Among many other things, FOOD or CUISINE is something, every community in this country claims to be expert. There’s a sort of competition goes on as to which one is the superior if not the best. But there is one thing on which Bongs win hands down and that’s the GHOST STORIES. I haven’t come across many good stories of ghosts or paranormal activities even in English literature. Below is a true encounter with a spirit told to me by my brother some years back that has been etched in my memory.

My job as Account Director with the advertising agency takes to various places in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh for client meetings. On one such visit to Amritsar to make the campaign presentation to the management team of Vardhman Group, we, me and my colleague Swarup got late in leaving for Delhi and decided to take a halt at Jullundhar. We knew the place well and had stayed there at Hotel Skylark, many an occasion.

It was getting dark when we left the suburbs of Amritsar; the destination was 2-3 hours journey if everything goes well. Joseph, the trusted driver was at the wheels of Ambassador Car and driving at a sedate pace of 60km per hour. Both of Swarup and I had dozed off in the comfort of the back seat. Suddenly, the car started losing speed and came to a sputtering halt. I woke up first and asked Joseph what has happened? Joseph muttered something inaudible and got out to open the bonnet to check the problem. After some time he came around and said, “It seems there’s kachda (dirt) in the carburetor. I will clean it but it may take some time.” We had nothing to say, I cannot even drive, let alone repair a car.

What seemed to be eternity was actually 30-35 minutes that took Joseph to clean the carburetor of the Ambassador and the car engine came to life. We were relieved as the car once again rolled on. But more adventure was on store for us that evening.

We were on the highway and again moving at a steady speed when suddenly, the car started swerving at an angle on the road. Joseph was a good driver and immediately brought the car to a halt on the side of the road and put the blinkers on. This time, one of the rear tyres has got punctured. Outside was dark as there were no street lights on the highway. I asked Joseph, “How far is Jullundhar from here?” He said it is approximately one hour from the point where we were stranded. Then with help of the Eveready Torch that I always carry with me on these tours, Joseph started to change the tyre.

It took another fifteen minutes for us get going again. There were no further incidents till our destination, Hotel Skylark, Model Town Road, Civil Line, Jullundhar. The hotel Manager Prakash Verma knew me well and welcomed us with warm smiles. We told him that we are in only for the night halt and shall leave in the morning after breakfast. Also that we would be taking one room only, no point spending unnecessary money for one night. Prakash said, “Fine Sir, I will allot you the number 410 which is at the corner and bigger room too. I will provide you one extra bedding so that Joseph can also be accommodated” I had no issues him sleeping in the room as it was matter of one night only. I am very finicky about cleanliness and it has become a practice that I ensure the hotel room is cleaned in front of me wherever I go and most hotels comply too. Skylark was no different and Prakash knew about this, so he called the housekeeping staff to get the room cleaned as we entered the room. The room was really spacious with two separate beds and ample space for the third bedding on the floor. The housekeeping staff came with fresh bed sheets & towels, vacuum cleaner and after about 10 minutes the room was made habitable for me.

We ordered food in the room only along with soda and ice. Swarup was carrying a bottle of Peterscott whiskey with him. Joseph had gone down to have his dinner and must have his own brand of liquor with him, I guessed. When we finished our drinks and dinner, it was almost 11pm and decided to call it a day. I brushed my teeth, a regular good habit and lied down in my bed which was directly opposite to the dressing table. We have kept the bathroom light on and faint ray of light emanated from below the door. Swarup was already snoring, I said “Lucky Man”, under my breath. It took me some time to finally sleep, may be 5-10 minutes.

I have a very light sleep and will wake up with slightest sound or movement in the room. As it happened, I woke up with the sound of shuffling of the feet. I thought, Swarup or Joseph has got up to go to the bathroom but to my surprise saw both of them sleeping soundly. Then eyes settled on the dressing table and I became very still unable to move. There, a lady, I can see only the back, is sitting on the dressing table stool and combing her hair. From where did she come? I clearly remember having locked the room after putting the food tray outside and once Joseph had come in the room. I was mesmerized with the event happening in the room and was praying that either of Swarup or Joseph should wake up too. I considered myself a brave soul and logical too but even in this winter month of January, I started to perspire unable to move any of my body parts. Meanwhile the lady in question was at her job of combing her hair and making a bun using some hair clips and black ribbon. I do not know how it went on and then she got up went in the bathroom, without opening the door, just vanished inside the closed bathroom door. By now, I was sure that it’s all my dream, shouldn’t have taken that third peg.

With great will power and strength, I got up from the bed and tip-toed to the bathroom to catch the intruder. I opened the bathroom door and there was nobody inside, I moved the shower curtains and there too was no one to be seen. I came back to my bed now absolutely sure that it was hallucination at its best courtesy the third peg of whiskey. I turned on my side and slept.

In the morning, it was Swarup, who woke me up around 6:15 am. He had already brushed and ordered tea from the room service. Joseph had also got up and gone down. Swarup said, “Boss, is this black ribbon yours? It was lying on the washbasin counter in the bathroom.” Whatever little sleep was there inside me vanished immediately. I switched on all the lights in the room and went to the dressing table. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a few strands of female hair and couple of hair clips lying there!!!

It cannot be true. My logical mind was shouting at the top of voice to me. The room was cleaned in front of me and there was nothing of the sort anywhere in the room so where did all these things come? I had no answer, then or even today.

I took the ribbon, hair clips & the hair strands and for a moment thought of bringing them back with me as a proof. But then thought proof of what? Nobody is going to believe this they experience it personally. I threw them in the dustbin and washed up.

Thereafter, I had been to Jullundhar many times, stayed at Hotel Skylark but never in Room # 410.

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