Why Has He Come Back From The Dead?
I never believed in ghosts/ spirits. Until this happened.
A little background.
I’m from Mumbai, India. After I completed my Grade 12 examinations, I took admission to an engineering college at Pune, around 180 km away from my home. This was in June 1989. I met Trevor (all names changed) at Pune who coincidentally was from my school and parish in Andheri, Mumbai and we decided to be roommates. I knew his family well and his mother kind of thought of me as a good, studious boy and was happy that her son would be with me. We were soon joined by Aaron, another Mumbai lad who apparently chose our room to be with fellow Mumbaikars. We stayed together for a year. Trevor and I were quite different temperamentally and though we weren’t arguing or anything, we decided to separate after the year was over. I had made other very good friends- Dale, Walter and Colin, all also from Mumbai. Trevor also had his own group of friends which included his cousin Jimmy.
All 5 of us including Aaron, moved out from the hostel into a private apartment. No more were we bound by the strict hostel timings and boring mess food. Trevor moved out too with his friends. Imagine our surprise on discovering that Trevor and gang had moved into the apartment adjacent to ours. He did not tell his mother that we were not roommates anymore and made me promise I would not tell her either. So I didn’t.
Cut to March 1992. We were settled in our respective apartments and used to bump into each other occasionally. It was the Holi weekend, Holi is the Indian festival of colours. People generally play with colors and have a rousing time. Being a public holiday, some people get wasted on booze or get high on Bhaang ( derived from Indian hemp/ cannabis). I came back to Mumbai, to spend the long Holi weekend with my folks and returned back on Sunday night to our room.
It was deserted. There was no key under the mat. Even Trevor’s room was locked and dark. I was puzzled. There was nobody around the place. The area where we stayed had many students from our college staying in rented bungalows and apartments. There was no one in sight. It was all too dark and lonely. Then I met a fellow student who came running up to me when he saw me.
“ What happened Roshan? I heard Trevor died?!”
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. “What nonsense! This can’t be!” I must have exclaimed. I met my buddies soon afterwards and they brought me up to speed.
Apparently, to avoid the noise and holi revelry Trevor and his friends decided to go out in the morning itself to a lake nearby. Jimmy was there as well. They were in the water and apparently Trevor went in too deep and suddenly found himself in deep waters. Not knowing how to swim, he cried out for help. One of his friends Murali, who could swim dived in and swam to Trevor who, by now, was panicking -bobbing in and out of the water. When Murali reached him, Trevor grabbed his hands so tight and hard that both of them drowned. Gone just like that. The police, fire brigade and local divers were pressed into action. Their bodies were only found the next morning.
His dad came to Pune to claim his body. I was tasked with the job of being with him and taking the body back to Mumbai. Jimmy accompanied us in the hearse. He was completely shattered. He was wondering how he would face Trevor’s mom. Being the elder of the two he was responsible, in a way, for his sibling’s well being. His father was very dignified and quiet. When he learnt Trevor was not my roommate anymore he was upset.
“ Tony’s mom would never have consented to him moving away from you Roshan. And she would have been right.”
Hearing this Jimmy broke down. I was affected too because suddenly it felt like I was responsible in some way for his death.
I told myself that Trevor always did what he wanted to and even if he had lived with me he would have preferred to go out rather than stay in the room and play holi with his visiting friends. There was no guarantee that being with me he would have still been alive. But my defense was not very convincing to me either. Should I have adjusted better to Trevor? Knowing that he came from a very humble background (his folks baked and sold cakes for a living) shouldn’t I have been a better roommate? The doubts refused to settle throughout my 6 hour journey back to Mumbai with Trevor’s body in the hearse.
But I steeled myself and decided to be strong and not get weighed down by emotion. The body was supposed to be kept overnight in the morgue and the funeral was scheduled for afternoon the next day. But Trevor’s mom insisted that we bring the body home for her to take one glimpse of her beloved Trevor. Finally the hearse reached his residence. There was a sea of people waiting.
“Be strong Roshan,” I told myself, “it’s not your fault.”
I was seated in the back of the ambulance/ hearse beside the body. The large doors opened and at once the loud sound of women wailing hit my ears.
“ It’s OK buddy, stay calm. Hug his mother. She will be understandably grieving.”
I was very composed. Then his mother came up, looked at me, tears streaming from her weary eyes. She looked so weak. I stepped down and hugged her wordlessly.
Then she said the words I was dreading. (I have tears in my eyes even after 30 years as I type this)
“ Trevor would not have died if he had stayed with you, son. Why did you let him go?” She said it in a very soft, non-accusing voice.
I broke down and cried inconsolably. All my logic and mental resolve about Trevor’s death and my not being responsible for it was rendered irrelevant against a mother’s grief. I now squarely blamed myself. Oh Lord, why didn’t I keep him with me?
My dad was in the crowd too and quickly came up and took me home. I cried throughout the short drive home and then some.
Next day at the funeral mass I was sitting in the front row with his mom holding onto me. She also said things like, “ I know you have been a good son to your parents Roshan. Your mother is so blessed to have a son like you, please take care of her.”
I kept crying throughout the service and burial.
I have had a very protected upbringing. My parents had never let me face any adversity or sorrow. I had not seen death from very close quarters either let alone played a part in any. Till date I have never grieved so much for anyone and I have seen many good people pass. Somewhere in my heart I grieved not so much for Trevor as for his mother. He was her eldest, and she had invested her life savings in his education. She may have had dreams that he would get a better life than she had given him. Maybe they would all have had a better life after he became an engineer and settled into a good job. All that came to nought with his death.
After the formalities were done, we all (the guys were also in Mumbai for the funeral) returned back to college and to our life as engineering students in Pune.
Our apartment had two rooms. Aaron, Walter and I lived in the outer room. Each of their beds were against the long wall. The main door of the apartment was between them. My bed was on the opposite wall facing the main door.
It was peak summer. Pune gets very hot in summer, goes up to 38 to 40 degrees centigrade. Due to the heat I would sleep clad only in my shorts or boxers. It was very hot that night a couple of days after we returned back from Trevor’s funeral.
At around 2 am at night, I felt a cold breeze blowing. Now that was odd. This is peak summer, we went to bed feeling all hot and sweaty. How did it suddenly get so cold? Did someone leave the door open? Was there a draught blowing through the open door? Perhaps we are getting some unseasonal rain to relieve the heat. Still lying on my back on my bed I turned to look at the door. More like I tried to turn my neck to look at the door. I couldn’t move a muscle in my neck. It was locked into position. Completely frozen. I rolled my eyes towards the left (mercifully I could move my eyes) the door was shut and fastened. Aaron and Walter were fast asleep. I was a little bit worried.
I decided to wake them up and tried to get out of my bed. Couldn’t. Every muscle in my body was frozen. I could still feel the cold breeze. I felt I was shivering/ trembling but I was perfectly still. This was frightening. I was completely paralyzed. And helpless. I tried calling out to my roommates but couldn’t even croak because my tongue was paralyzed too. Fear was giving way to panic. What was I supposed to do? Nothing. There was nothing I could do. What was happening to me? Trevor! Heck he’s doing this. He has come back to haunt me! I never believed in ghosts or spirits. I believed it was the figment of people’s imagination. Souls are in a happier place so why would they come back to shitty humans? This was always my reasoning. Up till this day. I was scared stiff and there was nothing I could do.
Alright I told myself, let me talk to him. What’s up Trevor? What do you want to tell me?
Then it dawned on me. Trevor’s soul needed prayers to make his peace with the Lord. He came to me because he believed I would understand and pray for him. He would never hurt me. He has not come to scare me. All I have to do is pray for his soul to have a peaceful passage into the Lord’s embrace. I said a little prayer for his soul.
That did it. The cold breeze was gone, I was no longer paralyzed and could move. I jumped out of the bed and woke up the guys. They were spooked too. I told them he just needed prayers. So we gathered around and prayed together for him.
I slept very peacefully that night. The next day, I called home and told them to pray for Trevor. The weekend after that I came back to Mumbai and met a Jesuit priest in our church and I narrated my experience to him. All he said was it is good you all are praying for him. That’s all souls need, our prayers. I had so many questions. Why did he not approach his immediate family or his closest friends?
The good pastor replied thoughtfully, “Trevor may not have wanted to disturb his grieving family any more than he has already done. Are any of his friends mature enough to be able to handle something like this and not get completely spooked out?”
I told him that I had panicked too.
“That’s true but you had the capacity to think rationally and do what he needed. I guess, souls know whom to approach. Remember Roshan, people talk about souls in a very negative way. They believe in stuff like evil spirits, vengeful ghosts etc and the focus is diverted from the need for prayers to occult/ exorcism and the like. Keep praying for him and I will too”
We all prayed hard for Trevor to find peace and I am glad to say he never paid me another ‘visit.’
I have narrated this story to my kids, friends, colleagues and anyone who will listen! My son, Rishon, is exceptionally bright and even more rational than me. He explained it scientifically as I would have expected.
“Hey dad, look it up on google. It appears you displayed classic symptoms of sleep paralysis that night.”
I did look it up and it does appear that I had an episode of it that hot summer night 30 years ago. That still doesn’t explain why it has never happened to me before or since that day. Maybe Trevor reached out from the beyond through the sleep paralysis to request for our prayers. Maybe God created science for the good of mankind, both living and departed. Some things will remain unanswered.
I firmly believe there are no ghosts or spirits roaming around. Just good souls.