Something That Happened

61 Comments

I do not know when I subscribed to a newsletter from a legal site called LegalZoom. Normally I send such newsletters to the trashbin but the subject of this mail caught my attention.

That being: As a home seller, are you obligated to disclose paranormal activity?

This is what LegalZoom advices.

In New York, a buyer sued the seller and the seller’s realtor for failure to disclose the house’s ghostly reputation. The seller even wrote about her bumps in the night with spirits for the local paper and Readers’Digest…….Although the court did not rule nondisclosure of the house’s reputation as fraudulent, it did allow the buyer out of his contract and the return of his down payment.

……According to a study by two business professors at Wright University, the supernatural stigma associated with houses where murder or suicide have occurred can take 50% longer to sell, and at an average of 2.4 percent less than comparable homes. Yet, a California appraiser, who specializes indiminution in value issues, says that a well publicized murder generally lowers selling price 15 to 35 percent.

…………..Sellers should disclose grisly facts about the house, so they will not be “haunted” later. Even if not required by state law, in order to soothe the spirits of prospective buyers and avoid lawsuits, the seller should be upfront about their home’s paranormal guests or ghoulish histories.

Hmm. Now the piece above obviously relates to the United States. The story I am going to tell you is about a house in India. In an old area of Kolkata.

My uncle used to stay there. Still does as a matter of fact. I had noticed several times that the imposing, ancient three-storeyed building that stood in an adjacent lot to my uncle’s was quite a bit different from the surrounding houses. Simply because in an area with an extremely high population density, the three storied building was surprisingly empty. No lights came on in the evening, no sounds emanated from it and there it stood, a sole sombre somewhat eerie presence out-of-place in a well-populated, bustling community.

Such houses are not rare in Kolkata—often these are houses caught in a property dispute between brothers, wasting away under a court order for decades. What usually happens to these places is that they get encroached upon, the local CPM goondas breaking through the ground floor windows and converting it into a ‘club house’—-an euphemism for a den of iniquity. Therein also this house was unique—-not even the local ruffians had appropriated it for their law-abiding, leftist activities.

So I asked my uncle the story behind this. My uncle, who is a very pragmatic and definitely not the yarn-spinner-type told me the history of that place (this story has been corroborated by other people in my uncle’s family). About 50 years ago when my uncle was a teenager, the house was owned by a middle-aged man, a recluse who never socialized with the neighbours, kept to himself and was reputed to have a murderous temper. In his house lived only one other person, a widow Bramhin cook.

She was rather strange too. She also almost never came out except sometimes, she would open the second floor window and try talking to my uncle’s mother. Always whispering, never quite making sense, the widow Bramhin cook would speak of unspeakable horrors going on in the house and how she will one day be killed. My uncle’s mother was rather distraught but desisted from interfering because the old man had a very nasty reputation. Plus she never quite understood why if she was really so afraid of her life did not the Bramhin lady just leave. She and the others in the locality were convinced: the Bramhin lady was not quite right up-there.

Then one day right after Durga Pujo and before Kali Pujo, my uncle’s mother was in the yard (uthon as Bengalis call it) when the second floor window opened again. The Bramhin lady was again whispering but this time my uncle’s mother was really startled. According to her, she had never seen such naked terror in anyone’s eyes. The lady kept whispering ” He will kill me tonight. I am positive.” My uncle’s mother asked my uncle’s father if they should do anything about it and he brushed it off—-why get involved in the affairs of those crazy people who lived next door.

And then it happened. At around late evening, my uncle and the whole locality rushed out of their houses—responding to anguished death-screams. What he saw he said he would never forget. The Bramhin lady had come running out of the door, her whole body on fire, her screams echoing through the night. She died within seconds.

The police came, asked some questions, put the official verdict as ‘suicide’—-not surprising that the death of a poor widow was not worth spending too much time upon especially since a gentleman was in question.

Tongues had started wagging of course and soon the gentleman just locked up the house and vanished. And so the house stayed for many years. Some over-imaginative people heard screams in the night or people moving about—but then again, they were over-imaginative. But the fact remained that noone came to stay there and it acquired quite a ‘reputation’.

Cut to the early 80s. One day, a newly married couple turn up to rent the first floor of the house. The whispers were that the couple had possibly eloped (since living without in-laws still raised eyebrows in the early 80s) and thus, hard of cash, had jumped at the idea of renting a place available for far below the market rate. My uncle used to talk to them frequently and his impression of them was that they were a very nice couple, a stark contrast to the people who used to live in that place many years ago.
The 80s were the days (and nights) of regular load-shedding or powercuts in Bengal. One night, during one such bout of load-shedding my uncle was in the living room when he heard blood curdling screams coming from the neighbouring house.

Rushing out, he saw something that was an almost an action replay of something that happened many many years ago.

The young wife was running out through the door, her sari and hair on fire, screaming for her life. By the time my uncles could douse the flames, she was dead.

Evidently, her husband had left in the evening to buy something leaving his wife alone. Since it was load shedding, she had lit candles and her synthetic sari had caught a draft , touched an open flame and then as synthetic saris are wont to do, adhered to her body as it started burning.

The only small problem in this story: there was no breeze that night.

Terror gripped the locality. The word was out—nobody, not even the encroachers, would come within an arm’s length of the house. Unlike in US, in India it is the neighbours who inform prospective buyers and renters: so no need for litigation. The owners of the property did a 48 hour continuous bhajan to ‘exorcise’ the place but noone was buying.

Ultimately, the house had to be totally destroyed and modern flats constructed before it could be sold again. No further incidents have been reported.

It was this article on LegalZoom which reminded me of this story and I just had to share it with my readers.

Please note, I have intentionally not mentioned any specifics of the locality. That is because I do not want to adversely affect the investments of those who have bought flats on that lot just because of two unfortunate events that happened at the same place. Better let sleeping dogs lie.

After all, as rational scientific beings, we all know that haunted houses and curses do not exist.

Right?

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61 thoughts on “Something That Happened

  1. very interesting!

    call it human fraility, but a few of coincidences are enough to convince one of haunted houses, ghosts etc.

    i don’t need even that πŸ™‚

  2. Funny you tell this now GreatBong. I rent in a place which is more than a 100 years old where I don’t know how many people have been born and died. And do feel a presence. I am as rataional as it comes, questioning every belief and activity. But this does feel spooky sometimes. But I wait everyday for someone to come and chat with me.. would feel nice to speak to someone from out there. .. πŸ˜‰

  3. I got shivers from reading this. As rational beings we do try very hard to not believe in curses and ghost stories, but then, the irrational part always takes over. I think the irrational part is stronger.

    My dad talks of not only haunted houses, but haunted localities…families losing young people one after the another in inexplicable ways, ponds where a specified no. of people drown every year, no more no less.

    Another aspect of your story is intriguing. Even though the old cook confided her fears no one believed her. I know it would be the same today as well. Is it our faith in the better nature of humankind, our reluctance to getting involved, or our horror at mental illness that frames our attitude? We never believe it when someone tries to confide in us with stories like the old woman tried to. I have known parents not believing their daughters, until he girl comes home from the morgue, inexplicably burnt by a conveniently bursting stove. I know this is not germane to your story, but why do we never believe?

    By the way, do you watch the TV series “Supernatural”?

  4. What the hell.. you scared me… a lady on fire.. man, your uncle is really brave to have seen two… I cannot even start to fathom what it must feel like.

  5. Reminded me of a story too, my Mom used to talk about sometime.A businessman ,bought some property,demolished the old building and rigged up a new building to his taste.Everything was going normal except for his new born babies.None of them survived a month or two.And then comes some , much awaited sadhu, who points to some bad spirits existing around.And more specifically, he says some skeletons buried somewhere deep below the house.The house was demolished in a month time,and infact they found some skeletons.And of course mantras chanted, pujas done and new house came up. Everybody happy since then and the houseowner have grown up his family to full satisfaction.

    Somehow all these things nowadays happens to be heard out of third party.Never seen in the present.Wonder if some belief to be put in such hearsay.

  6. Nice read πŸ™‚

    Well there is an omen attached to building where I grew up.
    Every kid (gender does not matter) fails in exams atleast once.
    This unlucky/unholy blow could strike you in primary/secondary/college anytime-anywhere !
    Even toppers or scholars were not spared.
    There was an extended joint family staying, one year all kids from their clan flunked- 5 of them, maybe few more from other flats.

    I am still tying to figure out the reason for this.

    But there were positives which have came along !

    * None of parents or children felt outcast or ashamed.

    * After a guy fails, we used to welcome him/her in our club and bonds were made for lifetime.

  7. Great writing, GB.

    And could be an interesting screenplay too.

    I think haunted houses exist and I have a theory which I probably picked up in one of those “Unexplained Explained” kind of books that I was a sucker for while in school.

    Here it goes: the earth has a magnetic field which is sensitive enough to ‘record’ certain events. And some events are so strong that they leave an impression on the magnetic field. So houses are ‘haunted’, ‘murders’ are re-enacted. Unfortunately only the gory and the ghastly are talked spoken and written about.

    It’s not a theory I can scientificlly explain. But, boy, do I sound like a looney bin!

    ps: Yes, I also think that aliens built the pyramids! Ha!

  8. Ah,cool article GB πŸ™‚
    Nice narrative as always.
    And the last two sentences are cool.
    Not once in the whole story can the reader know about ur belief(s) in the paranormal.
    Hmm is this net neutrality ?

  9. the dramatics of the composition were quite blood curdling, specially when you say, ‘The only small problem in this story: there was no breeze that night.’ I think it clears your own take on the issue!

    and a good horror story is always enjoyable. a very nice and chilly read.

    saurabh

  10. Hey I think you should contact the Shymalan guy from Hollywood with this script! He would surely make it up to a movie πŸ˜‰
    Anyway nicely narrated by you. I got goosebumps all over, though I am reading it during daytime in office.

  11. I think u did this post only to test ur skills as a horror writer and good news us u r successful. For god’s sake, don’t do this. India has enough Ramsays. We need no more regressionists.

  12. Once is happenstance – twice is coincidence…
    It makes it a lot more interesting to think of it as paranormal than mundane coincidence.
    But… good story!

  13. Having said that, I think there is an easy explanation which doesn’t involve haunted houses etc. First death was a murder. Then, the 80s husband, who wanted to bump off his young wife/lover, chose that house specifically because it provided him with a neat alibi. “oh it was a haunted house and she died of accidental fire”.

    Yes, it is still spooky for a house to witness two identical murders separated by 30 years, but when you think that the second murderer chose that place and that mode *because* of the first murder, it becomes a little less spooky.

  14. Nice read!! I remember that the colony I used to stay in India had a quarter about which it was told that the whenever any family has lived there, the head of the family has commited suicide…. It remained vacant for more than 10 yrs before it was converted to a guest house for foreigners!!!
    Just note that the people eligible to apply for that quarter belonged to educated, rational and scientific communities. Its true that fear of death surpasses everything else. (But I don’t know why it is not working for Afzal Guru).

  15. For someone with firsthand experience(s) of ‘un-explainable’ things, I would like to believe that a day would come when any such para/ab/super/normal thing can be explained and backed with facts and logic. In my subconscious though, I am not sure that day will ever come (which is to say that I am sure such a day will never come).

  16. What’s so scary about people burning? And who’s to say that these weren’t accidents? If they weren’t accidents, then someone had to have started the fires, don’t tell me you’re still scared of murderers! They are everywhere, we just don’t know when they will strike…
    Nothing spooky about this story, sorry, doesn’t scare me πŸ™‚
    -A Great Ghaati

  17. Thats a very nice arbitrage opportunity. A smart investor would go around the country, pick up such property and make a killing developing and re-selling them. As superstitious as majority of Indians are, the house would probbly change hands for a pittance. And a few thousand should do the trick of keeping the neighbours zipped up. Let me know if you know any more of those “bhhoter bari”s πŸ™‚ .

  18. @Rahul Khare: Hmm.

    @Giri: Not few. Just two will suffice. Even one is enough sometimes.

    @The Wanderer: Havent seen it….though I presume that would be a spoof of the real estate agent from the Grudge ?

    @Aravind: Make franship type chat..?:-)

    @Shyam: What if you met a ghost and did not realize the person was one?

    @Mou: I suppose in this case it was merely the desire not to get involved. But what you ask is indeed germane to the story here.

    @Kannan: My uncle comes from a bygone age where people were “tougher”…

    @Kin kaw: Yes wonder when I shall actually have a spooky experience.

    @Sam: LOL. You have a winning comedy idea there.

    @Rahul Ghosh: I have heard explanations ranging from what you said to the energy given off by a person persisting at a place and of multiple dimensions.

    @JJ, Dipayan: Thanks

    @Lazy Liberterian: Am open to all possibilities. The truth is out there.

    @Saurabh: Thank you

    @Rick: After Shyamalan’s latest, I would do better to go to the Ramsays.

    @Kishor: πŸ™‚

    @Sayon: Of course…maybe the concepts of spirits and hauntings exist because they help us in convincing ourselves that there is something far more awe-inspiring than the mundane reality we encounter in our daily lives.

    @Mohan: Hmm possible. Or did the house corrupt our husband …abyssus abyssum invocat….

    @Amit: And the foreigners were spared ! Damn those racist evil spirits.

    @Ajay: Hmm.

    @Anon Lady: Indeed. And that’s nothing to be scared of.

    @Bengali Guy: I shall.

    @Manjula: πŸ™‚

    @Suyog: Indeed it does not.

    @Gourav: Zaroori naheen but mana bhi naheen hain.

    @Bongopundit: A Halloween post may still be around the corner. But thank you.

  19. In Sanskrt-based languages (like Bangla), you can simultaneously be a scientist and deal with ghosts: bhauta-vijnani – no problem GB πŸ˜‰

  20. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB:Scary story. I donÒ€ℒt think there are ghosts. But (and that is a big and inevitable Γ’β‚¬ΛœbutÒ€ℒ) if we believe in good wishes and prayers then why canÒ€ℒt we believe in bad wishes or abhisaap which brings in the concepts of ghosts and ill omens etc? I have known families which are supposedly given abhisaap and the effect is there for all to see. I know there is definitely no scientific explanations but the coincidence is scary Γ’β‚¬β€œ donÒ€ℒt you think?

  21. scary….really scary!!and very well narrated….

    by the way,

    which is the best (scariest) ghost film you have ever seen,gb?

  22. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » Something That Happened

  23. umm,

    scabrously hilarious!
    we need to wait for a few more years, say, 15-20 yrs to watch the replay….I am sure,this time a man will jump out like a fireball..from one of the flats!

    Have you ever read Roald Dahl? just a primary level!
    and watch Shining don delillos body artist

    Jyo(tsna)

  24. hey nice narrative style
    had me gripped until the end

    hmm so u believe ghosts dont exist

    allow me to correct one of the spellings however
    its brahmin and not bramhin πŸ™‚

  25. I never belief in al these supernatural things, even though I hve somewht seen this from close quaters. For obvious reason, I wont let you knw th details. But let me tell you smthin My ancestrol village is called Kaalu. its near Luankansar in Bikaner district, Rajasthan. Every yr there would be a family in which someone or the other is “possessd” by ghosts or whtever you may call them. My neighbour’s newly wed wife was “possessed” for nearly a fortnight. And i saw with my own eyes not any hearsay, but sumhow find difficult to believe, but yes durin my stay I was so terrified tht I never set my foot on the terrace…

  26. Well the story is quite intresting and i do believe that there are some super natural things in this world which we dont know.This is proved from the story which i m telling.Infact not a story ,a true incident experienced by my father.My grandfather was a principle in govt owned rural schools.he used to get postings in rural areas.One day my father was pinched by a scorpio(bicchu).Whole body of my faher was paining.Intrestingly
    my father was not cured by some medicine but he was cured by the neighbour who with his mantras cured my father in 30 minutes.Now if this is something supernatural and my father instead of being well educated do believe in supernatural things because he experienced it.

  27. Nice stories but there not scary at all put more scary stories on this website. I don’t thik these stories are all true.(get some true scary stories) and are these haunted houses all in in india I DON’T THINK SO!!!!! add some real info to this website agian it was pretty good (NOT!!!)

  28. My girlfiends dad saw ghost.

    He was driving home from work very l8 night. None else on road. Near traffic light he saw woman smiling at him in yellow sari. Concerned at woman alone so l8, he opens car door to help, only to then see top body floating in air, she had no body beneath waist. He drove away in panic at full speed.

    Next day he reads of death of lady & man in scooter accident prior evening. Woman was wearing yellow sari.

    These things are real.

  29. i dont believe on these things but i know that there must be smthing called spirits or ghosts on this earth
    but i wont believe it until and unless i see them from my eyes

    infact no one should believe without watching from there own eyes

    its the fact of life

  30. This is a true story. I stayed in the Duplex 48/B Hanuman Nagar Pune for a year. Owner Of The House Died a few years ago. Her GHOST still stays there and is seen to people at night. Often she pulls the blanket and shakes the bed. She is often seen wearing a white sarree. She still use the whole house and visits every room at 4:05 at night. Her voices can be often heard in the kitchen. A few neighbors has also sitting her in house’s backyard..below a coconut tree………. But she does not harms you!!!!!!!

  31. DATE 28410
    I STAY IN KAMATH 207….
    ROOM NO. 206 IS ALSO HAUNTED OVAHERE…
    THERE USED TO B A GUJRATI WORKER, WHO COMITTED A SUICIDE IN 2006
    SINCE THEN, NOBODY HAS BEEN ABLE TO STAY FOR MORE THN 6 WEEKS IN THAT ROOM..
    THIS HAS BEEN A SECRET FRM PAST 4 YRS.. IT WAS JUS RECENTLY WHN THE ROOM WAS OPENED TO BE RENOVATED THN ME AND FEW FRNS GOT THE 1ST GLIMPS OF THE ROOM….
    JUS LAST MONTH, THERE WAS A POOJA CONDUCTED AT MID NITE, WHEN ALL OF US WERE SUPPOSED TO VACATE THE HOSTEL, EVEN ON THE MAIN ROAD, WE EXPERIENCED SOME ABNOXIOUS SOUNDS CURSING THE OWNER.. WE REALLY GOT SCARED AFTER THAT,,, AND WHEN WE TRIED TO ENQUIRE ABT ALL THS FRM THE MANAGEMENT, THEY SIMPLY REPLIED ” ITS NONE OF UR BUSINES THERE IS NOTHING IN ROOM “.
    I JUS WANTED TO INFORM U ABT ALL THIS, ND DAMN SCARED.. I DUN KNW WT GONNA HAPPEN AFTER THIS..
    AS MY ROOM IS JUS NXT TO IT, I WAS LEANING OUT OF MY WINDOW AND I HEARD SOMEBODY CURSING SOMEONE IN GUJRATI,
    SO M LEAVING THIS PLACE BY TOMM….

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