The case of the mysteriously flushing toilet

The new house, ah well, not so new now that we’ve spent close on six months living here, is now approaching the status of familiarity. Hands reach automatically to where light switches are instead of fumbling where they used to be in the previous residence. When one wakes up in the night, wanting a drink of water or an urgent trip to the bathroom, the footsteps move in the right direction and one doesn’t bump into walls where the mind had assumed doors would be.
For all its wonderful wide 180 degree view of the suburban Mumbai coastline, we do have a strange, strange cohabitant of our home we have learnt to live with.
The first introduction happened some days after we moved in. As we put the lights off, cleared the bed of all the bundles of clothes (our wardrobe was yet to be set up) and drew the covers over selves, we heard the unmistakeable sound of the commode being flushed. The spouse and I looked at each other and sat upright. Visions of The Amityville Horror flashed in the mind’s eye. I must cut down on watching these horror movies, every single instance from a sudden shadow has me reaching out for rosary and mini crucifixes with quick reflexes and trying to recall every word of the Lord’s prayer, last recited in a distant childhood.
“Did the loo flush itself?” I asked the spouse, cautiously.
“It sounded like that,” said spouse replied, reluctant to get out of the bed and go investigate. But being designated man in the room, and therefore marked by nature and horror movies as the person who needs to go investigate all suspicious sounds, he was exhorted by me to trot off, poke his head into the bathroom and report on the mysterious flushing sounds. He arose, with much grumbling about plumbing issues in such new constructions, and ventured forth bravely, poked head into bathroom, switched on light, reported the all clear and we tucked ourselves back to sleep. Until, circa three am. When I was woken again by the sound of the toilet flushing itself. At which point I bolted up and looked at my knight in shining armour who was snoring peaceably undisturbed by the sounds of mysteriously flushed commodes. Like the mandatory blonde in the slasher movie who ventures forth to check out strange occurences even when warned not to, I rose and moved gingerly towards the bathroom. Opened the door, switched the light on with trembling hand and looked in. All was calm all was quiet. I switched off the light with still trembling hand and spent a sleepless night, waiting for the loo to flush itself again.
The next morning, I used the other bathroom. It has been six months now and the loo flushing continues. The plumber who has been summoned a couple of times to figure it out has scratched his head and admitted defeat, theorising that the flush might be activated when some other flush in the long line from first floor to 20th floor is pressed simultaneously.
As for us, given that the flushing is perhaps the only manifestation of the “You are not alone” we have made out peace with it and concluded it is a plumbing issue and not, as I would be more keen to accept, given it is much more dramatic and interesting, a restless soul caught in an afterlife with no restrooms.
Last night. I woke up circa 3 am, with the urge to err, visit said bathroom and ambled in comfortably without thinking about ghostly flushings and such like. I flushed, emerged and lay myself down to sleep when I heard the familiar flushing sound from the bathroom. The heartbeat did not accelerate, the pulse did not quicken, I did not leap up trembling like leaf in wind, shaking spouse to arise and investigate. I shut my eyes and went off to sleep.
I can live with the occasional toilet being flushed by invisible hand. Perhaps I’ve lost the romance in my soul and now believe in more prosaic explanations like plumbing issues, over the supernatural. What I would think though, is scarier than the supernatural is the prospect of shifting house again.


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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14 Responses to The case of the mysteriously flushing toilet

  1. Fazli Sameer says:

    Its got to be the previous tenant who must have died in the loo before he could finish the job

    Poor chappie. COndemned to live out eternity flushing the loo.


  2. nmaha says:

    At my husband’s maternal home, there are claims of hearing anklets around 3am, by multiple family members. Since, it’s a self-owned house and the family is too large to move out, we have all attributed it to some specially musical cricket πŸ™‚

    Lovely! This is truly ghostly.


  3. nmaha says:

    I meant ‘hearing the tinkle of anklets’.


  4. Megha says:

    You are not alone .. I have the same problem in my loo. Used to scare me at first but now 2.5 years later I am unfazed in the face of mysterious flushing sounds at 3 am πŸ™‚

    There is an army of 3am stomach issue ghosts out there?


  5. Neerja says:

    I quite enjoyed ur lil story-well narrated & sustains interest

    Thank you.


  6. God, is this the toilet I visited. To think that I may have been watched by invisible eyes!!! On the brighter side, you must thank this invisible hand for keeping the pot clean. Looks like someone with OCD.

    Nope, not the toilet you visited thankfully, I avoid visitors going to this one, it can be quite startling for them. πŸ˜‰


  7. dipali says:

    ‘What I would think though, is scarier than the supernatural is the prospect of shifting house again’.

    So true, so true! Here I’m having nightmares about prospective house painting!

    I tell you, prosaic hausfraus we are.


  8. Aathira says:

    Ahh the supernatural loo visitor… or the resident loo help πŸ˜›

    Both I would hope.


  9. BEV says:

    we, I am quite convinced, have a water curse on us – at any point of time, 7 out of the 8 loos in the house are non-functional, despite any number of repairs and any number of rupees spent on said repairs. That’s why we need 8 of them, BTW, so that at least one is usable πŸ™‚

    LOL, I tell you there are djinns out there haunting restrooms.


  10. Khan Mukhtar says:

    What a classic story and a imaginary recollection of thoughts seems that reluctant detective have started visiting you and pressing to produce one more classic edition so that the miseries which our women folk face on roads are also furthered through your classic magic touch of words. God bless you

    Thank you sirjee


  11. Meera says:

    “a restless soul caught in an afterlife with no restrooms”




    • M says:

      LOVE the image of a ghost needing the loo, and being considerate enough to flush it! That’s the best kind of ghost to have. Now if I could only find one who’d also clean the house. πŸ™‚

      True, I could do with a ghost like that too.


  12. Karma Chameleon says:

    It was pretty funny for a ghost story πŸ™‚

    A very considerate ghost I may add compared to many souls alive.

    Also isnt 3AM supposed to be the darkest/hour of teh anti christ etc etc (all knowledge thanks to Exorcism of Emily rose)

    BTW are you addicted to Supernatural on Star world yet?

    It so is, am still recovering from The AmityVille Horror. Haven’t watched it, I don’t watch much television. Too many claimants to the television in my home, I don’t get my hands on the remote ever.


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