When I was around sixteen or seventeen, neither a child, nor yet a man, I had my first experience with the occult.
It was on a fiery afternoon, when the sun was burning pedestrians, vehicles and tar, I was at a bus stop , trying to board a bus. I wanted to go to this one and only multiplex in the city then, to get tickets for a famous English movie for my sister and her friends. She was a literature student and into all things bookish, especially movies from her favorite novels. I faintly remember that this time it was, Dr. Shivago.
Anyway, being at that time (as my grandmother used to say) a young calf who knows no fear, I ran to board a moving bus and jumped on the foot steps , trying to get inside.
I slipped, lost my hold and fell down, right beside its rotating back wheel.
I lay side ways on the road, facing the bottom of the bus and could see the network of iron and gird coated with dust and smell the crude acrid diesel smell. I was going to be run over. I cringed and rolled my long limbs in a fetal position, waiting for the inevitable and my last thoughts before I lost consciousness were of my mother and father and how they would take to the news of my death.
But I did not die that day. The wheels of the bus missed me by a hairsbreadth and went on its way.
I lay prone on the road, till a good Samaritan splashed cool reviving water on my face and I came to my senses.
Getting up slowly like a puppet whose controller had forgotten which finger to manipulative, I was thankful that my bones were in tact. Then I walked home.
I thought I was alright after my altercation with death and did not expect any delayed reaction to set in.
But late that night I came down with high fever, head ache and chills. Every time I closed my eyes, I had terrible nightmares. I was sweating profusely and looked like a chicken drenched in the rain. I slipped quietly into my parents’ room and lay next to my mother, holding her hand for comfort.
Early next morning , my father rushed me to our family doctor. His medications brought my fever down. Not for long. After my dad left for work, it started again.
My father had to rush home, because my shivering and rigors started immediately after he left. But it subsided if he was near me. It was a tricky situation and as I had not mentioned the bus incident, they did not know what to make of my intermittent fever.
If my father was near me, comforting me, I was alright. But he could not give me company for many days, as work called and he got irritated that I was behaving like a child and calling to him to stay with me. This went on for four or five days, despite visiting a specialist and changing medicines. The worst part was, I started mumbling in a delirious half-awake state. I started throwing up and told my mother that the manager at my dad’s business place was making me eat curds. I am not particularly fond of curds or yogurt.
That is when my grandmother announced, “he has seen something eerie and has got scared.”
This is actually an euphemism for, “He is possessed.”
Now the matters took a different turn. All scientific knowledge deserted us. It was my grandmother’s words against all else. A self styled tantric was called to exorcise the demon tormenting me and cast it out.
Her name was Kader Bee and I have met her when she came to visit my grand mother sometimes and proudly boasted about her prowess in driving out demons. She was just an ordinary woman, nothing spectacular about her and I used to laugh hearing her stories.
Kader Bee was summoned and when she sat before me, she metamorphosed from a poor woman into this swaying shrieking person, a medium according to my gullible grandmother.
Her eyes bulged out like newly boiled eggs and her hair flew around her in a frizzy frenzy. She rocked on her butt like she was drunk on opiates. She spoke sometimes in whispers and sometimes in a crescendo and whether she was talking or singing, it was hard to decipher.
She made my father hold my hand and release it many times. Her yowling and panting scared the life out of me and I was crying uncontrollably. My father thought, enough was enough and took me away after a few minutes.
But from that moment, I was healed. Really. No more fever or nightmares.
Kader bee, got her pay, a hefty sum from my dad and went away.
I often wonder what happened that day. The mind is much more powerful than we believe. After a shocking event during the following contemplative period, the mind goes into a hysteria and conjures up many symptoms. The Shamans and sorcerers step in then and do their hocus pocus and we are healed.
I don’t believe that the lady drove out any demons from my body that day. I am really skeptical about what happened.
A good psychiatrist would have healed me, with just a few pills, without the din and babel.
A quiet gentlemanly thing it would have been too. Without the disapproval of the neighbours.
If only I had told my father about falling near the wheels of a moving bus.
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Photo courtesy Augusto Ardonez and Clikr-Free-Vector -Images and Memed Nurrohamed and Evegene Techerkaski at Pixabay.