My cousin Namgyal Tshering from Bhutan wrote this piece which is a typical ghost storytelling most Bhutanese people would have grown up listening to and be completely petrified. He shared it on his Facebook page and with his permission, I am now sharing it with you; see what you think. He is a very good writer and he frequently writes for Writers Association of Bhutan (WAB) group on Facebook. He is an author of “Dragon Delights – A Rosary of Poems” which was published in Bhutan recently. So here is the story…
A WOMAN IN THE MIST AT LAMPERI
(Not to be read by chicken hearted )
The road appeared wet and slippery in the glare of the light. I pressed the break lightly. I can barely see five meters ahead through the mist. I was speeding through the road by Lamperi Park gate turning gently to the right. The restaurant above the road was closed but the lights inside were still glowing. ‘I should coffee there someday’ I thought.
The pickup jeep loaded with meat I had closely followed below Dochula was too fast for me to follow in the mist. I could see the stain of blood on its rear when I got closer, but it raced ahead as we turned below Lamperi stretch. Blood reminded me of massacre scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre film I watched weeks ago.
I am a racer usually, and friends have told me I am either too good or little too reckless. I have this urge to show the world that Bhutan has its own Michael Schumacher! I drive little too fast for my age but I am not really reckless.
Driving in the rain, mist, and dark has been unusually my only naturally slowing down mechanism on a driving journey. Twirls of mist filled the space between me and the fading rear lights of the pickup truck. I cursed my weakening eyesight. Reading made me rich with literary aptitude but at the cost of a burnt retinal cell. Suddenly I felt lonely driving alone on a quiet night shrouded in mist and the hiss of the passing wind. The multicoloured frill of clothes hanging from the right rear mirror flapped against the window pane. Droplets of mist settled on the windshield. My breath clouded the glass from within and I had to wipe with my hand.
I was stretching forward over the wheel trying to check if there are any oversized rocks on the road. A few months ago I had run over a rock in the fog and had to repair forewheel arm. Unable to see the road clearly I slowed further, snaking at 20 kilometers an hour.
As I turned left into the gorge, a sudden eerie surge stilled my heart, fingers froze on the steering. At least four fatal accidents were reported in the area in the last thirteen months. The dozen of flags on my left on the roadside reminded me of the dead. I muttered a ‘Benzer Guru…’ almost breathlessly. I longed for another vehicle to pass by from either side.
The fifty meter curve from the wooded gorge felt like a forever stretch.
Just as I was about to appear out from the hillside, I saw a woman sitting on the culvert. In the brightness of the headlight, it was not impossible to know the man from the woman. She covered her palms against the light. I was sure she waited to get a lift or was dropped by the pickup. Her strap bound baggage was on the other culvert on her right. ‘ A company at the right time’ I thought. An explosion of relief from the eerie feeling made me calm.
I honked twice with a guilty feeling that I was seeking a female passenger. She raised her other hand and cut the light on her face. Like a streak of meteor sinister suspicion struck me. I was asking myself what if she sat near me and gnarled fangs and rolled ruddy eyes.
I was just a few meters close when I realised I was hitting the first culvert. I turned right like lighting and at that instant in the glaring shift of light saw her stand and leap off the road. ‘O’ My God.’ I said louder than I can yell. I grazed on the front bumper before I could brake to slow, and skidded on the roadside sand.
I glanced left. No one was there. I opened the window more out of concern than by chaotic panic. Cold October breeze sent the shiver across my face. Like the instincts of runaway driver after hitting a goat on Assam national highway, I pulled the gear and accelerated forward with a sudden thrust. ‘Namgyal! You killed the woman.’ I was vexing myself loud in my head. I peeked at the rear mirror, little out of fear anticipating to see a bloodied body behind. There was none. I took a breath of relief. The relief was short lived. Sinister fear of the haunting fired in my head. I raced. I was Schumacher again.
As I turned the hillside to the open, I relaxed my fingers on the steering. It ached. The mist was thinning and I could see lights of Nalanda Monastery on the other side atop a mountain to the West. The sight was more comforting. As I turned the curve and left, I looked into the rear mirror again to ensure I had not killed someone. It was at that moment fear froze me into the mirror. The woman with the strap baggage was standing on the road at the curve behind me. She was waving at me to wait. It was her I had no doubt. Although only a mirror image I was sure she was alive. A storm of confusion, fear, and relief almost gave me a heart attack.
A barbarous fear blinded my thought so much so that, seconds later I was cutting through the night like a meteor. I didn’t look in the mirror again, nor on to my sides. The fear of seeing her sitting behind or beside was a killing experience. My eyes bulged on the road. I was thoughtless. I mumbled ‘Om Ah Hum..’ or so I thought.
My empty car felt like a haunted mansion. Every creak and rattle could be heard like a thunder. Even my own breath through the nose was like a rumble in the Brazillian Bronx.
The practice of prayers reminded me it is only my imagination. Yet, it was scary. I was telling myself that dead cannot touch a man of prayers, but ‘what if I killed someone.’ I was asking myself even as I entered Thinleygang Market.
Arriving into the light and seeing few people playing at carrom outside convinced me I was not dead instead. It was like reaching home after getting lost for years into the mist.
(Note: And now, if you ask whether this story is factual or fiction; I would not answer for two reasons; that I don’t want to deride common tales of sightings on the road by some obscure travellers, the other reason is to encourage writers to wean their imagination with ease to entertain ignominious readers. To me its an irrational story to listen to people if we cannot avoid travelling the road.)