This story comes from my dad and he was around 18 at the time of this particular incident. It was summer time so he went visiting relatives in a city called Sialkot. His maternal family was based there, living in a few houses in a small cluster. A few of his cousins and one of his uncles, Uncle Arshad, who was also quite young (being around 25 at the time), also joined him there. During their stay they heard a few stories of a house their family owned.
It was located two houses down the street and was unoccupied house at the time. Its only utility was that the courtyard (which was open to the sky) was used as a gym of sorts by the local bodybuilders during daytime. One of the stories they were told was that of a local bodybuilder named Manna. Manna was alone lifting weights there one day, and one time after getting up to stretch after lifting something particularly heavy he was patted on the back and told ‘Well done’. Only, he knew there was no one else in the room. He had stopped being there alone after that.
My dad and his uncle were quite excited after hearing all that and being ‘Young and foolish’ they decided to spend a night there. They were warned against it, a few of the elders including their maternal grandfather calling them fools for meddling in ‘things you do not understand’ but their minds were set. In the end, they decided that they would enter the house after dark, a little before midnight, and sleep there leaving just after daybreak. Since the house was not in use they decided to sleep on the roof on charpai’s (which is a traditional woven bed in the Indian subcontinent). They also instructed their watchman to lock the main door after they had entered to ensure no one else could enter after them and to come open the door immediately after daybreak. Apparently the watchman laughed after hearing this and told them he would keep the key ready because they would be calling him long before that.
The next night before they were supposed to go to the house one of their elders told them to try something. He told them to set up a carom board in the courtyard and just leave it there, untouched, and check it sometime after. They set it up in the house as instructed, and carried their charpai’s to the roof after that. It was difficult doing all of it in the dark, since they house did not have an electric supply. Their only source of light was an oil lantern, and the light it cast was dim and yellow, but they were still happy for the lack of ghost sightings.
They spent the first hour playing cards and nothing seemed to happen. Much more relaxed about the house, they began to wonder what everyone was on about. And then, during one of the rounds, they heard the unmistakeable sound of the hand-pump in the courtyard being worked, and the sound of water flowing. They were four floors up, on the roof, but that sound still sent a shiver through them. They tried to ignore it the best they could, but the hand-pump continued pumping water on its own. Much quieter now, they tried to keep playing cards but around 1 am they just gave up and decided to sleep instead.
My dad slept on one of the charpai’s on the edge, and slept like a rock till he was woken up by someone shaking him. He got up to the frightened face of one of his cousins. He pointed to Uncle Arshad who had been sleeping in his boxers on the far edge. It was then that he noticed that he seemed to be writhing in pain, clutching his throat. They tried to shake him awake, but it took a whole minute filled with the fear of what was happening to wake him up. Uncle Arshad woke up breathing heavily and still clutching his throat. He looked at them and said, “We need to leave this place, now!”
“It is 3 am already” one of the other cousins said, “We only need to wait an hour or so more and then—“
“I want to leave this place NOW, and I will jump from the roof to do that if I have to!”
They were even more frightened after that. They decided to leave but remembered that the house entrance was still locked. So, they started shouting to get the watchman’s attention. Soon enough though, they got the attention of my dad’s grandfather instead who had been sleeping on the roof of his house anticipating something of the sort. After a few choice curses he sent for the watchman and told them that he would be waiting for them downstairs.
They still had to climb down the stairs though. Four flights of stairs, in pitch black darkness, with nothing but the dim light of the lantern to guide them. They climbed down slowly and with much arguing about who would climb down first, and who would be at the rear. They kept their eyes nearly shut and tried not to look around them, since they kept imagining things in the dark, looking back at them, or perhaps one of them being dragged off. And Uncle Arshad was still clutching his throat; the image of him writhing still fresh in all of their heads. When they finally got to the courtyard they went past the carom board, and all of them noticed that all the pieces were now in the pockets.
When they finally got to the door the watchman was waiting for them, with a large smile on his face. “So are all you young ones done here? Has your warm blood run cold yet?” he said, laughing at them.
After they were out of the house, they asked Uncle Arshad what had happened, but he refused to tell them anything till he was out of the darkness. So they took him to a street lamp and they sat under it till he calmed down and stopped shivering with fear. And then he told them his story:
“As I fell asleep I dreamt that I was in the house. I walked down to the courtyard and in my dream I started urinating there. Just then, an old man with a long beard and terrifying eyes came and grabbed me by the throat. He shouted ‘How dare you defile this sacred place?!’ and lifted my up in the air with one hand. I was helpless, kicking and gasping for air when all of you woke me”
After he told them the story he finally took his hands off his throat. Even in the lamplight they could clearly see the bloody blue mark of a hand right across his neck.
Salman Shahid Khan
Writer’s note: This particular story comes from my father and has always been one that took my imagination to places I did not want to visit. I could have taken my father for his word but for the sake of keeping this account ‘factual’ I tried to confirm its details from two different people. During my attempt to validate it I found that not only is this incident and the haunting of the building in question real, but there are people living in that house today who deal with this sort of phenomenon on a regular basis.