Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ghosts.....She-devils and the like.

"..for friend and father Deb Kumar Sett
who loved life and me
And who waits for me still
around the corner
walking among the ghosts
of living strangers
not one as real as he..."

{That's not entirely original. The credit goes to Linda Goodman, I think. But I like it too much and it reflects exactly how I feel.}

Some friends, and foes too, with malice probably, called me "she-devil" in college. I had this favourite red jacket and long curly hair flying every which way...with my face covered with a black scarf with only the eyes peeping out I guess I did look chudail-like when I zipped about on my bike! And truth be said I loved it!
During a recent trip to Shimla, I stumbled upon an enchanting book called "Ghost Stories of the Shimla Hills" by Minakshi Chaudhry. It was full of short stories in and around Shimla and even in the Mall and the US Club, close to where I was staying on the Mall.
I was up at 3, tormented by a migraine and unable to sleep. Tossed and turned for a while with visions of ghosts and moaning voices running through my mind and decided to take a walk to the US Club and hopefully meet some of these notorious denizens of the night! I've always wanted to meet them, who hasn't... I have too many questions to ask....The sleepy Receptionist was just that. Sleeping. And did not notice my exit.
The night air was bracing and the sky was clear and bright. Stars lit the night and the mall was deserted. I walked up the road to the US Club along a narrow unlit stretch shaded by looming trees. It was quiet and the only sound I heard was my own laboured breathing! No, I did not hear any footsteps nor did any lost souls peer at me from behind the pines....nothing but the distant sound of dogs barking somewhere and the wind whistling through the trees. So I stood a bit, took in the fresh mountain air and returned quietly to the hotel where the receptionist stared at me as if I was the ghost!

This book says that descriptions of chudails or she-devils vary from beautiful damsels dressed up in bright clothes to the other extreme of monstrous creatures with protruding nails and teeth and long unkempt long hair. They can be identified by their feet and hands which are turned inwards. Folklore has it that they can change their form to appear as a woman, a man, a child or a beast.......
So which one am I now?
Go figure!!!!

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