March 29, 2010

A Simple Ghost Story - IIII

Gyanban Preview -
Please read the previous 3 episodes in chronological order to understand this episode.

This episode has chapters,in reverse chronology which are exclusive to this episode only.

Read notes at the end of the post.


Final Chapter # 5 - Warning at Jiblishan Tea Stall.

Tobu got his first fright, of what was going to be a long night.

Mandeville was just a few meters away. The familiar uneasiness returned to Tobu’s stomach. As he walked up the slope, he spotted a tea shop just before the Mandeville compound.

‘So you are back’ remarked the tea stall owner.

For a moment ,Tobu tried recalling if he had seen the tea stall on his previous visit but couldn’t place it.

‘oh uh – you noticed’ said Tobu taken aback a little.

‘why don’t you go back’? came a razor sharp retort.

‘Excuse me? What is your problem, Do I know you?’ Tobu asked with a hint of agitation.

After a brief exchange of glares, Tobu backed down a bit. He rationalized that he needed whatever little information he could get, from anyone ,he could possibly meet, in his quest to find the truth.

‘listen I need some help’ said Tobu after a brief moment of silence in a more polite tonality.

The man was rather fair, almost Caucasian like...tall, thin, long bony hands, and strangely long fingernails...
'quite odd for a tea-stall owner' Tobu observed silently.

‘err I know this might sound strange, but did you ever notice anything unusual about that house?’ Tobu said pointing to Mandeville.

‘I mean anything that struck you as odd? After all you’ve been selling tea here so you must have noted something?’ Tobu stressed.

The man kept staring at Tobu. There was something odd about that tea stall, but Tobu just couldn’t point his finger to it. Was it the odd shaped kettle? It had something like horns pointing outwards on it s handle.

'Must be a medieval design' Tobu dismissed it off mentally. Or was it the dark décor in the interior of the stall. Quite unlike a buzzing tea stall he was accustomed to see in Kolkata.But he didn't have time to analyze further.As he was deliberating the tea stall man spoke again....

‘lights twinkle in the middle of the night..’ said the tea man – taking Tobu by surprise.

Before he could finish Tobu interrupted…

‘yes , yes, did you see it too ?’ ‘I mean was there any noise or did you see anyone?’

‘did you see smoke out of the chimney?’ Tobu’s excitement continued.

‘Go away and don’t come back’ the tea man growled.

Tobu wasn’t going to push his luck right at the beginning..what if he fell short of it later on?

As Tobu walked past the stall,a familiar smell of eucalyptus wafted in from somewhere close by. Something he had experienced in Alan White’s presence.But he couldn’t make the connection. As he entered 6 Mandeville Mansion, the elevation in front of him showed one chimney billowing smoke. He took a deep breath and walked in through the iron gate.

CLAAANG ! The iron gate slammed behind him. Startled Tobu looked back to see the metal hinge of one gate interlocking with the other and shaking violently. As if one side of the gate wanted to free itself and the other kept binding it back. There wasn’t an earthquake, but the gates were shaking wildly.

Tobu closed his eyes..., clenched his fist and reminded himself about his mission. As he was about to turn back again, he noticed the tea stall man staring at him from a distance, and in the background his empty tea stall.

Final Chapter # 4 – The Fireface Incident.

Key #RV18 was shining under the light above. The breeze had picked up and the mercury had dropped to 10C.The surrounding sound had died down and the distant dog bark was the only reminder of living beings.

Tobu kept his back pack on the floor, opened the zipper ,took out a Swiss knife, a torch and a towel. He wiped his face. Familiar sweat beads had started appearing on his body again.

This time he decided to switch on all the lights of the hosue. As he walked towards the switchboard, he could feel someone breathing on his shoulder. The inhaling and exhaling behind his ear lobes shot his blood pressure, heart beats and senses into a frenzied state.He froze. Fear gripping every pore in his body. Looking back was not an option.

So he decided to complete his action. His fingers slowly reached out to the switch board. He waited for the inhaling and exhaling to stop behind his shoulder, but it got colder and faster.

‘It has to be sudden’ Tobu thought in a frenzied state of mind. And in a flash he switched on the lights.

and quickly turned back...but there was no one.

Tobu closed his eyes and breathed again. He had held the Swiss knife so tightly that it dug into his palm. Little drops of blood dripped on the floor. The towel came in handy.

He took a deep breath, calmed his frayed nerves and decided to walk to the fireplace in the mezzanine room.

The 3 steps spoke to him -

  1. Go back
  2. Stop.
  3. Be Afraid.

Tobu entered the mezzanine room. It was empty and the fireplace was burning. He decided to investigate. He walked across the table on the creaking wooden floor towards the fireplace. He squatted in front of the simmering fire, he looked around, but couldn’t find anything unusual.

As he was about to get up, he noticed that the fire was slowly increasing. He was puzzled. There were a few twigs and coal pieces but the fire seemed to increase the intensity. Soon it spread all across the fire place. The heat was unbearable.

As he moved back a few steps he saw a burning face inside. The shock pushed him in the opposite direction and as he was fell the face seemed to come out of the fireplace.

It was Alan White.

The face grew larger as it came closer to Tobu’s face. He was on his back now, unable to get up, he desperately scrambled to get away, furiously kicked his legs , but he moved only an inch.

‘Go away or die with me’ the burning face spewed.

Tobu’s right hand still had the torch and he flung it hard, on to the burning face. To his horror it kept coming closer and closer to him. In his frantic effort to pull himself back, his head hit the corner of the table. In another timeline -the torch hit the wall behind and broke.

Silence and darkness had been restored.

Final Chapter # 3 – The Book of Secrets - page 616.

Beep Beep. Tobu’s watch chimed at 2AM.

Tobu got up with a start. He was lying on the floor in front of the fire place. His head hurt. Something had hit him hard. Still fuzzy when saw the clock,Tobu didn’t realize how so many hours had passed by.

As he struggled to get up, he saw his torch broken, lying inside the empty and now unlit fireplace.There was no fire, no twigs, no coal nothing. He thought about retrieving the torch from inside the fireplace.

Wisely,he stopped.

He decided to go back to the living room. As he limped across the wooden floor, he saw the keys to house lying on the table.

‘I must search the property papers.’ Tobu thought.

‘But aunt Preeta never told me where to look for them… damn. She did mention the word locker…but where?’

He switched on the lights again, to scan the room ...and found no locker there. It never occurred to him about how did the lights switch off ? Too preoccupied with fear. He pulled a chair and sat on the dining table and kept the keys in front of him.

The key was RV13. What was RV 13? Did it signify anything? Why RV? Why 13? Or was he reading too much into it? Tobu’s mind was desperate for answers now.

As he sat there pondering ,he noticed a book shelf in front of him. Lots of books on history, literature, political science but what caught his attention was a MENSA Bulletin.

Now why would there be a MENSA bulletin in the house of a convent school teacher.?

He got up ,opened the book shelf glass door, and took out the MENSA bulletin.

As he flipped the pages, he saw some cryptic puzzles.

· 66B of the B

· 39B of the OT

· 1000Y in a M

His sharp mind was ticking instinctively…what could these mean ? Are these just for misdirection? What's the connection ?

As he flipped more pages.. Tobu chanced upon an example – 26L of the A = 26 letters of the Alphabet.!!

He extrapolated further 'so 66B of the B could be 66 books of the Bible.!'

As if it struck like a bolt from the blue - Tobu snapped his fingers.

‘Yes’.!!! ‘I got it.’ Tobu exclaimed in momentary joy.

The puzzle of the keys fell into place. There were two important keys RV 13 and RV18.

RV13 = Revelations Chapter 13 in the bible ,& RV 18 was nothing but Revelation verse 18.

'so which means that the secret of the keys must be hidden in the bible.' Tobu thought.

Tobu searched the entire stack but there was no sign of any bible.He ran down the stairs and searched the living room, still no sign. He was getting really desperate now.

‘There has to be a bible somewhere here.’ He muttered. The window pane which had the Masai tribe curious caught his attention. They were leaning against a thick black book.

It was the Bible.

Tobu flipped the pages furiously, searching for the chapter and the verse.

Page number 616.

Book of Revelations .Chapter 13 verse 18 -

17 καὶ ἵνα μή τις δύνηται ἀγοράσαι ἢ πωλῆσαι εἰ μὴ ὁ ἔχων τὸ χάραγμα, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θηρίου ἢ τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ. 18 ὧδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν· ὁ ἔχων νοῦν ψηφισάτω τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ θηρίου, ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν· καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ.[8]

Translated as – “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

‘666 – The devils number’ that explains it’ Tobu thought.

Alan White was the answer.At least one answer.

‘But why Mandeville?’ Why this house? It wasn’t until much later that Tobu realized that Mandeville had “devil” inside.
It was the devils house. Thus all the numbers made perfect sense.

He sat there in the living room shell shocked. Now he had to find the papers. Some documentation. As he flipped the pages of the Bible on page 666, a map fell off the Bible. It was an old paper almost torn and fragile, folded into 4 squares.

He opened the paper slowly…and there he saw something that made the whole room spin around him.

It was the original sale deed of the house. And a hand written note which read…

To whomsoever it may concern

I,Alan G White, owner of 6 Mandeville Mansion, hereby wish to sell, my family property, to Mrs.and Mr. John Anderson for Rupees 5000 only.

Signed - Alan G White.

April 23, 1936.

Tobu had goose bumps on his arm. ‘I have to find out the connection between John and Alan – but how?’ Tobu was puzzled.

Final Chapter # 2 – The Innocent Entrapment.

Kanchenjunga was clearly visible by 7AM.A shrivelled Tobu had fallen asleep sitting on the floor, his fists clenched the Swiss knife..the blood had dried,the only evidence of fright night.

Sunlight broke through the windows and poked Tobu’s eyes. He woke up rubbing his eyes and scratching his head,accidentally scratched the wound and that got him back to his full senses.

‘ aah - dam it’ he yelped. He wondered if there was any Boroline around.

But then time was against him he had to solve the mystery…after all what happened last night...he did not want to spend another night here.

He zipped up his backpack, took the property papers ,locked the door and walked towards the iron gate.

‘These gates were jammed yesterday’ he thought - i'll have to pull real hard, as jumping over doesn't see like an option.'

Surprisingly the gates opened without much effort..and as he walked down the slope he crossed the place where there used to be the Jiblishan Tea stall.

Except that there was …no tea stall at all. Nothing. Just an empty plain landscape.

Tobu paused for a moment to look around that place…but no sign no mark absolutely nothing.

Just then a local postman was passing by on a cycle, and saw Tobu waving at him.

He stopped and Tobu ran to him down hill…which led to the main road.

‘Thanks for stopping..this might sound weird to you..but do you know if there was a tea stall here just before Mandeville Mansion?’

‘It was called something like Jiblishan Tea Stall if I remember correctly’.Tobu inquired politely.

The old postman’s eyes turned cold, he started shivering and began to drag his cycle away from Tobu.

‘Hey don’t go away..Please tell me what’s the problem?’Why are you running away…I have some more questions…please..please..’

As the postman sped away Tobu heard his distant voice say…

‘There was no such Tea stall there…only ghosts…’

Tobu gulped.

It was twice in 18 hours that he had spoken to 2 ghosts !
‘I just don’t understand what’s wrong with me – why do I keep seeing them? Why not anyone else’? Tobu muttered in frustration as he walked down the main road towards the mall.

Tobu chalked out a plan. He bought a yellow pages book of classified advertisements and marked all the places he wanted to search.

  • Town Administration Office
  • Hospital
  • Morgue
  • Cemetery
  • Police Station

Option 1. yielded nothing unusual, it showed aunt Preeta’s name as the rightful owner. Previous owner information was not available.

Option 2. yielded nothing. Half a day had been wasted chasing officials, bringing them for some information and all he got was a dead end.

Option 3. yielded no information beyond 1970.

Option 4. Yielded some information. As he went through some old records, he saw a familiar last name Anderson.

He had found the tomb for Edwina Anderson. Tobu ran across the cemetery trying to locate the name and found it on the second last row 6 th coffin.

The inscription on the stone read -

In loving memory of my mother Edwina Anderson,

Born 1890- died 1958.

- Love Emily Anderson.

‘So Emily Anderson is John and Edwina’s daughter. So she is the missing link’

‘She must have inherited the house from her parents.’ Tobu inferred.

‘Now where do I find Emily Anderson?’

Option 5.- Tobu walked into the oldest police station in town. Luckily, for the first time, he did not meet a road block. Inspector Khan was recently transferred to this location. He seemed liked dynamic smart modern officer.

Inspector Khan heard out Tobu’s story patiently. Tobu had chosen not to share the Alan White details deliberately lest he could confuse the inspector.

‘hmm so you need to know if we have any records for Anderson family eh? sumamrised inspector Khan.

‘Yes sir’ Tobu politely nodded.

‘Gurung Please take him to the old files chamber, show him where some of the closed case files from 1930 -1960 are stored.’

‘Ji shabji’ Gurung saluted.

‘Thank you sir you ve been most kind’ said Tobu and excused himself.

‘this is it shaabji’ ‘Oh please be careful of the cobwebs, dust and mites, you see we don’t open this place too often’ Gurung said.

‘Thanks Gurungji’ Tobu said and got cracking right away.

At about the 45th minute mark Tobu’s fingers touched File number 616 dated 1958 in the criminal files section.

Silverfish were everywhere and had to be dusted off before he could open the file.

Tobu skipped a beat when he saw the name Edwina Anderson.

‘Why would Edwina Anderson’s name be in this criminal case file?’

The case history Tobu read, brought back the uneasiness in his stomach.His head was spinning and he could not believe what he had just read.

Criminal Case history Ref.Number 2304/EDWINA/DARJ/MANDEVILLE/1958.

It was alleged that Edwina Anderson, wife of John Anderson, masterminded the killing of her lover Alan White , resident of 6 Mandeville Mansion. But it never got proven in the court of law, due to lack of critical evidence.

Some notes by the investigating officer in charge revealed the following –

  1. Edwina Anderson had gone to his residence on the night of 23rd April 1958 at about 6PM according to the last eye witness - a local postman.
  2. During the course of their meal in the mezzanine floor, she had poisoned the food of Mr. Alan White. It was an emptied eucalyptus oil bottle [exhibit 2a]
  3. Later to make sure he was dead, She dragged his body near the fire place, chopped each hand in 3 places. Broken bone remains confirmed the same.
  4. Severed the legs with the butchers knife, [exhibit 2b] and stuffed the body into the fire place.
  5. She poured the entire bottle of the eucalyptus oil on the chopped body parts and set it on fire... Alan White’s body was burnt beyond recognition.
  6. No prior family was known to claim his remains.No records were found in hospitals either.
  7. Edwina Anderson was found dead under mysterious circumstances a few days later.
  8. Her husband, Mr.John Anderson relocated to England with their only daughter Emily.
  9. Mr.Anderson was nominated as care-taker owner of 6 Mandeville Mansion till such time any family of Mr.White claimed the property.
  10. No one did.

Final Chapter # 1 – The Mandeville Calm.

‘Edwina Andersons murder remains a mystery till today’ Tobu sighed.

A shocked audience listened to him patiently.Tobu's parents, Debu were stunned.

Aunt Preeta was in tears. She had never realized how cursed the house was. She even tried to relate her husband untimely death to these incidents.

‘Maybe he saw Mr.White as well – who knows’ she sobbed.

‘But Aunt Preeta, how did you come across Mandeville ?’ asked Tobu.

‘I didn’t. Soumen did. When I was just new to Darjeeling, on one of our evening walks around town, Soumen showed me the Mandeville Mansion.

‘His dream house. He was just so much in love with it’ s architecture and landscaping and what not...’

‘Piu if we ever get a chance to buy this place – promise me we will go all out to buy it.’Soumen had said.

‘Over the years, I forgot about it until one day Emily and her husband Ryan had come to the school to see the student they were sponsoring from England’

‘Rose Mary was my student’ she was abandoned as a baby and raised in an orphanage. It was Emily’s way of remembering Darjeeling.

‘Soon, our interactions grew closer as I got to know Emily as a person. Her husband Ryan was insistent on moving back to England. They too were getting old and living without much friends. Emily was not keeping too well because of her asthmatic condition.’

‘Emily had come to know about Soumen’s death through common acquaintances. It is then she suggested me to move in as a PG with them. Over the years, we became closer, and I took a liking to Mandeville, after all it was Soumen’s dream to be in that house.’

‘One day Ryan informed that they would be moving back to England, would offer to sell the house to me as a first preference.’

‘Naturally I was thrilled and took it upon me to arrange finances. But It wasn’t going to be enough. Until Emily intervened and said, she considered me as family, and willed Mandeville to me. Also giving me the responsibility of Rose Mary.’

‘Wow’ Debu said. Everyone turned to look at him. ‘err I mean It must ve been very difficult for you I know but also for Rose Mary isn’t it? Where is she now?’ Debu said sheepishly.

‘Oh She is in London for her higher studies’ She will be coming to Darjeeling a few next summer.

‘hmm so Tobu lets plan a trip to Darjeeling’ Debu said spontaneously.

Tobu glared at him and said ‘ you are right Debu, you must be dying to meet Mr.White again – so why don’t you go ahead and book your trip – I ll give it a skip’

Debu let out a nervous laugh and shut up.

Final Chapter # 0 – Gyanban thoughts - fact or fiction?

  1. This Episode is written in Reverse Chronology as a mark of countdown~
  2. Symbolic of a life ending and a life beginning -either side of Mandeville Mansion.
  3. Mystery of Jiblishan - has the word Iblis embedded into it – meaning devil in Islam.
  4. Book of Revelations - Chapter 13 verse 18 discusses about the Devils number.
  5. Read about the explanation here.Scroll to the bottom of the page.
  6. MENSA - is the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world.
  7. MENSA -Questionnaire can be found here -Test your genius level.
  8. Eucalyptus oil - catches fire very quickly.
  9. Tobu does not see Mr.White anymore ,or so he says to me.
  10. Tobu is a doctor today, a big one at that.
  11. the cold case files at Darjeeling Police station have some evidence.
  12. the incident is probably classified under accident.
  13. Rose Mary 's past is kept shrouded in mystery deliberately.
  14. Ironically, co-incidentally,John Anderson was the governor of Bengal from 1932-38.
  15. There was a failed assassination attempt on John life.
  16. Aunt Preeta shuttles between england and Kolkata now.
  17. Mandeville Mansion has a new caretaker now.
  18. This was a difficult story. conceiving it was even more difficult.
  19. You could find typos,and or some errors, apologies for that,will correct it as soon as i see it.
  20. I had to post it tonight itself.Some of my readers were very keen.
  21. Thank you to those who encouraged me to write and evolve.
  22. Thank you to those who take the time to read this long post.
  23. For those who dont, thank you as well.

PS : Did you know the number 23 is also known as the Enigma number.?


  1. i hated scary stories, yet i had never waited for a "follow-up" post the way i waited for this one. :-) extremely well written, in a style which i obviously envy. a double kudos.. hope to see more of tobu in the future....

  2. Brilliant is the only word !WOW !Strangely long fingernails,horns pointing outwards kettle's handle,Claang-wildly shaking gates,increasing flames in spite of few twigs,devil's number,Boroline(i loved it Mr.G.B.)...the murder case history,MENSA bulletin ,Eucalyptus oil(its volatile nature)....i can go on and on.I am not a writer but as an average reader i can say that your story gripped me right from the first part till the last.Hats off to you.
    It is a scary story,i am glad i read it now(its not dark as yet..hee).

  3. 7-aTe-9 you re most kind.Thank you for your patience.! So a double thank you too.!! truly appreciate it.

  4. Kavita - I am glad you noted the finer a writer it does feel nice when the reader "gets it" you know. ...especially the kind of writing style i have, dont blame readers if they don't get it actually.So it was nice to know you noted the finer points int he story.

    Thanks so much.


Say it only if you mean it -

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