Let me tell you at the very outset that I am a firm believer in things that lie beyond our understanding. Not ghosts and disturbed spirits who roam the earth, looking for a chance to communicate with the world of the living through whatever means – planchette, Ouija boards, mediums or witch doctors, lying in wait of hapless humans to make their presence felt. Mainly because I have no firsthand experience. If and when I do, I shall freely acknowledge their presence.

I grew up listening to stories of ghosts and spirits. The unwary traveler who arrives in a village where an outbreak of cholera killed all the villagers, and yet someone receives him and gives him a meal, and extends an arm a mile long to give him the lemon he asked for; the hapless wanderer who is lured into the middle of a bog by what he believes to be village lights; the spirits who crave fresh fish that fishermen catch; the holy ghost who lives on a special tree and is content to frighten unsuspecting men who happen to pass under his tree…. I listened to them with the appropriate frisson. I was not afraid of dark rooms and passageways, of branches whipping on the window of a stormy night, of going into the garden after dark. To that extent, I don’t think the ghost stories had any effect on my conscious or subconscious. I enjoyed the thrill of ‘ghost stories’ just as I enjoyed stories of conquests and adventures.

It was much later, when I started reading Edgar Allan Poe, H.P.Lovecraft or even Arthur Conan Doyle that the world beyond took a firm foothold in my head. I got completely fascinated by things inexplicable; there was nothing palpable in these stories, other than an ambience – pregnant with possibilities, dark deeds and the surreal. Ordinary things attained strange and extraordinary proportions that clutched at my heartstrings and probably stomach muscles too; almost everything left to the sensitivities and imagination of the reader, and any interpretation was as good or bad as the next one.

I believe that there are very few people who have not experienced things that seem strange and inexplicable – dreams that come true, feelings of déjà vu, premonitions, sudden insights, flashes of intuitions that have nothing to do with the present moment. Parents and close relatives visit us in dreams or half dreams before they leave their earthly bodies. You wake up one morning with the firm conviction that something momentous is going to happen, and often it does. I have experienced all this and more. I am convinced that a friendly spirit lives in my house, and makes its presence felt at certain times. I know that the dream catcher that hangs over my bed changes color regularly, almost in tune with my mood. I know that the good luck pink fairy that hangs on my bedroom door dances even when all the doors and windows are tightly shut. I know that when on quiet evenings the hackles of my dog rise for no reason and she growls softly, there is some presence in my house that the five senses can’t detect; the sixth sense does. I believe the old gypsy woman when she looks at me and says that I am an old soul. I believe my friend when she says I am energy sensitive. I believe the tarot card reader when she touches the card I drew and almost recoils, saying there is too much force in my choice.

Let me reassure you – I am neither mad nor deluded. I am more or less rational in my dealings with the world in general. I do not practice dark arts or voodoo or any form of white or black magic. But, at the same time, I have been in situations where strict rationality did not explain everything. ‘The truth is out there’ – beyond the realm of five senses, beyond scientific explanations, beyond our everyday understanding, beyond our experiences. We just need to open our minds & hearts to feel it.

Aparajita Sen



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