Mass Hysteria - A True Story
by Anita Bhattacharjee
Stories of ghosts and demons fascinated me since my childhood. My grandmother spent hours narrating me stories about demons, ghosts, prince and princess. I grew up fascinated by these stories. As I attained the age of two, my parents admitted me to a convent school, one of the best schools in that region.
I remember as a kid I used to read a comic book (Tinkle) where the narrator used to describe real stories 'It happened to ME' and today I feel as if I am one of those narrators revealing a mysterious story..Well.. I was in the fourth standard, in a renowned convent school. The school was like a huge mansion surrounded by a cluster of trees and had a spooky atmosphere around it. There was no means of travel except by road. I used to walk long distances to school everyday amidst forest and graveyards and such things were very common in my region.
I studied in that school since first standard and had many friends there. our teachers were mostly female and there was only one male Maths teacher in our school. From class one to class six it was co-ed,but from seventh standard onwards it was only for girls. I had many friends out there and I really enjoyed each and every moment there.
Days passed into months and months into years. I was in fourth standard when the strange incident took place. I was in class busy attending my lesson when the sky suddenly darkened and the atmosphere turned gloomy. Dark clouds gathered repeatedly and filled the sky. It was pitch dark and our English teacher had no other option, but to stop our lesson. She made us sit quietly with fingers on our lips and pin drop silence. We sat together close like a cluster of lambs soft and cozy, safe and secure from the outer world. Rain drops started falling accompanied by thunder and lightening. It was frightening. I wanted to go to washroom, gathering enough courage to cross the deserted assembly hall and church. I almost bumped into our big fat science teacher Miss Milly and apologized in a polite manner.While coming back from the washroom I crossed the deserted hallway again I heard someone praying in the church and walked towards the sound. I entered the church and like the rest of the building it was pitch dark. The sound of prayer had stopped. The big life size statue of Lord Jesus Christ on his cross was visible and the blood gushing out from His heart, looked so realistic. Candles were lighted on all sides, and suddenly, I felt really scared as if some mishappening was about to occur. I had to go back and I reassured myself that nothing bad can happen if God is with us. Still my heart was filled with strange premonitions. I walked back towards the classroom with a heavy heart.
As I passed the other classrooms there was general unrest and the teachers paced from one corner of the classroom to another to keep the situation under control. Another streak of lightening and the electricity blew out leaving us in pitch darkness. I entered my classroom and sat quietly.
Classes from 5th Standards were was located on the second storey of the building. Thud ..thud noise from the second storey came. Sound of running feet as if hundred of feet climbing down the stairs. There was general chaos as desks, chairs and tables flew in all direction and children ran out of the school building to save their lives. Along with others I too ran....by then a strange sound filled the school and was becoming unbearable. As we ran out I don't know whether it was our of fear or reality, the whole building swang to and fro as if we were in the midst of an earthquake...but how could all the students and teacher imagine at the same time - the same thing, I wondered. Anyway, we managed to reach the playground. Some of the students were badly injured and were provided first aid. People from nearby areas gathered; since it was a small town the word spread like wildfire. My uncle came and took me away from school. It was horrible. Someone told that a student named Pinky in fifth standard had Epileptic fit which scared the other children and they ran out. Others simply followed them but we ccouldn't deny the sounds and the strange motions of the building.
By evening, the entire town was talking about the strange events that occurred in our school. There was no news of earthquake in any part of the region, yet we experienced tremors like earthquake while at school. Since exams was approaching we could not quit school.
The next day I reluctantly went to school. On reaching school, I noticed students gathered in small groups were discussing about yesterday's events. Our Headmistress announced in the assembly that students should not involve themselves in unnecessary rumors. Pinky, the student, who had fainted, was on leave for some days so she advised us not to panic. Our classes started to roll on till the roaring sound started again in the second floor; lights went off and the building started shaking again. The uproar was greater this time as all the students rushed out. The local residents also gathered near the school. I was shivering as one of my known relatives turned up and took me home. It was a panic situation. Everyday was a repetition of the same incident and we hardly wanted to go to school. In the classroom the students sat fearfully clutching their bags so that they could escape immediately when needed.
One week passed by in terror and finally our Headmistress decided to shut down the school for two months. This incident impacted the reputation of the school deeply. After two months, things were normal again and the rest of the years passed in peace. But the incident lurked in my mind in the years to come.
After my graduation I shifted to my maternal uncle's native place. I was in search of a better job and finally went to a convent school to submit my resume. It was a chilling December morning and I reached the school premises. This school reminded me of my own school ... the same spooky atmosphere. The doorkeeper opened the gate and showed me the way to the office room where I was supposed to submit my resume.I walked through the narrow lane, on the left hand side amidst the thick weeds and trees was a chapel and the statue of Lord Jesus dazzled from a distance. I made my way towards the office room. Something was wrong -so deadly wrong, but I could not exactly explain about it. I handed over my resume to the office clerk and quickly came out of the school premises. It must be my imagination, probably my childhood fear, I told myself.
I went back home and tried to forget my premonitions. But the next day my fear came true. My aunty called and informed me that a mishap occurred in the same school where I had been the day before. During the morning assembly and prayer, suddenly the students and teachers started behaving strangely. Some fainted, some crawled on the ground, their body twisted and groaned. Emergency services were immediately summoned and the affected were taken to the hospital. Some students were badly injured. One of the students, named Ria who was my aunt's neighbor, was in a miserable state. She was the only daughter of her parents and after this incident she hardly spoke to anyone, locked herself in her room. She remained motionless for many days, finally one fine day her brother took her out in the evening for a walk. But a strange incident took place which left us completely baffled. A street dog ran after her and her brother, and started barking at them. Ria suddenly became angry and stopped running. She shoved her brother aside, stood motionless in her track and glared angrily at the dog. The dog fell down dead.
My mind was in a whirl the next few days. It can't be coincidence there is some similarity between these two stories. I searched wikipedia for information and this link will give you more details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_hysteria
I read the entire article on mass hysteria and I think that's the only logical explanation for these two incidents. There is some similarity in these occurrences. Seriously on a deeper note, sometimes in life some things could never be explained nor predicted. Ria did not recover after the incident and led a solitary confined life.
If God is there to protect Us, Evil forces are also there to hurt us.
Life is not a bed of roses, rather a mystery or puzzle that cannot be solved. ***