Every Tea Garden Bungalow must have its own resident ghost. I was a little disappointed that Second Chance House (only 150 years old) at Selim Hill Tea Garden had no ghosts and visiting friends and family could not be enthralled with hair raising stories.
However, there are no exceptions to the rule. Some reactions may take a little longer, but it is only a matter of time. The day had run its course, the sun had retired. The moon was on leave, so there were only some dim stars sometimes peeping out of the mist. In silent companionship, my husband and I read our respective books. At first I was sure the deep throaty, weird sound came from my partner. But no, we could both hear it and it was not our imagination. The study lights suddenly became eerie and just not enough. The sound continued and could not be ignored any longer.
The Chowkidaar was called for. He took a good 10 minutes to come with his flashing torch light, casting aspersions on our mental health. After looking around, he announced that there was nothing anywhere.........anyway, we should know better than to live in this house. I cannot lie, I was completely spooked as he told me about the mournful voice that sings in a foreign language; how a shadow walks up and down the creeking wooden stairway every night; an erstwhile deaf chowkidaar who got slapped because he ignored the spirit...........until I pleaded with him to simply go back to sleep.
Fear makes faith stronger, so I prayed to all the Gods I believe in, held onto my husband (even as he laughed at me) and went to bed. After a short interval, the sounds came back, louder and bolder! All windows and doors were bolted, but then spirits can apparate through walls....was this project a huge folly on our part? Would we survive the night? When would the sun rise?
Somehow, my tired eyelids drooped and before I knew it, the sun had risen. Was the new day laughing at me or was this also my imagination? It was a beautiful morning that beckoned me outside. What a sight awaited me! I was thoroughly confused. The entire lawn had been uprooted. The roots of the azaleas had been mauled. Quite an active ghost, I must say!
On further enquiry, we learnt that a sounder (gang) of wild boars had squeezed through the fence and marauded around looking for treasure under the earth. Wild Boars are large, fierce animals who are quite dangerous and can take on even a tiger. The sounds we heard that night were the grunts of these nocturnal creatures that were foraging for food. These bold animals are now on the endangered list because we don’t know how to share land.
I don’t know what I found more beautiful - The delicate crocus filled lawn or the wild boar mauled lawn. How contradictory nature is! Everyday at Second Chance House is an adventure. In Darjeeling, the marvels of nature are definitely stranger than fiction. There may be memories and stories that reside in our house, but I believe they are as friendly and well meaning as Casper.
As I sipped my Dorje Cold Brew Tea that day, I promised myself I would be more careful about what I wished for!
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