Beach Writing Challenge Day 1 — A Dead Man’s Tale, a Haunted Bench, and Lots of Inspiration

12th of July, 2018



Sorry for the late post but blame it on the poor net connection. It is actually the third day as I write this here. But I promised a day-by-day account, so I shall be updating my posts of Day 1 and Day 2 shortly.

So It Begins

On the 11th of July, 2018, I started out from Mumbai to Goa by train. Train because of the rains. Definitely not a good idea to take a flight under these terrible weather conditions. But, this proved to be a blessing in disguise, mostly because of the Ola ride that took me to the LTT station. The driver of that cab, a man named Shyam, told me the most astounding story. Wait till you hear what it is. Okay, no waiting. This guy told me, with irrefutable proof, the story of how he had returned from the dead.

The Dead Man’s Tale

Two years ago, Shyam met with a terrible accident in his native Kanpur. He was on a bike and a truck rammed into him. So gut-wrenching was this accident that his left leg was completely severed from his body and thrown meters away and a portion of his skull was split open. The doctors proclaimed him dead. His parts were practically kept on the pyre, ready to be burned, but his wife had the firm faith that he wasn’t dead. As they were preparing to carry him to his funeral, his wife struggled and the corpse fell. That was when someone noticed his heart was still beating.

The family put him back on his arthi but this time they took him to the hospital. The doctors hailed this as a miracle. They said the leg could be sewn back, the skull could be closed. But it would amount to a heavy bill of 16 lakh rupees.

They were plunged in gloom again, and as the man lay there, almost dead for a second time, two strangers visited their house. They told Shyam’s wife that they were his old friends and had come upon hearing of the accident. When they knew the situation, they did not even bat tan eyelid in “loaning” the money for his operation. It was such a happy moment that the family did not even stop to ask them who they were. They just took the check and ran to the hospital. Meanwhile, the two friends volunteered to stay back and look after the house.

The operation was successful. So successful it was that Shyam did not even need a rod in the leg. But though he was joined again, he was in a coma for over a year. And after that, he miraculously woke up one day and walked home.

Shyam showed me the stitches on his forehead and on his leg. He drove perfectly too, and before I knew the story, he had even heaved my suitcase into the cab without effort. He was healthier and stronger than most men we come across.

His tale was carried in many newspapers in Uttar Pradesh and he even made it on TV.

But the strangest thing was about those strangers. They weren’t there when the family got back home. No one came to claim the money.

So here’s what’s striking. He told me those people were sent to him by Lord Hanuman, the deity whom he has worshipped every day of his life ever since he was a child. The rest of the drive was spent by him in describing to me how faith can move mountains. And as I rode with him, I saw just that.

The Haunted Bench

Okay, for this one I have a picture. I reached Karmali station on the afternoon of 12th of July, 2018. I caught another cab this time to take me to my hotel at Calangute. And on the way, I heard another amazing story from the driver. This time it was a local legend.


This bench is supposedly haunted.


Our car stopped for a while thanks to a large puddle right in the middle of the road. I happened to look to my left then, and I saw a stone bench. It was just standing there in the middle of nowhere. There weren’t any houses or shops for miles either way. Why would anyone need a bench there?

The driver saw me looking and told me that the bench had historical value. Decades ago, there used to be a house there which was broken down to make way for the road. For some reason, the bench stayed. It was part of the house where the couple who lived in the house would sometimes sit in the evenings and have their tea. The couple had then moved to another place and subsequently grown old and died. But even now, drivers on that stretch of road in the night sometimes see an old man and his hunchback wife sitting on the bench quite romantically close, looking into the distance. And it appears like they are having tea.


The Inspiration

The third floor of this hotel was my writing challenge haven. Calangute Beach is out there.


There was no dearth of inspiration as I moved in to my hotel room. A perfect room from where you could see the silent part of the Calangute Beach. I strolled on the beach road in the evening, had my very late lunch of chicken fried rice (which I could not eat even half) and a Heineken, and then went back to the hotel room to write.

And, boy, did I write! I hit the ground running. That long train journey had helped me mull over the entire story in my mind.

On the first day itself, I crossed 6500 words of good solid content.

And this is the perfect story to write in such an environment. It is the story of a battle of two women, one on the good side and one on the evil side, and both flawed. Both women derive strongly from South Indian folklore, and they represent two communities. It’s a fantastic tale to write on an epic scale, and that’s how I think it will go. Early days yet, but I am hopping with excitement as I bring to you this one, the third part of my Supernatural India series after Pishacha and Yakshini.

Going back to write now. See you in a while with the post on Day 2. Until then, keep the comments coming.

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