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Deshi Ghouls

IMAGINE yourself sitting in a poorly lit room, eerie shadows dancing in certain corners, the curtains menacingly stirring and the rusty latch in your window rattling in the wind whistling outside, while you read a scary story about ghosts and vampires and yawn. No shivers, no goose bumps, not even little duckling bumps, and the only fear in the back of your mind is that you may die a sudden and untimely death resulting from the ensuing boredom. Come on, haven't you had enough of vampires and other ghosts and ghouls and things that go rattle in the dark?

Sure, we have all memorized the stories about the Draculas, Frankensteins and their highly hyped-up Hollywood predecessors, but let's not forget that we have got some pretty interesting 'deshi' ghosts and ghouls as well. The first that comes to my mind is the famous 'Petni' that seemed to pop up in almost every scary story I have ever read. Petni are not exactly ghosts, they are female monsters that possess mortal's bodies and take their places in their households and inevitably cause trouble between others. The victims are always unsuspecting women, usually village wives since it is quite easy to find them wandering outside in the dark for some sort of domestic errand, and even easier to pounce on them and steal their bodies. Sometimes, the real person is often trapped in the original hideout of the Petni.

'Shakchunni' are also quite similar to the Petni, but they always live in trees and they become part of a family quite easily, they are not exactly the body snatching type. Apparently, they especially like to cause friction between wives and their mothers-in- law, but opinions are divided on this. But many have been known to have accidentally revealed their true identity while caught off guard, such as elongating their arms and reaching out the window to pick lemons instead of getting up and going outside like normal people would do, or burning their feet while doing the cooking instead of going outside and getting wood. Yep, those Shakchunnis must have been really lazy. If I could burn myself without getting hurt and elongate my arms, I would do much more interesting things, like break into Dhaka Central Jail and let all the criminals out (Oh wait, someone already did that).

But out of all of our 'deshi' phantoms, obviously the most talked-about and widely believed in is the 'Bhut', which simply means ghost. But don't fall asleep just yet, because our uniqueness lies in the fact that our ghosts actually have different specialties. From Kala Bhuts and Dhola Bhuts to mischiveous ones and downright dumb ones, we've got it all. For example, the Mecho Bhut only eats fish and nothing else, so it's quite harmless, unless of course a whole bunch of them finish off our supplies, in which case our 'mache bhaat e Bangali' race might be in a bit of trouble! On the other hand, it is quite easy to recognize them if they are around, since this ghouls always smell like fish. Nevertheless, this is no reason for you to freak out every time you go to the 'kacha bazaar', because the smell over there, well, it's probably the fish.

Then there is the Gecho Bhut, which lives in large trees, preferably banyan or coconut ones, and often happen to jump on your shoulders and twist your neck when no one is around just for the sake of it. Heck, if you lived in a tree for eternity, there really isn't anything much more entertaining than that, except of course random crows pooping on bald heads. There is also the Mettho Bhut, which lives in wide open, endless stretches of fields and are at a high risk of becoming extinct thanks to the building companies that are constantly wiping out the unnecessary spaces of natural beauty in our country and filling them up with tall, dirty buildings so that people can suffocate in tiny apartments devoid of air and sunshine. Oh, the joy!

And let's not forget everyone's favorite, the famous Mamdu Bhut, who instead of frightening the living daylights out of you, takes more pleasure in mischievous tricks that leave you scratching your head, wondering how on earth you ended up in a drain filled with cow dung with nothing but a 'gamcha' around your waist when you were so sure that you were going to Regency dressed in a Prada suit to have a free dinner with Angelina Jolie. Plus, Shirshendu Mukopaddhay has also recently introduced a Nastik Bhut in one of his stories, who apparently never believed in ghosts while he was alive and still refuses to do so, insisting that there must be a logical explanation as to why he can walk through walls and do all such ghostly feats.

Then again, this is no reason to believe that our local landscape is filled with harmless ghosts, who will at worst give you long philosophical lectures as to why ghosts should not and cannot exist. There is also something called the Aleya Bhut, which creates lights that people follow when they are lost and then inevitably turn up dead. They also sometimes appear in the form of a woman holding a lantern and standing in the middle of the river, which also leads to, yep you guessed it, death. There is also the Pishach, which basically wrings your neck and sucks all your blood out. But you can never see it approaching, since it brings darkness along with it. They usually appear in solitary areas, and the howling of dogs is the only warning you will get about their arrival.

So there you have it, a barely there list of a few of the many creepy phantoms that are lurking around every corner of our localities waiting to pounce on you any moment. So keep a look-out for our 'deshi' ghouls and sleep tight, at least none of our ghosts are pathetic enough to hide under our beds!

By Shuprova Tasneem

Interview with a ghost

I knew I had been running for almost an hour through the dense overgrown forest. I couldn't tell if the moon was out for the thick tree branches and the huge canopy of leaves shielded the forest grounds from light. Gasping, I stopped as I felt my knees go weak and slowly, I looked over my shoulder. Just as I had thought, the ghost was not too far behind…and that's when I realized that there was no point in running anymore. It could and would kill me anyway.

'Don't you ever give up?' I shouted out, too exhausted to be scared anymore. The white smoky form of a human stopped running and stood staring at me, just a few feet away. I didn't miss the startled look on his face, which he quickly recovered from. Strangely, the ghost looked almost human…he was wearing old-fashioned corduroy pants and a white shirt with black stripes. The next thing that I noticed were his eyes, they were eerily beautiful and looked a bit too symmetrical.

'You're not scared?'

'Not anymore…I don't really have any energy left! Um…do you want me to be scared?!'

Fifteen minutes later, I was dead. No not really, just kidding…because if I had been, who would've written this silly article (maybe it's my ghost writing this eh?) ? So yeah, where was I? After I gathered the courage to actually speak with the ghost, I realized he wasn't that bad a person, I mean ghost. With my reporter's instincts set in action, I took out a piece of paper and a pen from my pocket and asked the ghost if he was willing to give an exclusive interview for our paper.

RS: Ok ghost, I hate calling you that, so would you please tell us what your real name is?

Ghost: My name is Chucky…

RS: You're Chucky from the Child's Play? Wow man, you've grown up! But weren't you a toy?

Chucky: I don't understand why everyone does that to me! I'm not that Chucky. That Chucky was a silly little object that is a disgrace to all ghosts and spooky dolls! Scaring children? How stupid is that? Next thing you know, they'll make movies with scary Barbie dolls!

RS: Oh...then who are you?

Chucky: Well, I used to be really popular long time back…the female ghosts would swoon all over me you know! Humans used to be so afraid of me that they wouldn't even enter this forest. These days…these days it's just too hard, everyone's too brave and too indifferent. It's like I'm invisible! Luckily I found a chicken like you today to freak out…

RS: That's all you wanted to do? Freak me out?

Chucky: Like duh! You think I'd ruin this nice white shirt I've got by spraying blood all over me? No way! What would the girls think? I don't have an extra shirt you know! I died wearing this, and I shall live as a ghost wearing this.

RS: Interesting…so how did you die?

Chucky: well, I don't have any fancy tragic story to tell you, like all those ghosts in the movie do. Me, I died because of a stupid accident. Oh by the way, if you haven't noticed, my accent is British. I was here when the British were terrorizing the people in this country.

RS: You died during the war?

Chucky: No! I died when I tried to ride a buffalo. Long story…some other day?

RS: Sure, sure. So what do you still do around here? Can't you go someplace more interesting?

Chucky: Are you kidding me? I might not be able to scare people anymore, but I'm still here for the girls. They just can't do without me you know. Every week, we get new people coming to visit from all over the country. I love dating different ghosts. Speaking of which..what time is it?

RS: its umm...almost 8. Why?

Chucky: Eight! I'm late for my candlelight dinner date!! Hey, I gotta go now, but here…take my cell phone number. Do keep in touch, and it was really nice talking to ya. Take care, cya

RS: Uhh..ok…I'll call you next week. Hey wait! Show me they way out will ya?

Chucky: Sure! Just follow me.

By Nayeema Reza



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