Sunday, 7 November 2010

Spooky Knocks

23-25 October 2010
I am going to write about some spooky experiences which I have been getting since coming to Bongo. I might have got very scared of them but I did not and therefore did not see anything worthwhile in them until they stopped for sometime.
The house which has been given to me is one of the District Assembly staff quarters. The house has three rooms, all of which open into a very large outer space closed by a wall and an iron gate. One of the larger room is to be used as a living room and has another door which opens at the backside of the house directly on the main road. There is a small room, toilet, a sink and a passage connecting to all these. The design of these houses was not understood by me until recently when it was explained to me by Gilbert Akologo, my program officer at VSO. It has been designed on the basis of a traditional African house compound. The outer space in other houses is extensively used by the people. They sit on the wooden benches. There is always a big earthen pot kept in the shade to store water. Most of the cooking and eating of the meals is also done outside. So one can always see or smell what is being cooked in the neighbours' houses. The rooms are generally used for sleeping and as living rooms where they keep their sofa sets, TVs, cupboards and safes.
In my case however the house has been arranged differently as all the volunteers coming to the house will not use the house as it is meant to be but in the typical way as it is used in big cities. The living room has been used as a bedroom and other small room which is to be used as bedroom has been converted into a kitchen. The small room which is supposed to be used as store room for kitchen is completely disused and it has been filled with spiders and cobwebs. There was no point in cleaning that room because I was not going to use that room anyway so I have just closed the room. One of the room was earlier being used by a Kenyan volunteer who became sick after spending two months in the placement and went back to his home country. I could not find the keys to his room for almost three months. My bedroom which is actually supposed to be a living room has a door which opens outside. I have never opened this door and used that door. It seems that the door has not been opened since the volunteers started to live in this house.
When I started live in the house, I started to feel that it is too large for one single person to live and there were two rooms which were closed. Unlike common Ghanaians one of my neighbours never seemed to smile and always looked at me with a blank look and my immediate neighbours were away for sometime. The whole atmosphere always gave a haunted feel.
On one of the Sundays in the first month when I knew nobody and did not know what to do, I had immersed myself into reading a boring book. Most of the area seemed to be exceptionally silent and no sound was heard. It might because it was afternoon time and with the scorching sun everybody had taking their noon naps like me. I had fallen asleep sometime during the day while reading and suddenly woke up when I heard some knocks on the door. I did not expect anybody at that time. I opened the door but there was nobody over there. I was confused and started to think that I might have got some dream in which I could have heard those knocks. The knocks were heard again but this time I was awake completely and they were on the back door. I asked loudly, "who is that?". I heard nothing but then there were some knocks again. I opened the window panes to see who was there on that side of the house. I saw nobody but there was smell of dung of goat. I saw down and found that there was one goat sitting there near the door as it gave him the shade from the burning sun and occasionally banging its horns on the door. I felt relieved.
In the next week, my immediate neighbours returned. On the Saturday late in the morning, I was typing a blog post while again I heard the knock on the back door. Thinking that it must be that goat again, I did not pay any attention to it. But the sound of the knock was different this time. It was as if made deliberately and lightly. I opened the window pane again to see if there is somebody I saw some movement but could not see who it was. I thought that it might have been some lizard. But then next time again when I checked after hearing knock, I saw small child trying to hide from my sight by bending down and sitting close to the door. It was my neighbour’s son. I told him to come at the front door. He came. I gave him a biscuit and told him not to do it again. Next weekend he was again there, playing the same knocking game. This time I had to scold him and tell him that if he does that again, he should forget about the biscuit forever. Then he stopped doing that after wards.
It was once in the night, while I was trying to sleep, I heard some knocks. But this time it was not on any door and but it was on the roof. I was really scared this time as the sounds were really mysterious. Some times it was like a big knock and some times it was as if some stone was rolling away on the roof top. I could not sleep properly.
Early in the morning when I heard the knocks again, but on the front door, I suddenly woke up after hearing them. It was Malik, who washed my clothes, had came to give the washed clothes back. He asked me why was I late to wake up that day. I had not been able to sleep properly due to those sound. I asked him about them, he kept on looking at me blankly. "I am not able to know the answer. Only he knows the answer." He was pointing his hand towards sky. "You should do some prayers. Do you do that?", he added. I did not prolong the discussion. Then I asked my neighbour about those sounds. She laughed loud and said these are mice. They are many these days as they have started harvesting early millet.
It seemed that these knocks were not leaving me at all. It was again in the night while I was preparing to sleep, I heard them again on the back door. I opened window to check it and there I could get a strong smell of alcohol spread in the air. I asked loudly, "Who is that?", then came the answer in a husky voice. "I am looking for my brother. He is here." It was a woman. I told her, "go to your house and ask somebody to find him for you. He does not live here. Go home." Then she got up and started walking away.
The knocks were there again after some days. This time it was very late in the night. I checked in the mobile phone. It was 12:00 in the midnight. I switched on the light and checked through the windows again. It was the same woman. I told her strongly, "Madam, please go from here. I have told you that your brother does not live here. If you want I shall take you to Frank in the morning (Frank is a policeman who lives in a house nearby) and he will help you to find your brother."
Since I suggested her to go to the police, the drunken woman seems to have stopped knocking the back door in the night. Since my neighbours have moved away to a distant place, there is no question of their son coming to the house. I have got used to the goat sitting at the back door and the mice moving on the roof. The knocks are not spooky these days.