As a final-year student at Delhi University, I am part of the cohort that was impacted by the pandemic and had to complete one and a half years of college in an online format. When the situation improved and in-person classes resumed, one of the many challenges I faced was finding a suitable place to live close to campus. Since my college didn’t have a girls’ hostel yet, I ended up choosing a single-room occupancy at a nearby PG that was a five-minute walk from the red brick building of my dreams.
At first, everything seemed perfect. I was content in my cozy little bubble, taking pleasure in the challenge of living on my own, away from home. I could make my own decisions, plan my meals, and manage my finances by following a pre-decided budget. Nonetheless, the view outside my window told a different story.
Every morning, the eerie sight of an abandoned building greeted me — an unsettling reminder of the darkness lurking in the unexplored palls of our lives. Despite the peace and tranquility of my room, I couldn’t help but feel a chill of dread every time I glanced out the window. But as time ticked, I grew accustomed to observing it, just as I had with all the hustle and bustle of college life.
It was not long before I started to notice something bizarre. Every day, without fail, at around 8 am and 8 pm, I would hear a loud, strange sound inside my room, like an invisible switch being pressed, which was, to say the least, unnerving. I tried to dismiss it, thinking it was my imagination. So did my warden with equal measure when I reported it to her.
But as the weeks went by, it became increasingly difficult to ignore. And one evening, my PG mates mentioned that they had also been encountering weird things in their rooms. Some of them had even heard strange noises, experienced being sleep-paralysed, or witnessed unexplained movements on the terrace.
I was starting to get disturbed, especially at night. Deciding not to let it override me, I deliberately resolved to shift my focus on other challenges that were plaguing my life, one of them being running late for morning lectures. Isn’t it a strange fallacy that those who live far away consistently arrive on time, while those who live close by often arrive late because of an overestimation of how quickly they can get to their destination?
To improve my wake-up habits, I returned to a more traditional method and moved my alarm clock from across the room to my bedside. I also set up a few backup alarms, such as on my little glossy rectangle, which I kept at considerable bay from me, so that I would be sure to wake up at 8 every morning.
It was a week later, on a hot Sunday morning (the only day I let go of setting up an alarm), when I woke up earlier than usual due to a terrible period cramp, that I heard the pressing switch sound, louder than ever, at 8 am. It seemed as if the source was closer than before. And it was at this moment that I stumbled upon a truly terrifying revelation. I am sure you can’t guess what it is.
I discovered it was my alarm clock pushing itself bi-daily and the loud sound I had been hearing was the alarm going off, even though it wasn’t set to do so. Simply, it just pushed itself with a thud even when off. To confirm what my brain cells had just inferred, I set the alarm for 8:10 by playing with the alarm hand, without pushing the ON button at its back. And, oh my gosh, there I hear the same thud again at 8:10.
I couldn’t believe it. I was convinced that my PG was haunted, but it turned out to be a malfunctioning alarm clock all along. The absurdity of the situation made me burst out in laughter, even though the cramp simultaneously made me cry out in pain.
I was relieved to have found a logical explanation for the odd occurrence in my room. I learned to consider mundane explanations before concluding that something was paranormal. Because you never know, it might just be your alarm clock playing tricks on you. However, the claims made by my PG buddies remain shrouded in mystery.
Aakriti Sanghi is a restless sucker for life. She observes, analyses, and takes mental notes to serve something intellectually fresh each time, occasionally with a dash of humour too.