I'm sharing this story which was told to me by my grandmother (who passed away over three years ago) when I was a child. This incident took place sometime in the 1960s in a chawl in South Mumbai.
For those who are not from India, a chawl is a common housing system which used to be generally occupied by people from the lower income class. As many as 10 people used to stay together in minuscule spaces, sometimes just a room. It was very common in Mumbai until a decade ago. These chawls are now getting razed for multi-storeyed buildings or their original tenants have made way for small vehicle spare part shops. Coming to the structure of these chawls, they are generally one, two or three-storeyed. Each floor can have 5-10 houses sharing a common balcony. Chawls used to be close-knit communities or ghettos and people used to stay like one big family. And generations of tenants have stayed here.
Sorry for the long intro, but it was necessary for the narrative. So, as my granny told me, this incident took place on the night before 'Holi', the festival of colours. On this night (which is always a full-moon night), people gather and create a bonfire to commemorate the destruction of a mythical demoness (Holika) of yore. This is accompanied by a puja. Accordingly, the chawl residents gathered.
My granny had told me that she had just returned from a visit to their ancestral village with my grandpa on that day itself, so she and grandpa had just dumped their baggage in their room, freshened up and rushed to the common ground (maidan) in front of the chawl to participate in the celebrations. They were staying there with her parents, a sister and two brothers. It was a joint family.
After about an hour or so, around 9 pm, an exhausted grandpa told her that he's going upstairs. Grandma also followed, but was met by a neighbour and she stopped to chat for a minute. The rest of the family were still downstairs. They lived on the second floor of the two-storeyed chawl and the stairs were not so very well lit. She told me that she started climbing the stairs and saw my ajoba (grandpa in Marathi) climbing the stairs ahead of her. She wondered a bit, but then thought maybe he also met somebody on the way and stopped to chat. She quietly followed him up the stairs. When they approached their floor's landing, she was surprised to see ajoba turn right when their house was on the left. She even called out after him, but he did not reply and faded into the darkness.
At that moment, she thought it must be her exhaustion and she's seeing things. Thinking that maybe grandpa had stopped at somebody's house on the lower floor, she took out the house keys only to see the door to their house unlocked. And inside, ajoba was lying down on the bed. She told him the incident. He told her he had reached home just a few moments ago.
Wanting to clear her doubts, she enquired with her neighbours the next day. She was told that a few days back, a man had died in the house next door. She was shocked. She mistook this man's spirit (most of the people used to dress in kurta-dhoti on religious occasions) for her husband because both men had a similar built and in the darkness she couldn't tell one apart from the other.
It was only then it dawned upon her that this particular family had not attended the celebrations as they were in mourning and that the 13th day ritual was not yet done (Hindus in India generally observe a year-long mourning called 'sutak' in which they do not celebrate festivals. They also do not conduct pujas at home for 13 days). After the ritual, she said she did not experience any sighting.