This is an old article and I'm posting it after an interesting conversation with a friend about intuition, telepathy, sixth sense, spirits, superstitions etc reminded me of this experience.
It was the month of September 1991, and the clock chimed eleven times to tell me it was an hour to mid-night and I better hurry. The house was shrouded in the blessed silence that comes with slumber. I was the only one awake. I usually did my baking at night as I struggled to juggle my time between home chores and a career.
In order to understand what occurred next, I must explain how the kitchen was built. A long corridor led from the dining room, past the children's room, staircase and ended in a little cul-de-sac, which had ample storing facilities. I used it to keep all the crockery. From this little store a door opened into the beautiful, large kitchen where I was working, softly humming to myself. Then I experienced the strangest of sensations! I stopped humming, stopped what I was doing and stood stock still.
My back, down the entire backbone, was tingling and slight shivers ran down my spine. I sensed someone staring at me from the store area, which was behind me. My heart was pounding wildly while my ears strained for some sound. I couldn't stand the tension any longer and turned around. Nothing! No one! I was puzzled. I brushed it off without dwelling on it too long. I had a cake to bake and I had to be up early the next day. Picking up the tune I had left off, I happily popped the cake into the oven.
Then it happened again! Once again tingling, shivers, turn around – no one! I was beginning to get a bit uneasy now. I switched to singing hymns for good measure, and a bit loud too, as I mustered all the courage I had, to make my way through the store, down the corridor and into our bedroom, where I felt safer. I thought of waking my husband, but decided against it, knowing he wouldn't believe me and I'd be the new drawing-room joke. Instead, I sat it out till the cake was done. Now I had to go back. I switched on all the extra lights and finding myself in a better shape to face my 'demons,' ventured into the kitchen, making sure I zipped through the store. Nothing happened. I took out the cake, left it to cool and went to bed.
As expected, husband dear pooh-poohed the whole thing as the result of an over-imaginative mind, fuelled by the horror movies I watched.
"You had better not talk about it. And especially not in front of the kids, you'll only scare them," he laughed.
"You've got to believe me Nanan. I'm not a loony. This was real," I said emphatically. But who was listening.
My husband was often out on tours, so I was quite used to living alone with the kids and was never scared or nervous about it. However, after a month or so when the incident occurred again, I wasn't very comfortable any more. This time it was a bit different, I sensed the presence of a person or thing or whatever it may be called. I could see nothing, but I could tell where the person was and also that it was a male. I still can't explain this but I felt it as strongly and surely as if I could see him. I also sensed that he was on the advanced side of 'middle-age'. Once again, my husband laughed it off. As the 'being' didn't visit in the next few days, the topic was closed.
A month later, it happened again and it became a frequent occurrence. Almost every day….afternoons, evenings….and always it stood in the same place. The most unimaginable thing was that all fear had dissipated. I sensed that I was in no danger. Once my comfort level had been restored, I began to feel that ' It' was trying to tell me something. When it started or how I do not know, but I was communicating without words or any visible signs with my invisible visitor. I became aware of a deep sympathy flowing from it. As if it was feeling sorry I wondered why. "Why, why, why,"…my mind cried out. The answer I got knocked the air out of my lungs. "I'm going to die? When? How?"… I was in total shock.
I can still recall how I felt. I went about my chores in a trance. In the evening, as I passed the children's room, something snapped. I stood and watched them as they waged a pillow fight and I was swept with grief and pain. That day I communicated a lot with God. I begged Him not to take me away just yet, as my children needed me. I reminded Him that they were His gifts to me. I knew that my husband would never be capable of looking after them by himself. He would pack them off to his relatives. Where would they study and how would they adjust to life in a remote village in Rajasthan? I also knew that my husband would be married off before a year had even passed. The thought of my children's plight wrenched my heart and I cried. All that I prayed for at the end was, "If it is possible, for the sake of my children, spare me. Otherwise help me to accept your will, Lord." I was exhausted and I slept very deeply that night.
After carrying this burden within and no one to share it with, this prayer released me of all anguish and I felt, strangely, very relaxed. It was the first week of January 1992, and after this encounter I never felt the presence again. Life went on as usual. Sometimes I wondered what fate had been decided for me – but these were fleeting thoughts. Republic Day was approaching, and the preparation for the parade and cultural function took up a major part of both time and energy, leaving me with very little scope for reflections on my life.
On a beautiful, sunny winter morning, I sat in the lawn drinking my coffee, planning and listing all the jobs that my husband would have to see to, when he came back from his tour.
Suddenly I was cut off from reality – out of nowhere, a picture flashed across the screen of my mind – I saw Mr Singh, a friend, telling me that my husband had met with a fatal accident. Then the frame changed to a picture of me dressed in white, looking bewildered at a number of women wailing around me. It ended abruptly and I was back in my beautiful garden with an empty coffee mug in my hand.
I shook myself and got up immediately, immersing myself in work lest my mind painted any more horrifying pictures. My husband was right; I did have an over-imaginative mind. Still I was on tenterhooks the whole day. In the evening, the familiar honk of the car sent me dashing out, and I was more ecstatic than usual to see hubby dear. He kept trying to figure it out, but I passed it off as the end to an unusually hard week. The next day was Republic Day. Nanan had to leave on yet another tour in the evening. He found it odd that I should be a bit put out by his tour.
" It's only a two day tour. I'll be back on the twenty-ninth," he said consolingly. He had been out a lot lately.
On the twenty-seventh night, while the kids and I were watching TV, the doorbell rang. Mr Singh stood there with tears in his eyes, "He's not coming back Bhabi, he has succumbed to a major heart attack," he said and broke down.
Two days later, on the day of his funeral, I was dressed in white and I was bewildered as I looked at the women crying around me. "Why are they crying?" I thought to myself. "Why are they asking me to be strong for the kids? What do they mean he's gone…of course he's gone on tour. I hope they stop crying, they're making me cry too. Don't they know I can't see any one cry? What do they mean that he was so young…he is young. Thirty-nine is young." I was in shock and denial.
Prior to this, I would take such a narrative with a huge pinch of salt and scepticism. To me these things oozed of superstition, ignorance and misplaced faith. Even today, I often ponder over this event, wondering what to make of it. I have no definite opinion. Was it imagination running wild? Then how does one explain the events that followed? Or was it mere coincidence? I'm torn between unbelief and credulity.
Later I confided to Sudhaji, an elderly neighbour, about the presence I had felt and all that had happened. She listened quietly and patiently, and then asked who I thought the presence was.
"I'm not sure," I said, "but I did feel it was my Father-in-law, which is very strange because I have never seen him. He expired many years before our marriage."
She nodded her sage head and said, "It could be. Yes, it's possible. Lekin, there's something I must tell you. Some years back the landlady rented out this house, for the first time, to a Mathur family. The place you store the crockery didn’t exist at the time. Mr Mathur got it made himself at his own expense. He died a few months later of cardiac arrest."
You could hear a pin drop in the silence.
Bhabi....a term of respect used for a brother's wife. It is also used by a man's friends to address his wife, in small towns or orthodox families.
Lekin....a Hindi word meaning 'but'
Nanan....David's pet name