Thursday evening was pleasant. I was back from office early that day and was planning on going out. I decided to take an auto. I walked the small distance through the alley where my apartment was. My muscles were spraining; I should walk more often. I reached the main road. Oddly enough, it wore a deserted look. The velvety brown of the evening sky was already fading into the blue silhouette of the moonlight.
There were no vehicles or human beings, or even dogs (There will at least be 3 stray dogs per street in Bangalore) in sight.
‘Oh dear, will I have to walk till Airport Road now to get an auto?‘, my lazy legs complained and my mind translated it to English.
I uttered a non-verbal spell (well! I didn’t utter in strict sense since it was non-verbal) to summon an auto. Even I was surprised to see an auto coming almost immediately behind me. I waved to him to stop. He didn’t seem to notice and passed me. Then the auto screeched to a halt about 10 feet ahead. I ran towards the auto.
The driver had a frightened look in his face. He looked at me, then looked down towards my feet, then again looked at me.
I too looked at my own feet, just by instinct. What was wrong with my feet?
‘Elli hogbeku saar?’, (Where to, sir?) he asked, anxiety resonating in every syllable that came out.
‘I’ll go through the main road, is it okay?’
‘Okay’, I replied, not understanding what he meant by the last statement. I didn’t know of any shortcuts or alleys to my destination.
I got in and he started moving. He didn’t speak anything till we reached 100ft road. The looming silence instantly changed into ear-shattering din. I heard something like a gasp of relief coming from the driver.
He turned his head when we had stopped at a traffic signal and asked something like, “Kannada maathadubeka?” (Do you speak Kannada?)
I understood what he meant and replied, “Kannada gothilla” (I don’t know Kannada)
“Oh. Hindi is okay”
[ Rest of the conversation was in Hindi, mostly a monologue. Translated to English. Everything in italics is whatever I thought, but didn’t say. ]
Driver: I almost escaped from that ghost today.
Driver: A ghost. She asked me for a ride. Said she will pay 200 rupees. Scared the shit out of me.
Me: *Oh really?*
Driver: She came in a car, said she wanted to go to ***** (I didn’t get the name of the place when he said it.) Offered to pay anything. These lady ghosts…once they enter our body, they will never leave us. Ask us all sorts of things. They won’t go until you die. You will be doomed.
Driver: I just mustered enough courage to say No and get the hell out of there.
Me: Oh. Was that why you were driving so fast?
Driver: Obviously….She wanted to take me to a deserted place and possess me. After that, I would have no control over myself. I’ll lose my family and kids and will have to go after her. She won’t let me enjoy family life as I would have to satisfy her always.
Me: *[Evil grin]* You looked at my feet.
Driver: I was checking whether you were human; whether you had feet.
Me: Hehe. *Muhahahaha*
Driver: No sir, I was so freaked out. Really. In my village, we take special amulets and all from the priest. We are safe there. But there are no such safety precautions here in city.
Me: *All ghosts migrated to cities now. Yeah, I can see*
Driver: I think she was a Muslim ghost. That makes it even more difficult.
Me: Why so?
Driver: Because Hindu mantras won’t work on Muslim ghosts. You need Muslim mantras from Quran for those.
Me: *Boy! This is getting better and better*
Me: What did she look like? Was she wearing white saree?
Driver: I don’t know. She came in a car. Her hair was loose and wildly bushy. Her face was white.
Me: You mean fair skin?
Driver: No sir. It was white color. Like white paint was smeared. Only her eyes were brown.
Me: And she was driving a car.
I suddenly remembered the ghost from the movie “The Ring”. Then the thought suddenly hit me squarely in my mind..like a 10-pin strike. It might just have been some ordinary lady who was careless enough to go out without removing her facial. The poor lady was mistaken for a ghost! Imagine her perplexed face when the driver had sped from her at breakneck speed!
Hell of a ghost story for me!!
I didn’t speak much for the rest of the journey. He was saying something, I just kept replying “Mm.Hmm”,”I see” etc. idly without listening to what he was saying.
We reached my destination. I checked the meter and gave him the money.
“One and a half meter charge, sir”
*Bloody hell! This guy had the nerves to ask for more money even in this condition.*
I argued, “What is the extra half for? Your ghost story?”