“Ammoomme, please tell me a story” Govind, while trying to squeeze into the middle on the bed where his grandparents were resting after a particularly heavy lunch, pleaded fully knowing that his request would be granted even if he did not plead.
“What story do you want to hear dear?”
“Hmm.. ghosts. Appooppan said there are many ghosts in the forest near our village. Do you know any stories of that?”
“Ha ha ha… you want to hear the story of ghosts huh. Ok I will tell you, but promise me you won’t be scared? You must be as brave as your appooppan here.”
“I won’t be scared. I am a big boy now.”
“Yeah yeah,” ruffling his hair, his grandmother began the story. The loud snores from his grandfather’s side helped create an eerie background music.
“This is about a person Velayudhan and how he saw a ghost in the forest at night. This is not a made up tale, so be brave and open your ears fully and listen.”
“This person Velayudhan had to go to the city one day for some business. Whenever he went to the city, he tried to come home before dusk as he too had heard of the stories of the ghosts in the forest and he did not want to come face to face with any of them. It was the month of Karkidakam and as everyone knew, the sun set early during those days and the dark rain clouds would obliterate any light from the moon, making the forest bordering the village even more scary.
It was said that these ghosts lurked in the dark and followed anyone who passed through the forests until they crossed over and reached the village. There were numerous stories of the creatures of the nether world who were lured by the smell of human blood and often, tales were told of the unfortunate souls who lost their lives just because they turned around to see who was following them.At times, the relatives were lucky to find at least the body of these poor humans, other times all that could be found would be hair, teeth and nails..all in a pile on the forest floor.
As our Velayudhan was about to enter the forest, he sent up a silent prayer to the Gods above to keep him safe and that there should be nothing to tempt him to turn back. He entered silently, not daring to even light a torch, fearing what he might see. Thus, he walked on…mindful of every step and every breath he took.
It was then he noticed his own shadow…walking in front of him in the dark forest. From the corner of his very scared eyes, he saw that a ball of fire was following him, observing his every move. He quickened his pace and began chanting Om namah shivaaya in his mind calling out to the Lord Shiva to protect him from this fiery creature.
Gradually he was out of the forest, unscathed. He went home running and told his wife how he was chased by a huge ball of fire and how he had managed to escape. His wife lit a lamp in their puja room and thanked the Gods for saving her husband.
Next day, as Velayudhan’s wife was doing their laundry near the village pond, her friend Kalyani also joined with her own pile of clothes. It was in Kalyani’s habit to bicker about her mother in law and to continually boast of her kids. But that day, all she had to tell was about her visit to the city the previous day. After finishing her work, she had gone to the market in the city because of which she got late by the time she reached the forest. Though scared, she said she somehow decided to cross the forest in spite of the fact that it was pitch dark.
She had her groceries in one hand while she held aloft a lit torch. That was when she saw a spirit wearing a white mundu walking in front of her. Perhaps because of the bright light, the ghost began screaming and ran away into the forest, not bothering Kalyani anymore. She was surprised that the ghost was not wearing a saree like the stories in the village described, instead it was dressed like a man, perhaps it was a male ghost. She kept praying and somehow managed to cross the forest and reach her home.” his grandmother concluded.
“They saw each other and became scared thinking they were ghosts!! Ha ha ha ha…” Little Govind understood the rest even without his grandmother having to explain.
“Yes dear. That is how the ghosts in this village are. If you think they exist, they do; if you don’t think they exist, they don’t. Simple. Ok now answer me. What is the name of your grandfather?”
It looked as if a light bulb was lit in the eyes of a kid as he squealed, “Velayudhannnnn….. So it was this Velayudhan?” Govind could not hide his laughter as he poked his grandfather’s potbelly.
“What happened Govi? Why are you poking me?” his grandfather didn’t seem too happy to be woken up from his slumber.
“Nothing appooppa. Ammoomma was just telling me how brave you are.”
Now his grandfther laughed, “Ahh she told you the ghost story didn’t she?”
Ammoomma : GrandMother Appooppan : GrandFather Mundu : A garment worn around the waist in Kerala. It is closely related to the dhoti, sarong, and lungi.
My friend Leo and I are writing on the same theme for the AtoZ2015. The word for the alphabet G that we've chosen is Ghost. Thanks for stopping by and do let me know what you thought about my story before you hop away :)