Yellow Mansion


There is a very popular hill-station in Pakistan called ‘Murree’, located to the north of the capital, Islamabad. It remains the most popular getaway for people during the hot summer months and even when my father was in his late teens (some 30-35 years ago) his entire family used to spend their summers there, usually renting a large guest-house to accommodate everyone. All of memories of green, pleasant-weathered Murree are wonderful to hear about. All, except one.

The incident, or rather a series of incidents, occurred in the summers soon after he had his intermediate exams (comparable to ‘A’ levels, or High school). Afterwards, he went to Murree for the break, waiting for his results to come out. Most of his family was already there, except my granddad who had to stay back in Lahore a little while longer, due to work. Also, that particular summer they could not rent their usual guest-house and had to rent a different place that was quite like a mansion or rather a haveli.

I should probably say something about the haveli first. My dad took me there a few years ago, and only after seeing it did I realize how apt its name ‘Peeli Haveli’ (translates to Yellow Mansion) was. Its bright yellow colour was a sharp contrast to most of the dull and grey dwellings around Murree, and makes the place instantly recognizable, even though it lies mostly in ruins now. It is located right on the edge of a cliff-face with a sheer drop of a few hundred feet, and the way it has collapsed makes it look like it is slowly slipping over the edge. There is also a graveyard around 200 feet from the haveli, and my dad developed a most unfortunate habit of spending a lot of time there at night, smoking and listening to a transistor radio sitting on one of the graves. With hindsight, it is possible he ‘disturbed’ something there, but it is difficult to say for sure, since nothing ever happened in the graveyard itself.

As previously mentioned, he had been waiting for his results to come out and when they did, he had obtained a high enough grade to win a scholarship and a prize. It was a very proud moment for him so he decided to treat his family to something with the prize money. My dad’s younger siblings begged to be taken to a movie at the cinema, and he obliged. But, since he did not much like going to the movies himself, he decided to simply pay for everyone else, and stay at home reading books.

It was the middle of the afternoon and he was alone at home, lying in his room reading a popular magazine series called ‘Three women, three stories’ when he felt as if the room had gotten considerably darker quite quickly. It was the sort of dark that comes when someone casts a shade on you, so he looked up from the magazine to the door leading to the veranda to see if someone had decided to come back early from the movie. It was not someone from his family. It was probably not even something human.

‘She’ was tall, and had long hair that reached down to the floor all around her. Her face was human, except that she had really long fangs. Her wide, bloodshot eyes were staring at him with unbridled malice in them. As she began to move towards him he was frozen in place by terror of her gaze, and could do nothing but scream. He fainted soon after, overcome by fear.

His family came back home to find all the lights in the house turned off. They searched the house for him, wondering where he was and found lying mostly unconscious and feverish. They called a doctor who tried and failed to improve his condition but from his occasional hysterical mutterings they surmised that he was terrified of something.

Soon enough, a cleric was called in and no sooner had he started reciting something from the holy books my father started to calm down, and his temperature dropped down to normal levels soon afterwards.

It did not take him long after that to regain consciousness and everyone was quite interested in finding out exactly what had happened to him. His description of what he saw did not convince everyone, and some even suggested that perhaps one of the village women had simply been trespassing and the shock of the seeing her there had warped his memory. Nevertheless, from that very night things started to happen in the haveli which could not be put down to coincidence, shock or confusion for long.

At first, after most of them were in bed to sleep at night, the doors started to open and then close all on their own. This happened slowly at first, and was dismissed as wind, since strong winds are common in Murree, being at an altitude of around 3000 meters. But then a few people saw a door handle being twisted and the door opened violently. My uncles checked the house over and over again for possible intruders but they only managed to confirm that they were alone. And the doors continued to open and close throughout the night.

After evening the next day, they were sitting together, discussing all that had happened the night before when they heard a distinctly strong *click*. A light went out. Another *click*. The light came back on. The clicking sound had come from the copper plated light switches used in the house, and that kind of light switches take a considerable amount of force to be turned on or off. And yet, right in front of them the switch turned off again, and then turned back on. Soon, it was happening all over the house, and most of my dad’s family simply sat huddled in one room, afraid of the things that were happening around them.

The next day they decided to contact my granddad about the situation who responded with a firm ‘Don’t be stupid. You are all imagining things’. My grandfather was a very strong-willed and rational man. But he still decided to join them in Murree soon after.

He arrived a few days later and gave each of them a sound scolding about being superstitious and not acting rationally. They tried to convince him of all they had seen but he quite simply refused to believe there was anything supernatural going on in the house.

That evening, they sat together having dinner in the dining hall. It was a large room with a long window right on the cliff-edge and though it was dark outside, the light right outside on the ceiling enabled them to see around a hundred feet in each direction, albeit faintly. My dad, granddad and my eldest uncle were sitting at the dining table facing the window when all three of them saw someone walking across the window. Amazed and shocked, the three of them ran to the window, and opened it to see who it was. Granddad used to keep a powerful torch at hand and tried to use it to find who it had been, but they knew they would not find anyone. Not unless there was someone who could walk on thin air.

That was it for my granddad as well. The very next day they were packed and out of the haveli for good. The haveli itself gained a very nasty reputation for being haunted in the years that followed. It currently lies in a state of disuse and disrepair.

 

Narrated to Salman Shahid Khan on multiple occasions.

 

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