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(This article is based on a true incident which took place around thirty years ago in a small town of Orissa in the era of trunk calls when there was no existence of mobile phones.)
Meera was a young bride twenty one years of age married to Raj, a young man in his mid-twenties working as a sales representative. Meera lived in a joint family before marriage and so was little hesitant initially on the idea of moving to a new place with her husband. Raj’s job required him to travel around twenty days in a month. Before marriage, Raj used to share a flat with one of his colleagues, but after marriage he moved to a rented bungalow with his new bride on the first floor with the landlord’s family staying on the ground floor.
It was a quiet locality with trees running on the three sides of the bungalow and a huge verandah in the front. Being a small town, everybody knew each other. The newly married couple took their initial sweet time to settle in the new phase of life and then life took its normal pace. It was time for Raj’s first official tour after marriage and this time he had to go for ten days. Meera was very apprehensive about staying alone by herself and she couldn’t sleep well a night before Raj had to leave for the tour. They thought of a solution and thought it would be a good idea to ask their landlord’s teenaged daughter to stay with Meera during the night because she was particularly skeptical of staying alone at night. And the young girl agreed.
First trip went well and thereon Meera started getting adjusted to this new lifestyle. Whenever Raj would be home they would go out to watch movies or shopping or dining out. Life was good for both Meera and Raj. One fine morning, Meera received a big package with her husband’s name on it. She waited for her husband to come in the evening to open the package. When Raj returned from office, he looked at it and it had his uncle’s name as the sender. He smiled at this and turning to his wife, who still was curious about the package, said “My dear uncle has sent this as our wedding gift as he is posted overseas these days and couldn’t make it to our wedding. Let’s open this and see what’s in there.” When they opened it, there came out a beautiful lamp, the lamp shade made up of fine camel skin with beautiful carving and a strong solid base made up of expensive wood. It was simply beautiful. Raj said to his wife that he would set it up for her as the night lamp.
The same night that night lamp stood proudly on the study table. Life was back to normal routine. Raj would go on trips and the young girl would come from downstairs to give company to Meera at night. But something strange happened during one of the trips.
Raj left for his official trip. This time the girl was having her exams so she preferred staying at home preparing for the exams. By now Meera was used to staying alone so she didn’t mind sleeping alone plus she had the night lamp on, so there was nothing to be scared of. There was also a forecast of thunderstorm that night. Meera finished her daily chores and went to sleep reading her favorite novel. In the middle of the night, it started raining heavily with windows rattling and at that moment the lamp turned off. She was too scared to get off from the bed. Then she thought that the bulb would have fused and she would check in the morning.
The storm calmed down in the morning and when she went close to check the lamp, she was shocked to see that there was no bulb in the holder. But, where the bulb could go, thought she. She checked around the table to see if there were any glass pieces, but didn’t find any. She checked that all the doors and windows were closed. She went to check her jewelry and valuables and everything was intact. Then who would steal a bulb. Or could it be anything else. She rushed down to her landlady at this very thought. On telling her about the whole thing, the landlady gave her a grave look and said that it could be the case of an evil spirit taking over that lamp on that stormy night. “GHOST!! What??” Meera couldn’t stop sobbing after this. She was scared to go back to her own home, but didn’t have any other option as there were still two days left for Raj to come back.
The incident spread around like fire and when Raj came back, everybody gave him a grave look from the grocery store owner to the neighbor to the land lady. He couldn’t comprehend anything and rushed to check Meera if she was fine. On seeing each other, they gave a tight hug after which Meera was inconsolable. Raj worriedly asked if everything was fine, if she was fine, if their families were fine. Then she told him the whole incident at which Raj couldn’t stop laughing. Meera asked him what was so funny to laugh and if he already knew about the lamp being possessed by the “GHOST”. Raj told her that she was so innocent and took her towards the lamp and said “I am sorry, but it was my mistake that while setting up this lamp, I didn’t show you that it had two bulb holders, one inside the shade and one in its base which is not visible otherwise. When I put the bulb in the top, it was too bright and it didn’t make sense for a night lamp, so I left the holder as it is and put the bulb in the base which you could not see giving sufficient light for the night lamp. See, it is still there. And this has fused” Meera was dumbstruck and hugged Raj. Soon, everybody came to know the truth behind the lamp “GHOST”.
Meera and Raj couldn’t stop laughing thinking about the incident while sipping hot tea and thinking how innocent and naive Meera was then thirty years ago. This incident has done many rounds among their family gatherings and everyone has a hearty laugh. Such incidents become memories of a lifetime.