Subhe Ram lived in Raipur, a suburb of Dehra Dun, in a humble dwelling, and till old age caught up with him he helped  ‘genuine cases’, which meant  he wouldn’t bring his paranormal powers into play unless you had a very real problem.  He was a living example of how  paranormal powers can be utilised for very positive purposes in a practical manner. Except for his flared nostrils, he looked so ordinary : thin and dark, dressed in nondescript trousers and a shirt, with a scuffed out pair of Hawaii chappals on his feet. Even his name was ordinary : Subhe Ram.  But Subhe Ram possessed an extraordinary power which culminated in paranormal encounters of a very special kind which prompted me to write about them time and again.

 Subhe Ram would  sit cross legged facing northwards, lights five incense sticks, chant a mantra, and a paranormal, almost unbelievable sequence would begin to unfold. Subhe Ram would take your thumb, or that of a child and anoint it with black soot mixed with mustard oil. He asked you to keep gazing at the soot blackened thumb nail. After a few minutes, a figure of an old, bearded man dressed in white would appear on the  blackened nail. The old man, after raising his hand in blessing would fade away.  And then, amazing real life scenes from the past and the present began to unfold on the nail — in full color, but without any sounds. The scenes always revolved around the incident about which one wanted to know more.

 For example, the first time we went to Subhe Ram  was to seek information about my brother, an Air Force officer who had disappeared, along with his Canberra and the navigator, while on a bombing run of Karachi during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. After the bearded  man had left the ‘nail screen’, my brother’s face became clearly visible in a close-up shot, so close that I could see his gray-green eyes . This shot faded into a hazy picture and then we saw an aircraft taking off. Cut. We saw balls of fire in the air  and an aircraft being hit. Cut. We saw my brother in what seemed to be barracks, along with a few other men. Cut, and then the nail went blank.

 When we informed Subhe Ram — who had left the room — that we had seen bits, but were keen to find out where exactly my brother was , Subhe Ram uttered some incantations, and the bearded man reappeared on the screen, holding up a slate on which he wrote something . But alas, what he wrote was in Urdu, which I couldn’t read. Thereafter, over the years, at each session with Subhe Ram we would see a continuous stream of scenes in which my brother figured . 

Fortunately, Subhe Ram didn’t put me through the ordeal of too rigorous a training, assigning me initially to do ‘readings’ from the nail for people. For instance, there was this time when  a machine gun had gone missing from an Army camp.

Incidentally,  though we followed up all the leads through different channels, there has been never been official news of my brother and he continues even to this day to remain on the official list of  “40 Missing Officers, Presumed Dead”.  After my parents  passed away I no longer had the  heart to view scenes which evoked such intense feelings and memories. But I kept in close touch with Subhe Ram who, even though his paranormal art already had a high rate of success, was constantly working on upgrading his paranormal powers. After a while, I was lucky to be allowed to become a small part of his paranormal operations.

Subhe Ram himself had learnt his art from a mystic he met at Ajmer. “I became his disciple and for six years the Ustadji put me through an unbelievingly difficult regimen”, Subhe Ram had disclosed. There was this time when he had to stand in a stream during winter for a fortnight at a stretch. His Ustadji would bring him a meagre ration of food and water everyday. When he emerged from the stream, Subhe Ram’s legs and feet had become unrecognisable and had to be nursed back to health over a long period. Another time, he had to stand in the blazing sun at one spot, holding up one leg for several days at a stretch. “The first time, I couldn’t even last two days. I fainted.” It was only after six  hard years that his Ustad  deemed he was fit to practice.

 Fortunately, Subhe Ram didn’t put me through the ordeal of too rigorous a training, assigning me initially to do ‘readings’ from the nail for people. For instance, there was this time when  a machine gun had gone missing from an Army camp. The Commanding Officer sought my help in  ‘reading’ from the nail, and I was able to see and narrate the sequence of  events. The graphic description of  the man on the ‘nail screen’ — he had a handle bar mustache amongst a couple of other unmistakable features — enabled the Army authorities concerned to  not just recover the weapon, but scotch a bigger plot as well. 

Another time, the ‘nail screen’ provided information to the CBI in a very sensitive case. Robberies were solved and people traced through the scenes which were reenacted on the nail screen. Subhe Ram did not charge anything, except Rs. 1.25 which was used to buy ‘prasad’  for the children who allowed their thumb nails to be used. Indeed, if Subhe Ram had commercialised his powers, he would have lost them, as this was one of the conditions imposed upon him. This is a paramount condition for all such practitioners of whom I have met quite a few in different parts of India. Their methods vary, with some using a large peepal leaf to serve as a screen, others using a small looking glass while still others used a steel plate and one even used the screen of an old TV set. But the conditions and purpose  never vary.  

 At a deeper level their paranormal art and powers raise several larger than life questions. In each case, one could see lives, events being ‘replayed’ on the chosen ‘screen’. Meeting Subhe Ram and others like him and experiencing new paranormal dimensions has certainly changed my perceptions and given life a new meaning.

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