This is set in the 1930s in a village in Ganjam, Odisha, India.
Hearing the banging on his window, Hariprasad was woken up from his slumber.
His friend, Natu, often did this at dawn to awaken Hariprasad.
The two would then set out to plow their agricultural land.
But, that particular
dawn no-moon (Amavasya) night, it appeared Natu had arrived earlier than usual as when Hariprasad opened his window, it was still dark outside. It appeared darker as there was no moon. It was a cloudy night & there were no stars too.
"Natu, you don't sleep or what? It's not yet dawn and you woke me up!"
Natu just mumbled, "Hmmm."
Natu was walking at a faster-than-usual pace and a still-drowsy Hariprasad followed him to the field.
"Natu, Let's draw the water from the well first. But, it's pitch-dark & still we have to fill the pitchers."
So saying hardly had Hariprasad handed a pitcher, when Natu had filled it in a jiffy!
Hariprasad found it pretty unusual.
All the pitchers were filled in no time.
When it was time to till the fields, Natu started plowing himself without taking the help of the bullocks.
"What's the secret of this sudden burst of power?"
"You are working like a man possessed!" Hariprasad observed.
Natu just mumbled, "Hmmm."
And then it struck Hariprasad!
As it was dark, he couldn't see the person, who was working like a man possessed.
Plus, Natu was loquacious, unlike the monosyllabic silent worker in front.
Hariprasad was wide-awake to realize that his partner on the field that night wasn't his friend Natu.
"Who are you?" Hariprasad asked when the person was emptying the water pitchers and tilling the fields.
There was a strong wind and a loud "Hmmm" as the figure started increasing in size and started taking long strides towards Hariprasad.
Hariprasad gathered his wits and ran without turning back.
He somehow reached his home and bolted the door and collapsed on his bed.
Hariprasad's window at dawn had its regular visitor.
But, unlike other days, Hariprasad did not answer it, or greet Natu...
Natu went to the field alone and found their entire field had been freshly watered and plowed...
It was evening when Hariprasad woke up to tell the tale of the energetic ghost he had met.
"Oh Grandma! Hariprasad could have seen the face of the ghost and realized that it's not Natu!", the nine-year-old-me said after my grandmother had narrated the story.
"In those days, there was no electricity. Ghosts moved freely. There were many encounters with ghosts!"
"This is stranger than fiction!" I remarked.
Grandma replied in a matter-of-fact manner, "This is a true story that happened in my village in Ganjam district of Odisha when I was a little girl like you. Truth is stranger than fiction..."
Do you believe in ghosts? Have you heard a true ghost story from your grandparents? Please share in the comments below.