If you visited Hill Park many years ago, you may remember the presence of a haunted house inside Meraj amusement park. It was a small igloo shaped structure covered in bougainvillea and on the entrance there was a plaque displaying just two words: Bhoot Bangla (The Ghost House). When I first heard of this haunted house’s existence, my friends and I became very excited and we decided to check it out soon.
On a fateful evening in 1981, we reached Hill Park around dusk time. At the entrance of the haunted house, we saw a 6-feet-tall, 3-feet-wide, and 2-feet-deep human being who issuing entry tickets. He had six inch long moustaches and with a sinking sun in the background, his silhoutted image appeared like a complete ‘bhoot’ (ghost) in itself.
I was only 10 years old at that time and to me this 6 x 3 x 2 = 36 cubic feet voluminous guy looked like a ghost mountain. My friends and I immediately gave him the nick name of Mr. bhoot. (Mr. Ghost)
After issuing tickets, Mr. bhoot placed us in a straight line and for some unknown reason or logic he told me stand in the front of the line. This action reminds me of this ‘sher’
But my situation was such that I was shivering with anticipation of an impending horror. He then told us to enter the haunted house one by one but only after we start hearing some scary music. All of us solemnly moved our heads in affirmative. The eerie set up had already starting to get on to us.
A dark night, fear of unknown and a giant ghost-cum-human were looking scary all right. After giving us instructions, Mr. bhoot suddenly disappeared behind some curtains made out of torn ‘bori’ (jute bag). We heard a distinct click of a cassette player button and the place started rocking in a blast of theme horror music. The supposedly horror music was not scary at all. It was more like a sea storm making a land fall like:
khooo khooo shooo shiaaoooN shapar chiaaoN and repeat.
As soon as we got the queue of scary music, we entered the horror house. At first we couldn’t see anything because of the darkness. As our irises expanded and we got used to the light, we started walking very cautiously and in a line according to Mr. bhoot instructions. Suddenly from left side something came flying in the air and hit one of my friends right on his face. It was a human arm, torn apart from the shoulder blade and soaked in blood. All of us shrieked in horror, but my friend who got hit was so scared that he grabbed onto this flying object as a reflex action and didn’t let go of it. While we were still checking on to what had just hit us, Mr. bhoot suddenly appeared from the darkness and in ultraviolet lit room, showing his large purple teeth he ordered us:
“choRo bhuee choRo ! haath ko jaane do!”
(Let go off the hand guys!)
That torn-apart human arm was actually made of cotton soaked in red color or may be red Ink. It was made to slide across the room by pulling on a string. That string was pulled by none other than our Mr. bhoot himself from some hidden corner. The timing of rope pulling was so perfect that the arm had hit my friend right on his cheek. Mr. bhoot must have perfected this art over time. After my friend let go of the arm, Mr. bhoot disappeared in the darkness with as much swiftness as with which he had appeared.
We cautiously moved further. Wooden planks that made the passage were creaking under our feet. There were some gaps or holes in wooden planks too where our feet were getting stucked.
We were too scared to look down while walking incase some other flying object decided to come our way. We saw some fake human skulls, bones and a few fake dead bodies lying around. The dead bodies had colorful Zero-watt bulbs glowing under them, so instead of looking horrifying they actually looked hilarious in the colors of green, red, blue and yellow.
One dead body was however, wrapped in a white sheet (kafan) and was moving slowly from lying-down position to sitting-up position, on the beat of the same old stormy music.
Shooooooo (lie-down), khoooooo (sit-up), shiaaaaoooN (lie-down) chiaaaooN (sit up again) and so on.
I can’t help it because another ‘sher’ now comes to my mind on this up-and-down motion of dead bodies.
Since there was no Zero-watt bulb glowing under this dead body and the approximate dead area of this body was 36 cubic feet, we guessed it must be the same Mr. bhoot pulling yet another stunt on us. So we acted cool and didn’t give him any reaction. The anti-climax of that moving arm scene earlier had removed all fear from us and we knew if any thing moved, it was probably Mr. bhoot himself. The bhoot guy probably gave up on trying to scaring us any further as very soon the ‘cyclone’ music stopped and it was the queue for us to get out. I bet after getting us out, Mr. bhoot must’ve gone back to drawing board to polish his skills further for future clients.
The management of this haunted house was probably very poor because the same guy who had issued us entrance tickets, operated the music player, pulled the string to hurl the arm across visitors and then wore a white sheet to become a dead body.
The total time we spent inside haunted house was probably 5 minutes but that fun memory has lasted with me fore more than 25 years now and I recall every detail as if it happened just yesterday.