After graduating from my engineering college in 1995, I landed an engineering job with a company belonging to Tata group. (Tata group is one the leading business houses in India.)
For a while I was posted at the Company HO at Hyderabad, in the then state of Andhra Pradesh (no longer a single state since it is now split into two - Telengana and Seemandhra).
Sometime later I was posted as a replacement engineer for colleague based in the city of Jamshedpur, while he was on vacation. My work seemed to have pleased my Project Manager very much that he requested the Deputy General Manager (I was working as his assistant) to transfer me to Jamshedpur. I was initially against the transfer but relented when the DGM got angry.
So, I was off to Jamshedpur. Since I had a few friends in Jamshedpur (seniors and juniors from my college), I wasn't feeling any lack of company. Though it was hard work, the evenings were free. Being a bachelor, I didn't have much to do then. I would get off work at around 6.30 PM, travel with the company driver to a fast food joint, grab some chow-mein or fried rice, grab 2 beers from the liquor shop close by and be off to my flat.
The flat was actually the 1st floor of a 2 storied building, the ground floor occupied by the landlord and the upper floor leased to my company. It was a standalone building, quite far away from other buildings. There were no occupied buildings in the near vicinity. The nearest building was about 500 meters away.
The flat was fully furnished, was stocked with all grocery by the company on a weekly basis. But I didn't know any cooking except to make a cup of coffee or tea. An office boy visited once a week to clean the flat.
My flat was usually a meeting point of bachelor engineers of my company. We used to get together on weekends and have a great time. We used to rent VHS movies and watch it at the flat over drinks and food.
One Friday, in the night, my friends had all got together and were having a nice time. I wanted to have a smoke badly, but since some of my friends didn't like smoking, I usually went outside on the balcony to smoke. It was around 10. 30 pm. It was a full moon night and the view from my balcony was wonderful. You could see the Subarnarekha river and the green foliage (back then, modernization was just encroaching on Jamshedpur, greenery was plenty then). Standing on the balcony of the 1st Floor, the whole road and parts of the sides was really visible.
My friend Deb had joined me and as we were smoking, we heard the cry of a baby. It was wailing. The sound appeared as if the baby was moving towards the building from the right. I was wondering who would be having a baby awake at such a time in the night. The sound approached the building and we could hear the wail at full. But, we couldn't see anyone - neither a baby nor anyone carrying a baby. It appeared as if the sound "halted" in front of the building and was not moving away. There was no baby crawling, there were no person or persons walking or even no persons carrying a baby. Human audio sensory capabilities are such that we can roughly sense from the direction from which a sound comes. Since there is nothing wrong with my hearing, I could very well sense the sound of the wailing baby coming from the front of the gate. Plus, the landlord's family didn't have any babies, all their children being grownups and not yet married and no relatives had come to visit them (surely none with babies in tow), I am dead sure.
I got a little worried and told Deb that there is something disturbing since we can hear the baby's wail, but not see it. We decided to move in, locked the door to the balcony and settled down on the sofas with our two other friends who were discussing about "ghosts".
The tales that they were telling sorts of was making me disturbed. There was a loss of power and the lights went out, the fan stopped whirling and the TV/VCR went dead. My friend Hussain went to check the Electrical Distribution board to see if any circuit breakers had tripped. He came back in a few moments and said that the power failure could be external since all the breakers seemed normal. India's electricity distribution network is so much wanting. Power failures are a daily feature of our life.
So, we settled down again, with a single candle as the light. As we were just settling down, still discussing about ghosts, there was a big gust of wind (with all windows closed) and the candle went out. We were disturbed by the candle going out and suddenly, we could hear the wail of the baby, from the very living room we were in. It should be noted that once my friends had entered my flat, I had locked the door from the inside!
Nothing else to do, Deb and I ran for our lives. We opened the door, leaped down the external stairs and out on to the road. Not knowing what was happening, but still sensing that something was wrong, Hussain and Maneesh also followed us.
We wouldn't go inside the flat. We were too scared. We told Hussain and Maneesh about the sound of the baby and they were spooked too. We heard the local Gurkha Guard/Night Watchman making his round and ran to him. We told him about the baby's wail. He looked at us, troubled, and told us that evil spirits would take all shapes and produce all sounds. He informed us that there has been many similar incidents in other areas close by. He informed that it would be best that we don't go back inside the flat. We sat with him in his small shed, waiting for it to be dawn and left for the city.
We inquired locally about the incident the next few days. We heard about that there are certain spirits which take the shape and imitate the sounds of many familiar objects, persons and animals, to attract people towards them.
I got my company to shift me to a flat in the city itself and vacated the flat the very next day!