info@tellmeyourstory.in
Mangaon Lullaby

About Jasmine Gill

I am a lawyer by profession. I have always been very fascinated with stories throughout my life. This is first time I have placed my story in an online forum. Hope you will enjoy reading my stories.

View All Stories

Proloågue :

I knew this place before I knew myself. Mangaon, a small sleepy town nestled in the Konkan part of Maharashtra.
Each summer, me and my family treated ourselves to this picturesque location for spending our vacations. For me since my childhood, it was simply a ritual to visit this place each May. The thought of Mangaon always filled me with mystery and adventure, its greenery and long meddling rivers that flowed deep.

Part 1

I used to always consider myself fortunate to have my family own a private farmhouse right in the heart of the vivacious woods. You will not believe me until you saw the farmhouse and its surroundings with your own eyes; it truly was nestled in the lap of nature. A home away from home, away from the hustling and bustling city life of Mumbai.
My friends would laugh gleefully as I sang my lullaby whenever we used to sit onboard the late night Konkan Kanya Express as it snaked its way from Mumbai for a four hour long journey. We would gaze endlessly at the beautiful night sky and the passing jungles. And I would sing:
“O Mangaon, why so beautiful you are?
Luring me with your beautiful hillsides and rivers,
Mysterious though you are, calling me from afar!”

But it is said, with every beautiful thing there comes a curse. And that is a fact I today acknowledge.

As far as I remember my grandfather had met with an accident, which lead to his death. Some say he committed suicide in the river meddling around our farm house. I had heard stories that he was in great misery when he died and it could be because he was staying there alone as the rest of the family remained in the City, out of their sheer choice of course. I would debate that while some people say his death could have been either an accident or a suicide, but the hopeless fact is that his death occurred in that bloody river.

With time there was no one to look after the farmhouse and so the family decided to let it out on rent to a private firm, an organized outfit who sold us the idea that it would be lucrative to run it as a resort; one of a kind in all of Mangaon with the long deep river running right around the property. After all, it was my grandpas desire to always win in business; or to put it in his words ‘extract as much as possible from this land’. Something which he was never around to see materializing.

Finally our family narrowed down to a private investor and the agreement papers were happily signed. The condition was that one well maintained room would be reserved for the family in case they wanted to visit for an outing.

Years went by and time kept passing, and I kept growing.

My grandmother began to feel lonesome and decided to move out to Mangaon. She was getting tired of hustle and bustle of city and wanted to spend her time, whatever was left of it, in Mangaon. I would miss her dearly.

We would remain in touch with her and each time we spoke, she seemed to be cheerful and full of life. She always told me how happy she felt staying in our family room in the large, now renowned resort that stood in the place of the legendary farmhouse. It was an expansive room overlooking the river. In fact it was one of the best rooms and was never let out to guests.

Months passed and the teasing monsoon finally arrived in this hilly Konkan region. Sadly, word arrived at our home that that my grandmother had passed away too. She was found motionless one fine morning in the family room locked from inside and only the passing river being the testimony to her demise.

Part 2

I caught the Konkan Kanya Express that very night for attending her funeral that was scheduled the next morning. It was a sad affair and I met all the relatives who had congregated from various parts. I was to return with the relatives the same night. But I was dead tired and a thought occurred to me. “What the heck, for old times’ sake, let me spend the night here and leave next day.” I was just too distraught, both physically and emotionally.

Befitting as it would be, it rained terribly that night, perhaps as a tribute to my grandma’s death, the pious lady that she was. As all the other rooms were sold out at the resort, I had no choice but to stay in the family room, though I dreaded the thought of being in a room that had witnessed a death barely 24 hours ago. I snuggled into my new room for company. It was now getting late and there were heavy thundershowers going on. The monsoon was at its peak at this part of the woods.

I had showered up, changed and was just settling down in my room but I just couldn’t keep the memories of my grandma out of my head. Just as I was sinking into the big old fashioned family bed, suddenly the lights went out. I thought probably it must be a trip of the electricity and found my way to the door screaming into the lobby to turn on the lights.

No response. It was pitch dark and I could barely feel the desk phone in the darkness. When I finally did reach it, I realized I didn’t know the number of the resort office. But using my instincts, I just punched the number 9. It rang and rang but no response at the other end, but what choice did I have? I waited. After a few tries, finally I heard a ruffled voice answering the phone. Thank heavens, I said to myself. It was the caretaker perhaps.

I asked him to send some candles and matchbox to the family room. He asked me if I wanted a hot cup of coffee along with it, which I gladly obliged.

The wait seemed endless. Finally I heard a knock at my door. I asked him his name. ‘Bala’ came the brisk reply. Sipping the hot coffee I asked, “Why don’t you stay for a bit till I’m done?” as it seemed creepy to me being alone staring at my shadow in the dim candle light and I needed to badly use the company. Bala stayed back.

As I was sipping the hot coffee taking a stock of the day’s proceedings, Bala muttered some things in the background. It was all about how good the family was to him as if for ages.
I was not in a state of mind to hear pleasantries and very politely asked him to cut the crap and tell me some truth about this place; something which I didn’t already know.

After some contemplation, with a deep sombre voice, Bala began.
“Memsaab, something is there in this land, something that cannot be touched. It’s a magical force and it seemingly gets attracted to people it desires… There is something evil about it. Your grandfather and his father before him knew about it.”
“I’ve had enough of complexities uptill now, I don’t need to hear this.” I told him.
“Memsaab, people from big city just come for the fun, some for vacation, some for the booze and women, some for business, but nobody pays heed to the legend of this land.”
Having no choice but to hear, I beckoned him to go on.
“Memsaab, some Adivasis would swear by their blood that there was an ancient gold covered temple right by this river that passes through our land. This temple was in the midst of it adjacent to the land. Sangam is what they called it. Ancient rituals and sacrifices would be done here to honor the departed souls. But with time and geological changes, the temple got submerged into the depths of the river, to be forgotten forever, along with the souls it was supposed to revere. The land doesn’t want to be discovered, but just wants to be left to its fate…”
“Enough.” I said. I had finished my coffee. I showed Bala the door.

While whatever Bala said went over my head, I knew this much about my grandpa. He had earned notoriety for being greedy, a capitalist from the city who wanted to exploit the land. He used to tell me tales of how, as a child, he dreamt to make Mangaon into a mini City. But as fate would have it, he was not around to see that in place of his legacy farmhouse, had cropped up a nice swanky resort.

Part 3

I told myself I would never believe in the things Bala told me as I knew there is always local folklore around in villages and believing in such things would demean my city education.

I returned back next day after a four hour train ride back to home sweet home: Mumbai.
A few more months went by. News arrived that there was a case of land dispute in Mangaon, and my dad being the Power of Attorney holder, had to represent for the litigation. So he had to go for a few months as it would be impractical to keep commuting up and down with the incessant court hearings. I was sad as I would miss my dad. But I said to myself, after all its for our family’s repute that dad is defending and I would just have to live with it.
Two months later, I got the shocking news that my dad had died!

This sent me into a depression. I was shocked, sad and furious all at the same time. Thoughts were racing in my mind. I began contemplating all the things I had seen, heard, the story of Bala, the folklore, the legal case… What could it be? Or is it just bad karma.

I had to uncover the truth. I had to find out what it was. There were just too many deaths happening in my family. And whatever it was, I had to confront it.

I packed my bag early next morning for the funeral, cursing myself. Gone were the days I would get into a lullaby hopping on to the train to Mangaon. I was at my lowest. Why was this happening to my family? I was tired of attending funerals, that too of my own loved ones. It was nerve racking for me.

I picked up the courage and went ticketless on an overbooked train to Mangaon. Thanks to my luck, or whatever that’s’ left of it, I reached safely without any incident with the TC. I sure could use this now.

With every last ounce of courage, I arrived at the resort and dropped my bags. I was staring at the place all around me with a different set of eyes; eyes of distrust and contempt. I set my sight on the river flowing by. I walked briskly straight to the banks of the river. It was gushing so loudly, as if beckoning me to approach it. I had barely stumbled my way up to the edge of the sands till I could feel the spray of the river. It smelt muddy and filthy and I spat out whatever spray of drops had struck my mouth. It is this river that is witness to everything, the all-consuming entity, I said to myself. Now the sound of the river flowing seemed to rage very loudly in my ears. I meekly looked around and saw that I had moved quite a bit into the river. It was as if the river had lured me in. My feet were shivering with the coldness of the water and beginning to slip into the soft sands at the rivers base.

I began to shout at the top of my lungs for help. “Someone, please come save me!” I cried and screamed using every ounce of energy in me, hoping someone, some Adivasi would hear me and come to my rescue.

As I was beginning to give up hope, I suddenly felt a cold pair of hands on my shoulders, pulling and dragging me out of the river. I looked up to see who it was, and through the spray of the river water I could faintly make out an elderly man, it was Bala! “Thank Heavens, where had you been Bala!”

I finally crawled out of this hellhole in the river and reached the banks, coughing out spurts of water and sand from my parched throat. I took some time but finally was able to catch my breath. I wiped my eyes to look for Bala and thank him out of gratitude, but he was nowhere in sight. Poor overburdened chap must have had to rush back to the resort without even earning my gratitude properly, I thought to myself. It was now really late in the evening and I had to go soon back to the room to meet the Pundits for the last rites.

I raced to the resort entrance and thought, let me say a quick hello to Bala. After all, the old chap had saved my life! A staff member saw me and recognizing me, asked if I needed any help. I asked him where Bala was.

“Bala, what Bala? We have no Bala here.”
“What!” I said. “Then who is the chief Caretaker?”
“We have none. We are a staff of just ten and we all run the show without any need of a Supervisor or Caretaker. Our investor visits us every now and then. It’s been 2 years since we have been running it this way. I thought you and your family would know.”
My heart sunk!! Who was it then who saved me? Forget that, who had come to my room with the candles that stormy night and who did I have coffee with!! It couldn’t be a legendary spirit of the Adivasis, or was it!

I was drenched to the core and the thought struck me. The caretaker was one of the spirits amongst the doomed souls who was communicating with me, the outside world. They needed a messenger to tell the world about the damned souls who need redemption and that the existence of temple needed to be known.
I cursed myself.

“O Mangaon, why so beautiful you are?
Luring me with your beautiful hillsides and rivers,
Mysterious though you are, calling me from afar!”

I knew this place before I knew myself. Mangaon, a small sleepy town nestled in the Konkan part of Maharashtra.
Each summer, me and my family treated ourselves to this picturesque location for spending our vacations. For me since my childhood, it was simply a ritual to visit this place each May. The thought of Mangaon always filled me with mystery and adventure, its greenery and long meddling rivers that flowed deep.

I used to always consider myself fortunate to have my family own a private farmhouse right in the heart of the vivacious woods. You will not believe me until you saw the farmhouse and its surroundings with your own eyes; it truly was nestled in the lap of nature. A home away from home, away from the hustling and bustling city life of Mumbai.
My friends would laugh gleefully as I sang my lullaby whenever we used to sit onboard the late night Konkan Kanya Express as it snaked its way from Mumbai for a four hour long journey. We would gaze endlessly at the beautiful night sky and the passing jungles. And I would sing:
“O Mangaon, why so beautiful you are?
Luring me with your beautiful hillsides and rivers,
Mysterious though you are, calling me from afar!”

But it is said, with every beautiful thing there comes a curse. And that is a fact I today acknowledge.

As far as I remember my grandfather had met with an accident, which lead to his death. Some say he committed suicide in the river meddling around our farm house. I had heard stories that he was in great misery when he died and it could be because he was staying there alone as the rest of the family remained in the City, out of their sheer choice of course. I would debate that while some people say his death could have been either an accident or a suicide, but the hopeless fact is that his death occurred in that bloody river.

With time there was no one to look after the farmhouse and so the family decided to let it out on rent to a private firm, an organized outfit who sold us the idea that it would be lucrative to run it as a resort; one of a kind in all of Mangaon with the long deep river running right around the property. After all, it was my grandpas desire to always win in business; or to put it in his words ‘extract as much as possible from this land’. Something which he was never around to see materializing.

Finally our family narrowed down to a private investor and the agreement papers were happily signed. The condition was that one well maintained room would be reserved for the family in case they wanted to visit for an outing.

Years went by and time kept passing, and I kept growing.

My grandmother began to feel lonesome and decided to move out to Mangaon. She was getting tired of hustle and bustle of city and wanted to spend her time, whatever was left of it, in Mangaon. I would miss her dearly.

We would remain in touch with her and each time we spoke, she seemed to be cheerful and full of life. She always told me how happy she felt staying in our family room in the large, now renowned resort that stood in the place of the legendary farmhouse. It was an expansive room overlooking the river. In fact it was one of the best rooms and was never let out to guests.

Months passed and the teasing monsoon finally arrived in this hilly Konkan region. Sadly, word arrived at our home that that my grandmother had passed away too. She was found motionless one fine morning in the family room locked from inside and only the passing river being the testimony to her demise.

To Be Continued in Part 2…

I caught the Konkan Kanya Express that very night for attending her funeral that was scheduled the next morning. It was a sad affair and I met all the relatives who had congregated from various parts. I was to return with the relatives the same night. But I was dead tired and a thought occurred to me. “What the heck, for old times’ sake, let me spend the night here and leave next day.” I was just too distraught, both physically and emotionally.

Befitting as it would be, it rained terribly that night, perhaps as a tribute to my grandma’s death, the pious lady that she was. As all the other rooms were sold out at the resort, I had no choice but to stay in the family room, though I dreaded the thought of being in a room that had witnessed a death barely 24 hours ago. I snuggled into my new room for company. It was now getting late and there were heavy thundershowers going on. The monsoon was at its peak at this part of the woods.

I had showered up, changed and was just settling down in my room but I just couldn’t keep the memories of my grandma out of my head. Just as I was sinking into the big old fashioned family bed, suddenly the lights went out. I thought probably it must be a trip of the electricity and found my way to the door screaming into the lobby to turn on the lights.

No response. It was pitch dark and I could barely feel the desk phone in the darkness. When I finally did reach it, I realized I didn’t know the number of the resort office. But using my instincts, I just punched the number 9. It rang and rang but no response at the other end, but what choice did I have? I waited. After a few tries, finally I heard a ruffled voice answering the phone. Thank heavens, I said to myself. It was the caretaker perhaps.

I asked him to send some candles and matchbox to the family room. He asked me if I wanted a hot cup of coffee along with it, which I gladly obliged.

The wait seemed endless. Finally I heard a knock at my door. I asked him his name. ‘Bala’ came the brisk reply. Sipping the hot coffee I asked, “Why don’t you stay for a bit till I’m done?” as it seemed creepy to me being alone staring at my shadow in the dim candle light and I needed to badly use the company. Bala stayed back.

As I was sipping the hot coffee taking a stock of the day’s proceedings, Bala muttered some things in the background. It was all about how good the family was to him as if for ages.
I was not in a state of mind to hear pleasantries and very politely asked him to cut the crap and tell me some truth about this place; something which I didn’t already know.

After some contemplation, with a deep sombre voice, Bala began.
“Memsaab, something is there in this land, something that cannot be touched. It’s a magical force and it seemingly gets attracted to people it desires… There is something evil about it. Your grandfather and his father before him knew about it.”
“I’ve had enough of complexities uptill now, I don’t need to hear this.” I told him.
“Memsaab, people from big city just come for the fun, some for vacation, some for the booze and women, some for business, but nobody pays heed to the legend of this land.”
Having no choice but to hear, I beckoned him to go on.
“Memsaab, some Adivasis would swear by their blood that there was an ancient gold covered temple right by this river that passes through our land. This temple was in the midst of it adjacent to the land. Sangam is what they called it. Ancient rituals and sacrifices would be done here to honor the departed souls. But with time and geological changes, the temple got submerged into the depths of the river, to be forgotten forever, along with the souls it was supposed to revere. The land doesn’t want to be discovered, but just wants to be left to its fate…”
“Enough.” I said. I had finished my coffee. I showed Bala the door.

While whatever Bala said went over my head, I knew this much about my grandpa. He had earned notoriety for being greedy, a capitalist from the city who wanted to exploit the land. He used to tell me tales of how, as a child, he dreamt to make Mangaon into a mini City. But as fate would have it, he was not around to see that in place of his legacy farmhouse, had cropped up a nice swanky resort.

To Be Continued in Part 3….

I told myself I would never believe in the things Bala told me as I knew there is always local folklore around in villages and believing in such things would demean my city education.

I returned back next day after a four hour train ride back to home sweet home: Mumbai.
A few more months went by. News arrived that there was a case of land dispute in Mangaon, and my dad being the Power of Attorney holder, had to represent for the litigation. So he had to go for a few months as it would be impractical to keep commuting up and down with the incessant court hearings. I was sad as I would miss my dad. But I said to myself, after all its for our family’s repute that dad is defending and I would just have to live with it.
Two months later, I got the shocking news that my dad had died!

This sent me into a depression. I was shocked, sad and furious all at the same time. Thoughts were racing in my mind. I began contemplating all the things I had seen, heard, the story of Bala, the folklore, the legal case… What could it be? Or is it just bad karma.

I had to uncover the truth. I had to find out what it was. There were just too many deaths happening in my family. And whatever it was, I had to confront it.

I packed my bag early next morning for the funeral, cursing myself. Gone were the days I would get into a lullaby hopping on to the train to Mangaon. I was at my lowest. Why was this happening to my family? I was tired of attending funerals, that too of my own loved ones. It was nerve racking for me.

I picked up the courage and went ticketless on an overbooked train to Mangaon. Thanks to my luck, or whatever that’s’ left of it, I reached safely without any incident with the TC. I sure could use this now.

With every last ounce of courage, I arrived at the resort and dropped my bags. I was staring at the place all around me with a different set of eyes; eyes of distrust and contempt. I set my sight on the river flowing by. I walked briskly straight to the banks of the river. It was gushing so loudly, as if beckoning me to approach it. I had barely stumbled my way up to the edge of the sands till I could feel the spray of the river. It smelt muddy and filthy and I spat out whatever spray of drops had struck my mouth. It is this river that is witness to everything, the all-consuming entity, I said to myself. Now the sound of the river flowing seemed to rage very loudly in my ears. I meekly looked around and saw that I had moved quite a bit into the river. It was as if the river had lured me in. My feet were shivering with the coldness of the water and beginning to slip into the soft sands at the rivers base.

I began to shout at the top of my lungs for help. “Someone, please come save me!” I cried and screamed using every ounce of energy in me, hoping someone, some Adivasi would hear me and come to my rescue.

As I was beginning to give up hope, I suddenly felt a cold pair of hands on my shoulders, pulling and dragging me out of the river. I looked up to see who it was, and through the spray of the river water I could faintly make out an elderly man, it was Bala! “Thank Heavens, where had you been Bala!”

I finally crawled out of this hellhole in the river and reached the banks, coughing out spurts of water and sand from my parched throat. I took some time but finally was able to catch my breath. I wiped my eyes to look for Bala and thank him out of gratitude, but he was nowhere in sight. Poor overburdened chap must have had to rush back to the resort without even earning my gratitude properly, I thought to myself. It was now really late in the evening and I had to go soon back to the room to meet the Pundits for the last rites.

I raced to the resort entrance and thought, let me say a quick hello to Bala. After all, the old chap had saved my life! A staff member saw me and recognizing me, asked if I needed any help. I asked him where Bala was.

“Bala, what Bala? We have no Bala here.”
“What!” I said. “Then who is the chief Caretaker?”
“We have none. We are a staff of just ten and we all run the show without any need of a Supervisor or Caretaker. Our investor visits us every now and then. It’s been 2 years since we have been running it this way. I thought you and your family would know.”
My heart sunk!! Who was it then who saved me? Forget that, who had come to my room with the candles that stormy night and who did I have coffee with!! It couldn’t be a legendary spirit of the Adivasis, or was it!

I was drenched to the core and the thought struck me. The caretaker was one of the spirits amongst the doomed souls who was communicating with me, the outside world. They needed a messenger to tell the world about the damned souls who need redemption and that the existence of temple needed to be known.
I cursed myself.

“O Mangaon, why so beautiful you are?
Luring me with your beautiful hillsides and rivers,
Mysterious though you are, calling me from afar!”

7 Likes
242 Views

You may also like

4 Response Comments

  • Bishakham08/05/2019 at 9:16 AM

    Interesting narrative. Kept me glued to the end. A tale of mystery and folklore. A horror legend attached to a family from generations. Good one.

  • Nidhi Jangid08/05/2019 at 5:11 PM

    Interesting story! It really kept me curious till the very end! Narration is well and so the story is!!It somewhat reminded me of beauty of my own village! 🙂

  • Swati09/05/2019 at 8:04 AM

    A wonderful, intriguing narrative of a horror tale that keptme completely absorbed. A fantastic narration. Would love reading more like this.

  • NANDANA DASGUPTA13/05/2019 at 12:20 AM

    quite an interesting story, you manged to keep the subtlety & yet produce a kind of eerie feelings among your readers. What a great way of telling how karma works. Your story did keep me glued to the very end of it & you can be sure that all your readers were aptly reading the story till the very end. Kudos to you, keep up the good work.

Leave A Comment

Please enter your name. Please enter an valid email address. Please enter message.