Tuesday, 28 August 2012

THAT NIGHT (Part 23)

Part 23 of Professor Lakshmi Raj Sharma's acclaimed ghost story based in rural India.


                                                                     THAT NIGHT (part 23)

Just then there was some sound. Something came there and Pran disappeared and I too almost ran back towards where the people of the village lived. It was quite a narrow escape, I thought.

Why was Pran behaving in such a hostile manner? After thinking for some time I came to the conclusion that all actions of spirits cannot be explained away by our limited intellect. As a soul continues its journey from one birth to another it keeps collecting traits of the various births and absorbing them, allowing them to surface in its actions even after the particular births are over. Thus someone who has done hard work in one field in a particular birth can reap the benefit of it in another birth. An accomplished musician in one birth can start singing in a masterly manner even as a child in the next because the soul has absorbed the art of music earlier and will show quick results in that art’s acquisition now. 

Pran’s spiteful behavior seemed to have resulted not only from his disappointment in his last birth but from earlier disappointments that had gone into shaping his nature. He could not help being wicked. He could not respond to goodness as readily as Manoj, for instance, could.

With the next morning began the Gaipura Mela, the festival of six days. It was believed that every year in these six days the powerful goddess, Vindhvasini, left her temple in Vindhyachal, which is only a few kilometers from here, and came to reside in her Gaipura temple. As a result this village sprang to life at this time with thousands of people coming to worship her here. There were interesting stalls of goods that arrived from various parts of the country. There was music and fun, filled in the atmosphere of the place during the six days. I had heard of this mela but never experienced it before. The temple had been erected by the raja of Gaipura and the mela was also the result of what he had begun.

Manoj’s asking me to come to Gaipura at the time of the mela seemed to contain some answer to the mystery of the spirits I have been telling you about. I was keen on meeting Manoj though I had no clue of how I could do that. I went and sat under a tree at a distance from the mela ground to write a chapter of my novel. It was daytime and I could never have imagined that my concentration focusing on Manoj could draw him towards me even at this bright hour. It was as if I was having a dream, or rather a reverie. He came there and stood wearing a beautiful state costume. He looked like a real raj kumar. His smile was gentle and yet the overall effect of his arrival near me was disturbing. A spirit was after all a spirit, no matter how hard it tried to become a living being. I wanted to keep looking at him even though I was constantly gripped by the fear that the next moment could be the moment of my death. I found him looking handsome and stately. His regality was an intrinsic part of his character and had been absorbed by his soul. Perhaps Pran did not like him for this reason as well. Pran seemed ordinary in comparison in spite of his slightly superior intellect. Manoj did not say a word to me, but as he stood there I could feel that he was showing me some kind of gratitude for coming to Gaipura, the region of which he had been the raja in the birth before he was born as Manoj Singh Rathore. I was able to gather this in a second, through intuition, as he stood in front of me and gave me a royal smile. The haveli belonged to him and he seemed to be asking me to visit it in the daytime.

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