It is now almost 17 years to the day that I first stepped into Swat. Being a thorough Karachite, I was totally mesmerized by the snow capped mountains, lush green forest and pristine waters. We were just married and it was our first foray outside the concrete jungle into the real one. I never thought that to see such natural beauty, you just have to travel north. We took a tour organized by PTDC. That includes hotel bookings, a car and drive/guide. On our first day, Toti khan (our driver and guide) took us to Malam Jabba. It is a trip that I can never forget. Driving an hour to the top of the mountain, we reached an empty hotel and ski resort. The view was simply breathtaking. Later we shopped at Madyan, stayed at Kaalam and also went into Ushu valley and saw the glacier over there. But it was our first night stay at Miandam that became the topic of this story. PTDC motel in Miandam is on a mountaintop. From there you look down to the valley and the nearby mountains. There is a small sitting place on top of the mountain where you can have breakfast or tea. Again it can be one of most picturesque tea that you can ever have. The motel has an amazing array of flowers and fruit trees.
When we reached there, the motel was full to capacity. Usually after 8pm, the generators stops working and the whole of Swat go into darkness. We took some candles with us from Islamabad. When we were about to sleep, the candle just went away. I thought that it has finished. When I went to light another one, the surprising thing was that there was not a drop of wax. The only thought that came to my mind was because of high altitude, this could be a common occurrence. This phenomenon repeated two or three times. Finally I got bored and light the biggest and the meanest candle I had. Nothing happened after that and we went to sleep.
We went to the same motel after about 5 years. This time I had my daughter, my in laws and my brother in law with me. We took them to the same motel, as we loved its view. This time the hotel was empty and we were the only occupants. At maghrib, my mother in law was coming for Maghrib prayers at the garden when she nearly fell down. She felt that somebody pushed her. When she looked back, she saw quite a huge dog at a distance staring at her. She thought that she has tripped and proceeded to offer her prayers. I asked my brother in law to go downhill the mountain and bring some chapli kababs for us. They are just amazing. When he was returning, the lights went off. As he was walking uphill, he swears that he heard someone walking right beside him. He stopped for a second and noise also stopped. He started walking again and the footsteps can be heard again. As he reached near the motel, lights came back and as he turned around to see who was there, he was alone on the street. He was a bit scared and came back. He didn’t mention any of this to us.
In the night, when he and his mother were sitting in the garden, they saw a small light (like the end of a cigarette) and some smoke. He thought somebody was smoking. He went over there out of curiosity and as he moved near this light, it moved away from him. He keeps following and suddenly he realized that he has reached the corner and the light is on the empty space beside the mountain. He turned right away. Again he didn’t mention any of this to us.
Finally in the night, as we were sleeping in one room, my father in law woke up. He saw a small light again very near to his face and he feet that there is a huge weight on his chest. As per him, the scene is quite scary as the only noise in the room was my loud snoring. (Oh yes I do that too…ghosts, gunfire, music.. nothing comes between my sleep and my snoring). He started reciting durood and aayas and slowly that light and that weight went away.
Next morning we proceeded to Kaalam and the rest of the trip went without further incident. It is only when we reached back to Islamabad that they narrated these stories to each other and us and I remembered our earlier incident. There were quite few trees planted in the motel’s garden in remembrance of Pakistanis and foreigners that drowned in the nearby River Swat.
So was it a ghost or a spirit? We don’t know and don’t want to know. When I reached back to Karachi and mentioned it my driver who himself is a Swati, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sahib, this is a mountainous and a barren area. We see things like that all the time, they never hurt anyone.”
So will I go back to Miandam ever with my family? In a heartbeat. Only if you throw out the Talibans from there. As I believe that they are more crazy and lunatic that the ghosts of Miandam. The ghosts just scare you. The Talibans can do things that even the ghosts are embarrassed to even think about.
I still remember Swat as the most beautiful place on earth that I ever saw. The scenery is pretty and the people were very hospitable. May Allah take care of that beautiful land and its inhabitants save them from men made and natural calamities.
Have you ever heard a similar incident in the same hotel?