Once upon a time, somewhere in Rural India lived a family. The Head of the Family had four wives and lots and lots of children. The girls were of course a total loss so for the interest of the story, the HOF had two sons, who were called Ram and Lakhan. The rurals are not too original. I can point out a whole lot of farming families that have sons named Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan or variations thereof. Of course if they have more sons, the Pandava names are roped in and once in a while a dark coloured chap is named Krishna or Gopala. However, I digress.
Lakhan is no. 16 offspring and was born to the number three wife when many of his elder sisters were already married. He has spent his entire life being bullied by his elder sisters, his mothers and also his brother’s wife. He was married off to someone from his sister-in-law’s family which puffed her up a lot, much to the disgust of his sisters. Well, in a few years he had his first son. The rurals do not count the daughters any way, (he has two of them). He works as the photocopier cum dispatch clerk at my work place. He took two weeks leave for the celebrations in April. He came back very disturbed. Apparently his sisters consulted some astrologer who predicted a grim fate for his son Rameshwar (LOL, love the name – so original).
A pooja had to be performed which required a list of 57 items. I wish I had copied the list – which was very impressive. Some of the items were
Soil trodden by the left foot of an elephant
Urine of a white buffalo
Broken bangle of a freshly made widow
Soil from the courtyard of a living churail (living female ghost)
Surf from the ocean
Banyan tree root from a chauraha (four way intersection)
These I can remember because they sounded crazy and impossible. I had a bet with another colleague (Rs.500/-) that this list could not be completed. I was sure the sisters had played a prank because they wanted to make mischief for the sister-in-laws. Well, it took our Lakhan 8 months to get the list completed, and he did. He even found a living churail! This can happen only in India!
The story of the living churail is interesting. Apparently a man had lost his wife. He dearly loved her and mourned her deeply. He refused to get married again. After a few months, his family started noticing that though the man was happy, he was wasting away. His sister-in-laws kept a close watch on him. When he went to sleep in the night, they saw someone enter his room. They peeked in and saw their dead sister in law! They freaked and ran to report to their husbands. The panchayat was called and a priest was consulted. The priest said, “When the churail comes to visit her husband, her clothes have to be burnt, otherwise he will die”. The man was quite reluctant, but ultimately gave in. One night when the woman came and got into bed with him, he threw her clothes out to the waiting ladies and the pujari who promptly burnt them.
Well, as per Lakhan, he visited this village, asked for directions to the “Churail ka ghar”, went and knocked the door. He sought her permission, explaining his problem. She graciously granted the permission, stood watching as he dug some soil from her courtyard, while rocking her son in her lap.
All I can say is WOW!!! Welcome to the 21st century!