sul, our home caretaker cum nanny, has always some interesting tales to tell. like the one she was telling me just yesterday in the morning, when i was enjoying my breakfast in slow, relaxed bites and bits. some background before that. she has just returned from her village near calcutta (kolkata) after a hiatus of two months. actually not so much of a hiatus but looking after her own home and hearth. her middle son hasn’t been well for 2-3 years now. he came and lived with us also for a while and we got all sorts of tests and stuff done. tests show everything to be normal and fine. a doctor we’d gone to told us that he’s suffering from bouts of depression and some related psychological problem(s). sul insists that someone in the village has done some kala jadu (kala=black, jadu=magic). he had always been a healthy, very active boy, good at taking care of their house when his mom’s out(-station) working (at my place) and also cooking for his (2) brothers and keeping the house, being an overall good, devoted-to-home boy. for such a nice fellow to have suddenly start falling sick for no reason at all, it is weird. he’s been getting sick; stomach upsets, headaches, and also increasing phobia of going out and talking with people on a very regular basis now. as a result, he’s lost tremendous amount of weight and become increasingly weak, not able to walk, or even stay up for longer periods of time. so this time, she said that she will go and take him to some good doctors herself and also priests and all to try and make him better.
and so she told me about this place she visited when she was there; known to be the abode of a “bhoot” (a ghost) of a brahmin’s (high order priest) young son, for some consultation. she told me that they started out early morning, packing food and all for the coming night as they knew that they can have an audience only at night. they (she and two other female fellow villagers she requested to accompany her; she didn’t take the son) reached the place–far from their own village–sometime in the evening. when the night fell, and her turn came (there’s always a good number of people waiting to consult the bhoot as i understood) she was ushered into a hutment, which was completely dark. she said that when they shut the door behind her, it got so dark that she couldn’t see her own hand. and i couldn’t understand if she was all alone there or not (she’s not a fluent hindi speaker and talks in a dense mix of bengali and some hindi :)), cos she told that one has to summon the bhoot, saying something like “… aaja, aaja” (“… come, come”, or “…come forth”), so i don’t know who did the summoning. she said that she was pretty scared initially, and then she felt this presence, like a real solid presence right next to her, and then the bhoot started talking, quickly, very rapidly. the bhoot actually said that it knows that she’s scared and it asked her not to be, in a very sweet, kind tone. he then narrated everything for her, to her–why she was there, her son’s ailments, calling him by name, and all his symptoms and her worst fears–without her having to say anything. note that she had not spoken to anyone around there about her problems. he/it then told her that apparently some years back her son who was now sick had gone to take a piss somewhere in the bushes and unknowingly peed on a ghost/spirit that was lying there among the bushes. and that it was that spirit/ghost causing all this. he then asked her for rs 2000 for getting rid of the spirit. she requested that she doesn’t have that much money and lamented and pleaded and stuff. i think it all got arranged in about rs 1000. i think she went back again with the money and there in the dark hut again, the good bhoot called the other misery-causing one and argued. she could hear the other spirit squealing and stuff. the spirit said that it was damn pissed for having been peed upon, and that not only the middle one, he’ll also claim her younger son. she, of course, was petrified and pleaded that it wasn’t her son’s fault as nobody will know if a bhoot is sitting in a particular bush, so of course one would piss not knowing what they are pissing on. but then she heard a loud swish sound and she heard a weird, eerie wailing. the good bhooth informed her that he has captured (slain??) the spirit and will get rid of it. he (or someone outside the hut?) then gave her some medicines for her son and said goodbye. her son since has been feeling well, at least better than how he was feeling earlier …
it intrigued me. i felt an urge to accompany her to her village on her next trip and then urge her to take me to that bhoot. but then i realized that that will not be right. and i understood, the line that need get drawn between a genuine need and entertainment … i drew that line and said thanks to God …
there’s this guy vir das, a stand up comedian who used to be on tv some years back, and then he disappeared. i saw an ad for a show last night, and i guess he’s back.
so, why do people laugh on vir’s jokes?
out of politeness … :)