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The Ghost of Namdang

August 13, 2020
The Ghost of Namdang

When I moved from the burra bungalow at Namdang and was sharing with Polly in the factory bungalow, he and I would often be asked by the senior planters of the district, ‘Have you seen the ghost?’

Polly and I laughed about this and paid no attention. However, one night, I had just tucked myself into bed, ready to go to sleep, when Jimmy Beven drove past en route the teela bungalow where he lived. As was usual for Jim, he sat on the horn as he drove past our bungalow in his big white monster of a Buick or Dodge!  At the time, he was courting Jean Filshill, whom he later married. Jean was Matron of Digboi Hospital and was a lovely, lovely person. Anyway, I ruffled up my pillow, looked at my watch, saw it was 1 a.m. and thought Jim has had a long courting session, plonked my head on the pillow and froze!

Blackwater fever

Starting from my ankles I could feel each strand of hair standing on end. I tried to raise myself but couldn’t move. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a luminous figure gliding into the room. I shut my eyes and tried to move but I couldn’t. The apparition glided across the floor and while I was praying to Jesus to make him go away, I was absolutely terrified. ‘It’ leaned on the bedstead end and leaned forward to look at my face. By this time, I was talking and asking him to please go away. He looked at me again and then I felt his presence receding – passing through the closed door. I lay there calling myself a wimp, and on the count of three, I jumped out of bed and switched on the light. There was nothing, but I left the light on all night.

In the morning, when Polly and I were having breakfast I asked him if he had noticed anything strange about last night. He said, “Yes. Something threw me out of bed, and it took me some time to get to sleep again.”

As I later learnt, ‘he’ — the ghost, had been a young man who’d contracted blackwater fever at Namtok and was brought to Namdang. He was recovering in the same room and on the same bed that Polly was sleeping on. Unfortunately, he did not make it and he died.

The visits continued

The story didn’t end there because a couple of years later, when I was the sole occupant of the factory bungalow, he kept visiting me — sometimes three times a week. I think there was a special affinity between us as I had been told that ‘he’ had died when he was 23 – I too was 23 when I first moved into the factory bungalow.

He started visiting in March and thereafter paid me regular visits. On these occasions my dog would get its hackles up and slink away. I would get an icy feeling on my cheek when I was reading a book or listening to music, and enjoying a roaring fire as was normal in the cold weather. But he kept visiting me and I knew he was there when he brought that coldness.

Eventually I spoke to him and told him that he was a young planter who had been posted in the Namtok out-garden and that when he was sick, he was brought to the factory bungalow and had died from blackwater fever in the bed in the adjacent room.

I walked into the room and showed him the bed and told him if I could help in any way, I would do so. I also told him that he was scaring me out of my skin and that he should leave me alone. I asked if he was satisfied with my explanation. He never returned.

I later learned from the servants of many ‘happenings’ at the bungalow but I was happy that the tormented soul was, at last, at rest.

This story has been republished with permission from Saurav Bayan, a tea planter currently posted in Namdang Tea Estate — the same location where this story is set. The original writer is a British tea planter called Larry Brown.

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