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Classic translation

Me, the Ghost - Satyajit Ray

I am a ghost. Three and a half years ago, I was alive. One day, I was burnt to death in this house called Lily Villain in Deoghar. I was there to spend a vacation with my friend. One day, while making tea, the stove burst and my clothes caught fire. My face also caught fire. I remember up to that. From then on, I have become a resident of this house. I don't know how I look like now, because mirrors don't reflect ghosts. Neither does water. I know that because I tested it on the Barujje's pond. And I figured that I don't look that fab by one incident. Two years ago, a family came to Lily Villa on vacation. The father once came face to face with me and his eyes almost popped out and he passed out. Actually it was my fault. Whether you can see the ghost or not depends on the ghost's mood. I wanted to remain invisible but got absentminded and revealed myself by mistake. I discovered that my face and body were disfigured by the fire, and they have remained that way even after I had become a ghost.

Since then, nobody comes to this house. It has gained the title “haunted”. It is a loss for me, for I liked it when the house had people living in it. Or else I remain lonely. There are other ghosts in this neighbourhood, but there's no one in this house as no one else died here of accidents. And I don't like the other ghosts in this city. Some are really bad. Like Nashkarda or Vim Nashkar's ghost. It's difficult to find a more corrupt and wicked ghost than him on earth. There was a postmaster in Deoghar called Lakshman Tripathi. Lakshman had an arch enemy called Kantivai Duber. He was an employee in the state bank. One evening, Tripathi was returning home from the post office. When he reached the field after Mister Shah's house, Vim Nashkar's ghost jumped down from a tamarind tree and broke Mr. Tripathi's neck. And what a fiasco that caused! After all the police investigation, courts, and cases, the result- Kantivai Duber's execution! Nashkar's ghost knew that this would happen, and that is the reason he did this. I tried to stop Nashkar and told him, “What you did was not right. Being a ghost doesn't mean that you have to harm people. You stay in your kingdom, minding you own business, and let the humans live in peace.”

I myself never tried to harm any living being consciously. Especially since the day I found out that humans are afraid of me. There's an old and broken temple in the mango orchard behind the house. That's where I stay most of the time. Though Lily Villa has been empty for a long time but the kids from the nearby Chowdhury mansion sometimes come here to play hide and seek. Funny that these kids don't care about ghosts. Or maybe they come here because of the ghosts. I have to remain completely invisible during that time. Even grown up people faint at my sight, God knows what will happen to children!

It is true that ghosts can also feel lonely. Lily Villa is now a haunted house for my own idiocy. No one wants to live there now, and so I don't get to listen to humans laugh, talk, work or move for a long time. If living beings knew how much ghosts enjoy their presence would they have been afraid of ghosts? Never!

At last one day people arrived at Lily Villa. One morning I heard cycle bells and came out to see a rickshaw come to a stop in front of Lily Villa. Two people came to stay. At least someone came!

Ghosts can see clearly from a distance. The man was middle-aged, short, bald with shabby eyebrows and scowling eyes. Having entered the house, he told the manservant, “Check everything. I want tea in half an hour. Then I'll start working.”

I heard all these from my room, because ghosts can also hear from a distance. Our eyes and ears both work like binoculars.

The manservant served the man tea in half an hour. The man was unpacking in the room near the garden. There was a desk near the window. He was arranging his inkpot, pen and paper on it.

So he was a writer! A very famous one, I guess.

Within an hour of his arrival, at about eight, Bengalis came to meet him in Lily Villa. I got to know that his name was Narayan Sharma. I don't know whether it was his real name or pen name. The Bengalis were honoured to have someone like him in Deoghar. So everyone was eager to

give him a reception.

But Narayan Sharma was a strict guy. He said, “I came here to spend some time in solitude. And you have already started pressing me about a reception?”

When everyone acted humble at his words, Narayan Sharma softened and said, “Okay, but first let me work here in peace for a few days.”

Suddenly, Ghosh family's Nitai asked him something that I didn't like at all. He asked, “Why did you come here of all the places?”

For the first time I saw Mr. Narayan's face break into a smile. He replied, “You are talking about the haunted house, right? It will be fun to meet a ghost! I could do with a companion.”

“You probably aren't taking it seriously,” told Haru Talukder. “A doctor from Kolkata came here with his family. He saw it with his own eyes. And what a grotesque sight that was! He regained his consciousness after about 15 minutes. There is a good Bungalow here; the manager is a big fan of yours. He could arrange everything for you. Please leave Lily Villa.”

This time Narayan Sharma said something rather strange.

“You probably do not know that I have studied a great deal about witchcraft. There are few people who know as much as I do about it. I have come here to write on witchcraft. I will never face the same situation as the doctor did. I can assure you about it. He didn't take any precautions about ghosts. I will. Ghost can never do me any harm. I know you are advising me with good intentions, but I want to work in Lily Villa. I came here when I was a kid. I have many memories with this house.”

I heard about precautions against ghosts for the first time in my life. I didn't like it at all. And witchcraft? I didn't know there was even a subject about witches and ghosts! But there was no point of thinking about it now. The night would bring the answers to my questions.

Since I heard this news, I felt like I had to inform Vim Nashkar about this. I wonder what he was going to think of this piece of information!

I couldn't rest at all. At length, I couldn't take it anymore and ran to Mallik's 200 years old house and called Nashkar's name. He floated down from the room on the eastern side and asked in a stern voice, “What have you come for at this odd hour?”

I told him about Narayan Sharma. I could say that a wicked thought was crossing his head. At last he told, “Really! So he thinks that only he can take drastic measures? When I was alive I exercised daily for 32 years. Do I not have the strength to break Narayan's neck?”

Anybody can guess that Vim Nashkar was a body builder seeing him. He died drinking poison, so his body was not disfigured. I said, “What are you going to do?” I knew if I had a heart it would have drummed fiercely now.

“Tonight at 12am Narayan Sharma's life is going to come to an end. Ghosts never forgive.”

I have no idea how the rest of the day passed. Narayan Sharma kept writing inside his room. In the afternoon he went out to take a walk. He returned home after the evening star was up in the sky. It was a moonless night.

I was observing everything from my den. Now I saw Narayan Sharma do a weird thing. He took a bag out from his suitcase, took a fistful of an odd powder from it and spread it in a pot, lit it and kept it on his doorstep. Gurgling smoke issued out of the pot, and the southerly wind blew the smoke right into my den.

Oh gosh! What a drastic measure! Ghosts cannot smell anything, but this smell entered right through my nose and reached my lungs! Even Nashkar cannot come within the boundaries of this house now.

And that is just what happened. At midnight I heard a faint moaning from the backyard- “Shudhonno! O Shudhonno!”

Shudhonno is my name.

I got out to see Vim Nashkar sitting on the roadside, holding his nose. He said in a nasal voice,

“21 years since I died, and for the first time I gave in to a human. I had no idea about what these humans have created!”

“He is a learned guy, Nashkar. He knows a lot.”

“Oh dear! It would have felt so good to break someone like his neck!”

“How absurd that seems now!”

“Anyway, I'm off today. I gained whole new experience!”

Nashkar left, and I returned to my room. And I began to feel drowsy. Ghosts feeling sleepy! What an unimaginable phenomena! There was something in that smoke that brought sleep to my eyes.

I couldn't stay awake any longer. I lay down on the floor in a stupor. I woke up in the morning at the sound of a voice. I sat up hastily and was stunned. I recognised Narayan Sharma, but what had he become! How had he become like this?

Narayan Sharma answered my questions.

“My manservant didn't wake up in the morning so I lit the stove to make tea. And the stove burst. They are probably preparing my body for cremation. I was looking for a den of my own when I spotted this room. Can you share this room with another ghost?”

Extremely happy, I replied, “Sure!”

Very well then, the two burnt-faces will make good partners!

Translated By Anashua

My best friend is human

It's a lonely person, one who claims to not have any friends. It's a sad thing but one that might actually happen and the idea of such a thing makes me really sad. It's a wonder how people can repel other people to such a degree that they end up having no friends in the whole wide world. But what really boils one's blood is when people come and claim that their best friends are bloody inanimate objects and at times even animals. Now as Griffin would have said, that really does 'grind my gears.'

Firstly let's understand the concept of a best friend. S/he is such a friend who will never cheat on you, will always be there and will always tell you everything to your face (not crawl around whispering tales of your deceit to perhaps their significant other like a skunk). Best friends can always be relied on and is usually that person with whom we like to spend quality friend time with the most. You need to able to share and enjoy with that PERSON and please notice my emphasis on the word PERSON. It just cant be an object or a reptile for that matter.

A Tale Of Stupidity
Once i was interacting with this person I had just met. She was funny and very beautiful. We were actually having a very good time together when suddenly I brought up the topic of my best friend and his activities, in order to make conversation. Now she says 'Books are my best friend' , with a really good smile. But I didn't see her smile because I was too busy digesting that piece of information. 'What secrets do you share with it? Can he play ball?' I asked with as much sarcasm as I could muster. But she insisted she shared a lot with her books and spend a lot of time with them. Don't get me wrong, I love books but sharing with Mario Puzo's tale and relating to it are two different things. The end of our friendship came when I understood that she was a psychopath. I never saw her again and I wouldn't want to anymore.

A Dog Is A Mad-Man's Best Friend
I love dogs, let me make that very clear. But let me in you on a secret. I don't see them as my best friends but rather something that I'm affection towards, something I love and that is where I draw the line. I used to play and love my G.I. Joe figures but I wasn't best of friends with Duke or Cobra. I wasn't because I was rational and I could think straights. Plus, I was never a loner. How can you be best friends with your pets? 'Hey, I Love SFP! Did you know that Tommy?' 'Woof! Woof!' Tommy replied. Look at the friendship and the understanding we have! What a cute pair of mentally challenged egg-heads is what I would declare. It just doesn't work that way and it never ever will. An animal is an animal and a man is a man. Relationship can be between different gender but not different species. For crying out loud!

Verdict Not Reached
People have the freedom to say and do whatever they like as long as no one else is hurt or affected by it. Therefore if a person is lonely enough to declare toilet tissue paper as their best friend that is their choice. I have my freedom to ridicule them as I please and no one should throw heat at me because of Freedom Of Speech and what not. Therefore these are my opinions and my verdict on the case is crystal clear. I shall chose to not mingle with such people and they can do the same with me. Solely expressing my point of view and nothing else. Take no offense but just think about it before you say something so comical that people are bound to make fun of you. Till next time, keep it real...

By Osama Rahman


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