I am not a ghost-story-fan. The pleasure of reading or listening to ghost stories has a distinctly masochistic edge which gives me no joy.
But as a newbie in the hostel (Lady Brabourne College Hostel, where I spent two rocking-and rollicking years in the new-born nineties) my friends and I were the spellbound and open-mouthed listeners to the traditional resident ghost story, part of the myth-making integral to any institution, which is passed down through generations.
The story was about the next door Medical College Hostel, where the would-be doctors and surgeons had access to corpses and corpse-parts. In a fantastic regulation-flouting (and completely fabricated, I guess) incident, a plan was supposedly hatched to scare the wits out of a rather belligerent, 'over-smart' girl. Her irate seniors put a human arm (detached from the body, or so we were told) under her pillow. The poor girl was literally frightened to death when she fumbled under her pillow in the dark and found the nasty surprise.
In hindsight, the story seems ludicrous. But told in the dimly lit staircase of our hostel, with suitably suspenseful exaggerations and pauses, it scared us to immobility and irrationality . This effect was accentuated by the additional information that the room under the staircase where we were sitting had once witnessed a suicide (which is why it had no ceiling fans - this was the logical grounding to this gothic rumour).
All of us were scared. There is a shivery thrill in getting scared if you are in group which is completely lacking if you are alone. Round-eyed and goose-pimpled, we sheltered each other as we crept up the stairs to our (thankfully) two-seater rooms, but I at least had a nasty night tossing and turning, imagining the decaying slimy-grey coldness of the no-longer-human dismembered arm under the poor girl's pillow (in my nightmare, of course, it was transferred to my pillow and, supernaturally, it creeped out to clammily and gruesomely touch me).
DID YOU EVER GET SCARED BY A GHOST-STORY? OR BY A GHOST?