Mere kids of twelve -four of us were sleeping over at our friends place. Feeling cooler than ever, because sleepovers were the "hip" thing back then - I headed over to Old Goa, an hour from where I lived to spend the night.
Now this specific area - Ribandar - was known for it's crazy haunted stories and ghost encounters, and like any other kid I was excited about it. People had seen women in white sarees (touche), men who held knives in their hands and kids asking for a lift in the middle of the road.
All stories were alike, and most were probably just reiterations of what someone else saw or heard. But kids are vulnerable that way, and so were we. Let me just name everyone first, so things don't get confusing.
Shreya, Divya, Aditi and I were headed over to Rhea's place to stay the night. Rhea's older sister was around and she was kind enough to share the stories she had heard about the area - just to freak us out. But our brains work in weird ways, to say the least.
When it's daytime, there's really no concept or fear of ghosts or other supernatural existences - but as soon as the sun sets - out they come with their puny skeletons and pale white skin. Through the day, we didn't think much of the stories - we played monopoly, watched movies and sprinkled around some gossip.
Then the sun set, and we couldn't stop gushing over the fact that we may see some ghosts or supernatural beings. It was 10 pm, and nothing had really happened, except that we were hungry to our core.
We were waiting on Rhea's mom to be back from work so she could drive us into the main city where we could get dinner. At around 10.30 her mum came by and we shoved ourselves into her car thinking we'd reach faster for whatever reason. But we were on the way soon after that, all through the ride we spoke about the ghost stories we had heard around town, and aunty was very accommodative of our outright stupid stories.
We were skull deep in our stories when the car just came to a halt - there was some issue with the car coolant. (I had to google the exact word, because back then - I had no idea what had happened.) We had to pullover and step out of the car onto a very poorly lit road - common at the time since Goa wasn't exactly "urban" so we step out and stand to the back of the car, while aunty goes up to the front to check what's up.
The four of us are now just over the edge - waiting for a ghost to greet us while we pee our pants. And there comes the moment of glory - a woman carrying a basket of mangoes on her head, walking towards us. Now we know that it's just a mango vendor, but we're excited nonetheless. She comes closer and when she's about half a meter away, she asks us if we want to buy mangoes.
To which all of us just say no thank you. She then inquires about the car and we explain that it broke down. She was probably a woman of sixty, very Goan looking - a big nose, an amboda (Goan hair bun) and a well draped lavani saree. Nothing weird. She told us that there's a garage nearby and went on her way - but backwards.
She was walking back exactly in the direction she came from, which was a little odd but we shrugged it off. But then she turns around a second time, making her way towards us. "Buy some mangoes." she said in a very commanding tone. This time, we were a little freaked out but we said no, nonetheless. She then just placed herself onto the floor.
Took the basket off her head and kept it on the floor and said "I'll wait." We turned around to call aunty but she was a little down the road on a call - there was no connection and she was trying to find a garage or call someone up to help. So we just moved towards the bonnet.
The lady stood up and followed - now all of us are thinking she's a murderer and this is going to be our last memory ever. In the same general direction of her arrival, there was another man making his way towards us, this time with a cart of mangoes. Maybe her son, or companion, we thought. She was probably just waiting for him to catch up.
When he neared us - we saw that he was walking with his eyes closed. Now, as naive and maybe problematic as it sounds - four twelve year old kids took the movie route and thought he was blind. He approached us and commanded us to buy the mangoes. Same tone, male voice.
We refused for a third time, and the lady stood up in anger. She yelled at us in Konkani for wasting her time and then put the basket back up on her head. The man stayed put as the lady walked away, and we just looked at him - could he see us? how? It was all just confusing.
Then as we just stared at this man - he opened his eyes. Hollow, empty circles in the place of his eyes with a strange red glow. We ran. We ran and screamed till we reached aunty. The lady was still in sight, but seemed to be walking slowly. When we slowed down to catch our breath, we glanced over - the lady had her head turned - a whole 360 degree turn - and was smiling in our direction.
You could only imagine what speeds we ran to that day, we got up the road in less than a minute and then we were just rambling in high pitches to aunty. She kind of shushed us and got us to calm down and then we explained in bits and pieces, adding new information person to person, as to what had happened.
All the while aunty just listening, after we summed up our tale - she looked around. She told us she hadn't seen a single person even when she had glanced over quite a few times to keep a check on us, and nor could she see anyone now.
She couldn't even hear our screams when we were running up the road. She told us she just saw us standing against the bonnet and talking within ourselves, everytime she glanced over, with no mangoes or mango vendors in sight.
We were so freaked out, we walked back to the car with aunty leading the way, and nothing happened, Rhea's dad showed up to pick us up and they dealt with the car. Throughout dinner, and the rest of the night this is all we could talk about. We had seen something supernatural and we were so sure of it, because the four of us couldn't just imagine the same thing.
That night, we went to sleep with a newfound fear and woke up with a story to tell for ages.