing by my side. It was a deep suspense ....
At that moment, a bespectacled person emerged from the rear of the car.
"Will you please help me?" he requested. "If you help me push the car, I will be much obliged," he said. "The car stalled on the way and I have been pushing it all alone for almost eight kilometres. I could not find a single person who could lend me a hand. If you help me .... it is just a matter of minutes now .... my house is only a few hundred metres away after crossing the railway tracks .... you can see my house even from here."