Yes, I believe in Ghosts!

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The crisp autumn season has given way to cold winters and it is time for some fun, some magic on the occasion of Haloweeeeeen!!!

All around I see orange pumpkins ready to be carved into scary Jack o lanterns, scarecrows grinning from balconies, giant spiders hanging from roofs and ghosts ready to prowl from trees. The stores are cashing on the Halloween spirit…costumes, masques, wigs are on display everywhere. Nobody can remain untouched from this feisty occasion.

At this time of the year, it is said that the undead and humans intermingle freely. The line between this world and the underworld blurs. Witches and vampires move all over the world disguised as cats and bats. People hear whispers of goblins and high pitched songs of zombies. Ghouls, goblins and scary characters abound…magic happens everywhere.

And if you would ask me – Do I believe in magic and ghosts? I would emphatically say ‘yes’, simply because I believe in a life of supernatural and magic. It makes life so much thrilling, colorful and vibrant. I believe in God so why shouldn’t I believe in ghosts?

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As a matter of fact, my belief in ghosts stem from childhood days. The stories of Indian ghosts and witches, which were an intrinsic part of our childhood, have stayed with me somewhere in my consciousness. Huddled together around a vessel filled with coal embers during cold winters, maids would relate to us the stories of fantastical and horrifying creatures. We would scream our guts out but would want to listen more. They sounded so vivid and real.

Our ancestral house was said to be home to many kinds of ghosts. There was this headless but harmless mother-child duo that was seen by many. Then, there was this ghost, whose stomach was always lit with an earthen lamp and he prowled in the fields. There was another ferocious, tall witch whose feet was inwardly turned and she was very dangerous.

Those stories introduced us to various kinds of ghosts and spirits of rural India – an intrinsic part of our folk culture. Here is a list of 10 prominent and deadliest types of ghosts that we became familiar with in our growing up years:

Kichchin: The lust-hungry women die and turn into Kichchin. They look like normal women except for the fact that their feet is generally inwardly turned.

Shakini: Women who die right after their marriage due to an accident become Shakini. These are believed to be dangerous.

Dakini: They are akin to Shakini, they tempt innocent passers by and kill.

Pandubba: The souls of dead people drowned in river become Pandubba.

Chudail: Prevalent in northern India, they are dangerous souls, who live in banyan trees and kill passersby.

Mua Pret: They are those who have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life.

Kudra Bhoot: They are short creatures often mistaken for kids. Kudra Bhoot steal things from other houses and help house owners make a lot of money. They are said to be lucky ghosts.

Betaal: They are akin to zombies and were popularised in a series of 25 stories named “Betaal Panchvimshati”.

Jinn: They reside in dirty and dingy places and are often used by magicians and Tantriks.

Pari: They are femme fatale and usually a lovely odour announces their arrival. They are deadly and love to possess the spirit of their lover. Other ghosts include Bahira daak, Abdin, Dokain etc.

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With age and time, the story tellers and the ghost stories faded away. Besides, my worst childhood nightmare never came true and I never happened to meet any of these deadly creatures in person.

But even today, I suspect that they always lurk in shadows behind me. They visit me in dreams and I always think of them in lonely, dark and windy nights. Perhaps, I never grew out of those stories. Yes, unabashedly, I declare that I am enchanted as well as scared of ghosts!

As for mingling with the ghosts, this Halloween… God forbid! I like them restricted to my imagination. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Have a grrrreat Halloween friends!

Images courtesy Google

When My Fears Came To Life

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I cannot avoid thinking of ghosts whenever my husband goes on work trips. It is crazy but my imagination works overtime to create ghosts in the closet, in the washing machine, in the playroom and most of all, in the creepy bathroom.

Yes, the feeling is not funny. The first day of my husband’s absence is worst. I don’t look at myself in the mirror at night because I think my reflection smiles crookedly at me. I avoid looking at my shadow out of the fear that it would act in a wayward manner.  I barely look at my painting of a girl whose smile otherwise benevolent decidedly turns sinister when I am alone. I keep my kids awake for as long as I could and when they fall asleep, I try to hold them closely causing them discomfort. Soon, they roll over away from ‘poor and scared’ me.

Soon, illusions totally take over my common sense. I see shadows lurking in the closet just ready to grab me. The sound of the dishwasher sounds ghastly to my ears and the distant sound of a vehicle approaching is eerie. And the worst of all is the fact that our Smart TV is so dumb that it switches on out of the blue…sometimes at the middle of the night, sending shivers down my spine. I chant mantras and the all-powerful ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ to find strength and peace from my imagination.

At times, I lie down sleepless in bed and think of the tenants before us. Had they died in this very apartment? Were they into voodoo and witchcraft? And then I would sleep fitfully and wake up scared and again go back to sleep, dreaming of the imaginary dead tenants. All this is laughable in broad daylight but they feel very real at those long scary nights.

When the clock strikes 4am, I find my peace and sleep like a baby with my kids. It is considered that 4 am is ‘Bramha Muhurat’ or the Godly hour. No ghost dares to disturb me and I feel so safe.

But this time, when my husband left, one of my fears almost came to life. It was late in the evening. All was dark and quiet. I was in the bathroom trying to avoid my reflection, when I heard my older one talking to someone in the living room. I also heard someone replying to him. The baby was asleep and there was no one around. My apartment was locked from inside. But he was distinctively having a conversation.

The answering voice sounded distorted and strange. Fear paralysed me and I felt as if I would faint any minute. I couldn’t call for help as my phone was in the living room. I thought all the horrors in my mind were coming to life. But I had to rescue my child from the spirit that was possessing him.

I mustered courage to move towards the living room. It was a rainy evening, the setting was perfect for a horror film. I could hear him clearly now, he was saying, “It is a dark, rainy evening”. The voice mimicked him, “It is a dark, rainy evening”. He laughed, the voice laughed. I almost cried.

I walked closer towards his room…the other voice sounded familiar. But since my logic had deserted me, I failed to recognise it. After a heroic effort on my part, I peeped into the room. And what a sight it was! I found him talking to the Talking Tom app on the iPad. I felt stupid but relief flooded over me.

He sensed my fear. He said, “Talk to Tom, Mumma. You will feel not be scared.” I said bravely, “Mumma is a strong girl, She is not scared”. And then, I looked at Talking Tom. I can tell you for sure that his grin looked very very evil.

But thankfully, my fears remained restricted to my over ripe imagination!