This House is Not Haunted

My brother is a detective and works in the crime department of the Mumbai police. He had just come home for a month’s vacation but he was soon to find out there actual is no rest for dynamic young men in the crime department of the Mumbai Police. A few blocks away from my house there is an old dilapidated building that was, a decade or so earlier, a mansion that belonged to a retired army colonel, now dead. This colonel was said to have served in the Second World War and in the Indian war of Independence. Like many other Indian fighters, his bravery too had gone unsung and he was very furious about it. He never minced words when it came to criticizing the government and he believed that life of an ordinary middle class family was better off during the British rule.

Any way, folks in the neighborhood believe that the house is haunted and that every night at midnight the colonel’s ghost visits his house. Some people say that they have often seen candle light in the broken windows.

The house itself was falling apart. The wall was broken at many places and the garden was overgrown with weeds and creepers. It was, in short, like any other pre- British period mansion, that is ill maintained and forgotten about.

When the people in the locality came to know that Dick, my brother was coming for a month’s vacation, they got excited and lived in the hope that he would be able to solve the mystery of the haunted house. My brother arrived on the 20th December, 2002 and was immediately bombarded with requests concerning the mystery of ‘The House’. Dick agreed to investigate the house, convinced that the lights in the windows were a figment of the peoples’ imagination.

The next day Dick and I went to the house, accompanied till the gate by a few adventurous boys. Once inside the house, I saw that it was now nothing more than a home for various species of the bird and reptile world. The forces of nature had played their part in the destroying of the house and evidence of rain could be seen in many places. Most of the doors had fallen in; the others gave way after a few pushes and shoves. There was however one door which was jammed and would simply not give in to our efforts of opening it. I had secretly hoped for finding some treasure and was disappointed at not finding any. When we came out of the house, we were surprised to see the number of people standing outside the compound waiting expectantly for us. Dick told the people that he had not seen or heard any ghost who walked in or around the house and the light and the ghost was indeed a figment of their imagination. As expected the people were not convinced, and insisted that one of them would stay up that night to see if the lights shone through that broken window. It was impossible for Dick to make the people understand. Finally, it was decided that if the lights were seen again at night, Dick would investigate further.

For a few days, all was quiet and nothing happened. Then one night as we were getting ready to retire, the doorbell rang and a white faced neighbor came in and informed us about the lights. We went out and saw, and we could actually see them through the window. Once again, we went inside the house, armed with flashlights, through the back doorway. We heard footsteps and muffled voices. We inched closer to the door that we had tried, but were unable to open it during our last visit. This time the door was open and the room inside was in a much better condition than the rest. In the room were five men who looked to be smugglers of some sort. From our place of hiding behind a broken down sofa we overheard them. We learnt that they were indeed smugglers and that the next day the other part of the gang would bring cocaine to be smuggled to various parts of the country and sold through drug dealers. After the time of the drop had been decided the smugglers and their leader locked the door and left. Our discovery was a remarkable one and I was soon to learn that particular gang was on the wanted list of most of the states of the country. The next morning Dick contacted his superiors in Mumbai. The next night the police and the Rapid Action Force were stationed at various points inside and outside the house an hour before the scheduled arrival of our guests. The gang arrived and Dick waited till the illegal drugs and money were being exchanged before he signaled for action.

The whole gang was rounded up and arrested. Dick got a promotion and his vacation was extended. The house is now being broken down for the construction of residential apartments. I can now assure you that this house is not haunted.

Arushi Bhargava