Voices from the Dennison Crypt



A Shaheb’s Guide to India

shaheb – (India; also saheb, sahib; from the Hindi and Urdu sāhab, master; from Arabic ṣāḥib, companion; participle of ṣaḥiba, to become friends) 
1. formerly, a term of respect for any  male landowner
2. formerly, a term of respect for white European men during the British colonial era
3. (modern) any white person

Assume with me for a minute that ghosts really are, without a doubt, real. The dead really can contact us. EVPs/Raudive voices/ghost box voices are the real deal.  That said, it follows that it’s pointless to try and get any decent EVP’s in a cemetery. Why would ghosts be hanging around  a cemetery full of strangers when they can go back to their still-living families or the places that were near and dear to them in life? Sure, cemeteries can be creepy and I’m not sure I’d enjoy traipsing around in one at night, but really my belief is that they are generally ghost-free.

A still from the background looping slideshow in BONEYARDS.
A still from the background looping slideshow in BONEYARDS.

Unless a particular grave or cemetery is historically believed to be haunted; then, it might be worth a look. Take the notorious Bachelor Grove Cemetery outside of Chicago which I plan to visit in March during my trek on the California Zephyr for my Amtrak Writers Residency. Or the Dennison family crypt in Kolkata’s South Park Street Cemetery, one of my favorite haunts in West Bengal, India. When I was last there earlier this month I took my trusty P-SB7 spirit box with me, the one I use live onstage in Boneyards, to check it out.

As I already explain in my show, Mrs. Dennison and her baby daughter both died and were buried together on September 30th, 1806. Her husband, Captain Dennison, was “united to them in death” just 16 days later.  No reasons are given. Their crypt is also called “the bleeding grave” because small red droplets of a liquid resembling blood sometimes appear on its surface.  Is it any wonder that this young family’s hearts are still bleeding, and that they want desperately for someone to notice their pain, I ask  in my show?

The spirit box bore that out as you can see from the above video.  A British woman (Mrs. Dennison in reference to her infant daughter?) tells us “Death caught/got her…Death’s bitter,” after which a male voice (Captain Dennison?) says “Benediction for ’em…Dennison…Dennison” in answer to my offscreen question just before I started recording, “Are you really here, and can you tell me why you’re haunting your crypt?”

My interpretation: as the entire family is there together there’d be no household and loved ones to go home to haunt would there? So they linger in the Bardo clinging to each other in fear and understandable sentimentality rather than going off into their separate incarnations never to see each other in this form again. They know what they have to do, they just don’t want to do it.

That’s my thing. You have your own thing. While you decide what that is, why not score a ticket to Boneyards‘ upcoming New York City shows at the Morbid Anatomy Museum? Seating is limited, only 20 seats per show to maintain the intimacy of this unique theatrical experience.