I had previously shared a story about my colleague Hemant and his ghostly encounter with a phantom apparition. This story does not relate to that and is my first-hand experience, but Hemant was involved here as well.
As mentioned previously Hemant stays in Kalyan, which is a far-flung suburb of Mumbai. It is not a city, but a town and there are several villages at short distances from this place. We frequently go to a farm-house in one of these villages called "Dahagaon" on weekends to unwind and relax. Since we go there directly from our workplace on Saturday evenings and have a brief stop-over at Hemant's house, it is quite late by the time we reach the farmhouse.
During one such visit, we had made arrangements for things such as liquor, snacks and food from Kalyan and set out to reach the farmhouse at 9 PM. We were a group of 9 guys on 5 motorcycles and by the time we reached the outskirts of Kalyan, it had started raining heavily. It was a sudden downpour, which caught us unawares as the monsoon season had ended some days ago.
We took refuge at a sweetmeat shop and had a few glasses of lassi (sweetened & flavoured yogurt) to buoy our flagging spirits. Though we were thoroughly drenched, we were also carrying a change of clothes each and were looking forward to reaching the guest-house, drying off, changing into dry clothes and indulging our ravenous appetites.
After raining heavily for the better part of an hour, it changed into a light drizzle and we decided to continue on. The roads were slick with running rain water and we had to drive slowly to keep our balance.
Once we left the town, the number of electric poles illuminating our way decreased considerably and the terrain became uneven, because it is a hilly place. The road, though quite broad and well-paved, was slippery with dips and inclines as it led further in the hills towards the villages. One of our friends, Meghnath who was riding alone, was an inexperienced biker and was having problems keeping his bike steady at such a slow pace, so every now and then we would stop for him to catch up.
It was almost 11 PM now and the road was pitch dark though there were few vehicles coming and going in both directions. For a city-bred person, it is difficult to describe the experience when you go to such rural places, where there is little or no illumination on the road. To both sides of us stretched fields as far as the eyes could make out. The road ahead of us was well-illuminated by the headlights of our bikes. But to get the true feel of the situation you had only to look back as sheer darkness reclaimed the space where you had just passed and it is enough to give you goose-bumps!
Finally we came across a bridge over a river which we had to cross to get to the other side. Now the river banks just below the bridge are said to be an ideal place for people practicing black magic and aghoris (wandering ascetics). My friend Hemant had narrated his own experiences of black magic at this very spot (that is a separate story) and it is said that vehicles frequently break down for no reason, while crossing the bridge. So naturally we were in a hurry to cross this spot quickly.
Two of the bikes, with four of my friends, had gone ahead of us and I was on the third bike riding pillion with a friend. When we were approximately 50 paces from the bridge, we had to stop as Meghnath who was riding well behind us was again facing problems. The fourth bike containing two of my friends, including Hemant stopped to help him and they were 50 feet behind us.
I was chatting with my friend and we were frequently glancing back, where we could see the headlights of the two bikes at some distance away. Then we stopped looking back and were engaged in some discussion for 4-5 minutes. Then we looked back again to see what our friends were doing and our hearts jumped into our throats, at what we saw - there was no sign of those two bikes and our three friends!
We were flabbergasted and blinked our eyes several times to convince us that our friends had not just disappeared in thin air with their bikes. Then slowly we turned around and reached the spot where they were standing a few minutes ago, but found no indication as to where they had gone.
We were scared now and were considering going back to the town to get some help in searching for our friends, when we remembered that four of our friends had crossed the bridge and we should also inform them about the disappearance. So we decided to continue ahead though we were spooked out completely.
We crossed the bridge safely without any incident and were astounded to see all four bikes with our friends waiting for us on the other side. Our surprise increased when Hemant told us that he and Meghnath had passed us and waved us on, but somehow we seemed to have failed to notice them. Nevertheless, we were relieved and continued our journey reaching the guest-house at about 12:30 in the night.
When I returned back the next day, I narrated the whole incident to my extremely superstitious wife, who told me that it definitely was a paranormal experience and we did the right thing by not returning back at that time. She said that you are supposed to proceed ahead quickly in case of such events and not linger at that place or turn back OR some evil will befall you.
A more rational explanation would be that we were engrossed in our discussion and did not notice our friends due to the rain and darkness when they passed us. But it is difficult to believe this explanation as two bikes make a lot of noise and Hemant was wearing a bright yellow shirt which would have been clearly visible when he passed so near by us. Was there really some evil at that spot which tried to trick us into believing that our friends had disappeared and what would have been our fate if we had turned back that day?
In my experience very few incidents are so blatantly supernatural that we have no choice but to accept the existence of other worldly spirits. Most paranormal incidents also have a rational aspect to it and it is up to each individual which explanation he or she wants to believe. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me.