Daddy Diaries 6

Ghost stories – where the dead come alive.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” I asked my daughters. We were on one of our post-dinner walks, enjoying the crisp, cool air of the pristine colony we live in. The elder one shook her head to say no. “Adults just use this to scare children.” The younger one said, “Of course they are fake,” reminding me of the time we went to a friend’s farm house in Palghar, where one of the workers draped a white chaddar over him and rustled through the leaves while we were chatting by the pool. The little girls caught him and drew a big smiley face on the chaddar.

“Recently, after a friend’s birthday dinner, we went for a midnight walk in the by-lanes of Girgaon,” I told them. “Grizzly Girgaon, the organizers called it, and they told us stories of real ghosts. I’m going to tell you what I was told.” Both girls held my hand a little tighter as a large black cat with luminescent green eyes smoothly crossed in front of us. She had perfect timing for the setting I was trying to create. As we walked through the colony, I showed my girls an old building. I pointed to the fourth floor and told them that no one lived there, and that anyone who attempts to venture to the fourth floor doesn’t return. They clung onto me a little more.

“So, about Grizzly Girgaon, we started the walk next to a cemetery,” I began with my story. “You know what a cemetery is?” I asked them. “Yes, where dead people live,” said one of them promptly. “That’s true,” I replied, smiling at the oxymoron. “In one of the buildings next to the cemetery, there was apparently a girl who would randomly start marching like people in the army do and start talking in a foreign language that no one understood, for a few hours, before suddenly returning back to normal,” I told them. They looked at me perplexed. “Do you have any idea why that would happen?” I asked, as several other cats of myriad hues crossed our path. “Perhaps some dead person from the graveyard did something to her,” the younger one said. “Absolutely,” I acknowledged. “It is said that she was intermittently possessed by the spirit of a dead Dutch soldier who died in the war,” I explained. “He must have had some unfinished business.”

“Can we go home now?” the kids requested, my story clearly having unnerved them a little, but I wanted to narrate my experiences and scare them a bit more. I guess I wanted to prepare them if they ever actually do meet a ghost. “Do you know how to identify a ghost if you see one?” I asked. “If someone taps you on the shoulder and there’s no one behind you, it’s a ghost!” the elder one explained. As soon as she said so, I tapped her and looked the other way. It freaked her out. “Also, ghosts always hop, they never run!” I informed them. “Because?” they asked. “Because when people die, their toes are always tied together,” I joked, thoroughly confusing them. “Dadda, this makes no sense!” they tugged at me, exasperated.

“Now let me tell you about Maujila Mama, a fun, cigarette-loving ghost,” I told them. “Legend has it that if you walked on this particular street while smoking a cigarette, and someone tapped you on the shoulder, you should simply hand over your cigarette without turning back, and the ghost of Maujila Mama will take it,” I whispered, my arms around them preventing them from instinctively looking behind. “And what if you are not smoking?” one of my miss smarty pants asked. “Then the next day, you go and donate a cigarette at Maujila Mama’s temple, where, next to his shrine, instead of agarbatti, there are cigarette buds!” I declared, giving them an education before their time. “But just don’t look back,” I said, tickling them.

“Incidentally, there’s also a ghost who tickles,” I told them. “Dadda, stop it now,” they insisted. “Okay, let’s talk about something more gruesome,” I continued.

“There’s a headless dude called Mankapya in Khotachiwadi,” I told them. “Mankapya would trap lone wanderers in the labyrinth of alleys and behead them. He would also slit the throats of passersby,” I said, scissoring my arms like Bruce Lee. “Imagine you’re walking with your sister alone in this lane and you turn around to look at her… and she has no head!” I looked at them for reactions. “That would be lovely!” both of them chimed in, showcasing their ‘undying’ love for one another.

“There was also this girl who wanted to get married, but every time a suitor came to see her, her sister would get possessed by the spirit of a ghost and scare the family away, because she wanted to get married before her sister,” I said, wondering if they would want to use that tactic when their time came. “The panditji came up with an innovative solution and married off the ghost inside her to another ghost, so that when the next boy came to see her sister, she didn’t create a scene,” I said, pointing to a T-shirt my daughter was wearing, which said No Drama, Please. “Do you really believe that is possible, dadda?” “Of course!” I proclaimed, without the least bit of hesitation. “And even in the ghost kingdom, they have a hierarchy,” I explained. “You have to be of the same caste and creed to marry within the ghost kingdom.” I couldn’t help but wonder that if this were true, it would be so much harder for Parsi ghosts to sort out problems like these.

“Next on our walk, we stopped outside a shop at a corner,” I said, describing the destitute-looking building that stood above it. “There were several restaurants that started here but never ended up working; they kept shutting down within a few months of their launch,” I told the kids. “Do you know why?” “Don’t tell us there was a dead waiter there who wasn’t paid his wages by the first owner and so he never allowed the place to function!” the elder one replied. “Wow,” I said in disbelief. “That’s exactly the story! Now you know ghosts are real, right?” “Dadda, stop it, let’s go home!” they both exclaimed.

“Okay, one last story,” I requested, as we walked home amidst groans of “Ugh!” “There was a flight that was taking off and the flight attendants were busy counting the passengers. They had only 239 people on their list, but they kept counting 240. The extra person was dressed in a pilot’s uniform and occupied a seat in business class. They kept calling out to him, but he wouldn’t look up from under his captain’s hat. The captain came out from the cockpit to identify the other captain. He looked under his hat and identified him as Captain Tom, a pilot who had died in a famous plane crash previously. And at the exact moment he was identified, Tom disappeared,” I said spookily.

“And we’re home!” the kids said, running inside to hug their mother, who had been lying in bed when we left but was now missing when we returned. The only thing that was left was the comforter that had taken the shape of her body. “May be mamma has become a ghost,” I said to the ashen look on their faces. Thirty seconds later she emerged from the washroom.

As we end another wonderful year, let’s believe in the magic of the impossible. As my friend Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.”

I want you all to imagine a hatred-free, rib-tickling, laugh-rioting, adventurous, and momentous New Year. May every day give you something to celebrate. May peace and happiness be with you always.


14 Comments on “Daddy Diaries 6
  • Supriya Correa says:

    Shout out to Vinifer. Am still numero uno out here
    And Mazda, let’s do something different for Maujila Mama. This time the bugger needs a good joint instead of a ciggie.
    Happy new year all ye spirited folk

  • Chanda says:

    Hahaha, you’ve nailed it on the last day of the year Dr. Mazda. What an adventurous walk the smat kids must have had with you around. We’ll, I too felt I was walking the bylanes with you and the kids, thanks to your superb description of the quaint place – Khotachiwadi.
    Wish you and the family the very best for 2024.
    Ending with gratitude and beginning with hope

  • Bruce Blewett says:

    Happy New Year Mazda to you and your family – thank you for sharing your excellent articles and the fun time we have had on our bike rides in Mumbai and Gaborone. 😀😀

  • Anjali Patki says:

    Fun way to end the year, kept the interest going and enjoyed the anecdotes. Keep writing. Happy new year in advance to you and your lovely family.

  • Sanober Pardiwalla says:

    Have a great new year 😅🙌

  • gurudutt bhat says:

    Happy new year 2024 to you n your loved ones @mazda

  • Mahashweta Biswas says:

    😂😂😂😂that was hilarious. Ending the year frightening them with ghost stories, but very interesting ones. But our girls Perk up very quickly.

    Wish you all this togetherness & comradeship always. 😘😘

  • Anuradha says:

    Dear Mazda

    Your ghost stories took me back to my childhood days. Ghost stories narrated by grandparents who then would have to sleep with their arms around me. Enid Blyton’s Famous five and their adventures come to mind. Hey look what you’ve done! Transported me into a world of make believe! Thanks Mazda

  • Vispi mistry says:

    Hi Mazda
    Reading your piece today, has prompted me to put you in the cstegory of a true Shanocky, the fsmous Irish story tellers.
    What a wonderful piece peppered withe himour and scariness too.
    Happy new year 2024 go you and your fsns on the group.

  • Kunal says:

    Dear Dr Mazda,
    Excellent story of the Mankapya ghost. Just to tell you he attacked my moms cousin decades ago (as the story goes within the family)…. The legendary ghost story continues…. In my wadi, Khotas Oart.

  • Rita singh says:

    A very fascinating and spooky way to entertain little girls. Even ur readers found today ‘s writing more than interesting. We could nt wait to finish it.A very happy new year to you ur family and all my co readers.

  • Dr. Rafat Ansari says:

    Happy new year doc!!!
    Hope December has been kind to u!
    Always in my prayers.Stay blessed!

  • Nawaz Vijayakumar says:

    You are a fun father to your two angels. Happy New Year to you zand your family.

  • Setu Ram says:

    These madcap ghost stories brought a smile on 🙂
    Happy New Year 2024!
    This quote by Edgar Allen Poe seems appropriate – The past is a pebble in my shoe.


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