A Night Shift Work Experience
by Hari Nambiar
Working in a software company in Bangalore sometimes I have to extend late in the night. I joined the company 6 months back and I was happy with the remuneration and work life.The Company building was constructed on top of an old graveyard few years back. Being a small company usually you won’t find employees working late at night or during early hours. My office was located at the 6th floor of the building.
During one of such days I was working on my computer. I was working on a project that I had to submit the next day. The clock ticked 1.00 a.m. Working for past 17 hours I was feeling little drowsy. Not sure what happened next, may be I blacked out or was it a dream? It was a bizarre feeling; it was as if my whole body was floating. Not sure what caused this. Was it the strange voice that was coming from the washroom or was it the weird smell? It was as if something was burning. Then I heard that voice once again. The voice had a magnetic effect on me. It was as if, somebody was calling my soul.
Then everything stopped. There was no sound at all. I could hear the noise of open tap water from the washroom. Yes, indeed I was going towards the washroom. The door of the washroom was slightly opened. I moved little further, taking each step with caution. Didn't know what lay behind that door. The smell in the air was exhilarating. I was standing inches away from the door now, moving my hand judiciously towards the door knob. It took a life time to hold the door knob. That’s when I felt the hand on my shoulders. Someone was trying to awaken me. It was the office boy Chandru.
I opened my eyes fully awake, looked at him for a few seconds. I wasn't sure what is real and what is not. I grabbed my bag and started to move towards the exit of my office, swiped the access card and took the stairs. With each step I took I could hear the echo. There was no one else here. It was around 02:30 a.m. The air outside was still as if everything has stopped. I was so scared that I would have soiled my pants. Reached the 4th floor.
Suddenly I heard a noise. Was someone coming up the stairs? I peeped and didn't see anyone down below. Most of the building lights were switched off at this hour and I could hardly see what was happening below the stairs. But I could hear someone was indeed coming up. That's when I saw the shadow. It was a big shadow of a woman. I could see the outline of her body in the shadow. All this was happening so fast that I didn't realize that I was soaked in sweat. Her head was held low probably touching her chin and she looked old. I could see her. She was almost few inches away from me.
She was wearing old Victorian clothing and was walking towards me slowly. I tried to move I couldn’t, tried to scream I couldn't. I couldn't even cry. I was helpless. She was standing an inch away from me. I didn't know what was going to happen next, a thousand thoughts went through my brain. I wished I was somewhere else. On spur of moment she lifted her head. She was all white, had dark clack eyes. She screamed at her maximum. I closed my eyes and thought this is it, I am going to die. There was no noise for the next 2 minutes. I opened my eyes, but there was no one there. I composed myself and started crying like a kid. Started walking slowly towards basement in the building. I boarded by car and left.
It was around 03:30 a.m in the morning, the roads were clear, there wasn't much traffic. I drove the vehicle slowly. I was still in shock. Did a see a ghost/spirit or whatever you call it? Was this for real? I wanted to bang the vehicle to a tree just to make sure that its real. But if it was real who was she and how did she disappear? I had thousand questions on my mind. I wanted to see my wife and kids for the last time. You think about important things in life in times like these. I raised the speed and was driving at around 80 Km/h. I didn't see the tempo lorry coming towards me. Hey it was coming the wrong direction. The vehicle was few meters away from me. Moments before the collision my whole life pictured in front me.
I woke up after few hours. I was in a small town. People were talking in strange tongue and they looked poor and were wearing plain clothing. I tried to speak with a passerby, but he didn't notice me. I tried with many people, but no one cared. All the people were walking towards a hill. On top of the hill there was a new Victorian bungalow. It was beautiful 2 storey building and looked marvelous from distance. I walked along with other people. I reached near the house and noticed that all the people were standing outside the gate. On the wall on the gate were the words" William Clay worth Governor ESTD 1802".
The name sounded familiar. There was strange howl coming from inside the house. It was the howl of a wolf. The people outside the gate were praying. From a distance I could see a well dressed white man and his lady standing outside the house. There were speaking with a older white gentleman.
What year is this? I am the only person in shirt and trousers. Two police constables in horse came towards me and asked me.
“Stop there. Who are you and what are you doing near Clayworth estate"
I replied "Not sure. I am not from here and I don't know how I got here."
At this they laughed and one fellow slapped me. I fell on the ground bleeding. I got up and told them that I really don't know what is going on. They kicked me once again and left. One wise person from the crowd offered me some water and asked me.
"Don't you really know how you reached here? Who are you sir?
I said “My name is Karan Desai. I work in a company in Palace road Bangalore".
“Hmmm.. There is a palace nearby. But we don't call it palace road. The British have given names to roads. You talk strange and are wearing strange clothing," He replied.
I said, "Please help me understand what's going on."
He said, “The daughter of William Clayworth was sick. She is possessed by the ancient spirit.The only way to get rid of the spirit from her body is to do a puja.The Puja can be done only by head Pujari from the local temple. We are here to convince Mr. Clayworth that we can get rid of the bad spirit. But he isn't ready to listen. Not sure what to do. Once we get the spirit under our control, it can’t cause any problems for the next 200 years."
"What year is this?” I asked him.
“Well, the Clayworth bungalow was constructed 8 years back and if the inscription on the gate is correct, and then it is 1810. I don’t care much about the English year," He replied in sardonic tone.
There were too many thoughts going on my mind right now. If what he is saying is correct, some things made sense. But was it a dream or is it reality? He was still talking about the Puja that needs to be done. From the distance we could see a young lady in blood stained dress running towards the hills. She was screaming and it was a frightening scene. Mr Clayworth along with few constables ran behind her. Few people who were witnessing the spectacle behind the gate followed them at a safe distance. The last thing we saw her body falling from the far away cliff.
I heard the voice of someone calling me. I woke up and saw an old beggar in soiled shirt and pajama standing in front of me.
He asked “What happened? Are you ok?
I got up and realized that I had met with an accident. It was a dream after all. The car was badly damaged in the crash and I was bleeding from the head. I asked him the direction to the nearest auto stand.
Walking towards the auto stand I checked my pocket and felt something odd inside my left pocket. It was a picture of a young white lady. Signed below the painting was the name “Victoria Clayworth". It was the same lady I saw in my dream and in the company stairs few hours back, though she looked old! Talking about time I didn't know what the time was.
05:00 a. m: I reached the auto stand and told him to take me to the nearest hospital. I discussed the entire story with my wife after sometime. She laughed at the whole thing. Thinking about the whole thing right now I really don't know if it was a dream or reality. Did I see spirits in the company stairs? There are many questions that are unanswered.
I am happy to be alive after the accident. End