It was about the time I was in the 3rd year of my Engineering Course. During my Vacations I had gone down to Kerala. My Dad, step-mom and youngest sister were in Abu Dhabi. So, my dad had arranged with my step-mom's family that I will stay with them for a week and then I will proceed to other families and trips etc. My Step-mom's family resides in Vandiperiyar, close to Thekkady in Kerala. They have a huge estate and cultivate coffee, tee and cardamom as crops. Their house was in the midst of the estate, up winding roads. The place is so lovely that you would love to settle down there. Only problem was the lack of any proper shopping around the place.
It was a great stay. I went down to Thekkady wild life reserve with the youngest of my Step-mom's brothers and went boating, had a few beers etc, went fishing in the little creek in the estate.
One day, towards the evening, while I was lying in the bedroom, reading a novel, I started getting the whiff of the burning candles. The smell started faint and slowly grew in strength and reached a point that I couldn't stay in the room anymore. I went out into the small portico opening out from the bedroom and saw something misty white like smoke float or move into the the house. Since the whole area is in the Highlands of Kerala, where intermittent fog is common, I thought its a bit of fog though it wasn't that cold that time.
I tried to enter the room back, but couldn't because of the strong smell of burning candles. So I went to my step-mom's mother who was sitting with her younger daughter and sons. I told them what I was experiencing. They didn't appear shocked or anything, but nodded their heads.
They informed me that this is a annual occurrence and today is my step-mom's grand father's death anniversary. It seems so that after his death, his body was kept in the same room I was sleeping and there were a lot of candles burnt on that day.
I told them that It was difficult for me to sleep in that room after hearing all the stuff. I got shifted to another bed room, which was quite comfortable for me.
The matters didn't end there.
My step-mom's grandmother was also living in the same house and was extremely old, around 98 or 99 years old. She couldn't get up from bed mostly and my step-mom's younger sister used to take care of her. I used to go sometimes to check on her.
One day, as I was passing her room, the door being open, I could get the whiff of burnt candles coming from the room. So, curious I went inside and found the old lady "sleeping".
Since I now knew that the smell of candles was linked to the old lady's husband, my step-mom's grandfather, out of curiosity I touched her cheek. I didn't know what made me touch her body... Perhaps something inside me wanted to check whether she was alive or not. Her body was turning from warm to cold, the cold associated with dead bodies (yeah I have held dead bodies in my own hands and know that kind of cold). I could smell the strong smell of burning candles, and the old lady being dead - everything freaked me out.
I ran outside, informed the others. They went inside and confirmed that she was indeed dead.
I stayed there until her body was buried in the family crypt in the graveyard in the church parish lands and left for other places.
I think, the grandfather's ghost was very much attached to his family that he must have come visiting every year and he was there to welcome his wife into the other world or wherever they please, at the end of her life. I don't know.
I do like the idea of the grandfather waiting to welcome his wife into their eternity on the other side though.