The Dancing Lamp

Childhood and teenage are magical years. Two teenagers, Arun and Gaurishankar, witness a spooky incident. The midsummer nights’ eerie event scared them. Despite their fears, they recorded the details of the strange dancing lamp. Find out what happened when others got to know about it. Here’s an interesting account, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Two teenage boys, Arun and Gaurishankar, better known as Gauri, were solving physics equations, sitting on the large balcony of the latter’s house, in the railway colony at Allahabad. The year was 1975.

Rest of the family were asleep in the garden below. There were two sting cots (khatiya) for the boys to sleep after their combined study. An earthen pot (surahi), two glasses and some light snacks were also kept in jars for them. These were kept on a small table, nearby.

Gauri was sleepy. It was nearly 2am. Soon he was snoring softly. Arun was wide awake. He was watching the stars above on that new moon night.

An eerie silence enveloped the night. Dogs could be heard howling at a distance. Arun heard the jingle of anklets. He turned to look at the place from where the sound was coming. He saw no one. 

Suddenly, he saw an earthen oil lamp flickering in midair, fifty meters from where he was. It was gently swaying and dancing beneath the shady monkey-pod (jangal jalebi) tree.

Arun pinched himself. He thought he was ‘seeing things’ – a bad dream may be. He drank a glass of cool water and splashed some on his face.

Strangely the leaves of the monkey-pod tree was rustling. There was no breeze. No leaves of any  other tree – there were quite a few – moved. The dancing lamp sent shiver down his spine. He woke Gauri. Both the boys watched the lamp, frightened, crouched together.

Gauri was softly chanting Hanuman Chalisa. Perhaps, he did not want the lamp to vanish. After a while, the dancing lamp vanished. But, these boys did not sleep a wink that night. When they told the elders about what they say, they were laughed at and rebuked. The boys wanted to be sure.

They waited for the dancing lamps the next night. Earlier in the day, they had decided to record the time and other details of the dancing lamp. Arun bought a stopwatch with his pocket money.

Once again, the dancing lamp appeared. Though scared, without uttering a word, they began working, as decided. Gauri had the watch. He turned it toward Arun, who wrote, 2:30am. The gentle sway began, so also the rustle of the leaves of the mighty tree above. “Just the leaves of the monkey-pod tree rustled wildly,” wrote Arun. Gauri and Arun saw the lamp dance again. A gentle dance. Then all this stopped at 3:15am.

Arun wanted to go and see what was there. Gauri dissuaded him. They noted everything about the strange occurrences for five nights in a row. Curiosity had pushed much of the fear away.

The two boys discussed it with their band of friends. Four houses were chosen to watch the dancing lamps. Fifteen boys, around their age, gathered. They had sticks and large flashlights too.

Yes, everyone saw it. The news spread like wildfire. Women were scared. Men thought it was the figment of imagination of the lads. That night elders joined them too.

The dancing lamp appeared. Mishra Uncle fainted. He foamed at the mouth. A doctor had to be called later. Girls and women shrieked. But the lamp kept on dancing, as the leaves of the tree above rustled wildly. All this stopped at 3:15am. Arun and Gauri told everyone what all to observe. They were not ‘out of their minds’.

Arun and Gauri were heroes among their peers. Arun’s father was an electrical engineer. He got a street lamp installed beneath the monkey-pod tree, in the afternoon.

No lamp danced, no leaves rustled after that!

©Arindam Roy

Pix from Net.

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy has 35 years experience in various newsrooms. He was the Managing Editor of a reputed Gurgoan-based Citizen Journalist portal and has held senior positions in several publications. As Correspondent and Bureau Chief, he has written extensively for Associated Press, Times of India, Hindustan Times and multiple news outlets. He has contributed 13 chapters to various publications. Of these, seven chapters were published in two Coffee Table Books, published by the Times Group. He is a co-author of a novel, Rivers Run Back that he penned with Joyce Yarrow. The novel was launched at the American Centre, New Delhi, on January 2015. He lives in Allahabad.
Arindam Roy