Nani KI Kahani…..From Simla in the Sixties to Simla of 2010

Nani KI Kahani…..From Simla in the Sixties to Simla of 2010

I was a wanderer….a child who would always be on the move….and no one ever stopped me since I would be back home in time and moreover I always, invariably, topped the class!! Amma rightly called me a “Rakaat”!!! Though she would have respite with me away on my daily sojourns but at times she would be worried too. Simla was the safest place to be…. for everyone! Amma would scare me with the stories of “Jhole wala Baba” who carries children to the distant plains…. but I would not listen to or would believe her. Simla taught us to trust everyone, love everyone and be on our own….in and around Simla….at least this is how I spent my childhood! 

But then there was a pretty horrible story doing the rounds, perhaps, to scare away us the kids. It was about some secret underground chamber, much hidden from where the Angrez log would take the kids to!!! Now this was really scary. Amma had heard the story and she would relate this to us. Even the know-all Bhenjii had shared the same story with us. What I remember about the story is that the Angrez log needed some fluid which could be extracted from the brain of a child ….a loving child…hung head down from the ceiling of dungeons of these chambers. The head of the child was shaven…a hole penetrated in his skull….and the child would die a slow and painful death while the fluid from his skull, dripping down, was collected!!  Amma would say that when it rains heavily and there is darkness surrounding whole of Simla…the young, unescorted, kids get picked up!! As per the story a very young child was caught… his head shaved off… but somehow he ran away and it was this child who told about the secret underground chambers of the Gaiety theater!!!

I don’t know whether there was any grain of truth in the story or not but when I roamed alone and if the weather turned stormy and gloomy…..I would run back as fast as my feet could carry me!!! Once I would reach the safely and security of stairs leading to any corner of Lower Bazaar…..I would heave a sigh of relief!

The story haunts me even today… especially when I sat outside the stairs to the Gaiety Theater building with my grandson Aarush when my daughters were having a hair cut in the saloon opposite to it! Once again, I was reminded of the horrors of the story….the story that would make me run away from the Gaiety theater vicinity during rainstorms!!!

But I shook my head off those horrible thoughts and reminisced about the good old days when we would walk to the Gaiety theater for participating in group song representing the cultural society of Postal department. When on the days of final rehearsals I would run around whole of the theater!  Sometimes I would sit on the gold and gilt covered box meant for the Viceroy and the Vicereine…. wherefrom they could gaze doom on all those who were present in the theater!! Sometimes would drape the deep maroon heavy curtains, with gold sashes,  around my petite body and bring out my face to look at the empty chairs of the Gaiety theater….and sometimes would run from one door to another in the background partitions, But if I had to go to the rooms at the back where the artists would get ready and it would be lonely out there with everyone in the theater….I would run back still shivering about some skeleton from the dark to pounce upon me.

But sitting on the stairs of Gaiety theater with my grandson I thought of new stories…stories of bravery, courage, faith and love, that we the Simlaites are famous for, that I would share with him!! He has to listen to a new story of heroism that Simla has witnessed in struggle for freedom, equality for women and where I dared to dream and chase my dreams!!! Sulman Rushdie has rightly said,

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.

  • Relished your post1
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  • Vimla SharmaSame stories we heard in our childhood1
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  • Savita SharmaBeautifully narrated 😍1
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  • Rakhee SoodLoved every bit1
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  • Sanjay Sofraरामतेल निकलते थे ऐसा सुना था।1
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  • Ramesh KumarA horrible story to say the least . The venue was perhaps reported as dungeon below the Ridge. Many a hapless person was reportedly taken unawares for being subjected to the torture . Wish it were a fiction through and through containing not even a grain of truth. But as kids we believed this to be true .1
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  • Paramjit KaurYes it was told by my father that fluid was used to heal the wounds fast of white ( english ,angrej,gorey) warriors of world war . And yes few years ago the torture cell was unveild for public for few days.i went to see that torture chamber with my fa… See More1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply2h
  • Vijay Bhushan SoodGood description of ur those days and most important u put ur feelings and memories so beautifully1
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  • Rashmi SobtiGot shivers while reading Saroj hi 😱1
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  • Ravi Kaushalये कहानी बचपन में मैंने भी सुनी थी। हालाँकि उतनी प्रचलित नहीं थी तब।इस विषय पे लिखूँगा रात में 😄 आपने अपने क़िस्सों के साथ मेरी भी एक याद कुरेद दी 😊❤️🙏1
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    • Jiwan KumarRavi Kaushal जी इंतजार रहेगा आपकी कुरेदी यादों का1
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    • Saroj ThakurAuthor+1Sach me intzaar rahega….subah uth ke dekhungi jaldi se!!! 🙂
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    Write a reply…
  • Surinder MohanNicely written,but this is the First time I have ever heard of this story in Giety or outside.
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  • Surinder KarolSaroj ji u r human Robot. Blessings2
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  • Mahesh Sharma1970 के दशक में मेरे बचपन के दिनो में भी बच्चों को उल्टा लटकाकर खोपड़ी से नारायण तेल निकालने की कहानी भी प्रचलित थी।1
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  • Hemendra Kumar TewariIt was a common concoction from the fake factory going on when we were children.No truth at all. But the post is interesting .

  • Vinod SharmaAn interesting write up !!!1
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  • Aditya KumariMy maid used to say they take out Ram tel from children. The same story.3
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·2 Replies4h
  • Monika MakkarLovely write up ❤❤1
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  • Arvind UpretiAdmin+1What a captivating horror story . 😃But one thing I will say Ma’am , not going into the truth or false of the story , few grandma tales , hearsays have been handed down the generations without ever getting documented , and these are the forums like F… See More1
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  • Akshay Bhardwajwell well…the famous dumgeons of gaiety..n i used to think it was fiction…however when i was a young kiddu a verry old man in my village recited tha same story….n it wasnt just children he said he himself had survived the ordeal..narain tel..he s… See More2
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply7m
  • Anita MathewGreat writeup…mix of reality and fantasy woven so well.1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply5m
  • Nandini SharmaWell true or not,I got goose bumps. Kudos to stylish narration by saroj ji.1
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply6m
  • Pamela LyallLovely read. Never heard this macabre tale but what an interesting story. Love the didactic quote from Salman Rushdie and am amazed at how you end all your little stories with such flair. BTW I looked up Combermere bridge on the web the other day an… See More2
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    Saroj Thakur replied ·1 Reply10m
  • Romi MittalI was so enchanted by your write up, when I had read it first ( was it last year ?)I had to read it again..The enchantment was the same, dear dear Saroj … See More2
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    • Saroj ThakurAuthor+1Dear Romi you are right …I wrote about it earlier as well. It was Arvind’s post and the picture of my grandson with me that set the ball moving, once again!!! Hugs dear!
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      • Romi MittalSaroj that is what connecting threads is all about.Sharing and re -sharing , telling and re-telling of wonderful stories, builds bonds between like minded people. Haina ?Loads of love, dear 😍

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