Ghosts of Washing Machines past


I moved into an HDB flat about three weeks ago (for those who didn’t know, HDB stands for Housing and Development Board. Now you know. Don’t ask again). Although the house agent had advertised it as a 2 BHK house, I and my flat mate soon discovered that we were three of us in the flat. Needless to say, the discovery came as a surprise.
Week 1 – The Signs

They were subtle at first. Both of us stay out on our jobs for nearly ten hours every day. By the time we get back home, we are usually too tired to conduct routine drill inspections of the house. Hence the signs went unnoticed for about a week. But once we started noticing things, we became more and more intrigued.
The clearest sign was the washing machine tube. Our washing machine has an outflow tube that allows the waste water to flow out of the washing machine in to one of our two bathrooms. I regularly use the bathroom in question, and so it turned out that I was the first one to notice it. 
Notice the red circle

As you can see, the tube blocks the door and prevents it from closing. Normally, I keep the tube coiled up like this, so that I can close the door while I am using it.
Notice the red circle. Could you spot the subtle difference?
But I soon started noticing a strange thing. Every evening, the tube would mysteriously go back to its original position, leading back into the bathroom. For a couple of days, I dismissed the event, preferring to believe that I had absent mindedly replaced the tube after I was done with the bathroom in the morning. But the nagging feeling that something was not right persisted in the back of my mind.
I got through one week like this.
Week 2 – Acceptance

Then my flat mate started noticing things. We used to leave the grill outside our door unlocked as we left for office every day. It is not always easy to observe such precautions when you leave a quarter of an hour late in a state of semi sleep each morning. But in the evenings, we would be greeted by a mysteriously locked grill. Every single day. Uncanny.
Finally, both I and my flat mate decided to break away from our suspension of disbelief and broach the subject to each other. That was the night we first realized the full extent of the situation.  Until then neither of us were aware that the other had been noticing strange things too. We agreed that it was time to take a closer interest in the matter at hand. After all, it was our house.
Week 3 – Exorcism

I started paying close attention to the relative position of the washing machine tube every day. Meanwhile, my flat mate went 007 on the house. He started sticking hair strands between the door and the frame to see if anyone opened the door while we were away (of course, the hair would eventually be blown off by the wind every single day, but he took it as conclusive proof of illegal entry). We also kept objects in discreet locations around the house to see if they would be moved. And we started locking our bedroom doors every night. We don’t know about Bond, but we certainly are next to useless when we are asleep.
The results of this little experiment were disconcerting to say the least. Someone definitely seemed to be entering the house every day. The catch was that this person seemed obsessed with only one thing. The washing machine tube. Every day like clockwork, the end of the tube would be moved back into the bathroom. Nothing else in the house would be touched. By this time, my flat mate and I were both spooked. Although neither of us openly admitted it, the G word hung in the air around us. The closest we came to discussing the issue was when in a moment of weakness he turned to me and remarked, “It’s a good thing we don’t believe in it.” He waited for a reply. When none seemed forthcoming, he added tentatively, “Right?” “Yeah…” I replied unconvincingly.
Finally we decided that enough was enough. We phoned up the agent to discuss the issue. We went into a lengthy explanation of the various measures we had taken ,how we had gathered the relevant evidence and eventually came to the inevitable conclusion that there was a third party who also seemed to have signed the tenancy agreement without letting us know. After listening to us for about fifteen minutes, he offered hesitantly, “Have you guys tried changing the lock on the grill?”. My flat mate, who was on the phone with the agent, looked at me dumbly. I managed a weak smile. No, we hadn’t tried that.
Epilogue

We changed the lock on our front grill two days ago. The washing machine tube has comfortably remained in its state of rest for these two days. The ghost has been exorcised.
But the question remains, why the washing machine?

2 thoughts on “Ghosts of Washing Machines past

  1. More horrifying than Exorcist. Especially the lack of any logical answer at the end. But the India-TV-esque red circles clearly enhanced the clarity of the post 🙂

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