I grew up in Bombay now Mumbai, but this incident took place in the summer of 1991, in a small rural village called Kaveer which is near Alibaug, in the state of Maharashtra.
In those days a there was no road to get in and out of the village, just a path made by the villagers. There was no street lights and the path was covered by peepal trees (aka bodha tree) on either side. The path was known to be haunted, as it is said that spirits normally reside in these peepal trees and cutting one of these trees will curse you and you will die in a few days. Not many people ventured on the path after dusk.
Anyway, I was about 11 or 12 and my whole family had gone to Alibaug for our Maternal aunt's marriage. My mom's sibling, cousins and other relatives had come there too, but we (my siblings and myself) weren't very close to them so we did not hang out much with them. The family that we stayed with were my mom's cousin. He lived there with his wife and their daughter Alka who was about 16 or 17 at that time. They were farmers and did not own a TV, as you can guess we being city kids were quite bored as there no way for us to entertain ourselves other than stare at some buffaloes in the shed.
Our first few days went without any incident but one evening just before the wedding ceremony, my uncle (mom's brother) had gone to the next village with Alka. When they got back home Alka was acting very weird we didn't think anything about it and continued with what we were doing. Next thing we know, her father was hitting her with a long bamboo stick saying that she is possessed. Well, of course, after that everybody stopped what they were doing and crowded around them. Some people there stopped the father from hitting her anymore and went to get a woman who was said to be able to get a goddess in her and was able to exorcise possessed people. (I really don't know how she did that.)
The lady came and asked for some things essential towards the ritual. Some sindoor (vermilion powder) and some sweets and stuff. Alka was taken to a room and everybody was asked to sit outside and not come in the room not matter what. We took places outside door and the windows as we did not want to miss this exorcism and so started the ritual.
The lady sat on the floor and made Alka to sit opposite her. Now Alka had bloodshot eyes and had her hair open and looked scary. The lady asked the goddess to take over her body, after which she started communicating with Alka. She kept asking questions to which there were no answers.
After much questioning, she started to answer. Upon asked who she was, Alka said that her name was Gunji and she stayed in the next village. When asked "Why you are here?" she said that she wanted to see her children who were staying in the Patil's (village chief) house. She said she had not seen them for a very long time and was going to see them.
Suddenly she ran out the room and was trying to escape and was caught by the men standing around and made to sit back again, she kept pleading that she wanted to see her children. The Goddess Lady told her that she could see her children but not while she was in Alka, to which Gunji replied that she like the body and wanted to keep it. This went on for about an hour where Alka would behave very violent and try to run away. It took many men to subdue her.
In the end Gunji agreed to leave if she was given a red saree and a live chicken, to be left at the pimpal tape, to which they agreed. The goddess lady asked her how will we know you have left, to which Gunji said you will know. Goddess lady said we need a sign to which Gunji said you see the small lime tree outside the compound that will break as soon as I go.
So the saree and chicken were brought and taken to the pimpal tape by some men. After they came home and said it was done, there was a loud snap and the lime tree outside the house had broken. Alka fell unconscious after that. Her mother and some ladies came and carried her away for a cleansing bath of some sorts. After that they brought her back and put her back in the room to rest.
She was sitting and crying and said her body hurts, maybe because of the beating she got with the bamboo stick. All the kids were scared to go next to her but I quietly went and sat near her and started massaging her hands and legs, not that I was not scared but I felt sad for her.
We left the village after a few days and I never saw Alka again as I did not go back there. Last I heard she had passed away a few years ago due to some prolonged illness.
I never got to know what happened to Gunji or if she ever did get to see her kids, but really hope she did get to see them. I don't know why but I will always feel a empathy towards that unknown woman.