Dr. Makhen, a civil surgeon, passed on to the other world many years ago but people who knew him still remember him for his large heart and commitment to duty. Although he was a Civil Surgeon, and part of the government machinery, Dr. Makhen never refused a genuine request for help, and didn’t charge for such services either. Poor people in the area were aware of the good doctor, and often called upon him at odd hours. Dr. Makhen was just about to sit down for dinner one night when there was furious clanging at the gate. His servant brought in a middle aged man, obviously quite poor, who was in a state of great agitation. “I fall at your feet, doctor sahib, please save her”, he gasped.
Patient questioning drew forth the information that he lived a few kilometres out of town, on the fringe of a large forested tract of land, and his wife had gone into labour and was, according to him, dying. Reassuring the man, Dr. Makhen sent for his driver, picked up his large black doctor’s bag, handed it to the driver, and left—much to the mortification of the cook who had prepared a very special favorite for the doctor’s dinner. The drive out of town proved to be longer than the doctor had expected, and when the man finally said they had reached, Dr. Makhen and the driver found themselves in a deserted, pitch dark area. The man wasn’t bothered at all by the darkness as he led them eagerly along a narrow path which the doctor’s small torch barely lit up.
The path ended at a ramshackle hut. Inside, a small lamp provided a ghostly light, and Dr. Makhen and the driver made out the form of a woman lying on some sacks. She was barely conscious, and obviously in a state of great exhaustion. Only a low moan escaped her lips now and then. Dr. Makhen got down to work straight-away and some two hours later, a baby girl was born. Although worried about the mother and the baby, Dr. Makhen could do little more at that time except ask the man to bring them both to the hospital in the morning . Dr. Makhen left some money with the man, which he gratefully accepted.
The man insisted on carrying the doctor’s bag (, which was usually the responsibility of the driver,) and escorted them till the car, repeating all the time how grateful he was. They were almost back in town when Dr. Makhen noticed that his bag wasn’t on its usual place on the seat. He asked the driver to check on the front seat, and it wasn’t there either. The poor man had been carrying it, and it may be, Dr. Makhen surmised, that instead of putting it in the car, he had put it by the side.
Dr. Makhen ticked off the driver mildly, but there was now no option but to return and collect it. Mercifully it was night time and the place where it had obviously been left behind was dark and deserted. The driver wasn’t very confident of finding the exact spot but they finally managed. However, there was no sign of the bag. Could it be that they had come to the wrong place? The torch too had been put back in the doctor’s bag, but fortunately the driver smoked bidis and they were able to light matches to guide them along the path. A little ahead, they could see the glow of a small lamp. When they reached the spot, they found the black bag lying near the sputtering lamp, but there was no ramshackle hut, no poor man, no woman, and no baby. The driver went into a cold sweat and could barely stagger back to the car and drive safely.
At daybreak, Dr. Makhen and the driver returned to unravel the night’s mystery. But there was no hut, nothing at all around the place. Intensive inquiries revealed that a poor man and his wife had lived there many years ago. The wife had died soon after giving birth to a girl, who had also died shortly after birth. Unable to bear his grief, the poor man had thrown himself in front of a truck and died under its wheels. Over the years, I have written about this and many other mysteries and all through the years the questions from people have remained the same. How is it possible? How can such things happen? What is the explanation?
Well, we know that it is possible and that such things can and do happen. But when it comes to explanations, there are so many different ones for different happenings that it becomes difficult to zero in on a single one that will fit every incident. Take the case of Phoolmati as an example. When she died, her funeral procession passed over the land she loved so much and she was cremated with wood from the trees which were growing on that land. But
Phoolmati’s story didn’t end with her cremation. Even today, if you happen to go for a walk in what were once the fields of Lado Sarai in New Delhi, the prospects of meeting Phoolmati are strong. If you see a wizened old lady passing you on a path or sitting under a tree, do pick up courage and ask her name. Chances are that the answer will be a soft “Phoolmati”. Chances are that the moment after you have popped the question, there’ll be nobody there at all, but you’ll know in your bones that it was Phoolmati. Is it a case of ‘old attachments never die’ or something else?
In recent years research has opened up a new possibility that could offer a universal supernatural explanation. The question now is: does the existence of a parallel universe in which every incident, every happening in this world is replicated in another dimension account for supernatural experiences? Paranormal investigators and others believe that “in some way, at certain times for whatever reason, we are able to witness this other dimension”. In recent years, physicists and experts have in fact been increasingly theorising that there could be infinite universes existing next to each other outside of our own universe. For instance, Columbia University physicist Brian Greene’s book The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos provides startling and intriguing insights into other dimensions and so do books by other “experts” and well known personalities. More in the next column on the fascinating ways in which parallel universes and the deep laws of the cosmos can affect our lives.