Submitted by alvin on Thu, 2016-05-26 11:57 Growing up, I was fascinated by the typical things that tickle the fancy of children – namely UFOs, extra-terrestrials and ghosts. When I was around ten, I was quite certain that I saw a spacecraft zipping across the night sky – a luminescent ship that vaguely resembled a whale of a Frisbee wearing what looked like a frilly bonnet. I still don’t know what that was. My now-rational head says that it was a flock of birds or more likely, a figment of imagination, but the ten-year-old in me still likes to believe that I sighted a UFO. It’s a happy thought. But it was a different story when it came to ghosts. I still can’t remember how old I was when I first heard a ghost story, but I remember always being petrified of ghosts, thanks to our madcap maid who struck fear into my heart by telling me yarns about the spirits in the sky who would carry children away if they acted impish. Coupled that with TV serials that showed abandoned castles where crazy haired women glided around wearing white, it was not surprising that I turned out damaged. At bedtime, I would hesitantly turn off the light, make a dash for my bed and sink into the covers, head, hands and all, hoping that the spirits would spare me and take away my neighbour’s little kids. My mother soon realised the problem and judiciously discharged the old maid and monitored TV time, but the fear of ghosts never left me. Even during college days, I had difficulty sleeping in the dark. A light had to be on, or else it would end up being another wakeful night. One night, I was convinced that there was ghost in my room. I was just about to switch on my bedroom light when it paranormally turned on. There was no one else in the room but me…and maybe another? That incident was enough to keep me away from that part of the house for a few good weeks. Looking back, I now realise that it was no supernatural phenomenon, but just a funny thing that can happen to old switches and sockets that badly need to be changed. I’m glad I was not electrocuted that day. Over the years, I have heard many spooky stories from equally spooky people, about phantoms, spirits, demons and yakshis (a special kind of Malayali ghost, always a woman) that floated around graves, drank blood and sang in high pitched notes principally on tempestuous full moon nights. They made an insomniac out of me. Now, when it’s bedtime, the ritual has changed a bit. I glide into bed, switch on my yellow reading lamp and sink into the covers with an omnibus of ghost stories. The ghosts that once kept me up have started putting me to sleep. Now, all that’s left is making acquaintance with an ET.