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Chowkidar tales

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Most New Delhi colonies lack the aura of the ones in Old Delhi, where history peeps from every nook and corner.

The more sophisticated ones that have come up after 1947 have a stereotyped ambience with no legends or myths to enliven it. But scratch deeper and even in these you will come across interesting revelations. Last week a colleague got the idea that chowkidars (watchmen) were the sort to be approached for the purpose.

They are mostly Garhwalis or Poorabiyas from East Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In the colleague’s DDA colony, Thapa used to be an institution in himself, though his wife was more dominating. Both are dead and their son, who used to go about with a felt hat and a cigarette in his mouth, has disappeared somewhere. However, others are there like Babban and Tewari.

The colleague asked Babban if he had seen anything unusual during his nightly rounds. He scratched his head, trying to recollect.

"The peepul tree," he said, "emits strange noises and flashes as though somebody was lighting diyas after midnight. In the adjoining Maharishi Dayanand Park, two women, one old and the other young, are seen on some nights.

They disappear after reaching the dust patch, where stray cows and calves rest at night. "Who are they?" He hazarded a guess: "Some years ago a girl committed suicide in one of the colony flats. Two days later her grieving mother also ended her life by hanging from a ceiling fan. Maybe their spirits haunt the park."

This may not be true but it lends an air of mystery to a dull and drab colony alright. Next time your late evening walk gets tiring, befriend the chowkidar and he may well send you home with your ears buzzing with excitement.