My readers, this is a narration of an experience shared by one of my friend in my recent visit to him. As I was asked to write about it; hence I am penning down this ghastly story, as he told it to me, word by word, to the best of my ability.
My consciousness, rationality and logical self is fighting within with the experiences I have had recently. This quarrel is unsettling and is throwing me on the edges. For after believing in something for my entire life, impeccably so far, my belief is shaken and everything that I had piled up, gathering from my experiences and knowledge, not to set them aside as just being carelessly perceived thoughts and opinions but something that has come up by investing great amount of time in learning from the people and rooted deep by reading what’s written in so many books & journals and by constant practice of scientific believes, is shattering to become infinitesimally small and ridiculously perceived concepts; and with them my ‘self’ is also getting smaller by every encounter my conscious is having, with what can only be called, as seen in-person, – the truth, as real as anyone’s given senses could afford to recognize. Following which all the arguments mind can provide rationally, appear to be a futile attempt to avoid the acceptance of this incident as the truth & reality.
For this once, I’d rather not quote any previous conversations and observations as my involvement in all of the previous had been second to none. This, on the other hand, was the one I was at the receiving end of.
None shall convince me otherwise if I hadn’t witnessed it in-person with my own eyes and ears and hightened sense of everything that is sensory in a human body, for one could set aside conslusions, narratives and proof that anyone else has produced, but an incident of such massive measure that not only shakes one’s belief system but also the persona, which has been witnessed in presence of self (and can be judged thereafter – whether or not is real) for what is happening, unless one is in sleep and dreaming and would wake up by merely a stroke of force or by even a mild blow of wind perhaps, can only be the ultimate truth.
As I write this incident I presently am in the most-coherent state of mind I can be and shall confirm that what has happened, which I will narrate hereafter, should appeal to reader, as they might take it please, as either the truth, and a testament of my ordeal, or shall neglect as a fiction until themselves experience it once, and if, the time so similar comes upon. I pray that lord shall be by your side and may you gather enough force and muster all the courage to witness, live through, and tell the story yourself; or may be mention it in one of the journals like I am doing now.
More than three months had passed since we have heard of the pleasant news of my wife Priya’s pregnancy. There had not been a day that went by without us rejoicing on the wonderful event that it has been and we have, it seems, been waiting for ages from.
None could predict what the future may hold and none ever will for the novelty and anticipation of the events are the moments that we cherish and try to live through them as best as one could. That said, for our family these few months have nothing been less than a festival and everyday chores suddenly seemed more enjoyable and as everyone sat down in the evening together, family seemed to be flourishing with excitement and love. Our laughs were louder than ever before and voices had a melodious feel about them. My wife, as the center of everything she has been in our lives since her welcome in our family, had been more of an amusement for everyone as her ever-growing liveliness and jolly mood kept everyone out of their own tensions too. This went on moreover the same until a fortnight ago Priya started seeing unusual and frightening dreams which ended in her shivering and waking up with a start, as if someone had suddenly put weights on the break of a cart and everything comes to screeching halt.
She tried to tell it to mother who, swayed by the news of her grandchild coming, did not really heed to gravity of the matter as it would become in coming days. Who would have known that a series of incident so trivial as unpleasing dreams could have been result of something beyond everyone’s collective understanding and would in the least be fixed by anything within man’s power. The event continued of her seeing the terrible figures, every time she closed her eyes, of a woman with child clutching at her arm and pulling her towards herself and trying to take into a place which, as she remembers, can only be described as dark path leading to a forest looking so grave and bleak that nothing was visible of it except few high raised what seemed to be tree-tops swaying left and right with the wind that was blowing; which was same wind that blew the hairs on the face of the woman clutching Priya’s hand and hence no recognition of the face can be made as to make any attempt to relate her to any past encounters she might have had in real life ever at any place.
I mostly have been ignorant of such incidents as my belief so far had been about training one’s mind to accept the limitations and problems and work on them in a methodical way. So, I suggested that she must read through some good books or devote her time to good thoughts for what human mind reads and does, it perceives in the dreams, as is known. Encouragement of this endeavor proved futile as she kept seeing same or similar incidents in the dreams that led her to become sleep deprived and I for one believed paranoia had crept upon her after either reading or seeing something terrible of the sort somewhere and hence I prompted that she must at once should limit her activities of any such form that could potential contain such elements which could reinforce what is going in her mind.
So, it was decided that she must watch less TV and do away with any online activities including WhatsApp for people take immense pleasure in sending creepiest things over to others so often, and as that has grown slowly into a trend of favorite pass time. Nevertheless, she did what we thought was in best interest of her and days went by with moreover the same activities until one night a week ago, she complained about seeing blood passing through what should not be expected when a woman is pregnant. She was run to the hospital early morning and we saw a doctor who much to our surprise suggested she should be hospitalized immediately for the observation. On the same day by late afternoon it was decided after an Ultrasound and other checks that the womb has given up and fetus was dead and had to be removed. Nothing could be more devastating to an expecting mother than news of such crushing amount. She broke into tears in bed while my mother who was still outside the gate, could not keep standing and in an instant, that made me reach out to her, sat down on the ground covering her eyes with her saree in a vain attempt to hide despair, shock and breaking up. Tears rolled down as forcefully as they could and I had no idea whom to pacify first, my mother, my wife or myself.
Later that day an operation was conducted by a team of Gynae and surgical doctors to clean the womb during which Priya kept giving violent start by waking up from high dosage of Anesthesia, for few seconds every so often, which forced the doctors to call for extra attendants to hold her and the process took considerable amount of time, more than what was expected by the team that planned the abortion.
Once she was brought back to the resting bed she seemed sleeping until the nurse came to hook her on the Glucose. This time, while she couldn’t even open her eyes under Anesthesia’s affect, when called until moment ago, she sat up screaming and eyes wide open which was enough to scare the wits out of the nurse who in that very instant jumped almost a foot above the floor and sprang away from the bed in utter disbelief and horror. I not knowing what was going on reached out to hold Priya and patted her head so she would calm down and sleep again, so she did and nurse who by now had come back to her senses, quickly hooked the Glucose and checked the timing for the drops to drop before striding out of the room. One could say my wife was in shock and the symptom could be that of aftermath of the tragedy that we have been; (as I then put it and as anyone with a logical rational outlook may say), but if one could see what I have seen on that day and what came days after that, this opinion would take a toss.
Hitherto, nothing in the past have ever made me question my belief and judgment and most importantly the coherency of my own mind but what followed in next few days did.
While in the hospital she mostly kept sleeping and even if her eyes were open, would not respond to anything anyone would say. I did however talk to her briefly during the day and by the evening she would stop responding to any stimulus for once doctor even tried to make her talk by slapping on the cheeks. She would keep staring at either the roof or on random things, and as I noticed, did not show any sign of recognition to any of those; and what more to become of the situation – neither did she recognize me, her & my mother or her uncle or my brother those visited her. Those were long empty gazes and she would not blink, not that I remembered her doing so ever for past few evenings.
At the end of second day, we took her home and her condition went bad comparatively. On the first evening after she was home, around 8 pm, she stopped responding to anything anyone said and her eyelashes started to shatter quickly. Before I could reach to her she threw her arms wide open and started calling for my mother, ‘Mommy, my eyes won’t open! Mummmmmy! My eyes won’t open!!’ Her breathing started to sound heavy and face turned reddish-pink. Her mouth went dry as she started licking her lips quickly with tongue to moist them and threw herself on the edge of the bed. Me, mother, my brother and my paternal aunt took hold of her limbs while I patted her forehead and tried to open her eyes forcefully. During all this my grandmother stood in a corner, shaking & terrified.
Mother shouted if anyone was wearing any religious symbols and aunt’s son, my younger cousin, took out a woven thread with a locket – which in fact was a small idol of Lord Hanuman, the Hindu lord of courage and devotion, that he was wearing around his neck and gave it to aunt who took it and tied it on Priya’s right wrist. What followed next could not be explained in simple words that I so far have the ability to write into and probably will fall short every time in future as well if I ever try to tell it to anyone else. This incident is more vivid in my head than what I am able to describe here but reader may take liberty to imagine from amount of description given, as they can, from the few words I would write and may trust that I have tried to write everything in as much detail as I possibly could, with each word bringing back the day’s incident afresh in my memory and the terror I am reliving as I put those thoughts down.
Once the thread was tied on her hand, to my utter disbelief and horror, her eyes opened wide in a flash and she stared at us so hard that she seemed to want to burn down holes in our hearts and would kill if she had had a weapon in her hand or probably even with bare hands had both of those were not being held down by four of us. That very instant I somehow, after realizing that use of force was not doing any good, and I should try to bring her back to senses by some other means, and so, I took her head in my lap and cupped her head in my both hands, looked down in her eyes those seemed alienated and called out for her loudly to everyone relief she blinked! And face turned to normal color. We gave her water and she calmed down that very instant.
During all that was happening I was thinking probably a high dosage of the prescribed drugs may have caused this as I remembered they were all strong ones and Priya’s body seemed so weak as to reject what was being forced by the chemicals. Not that I stopped anyone from trying their religious ways but I did have the least interest of what was being done as I am a non-believer into practices of such order. All those while I had thought of all probable medical and logical conclusions of this sudden start only to realize in the end of the affair that not everything can be explained and logic can taste limitations and how much more there is to everything around us.
It was not end of the peril of any of us including her as what followed next day was more frightening and if first time I did not understand any of it, I certainly did the day after.
Next day was fine as my maternal uncle and aunt visited to see her and she seemed happier for first time in last few weeks, but all this lasted until it was evening again.
We were all sitting in the living room talking when we heard a loud thud from her room. Everyone ran to see anticipating same thing as yesterday and it sure was it. There she was, arms thrown wide open and shouting for my mother, ‘Mommy, my eyes won’t open! Mummmy! My eyes won’t open!!’. Face turned reddish-pink again and licking her lips quickly with tongue. Me, and my mother held her hands and face, while I patted her forehead and tried to open her eyes forcefully. Everyone was muttering prayers under their breaths while my maternal aunt decided to call out the spirit to give its name. ‘Who are you? Why are you here?!’, she yelled pointing fingers at my wife; in response of which she received a stare so cold and so hard from her that she thought it was best for her to get out of her sight and the room.
Priya now turned her face to the right and before anyone could realize what she wanted to do, shook so violently that she sat half up from the bed and mother fell back and her left hand went free which she quickly reached out to hold on to the locket of Lord Hanuman that was tied around her right hand and tried pulling it out. Everything was happening so fast, mother got up and caught hold of her left hand again while we tried to give her up breaking out the idol. I, out of my affection and pity, left her right hand and held her face in may palms and tried to calm her down like yesterday. That seemed to work yet again, until the very next second, as her hands were free, she sprang onto the locket again and broke it out of the thread. Everyone was shaking as she busted into an evil laugh once she freed herself from the idol as if it hindered in whatever it was she wanted. She laughed for minutes pointing fingers at us and rolling eyes in victory, and it was that moment when I realized, it wasn’t her at all but someone else lying on the bed in form of my wife trying to fool us all and destroying with what we had built so carefully.
While all this was happening, dad called for a friend of his, head of a Muslim family that reside in the next street to ours, who is believed to have reached high powers and capable of scaring off the spirits and casting spells – an exorcist, to be precise, as everyone would identify him.
Such things so far have always fared me away and if one talks of them and praises one’s capabilities of being in possession of any of unearthly powers I’d laugh it off and would reason till the end of time. This time, as was lord’s wish, he seemed to be only hope as my belief, greatly shifted as it was, was due in anything that worked and brought back my wife to normal state. This man appeared promptly as called. I have seen and met him on many occasions before but never ever have I had been so humble in his presence for I have always considered him prying on the gullibility of the people who believed in such practices. He was a thin man with what sporting a flock of what could be called a beard on his chin. Soon as he was in the room I felt a huge burden slightly lifting off of my chest and I am sure everyone else felt the same for people scattered in corners and held breath to see what would follow next.
He swiftly reached out and tied a few knots in the flocks of Priya’s hair on one side and began murmuring something under his breath – a spell of some sort. As he did so, Priya rolled and squeezed herself into a corner on the bed and closed her eyes.
What would ordinary eyes call a pacified state and would find relief that the episode has ended, the learned eyes of this man promptly recognized as an attempt to avoid the encounter. So, as it felt rightly to do, and opposed to everyone’s anticipation, he asked mother to force open Priya’s jaws and see if she had her teeth clenched which, as it turned out, and not one but all of us saw, was true; for she was only pretending to look calmer and when her mouth was open again she so fiercely got up and leapt forward only to be cooled down by sprinkling of sacred water. He kept sprinkling the water at her face and asking her to give out a ‘name’ and ‘reason for the possession’ over ‘this’ body, for that is what could be asked least as the reason needed to be known if any attempt was to be made to make the spirit consider an offer or offering that would make it go away. This hence is a practice in the process of exorcism to find out the reason a spirit or demon had decided to stay at a place or in a body for. Unfortunately, he did not get a response to the what was asked so he reached out and extended his hand with the glass of spell-bound water and ‘commanded’ her to drink it. Priya slowly reached to the glass and as I thought she would take it and drink, she almost jumped on it and put fingers into the glass to spill it but failed, but with this she laughed so hard that we all felt a tremor in our hearts and from corner of my eyes I saw my mother trying to hold on to the chair to avoid falling. Seeing my wife behave like a stranger made my heart sink but somewhere I knew, when she threw painful glances at me and within her attempts to reach to me, that she was in there, fighting from within to free herself from what occupied her body and soul and only she would know how must it have felt to be unable to do anything but fell unconscious from time to time.
Next, our rescuer took her hands and put the glass into them and asked to drink again which she did this time like an obedient child. Following which she fell on the bed as if spiritless and the knot that was tied of her hair, opened, as we saw in front of ourselves, itself and thus it was established that the spirit that occupied her had left and now measures were to be taken to keep it away. In the interest of the same a sacred thread was woven into a wearable for neck and he advised that it should be kept hidden under cloths at all times. We could not be more grateful to anyone and felt indebted but he would not accept any tokens and only agreed to sat down for a while once promised that no discussion of the incident would follow henceforth. He took out a packet of tobacco and took a pinch from it before leaving.
I sat beside Priya patting her head, and wondered what has just happened and how I witnessed everything that I thought never existed.