I have this unnatural attraction towards all things weird and spooky. Even though as a child I was scared to listen to ghost stories and was even afraid to go to the loo at night, something inside me wanted more of the stuff. I was scared but at the same time I wanted more of it. As time went by I collected stories from various people, mostly of hauntings in villages and towns in my country. Indigenous ghost stories are really engrossing as they involve simple people one can almost relate to in their everyday lives. Most of the stories I heard came from two sources both of who are now in heaven. One of them was my dad. He had traveled extensively throughout the country during his youth and had lots of experiences with the paranormal. I was maybe because his work then involved traveling to villages mostly by Geep and many a nights were spent on paddy fields or parked near crematoriums cause in villages an open filed may also serve the dual purpose of a crematorium during the day. My second source was a friend of the family who was actually my grandfather's assistant during his days as a geologist. Actually, by occupation, this man was a farmer and later when he retired he went back to his fields. He was the one to tell me about all the local legends and hauntings.
A few of the stories were really creepy and I remember having nightmares about them from time to time. But what the heck, I enjoyed the scare and the intrigue. Humans are always interested about the unknown and what can be more mysterious than life after death.
The Familiar Path
The village was small, and like all other villages of Indian the main produce was rice. Even though almost every alternate year the village was affected by drought, the inhabitants managed to survive and never lost hope that the next harvest would be good.
It was a cold winter's night and the harvest had been good. All the village folk had gathered to celebrate the end of a season and the coming of a new one. The celebration was taking place at a common ground a bit away from the village. Most of the villagers were there except for a certain farmer who had overslept. This man was a bachelor and so did not have the privilege of a wife waking him up on time. By the time he had woken up after his afternoon nap it was dark. Darkness in villages is unlike what we get here in the city. The sky seems to be huge and filled with innumerable stars and constellations and the moon light plays tricks on the mind. This farmer was really looking forward to the festival so he decided to brave the road in the dark. It was not that he was afraid of spirits, it was just that there were other dangers like snakes and thieves on the way.
He left the house with his walking stick and the light of the moon to guide him along. The path he was taking was familiar to him, as this was the path he took everyday to go to the market in the next town. The chill in the air made him shiver and the faint sounds of the small creatures scampering about made him look back at times to make sure no unwanted element was following him. After half an hours walk he realized that he had taken a wrong turn somewhere as he just couldn't make out where he was. He found himself at the mouth of a rocky ridge beyond which was total darkness. He figured out that he had take the path to the old cremation grounds instead. This place had been abandoned way back when he was a boy and nobody ventured much there now a days, especially after dark, ever since the lifeless body of a village boy was found here. Nobody knew how the boy died.
He became a bit nervous when he realized where he was and decided to retrace his steps to the cross roads. Another thirty minutes later he realized that he was back at the mouth of the rocky ridge. Even in the chill of winter he began sweating profusely. All the paths around him seemed the same and everywhere he tried to go he ended up back at the ridge. As the night drew darker and the distant lights of the festival ground faded away the last thing he remembered was the cry of a child.
The man was found the next day at the crossroads, sleeping on the ground. After that he was never the same. He told this story to the villagers, but most of it was gibberish and had to be carefully understood. He lived for a year after that. They say you can still see someone walking with a stick on cold winter nights when the moon is high in the sky.