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Monday, 29 May 2017

516) Leisure Time Short Stories (5) : An Otherworldly Encounter: A Personal Experience:

 516) Leisure Time Short Stories (5) : An Otherworldly Encounter: A Personal Experience:

 (This short story first appeared in our blog It is being placed here for wider coverage)

During my assignment with the Bank, I was posted as a Branch Manager at a rural Branch in Pratapgarh District in the State of Uttar Pradesh (translated in English as “Northern Province”).  

In December 1990, the Bank officers of HAL Township Korwa Branch located in Amethi district, some 45 kms from my Branch invited me to join them for a party in the HAL Club on New Year’s Eve and to ring in the New Year.

As the road connecting my Branch to Korwa (Amethi) was a single lane poorly maintained one, I decided to travel to Korwa on my scooter while there was still daylight and to reach there well in time before night fell, from a safety point of view.

I had gone but a short distance from the Branch on the lonely road when I reached a small village, where a little boy stood on the road blocking my path. I braked to a halt asking him what he wanted. On first impression he looked far more mature for his age. Without saying a word, he signalled to me that he wanted to hitch a ride on my scooter. I told him to hop on on the pillion seat. He did so and we had but travelled the length of the village when I felt a tap on my shoulder signalling for me to stop. He got off the scooter without so much as a grateful smile or a word of thanks for the short “joy-ride”, but kept looking at me with stern eyes, which seemed to be assessing/evaluating me in some strange way, thoroughly  disconcerting me.

Putting the incident behind me I concentrated on driving on the pot-holed road and had gone a good fifteen km. or so when I spotted another person, who seemed to be in his mid-twenties standing on one side of the road looking for a lift. He had a suitcase in one hand and a shoulder bag, as if ready for a long distance travel or for a long period. Both his suit case and  shoulder bag seemed to be from outdated styles , but then I thought that he was a village person and may not be doing well in life to replace his bags with modern styles. I asked him what was the matter and he spoke in laboured monosyllables in Hindi “Maa” (mother) “beemar” (sick). Naturally, I assumed that he was travelling to his home village to see his sick mother and like I had done for the boy before, I offered to give him a ride to his mother’s village. What bothered me was that he gave me the name of his mother’s village as one that I had not heard of and enquired about it from him.

 He kept silent, while he hopped onto my scooter and parked his suitcase between me and the pillion seat. I had to edge a little forward to accommodate the suitcase and felt its hard contours against my back. Awkwardly balancing my scooter, I drove on. I offered to help him out with his mother’s treatment because I knew some leading medical practitioners in town, but he only grunted in affirmation without saying a word. 

Suddenly, the lonely road bustled with oncoming traffic and I saw a huge public transport bus hurtling down the road at a fast pace forcing me to go off the road which did not have an apron, disbalancing the scooter and I had a tough time to keep myself from any physical injury.

I was livid with anger at this reckless driving by a Roadways bus driver and spoke angrily “What a careless fellow!! If I had not gone off the Road, he would have killed us.” I went into a tirade against the driver’s “criminal mentality” in not caring about the smaller vehicles on the road and I enquired from my pillion rider whether he was alright.  Given his propensity to maintain a stoic silence and as I still felt the contours of the suitcase against my back I presumed that he was alright. However, when I glanced to my right hand side while driving the scooter, I saw only my shadow in the light of the setting sun, and no shadow of my passenger which literally froze my blood!!

With apprehension I glanced back and was shocked to see that the pillion seat was empty although I still felt the suitcase propped behind me in my back. Perplexed, I stopped the scooter and got off to examine what had happened to my passenger. I even drove back for about a mile or so to find out whether he had fallen down when the hurtling bus had pushed us off the road and injured himself in the process. But although there were no trees on both side of the road and one could see without any hindrance for a reasonably long distance, to my horror, I could not see him anywhere.

I panicked and I drove my scooter at top speed, without looking back even once, reaching Korwa without any further incident.  All the officers who were waiting for me at Korwa were shocked to see me reach in a near panic state, and I narrated the whole story, wondering how it would be received by them, particularly, as I was considered to be a bold and fearless person. None of them seemed surprised and quite a few of them mentioned that yes, there had been similar experiences reported on several occasions on that road, and travellers preferred not to go on that road after sun-set. 

The next morning, I thought that I would leave the HAL guest house only after the winter morning  mist had lifted and the sun had come out, because somehow I had a premonition that I would be meeting this “being” (as I preferred to call him now) again. This time, I resolved to stay clear of him and if need be to kick or push him off my path and drive on relentlessly.  Even at 11.00 a.m. there was still a heavy wintery mist in the air, but as I had already got late for my Branch, which would have been opened by my junior officers, I decided to chance it and started the journey back.

 Sure enough, as I had apprehended, at about the same distance on the road, there was a fellow standing with a shoulder bag and a suitcase on one side of the road, who on my approach swiftly moved to the middle of the road trying to flag me down in order to give him a lift.  I drove in a wide arc from where he was standing and he pursued me trying to force me to stop and give him a lift, but I was all the more determined not to give any stranger a lift ever again and drove past him at top speed. 

For a split second, I glanced back to see whether he was following me, but again to my utter surprise, there was no one on the road behind me and I wondered whether I had imagined the being’s presence. 

When I looked ahead, I suddenly panicked. Through the mist I saw that there was a sharp bend in the road and I was headed straight towards a sharp drop of about ten feet or so, off the road. I pressed on the Brakes with all my skills and the scooter came to a halt just inches from the sheer drop, saving myself from a terrible accident, perhaps a fatal one. Somehow, terribly shaken again, I made it back to the Branch. 

At my Branch, after the usual New Year’s greetings were exchanged between the customers and all the officers and staff and business was going on as usual, one of my officers came to me and mentioned that he sensed that there was something wrong and I told him about my two strange experiences. His immediate reaction was that my scooter bore the registration numerals “7816” which included the numerals “786” which Muslims considered to be the numerical equivalent of the name of God and which in his opinion had saved me from a bad accident. 

Nevertheless, despite his repeated assurances, that the worst was behind me and that no harm could come to me now, the slightest sound unnerved me and for the most part of the next two months, I kept all the lights in my house on, so that I would be prepared for any untoward happening or encounter with another such being, but, nothing happened after that. 

I may add that I travelled on the road to Korwa several times thereafter but never encountered any such being again and slowly my fear of encountering otherworldly beings again on that road also went away. But, I was very intrigued with what I had experienced on that road and was looking for plausible answers. 

The best possible explanation came from a Branch Manager who was also a “tantrik” (dabbling with the occult sciences). He could sense that I had had an experience like this and requested me to narrate my experience. He listened to my narration and told me that he could visualize the whole incident through his occult extra-sensory perception. His explanation was as follows:

A few decades ago, a young man was travelling to his village alongside the road to see his mother who was not well (This explained my passenger’s old fashioned baggage). That little village had lost its identity as over a period of time it had merged with a bigger village (hence, I had not heard of its name). The vehicle in which this man was travelling had met with a terrible accident which proved fatal for him. Since then he had entered a warp through which his spirit was perpetually searching for a way to reach his mother’s village and in desperation wanted others to ‘join him’ in his search, hence it had made two efforts to make me meet fatal accidents like himself. The spirit had assessed me as a potential victim by taking a short ride with me in the form of a little boy (the one whom I had offered a joy-ride and who had got off my scooter without thanking me. As I was familiar with Celtic Literature on “shape-shifting”, I took this as a plausible explanation). Also, he said that he visualised that I was saved by my guardian Spirits and Gods and by my strong-willed efforts. He also mentioned that he had set into motion through his occult sciences, processes through which this spirit would never harm any other person again and also get his salvation.

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