This is a story narrated to me by my father. As I mentioned in my previous story, my father was in the Indian Defence Forces and was naturally quite a martinet. He had absolute control over his emotions and fear was something he was trained not to feel.
The incident I'm about to narrate to you happened around 30 years ago, much before my birth.
My father was visiting his parents after taking a break from his official duties. It was a small family gathering as his cousins had come over. The backdrop was a semi-rural town in eastern India.
As the sun set, my father saw off the last of the relatives at the railway station, about 3 miles from his home. By the time he reached around the last bend before his home would appear, it was dark.
To give just a little glimpse into the setting that was around, it was early 1980's in semi-rural India. The streets would be lit by gas-lamp street lights about 200 metres apart. The village lay in the middle of dense vegetation and the home had a pond right in front of it, beyond the perimeter wall.
The home stood by the road that came out of the bend that my father approached. Anyone could clearly see the home, about 200 metres, down the road on the right. So if he were to walk towards his home, the home would be to his northeast, the pond to his right and the dense jungles on the left. The next gas lamp lighting the street was right outside the gates of this home.
As he walked towards his home, he saw a lady in a white sari (a traditional Indian dress for women) walking ahead of him. Quite dismissive of it all, my father walked as usual at a brisk pace as his home neared. What he noticed now was that the lady was infact not walking, but rather gliding forward. I remember my father telling me that it was dark as the next light was still a bit far away and he swore he tried explaining to himself that the sari covered her feet and it might have given off the impression that she was gliding.
A bit startled, he walked faster until he started overtaking her. By this time, the lights from the lamp outside his home was falling on his face and hence on the lady's face too. As a gentleman may be, he did not try to stare at her but tried to have a glimpse of her appearance. What he told me was surprising. As he looked from the corner of his eye while overtaking, he observed that there was no face at all. It was like a piece of cloth outlined by nothingness into the body of a woman. He felt usually unnerved at that time. My father rushed through the remainder of the road and reached his home, bolted the gate and turned back to see.
As he looked out of the window for the last time, he could not see much of the road but there wasn't anyone else out there.
My father does not know what it was, but it tested his bravery that day.