The door creaked, startling me slightly. I looked across at my husband who was engrossed in his phone. He seemed quite indifferent. Maybe I had imagined it. I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my book. Somehow “The Handmaid’s Tale” had failed to grab my undivided attention. I don’t remember ever taking so long to turn the pages of a book. Dystopian isn’t really my favourite genre, I decided.
There was the door again! This time I heard the distinct creak and I was sure as hell it was no imagination. And this time hubby dear looked up too. But I guess he found the expression on my face funnier, as he burst out laughing. This infuriated me no end! Granted, a door creaking didn’t really represent encounters of the ghostly kind. But was it not strange for a door to be creaking and swinging of its own accord and that too inside your home with every window shut and practically no wind blowing in from anywhere?
A grown-up silly me
I rolled back my eyes and decided to ignore him and concentrate on my book. But my eyes kept shifting towards the door from time to time until I just got up and shut it. Hubby dear of course was quite amused and teased me unabashedly. Well, I must admit I may have been in a bit of a paranoia, maybe even over reacted. For, having shut the door I found myself smiling too! I chided myself mentally as I remembered instances from my childhood when I would turn into a nervous wreck after watching a horror movie. At least no one could accuse me of losing the child in me, I thought with a wicked grin.
Horror movies always scare the living daylights out of me. So, much as I love watching them, I rarely do, as the aftermath leaves me in an embarrassing position. I realised that this latest episode was the result of watching a recent Malayalam movie called ‘Bhoothakaalam’. I had heard that his particular movie had even the bravest ones biting their nails. Nevertheless, I had gone ahead and watched it. And I am ashamed to admit that the grown up me was frightened out of my wits by the end of it.
The movie had set me off on a rather intriguing ghostly trail down memory lane. One that made me cringe and laugh at the same time. I remember as a kid I enjoyed watching horror flicks with my friends only to end up in my parent’s bed that night in a bout of hysteria. No amount of cajoling could make me sleep in my bed that night.
The next day it all seemed fun as we shared the amusing experiences of the previous night, haunted as we were by imaginary shadows and weird sounds unheard till then. In fact, for as long as I can remember, my horror movie escapades always made for amusing anecdotes in our family gatherings much to my chagrin.
When Destiny Calls
I guess I was destined to marry a tea planter and live in amazingly beautiful (some would say haunted too) bungalows from the colonial era. One look at those huge houses perched majestically on top of a hill, overlooking the sprawling tea gardens, merging into the distant horizon, and I fell hopelessly in love. The bungalows mesmerized with their majestic beauty and compelling history. Generations of staff members kept the stories alive by enthralling every new entrant with their rather imaginative and often exaggerated storytelling skills!
Needless to mention each of these British era bungalows had the most captivating stories to recount; stories from the past of handsome dorais (the local term for addressing the managers) and their counterparts – their lives of toil and luxury, friendships and rivalries. And as the stories progressed into an unfortunate accident or death, voices were lowered into a mere whisper that one could barely hear. Perhaps out of respect for any wandering ghosts that may, just out of curiosity, be lurking around nearby!
A vision to behold
My foray into the wonderful world of plantations could classify into a horror story I reckon. I distinctly remember the hot sultry late afternoon in May many years ago. A newly married couple (us) drove into the cyclone ravaged ‘New Ambadi Estates’ of Parry Agro Industries in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nādu. Huge rubber trees were strewn all over, some even lying across the road blocking our way. People descended from literally nowhere – at least that’s how it seemed to me then – and moved those trees out of the way.
We had proceeded along the winding roads until my week-old husband stopped the car and pointed upwards with a proud smile on his face. I looked up to see what was to be my abode for the first three years of our lives together. It was a sight I have never forgotten and never will, I guess. Perched right on top of the hill was the ‘Pappuparai’ bungalow!
We drove in through the massive gates and stopped at the grand entrance with massive pillars and arched parapets all along the huge verandah. It seemed like a fairy tale setting. But what struck me odd was that there was not a soul in sight. With dusk setting in, it was all beginning to look rather eerie.
My husband on the other hand happily proceeded to open the magnificent front door and ushered me in with the air of an emperor displaying his prized castle to the queen! Only there seemed to be no power and all was dark. Soon the ‘emperor’ arrived with a candle and led his ‘queen’ into the unfamiliar surroundings – a candle light walk for us remember till posterity!