Ghost Story

Halloween just past. But still, just the right time for a ghost story, one that might have happened to me, about 10 years back. . .

Back then I was writing programs and leading a small software team, all of us working like drudges for a software house in Brickfields, in the capital. The management didn’t reimburse staff who wanted to claim for parking outside the front of the office, in the parking spaces with meters; but would do so for parking inside the compound of a nearby church, a short distance behind the office. It was a short walk to and fro the office, crossing the traffic lights, going through a small lane between buildings, unlighted always.

There was one night I slept for just 2 hours, then got up - no breakfast, no time to get ready fresh clothing, got dressed in last evening’s clothes - and left for the office in my car. In my sleep had been swimming full of program lines. They were coming together, forming the syntax and construction to a problem I knew they would solve once I tapped them down into my computer in the office.

I reached the church in less than an hour. The street lights outside the church were alight, but their illumination was amber. There were no lights within the compound or the church when I turned into the opened gates, only those thrown onto metal and g1ass surfaces of other parked cars by my car’s headlights. My lights also swept over the front of the silent, unlit church, within and without.

I looked for a space, and maneuvered the car into one quite a long way inside the compound and a short distance from the church front. After I parked the car, switched off the lights and killed the engine, and got out, I noticed an old woman already out in front of the church. I hadn’t registered her before, when I was looking for a parking space. An old man was also with her. Both of them were in clothes looking like in old black and white Hong Kong movies of the 50s: she in Chinese pajamas, and he in baggy Mao-looking ones. I turned back to my car door to lock the car, and made to walk towards the direction of the opened gate.

Ahead of me already was the old couple, nearly at the gate. How did the old woman and the old man get pass me – so fast? The amber street lights gave an orange sheen to the tarred roads outside. But they didn’t do any good in throwing any lights onto the compound. So there was no light on the old woman and old man, but I could make them out still - the moon was out, and they appeared a bit white-bluish in the dark

They didn’t move straight to the gate, as I thought they would, but went past it, turning left. By this time I had reached the gate, walking as quickly as I could. I also turned in the same direction as they had done, and I would now walk past them, outside the gate, outside the compound, thinking I was well away from them now.

I couldn’t really tell when I went past them, but I was sure their hands had been gripping the grills of the compound’s iron fence, as they were now doing as I kept trying to walk past them, and, again, as I still walked past them – how far did the fence stretch away? Their eyes – I couldn’t confirm seeing them as mine were averting from the church compound – were surely following me as I – finally - walked past them.

I remember, when in the compound with them, I never actually saw their legs make walking movements; nor was I ever aware of their feet.

Now, safe, several yards away from the compound, I was beginning to feel the whole of my back pimpling, the hairs prickling up as if sensing the old couple - the old woman and the old man - right behind me.


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