A decade ago I was doing a lecture tour on marketing and market research for the employees of a company that was trying to foray into e-commerce when the segment was in its nascent stage. Sometimes, the schedule used to be too hectic, completing a lecture in one city and moving on to another by overnight trains. The following story was told to me on one such evening when I was waiting at a station to catch a late night train to reach my next destination.
I was in the first class waiting room reading a book after having my dinner and coffee at the cafeteria of the station. I was engrossed in the book when I heard someone cough to get my attention. I looked up and saw a middle-aged person in priest’s attire with a large cross hanging from his neck. He smiled and introduced himself, “I am Father Xavier. Can I sit here?” I introduced myself and affirmed him to sit across on the sofa. It was a welcome break from my solitary situation. I was afraid I might doze off reading the book and miss the train although I had asked the stationmaster to inform me when the train approaches.
After few pleasantries, Father Xavier asked me what book I was reading. It was Jeffrey Archer’s Kane & Abel. He took the book and turned a few pages and was thoughtful for few moments before saying, “Let me tell you a true story from my own experience that is if you are inclined.” I was all ears to listen to someone’s life experience, so nodded in affirmation.
Father Xavier began after some thought, probably composing the words in his mind…
Besides being a priest, I am also a Clinical Psychologist with practice in the city. One evening as I was wrapping for the day, Lobo Fernandez stormed into my chamber panting and sweating. I offered him a glass of water and asked him to calm down.
“You know Father that I take private tuition, every evening after the school finishes I take that narrow road right next to the newly built graveyard. It is a shortcut to the house I go every evening to take tuition classes.” Lobo stopped momentarily.
“So, what happened?” Father probed.
“You also know, two months ago my uncle Francis was buried there… out of courtesy, when I cross the graveyard I raise my voice and say GOOD EVENING UNCLE FRANCIS. This has been going on for over a month now but today…” Lobo’s voice trailed off and he shivered as if remembering some horrible thing.
“But” interjected Father but waited for Lobo to continue…
“Four days ago something strange is happening, someone from the grave is returning my salutation. Initially I thought the local boys, the ones that go there for substance abuse is making fun of me but day before yesterday I searched the area with my torch but couldn’t see a soul around. I dismissed it thinking maybe that mind was playing games with me. Then the very next day same thing happened, this time I could hear the voice clearly and it was of my uncle Francis’s. I went to the gate of the graveyard and searched with the help of the torch… I could see all the graves except that of my uncle. It was in complete darkness as if someone has painted it black with tar. I got scared and ran off to the tuition. While coming back, I took an autorickshaw to reach home.”
Father Xavier waited for Lobo to continue… He was visibly shaken by the events.
“The following day I didn’t venture out from home… kept thinking about it… couldn’t share my experience anyone lest they think I am a coward or have gone insane. Then, yesterday, I gathered courage and went for the tuition… thought of taking an autorickshaw but as it was getting late, decided to walk… the alternate route is closed due to repair work so I had to take the graveyard road. I decided, today I won’t wish uncle and simply walk past the graveyard.” Lobo paused to take a sip of water.
“As I reached near the gate of the graveyard, I realized I can’t move… all my body has become heavy like a stone… in the middle of the road I was standing like a statue unable to move an inch even. I was horribly scared… I thought I will lose my senses…”
Father Xavier did not interrupt but waited for Lobo to continue.
“Just as I was about to faint, I turned the light of my torch towards the graves… like earlier I could see all the graves clearly except that of my uncle… it was in pitch darkness, in fact it seemed that the blackness was growing in size and rushing towards me. With all the strength I shouted GOOD EVENING UNCLE FRANCIS. This time the reply came from very close… the voice said WHY DID YOU TURN BACK? GO AWAY, QUICKLY. Suddenly, that blackness from my uncle’s grave rushed and wrapped my leg in tight embrace.”
Lobo drank up the water from the glass… his face was ashen gray… eyes popping out in fear.
Father Xavier got up and filled up Lobo’s empty glass. He put his hand gently on Lobo’s shoulder and said, “Sometimes hallucination can play…”
“Father, if it was hallucination, then how will you explain these marks?” Lobo had lifted his trouser upto the knee… there were clear marks of tightly wrapped ropes on his legs. The marks are so strong that in some places the skin has opened up to rawness of the bone.
Father Xavier looked at the wound with concern and asked, “What happened next? What did you do?”
“I don’t remember anything. I probably lost consciousness due to the fear that was gripping me at that moment. When I came to my senses, I found myself lying at the tea stall bench… couple of passerby’s found me unconscious near the graveyard gate and had brought me there.”
Father Xavier was thoughtful for few minutes then asked, “Your uncle Francis, how did he die? I mean was it natural or accidental?”
“Uncle Francis was old nearing 80 and not keeping a good health. Two months ago, one night after dinner he complained of pain in the stomach and chest. We thought it was a gastric pain and wanted to take him to the hospital but he refused. Instead, he went and lied down on his bed took some antacid as well. Next morning when he did not get up we called the doctor who said that uncle probably had a heart attack and died in the sleep. He was then buried at the new graveyard on the same evening.”
“You lived with your uncle Francis, who else is there in the family?” Father Xavier probed.
“Well, my father and another uncle had died when I was very young. Uncle Francis brought me up as his own kid along with his only son Robin. Now, I live with Robin and his wife.”
“Who referred you to me?” Father Xavier probed further.
Lobo seemed a bit surprised but said, “My cousin Robin, of course… he said you have a good reputation in solving paranormal activities and that you can probably help solving mine as well.”
“You do one thing Lobo, take leave from your tuition for week and rest at home. Your brain needs to relax and calm down. And forget the incidents as a nightmare. Also show your injury to a physician and apply medicine. I am sure in a week’s time you will feel good.”
Lobo did not seem to be to be wholly satisfied with Father Xavier’s advise but agreed to follow the instructions.
Father Xavier thought about those marks on Lobo’s leg and decided some miscreant may have used nylon cord to tie his leg tightly probably to rob him but seeing those passersby may have run away. Anyway, he decided to check out the graveyard area in the morning.
Next morning Father Xavier visited the graveyard and thoroughly inspected the place, everything seemed absolutely normal including the grave of Francis. He called up Lobo from there only and tried to explain that the so-called events are nothing but hallucination caused by the tiredness of overworked brain and probably because of his love and affection towards his uncle has been playing games on his mind. He should relax and let his mind calm down.
That night around 11/ 11:30, there was a loud banging on Father Xavier’s door. Thinking who could it be he opened the door to find a disheveled and scared to death Lobo standing.
“What happened? Everything is alright?”Father asked with concern.
“Nothing is right… nothing is right Father.” Blabbered Lobo and pushed Father to a side to enter the room. He picked up the water bottle and gulped down the water in a single action.
Father took him to his chamber asked again to explain what has happened. What Lobo said in a haphazard manner is …
Earlier in the evening, he was getting ready for the bed when he saw a blackened face staring at him from the window. It’s mouth was open and from it some snake like creatures were trying to come into the room through the grill. Lobo was shit scared and tried to away from the window when he realized someone was sitting on his bed smelling of burning flesh and like a stuck record kept on saying, “Why didn’t you come to wish me today? … Why didn’t you come to wish me today?” Lobo scared to the bone had ran out of the room and came straight to Father Xavier.
“What about your cousin and his wife?”
“They had gone out for the evening. I was alone at home. Do you think I should see a tantric or peerbaba to find solution to these paranormal things?” Cried Lobo.
“Look Lobo, I feel you are hiding something. If you don’t come out with truth then no tantric, peerbaba or fakir can help you. I think it’s time you come clean with whatever you have suppressed so far.”
Lobo was looking at the floor and shivering at the thoughts that crossed his mind. He looked up and narrated…
“I may have done a grievous crime, yes definitely a crime. You know Father, my uncle never treated me with amount of love or affection. I was treated like a slave, had to slog like a labourer at home. I always tried to please him but failed every time. He would at the slightest chance hit me, abuse me. He often used to call me a bastard and son of a whore. For twenty years I suffered a lot and couldn’t take it anymore. In fact, I thought uncle was behind the death of my parents to usurp the property. I thought getting rid of him will bring back my lost self esteem besides I will get the rightful share of the property as well. The thought of revenge was playing on my mind so, that night when I got the opportunity, I put poison in his food and by morning he was dead. But the rascal is still after me, he won’t leave me alive… What do I do Father?” Lobo confessed.
There was a thin smile on Father Xavier’s face. When Robin, son of Francis first suspected Lobo’s involvement in his father’s death he had met with Father Xavier and together they had planned to expose Lobo and his misdeeds. It was easy to trap a weak hearted Lobo with hallucination and graveyard tricks and he fell for it.
Father Xavier’s phone started ringing… it was Robin calling. He had already recorded the confession of Lobo in his recorder. He picked up the call…
“Hello Robin, the job is done, Lobo has confessed to his crime. He poisoned your father on that fateful night. He is with me right now and I will keep him here only. You call the police to take him away.”
“Father Xavier but there’s slight problem. And frankly I don’t understand what you are saying” Robin said hesitantly.
“What? What is the problem?” Father asked anxiously.
“As planned I was sitting on his bed in disguise with a piece of burnt meat. Lobo got so scared that he ran for the door and probably had a heart attack and fell on the floor hitting on the glass table. A piece of the glass gorged his left eye. I am sitting here with his corps.” Robin blurted out in a huff.
Father Xavier slowly put down the phone and looked up at the figure of Lobo. He was staring at Father Xavier in a cold stern look and a stream of blood was flowing out from his left eye.