We were always curious about the fearlessness of our father, particularly, the way he was able to manage those ghosts when he was traveling in late nights. On one such occasion he told us that it was all about how much courage one has - to face any such event! To illustrate this, he told us the story of this benevolent ghost.
To reach the village Hosalli, one had to pass through a dense forest. But nobody dare pass through this forest in the night on account of this strange ghost. It was hanging down a banyan tree and would call out loudly if it saw somebody walking below. It had only one question to ask. “Are you going?” “Are you going?” On hearing this people used to run away shivering with fear.
There was one old lady called Rukkamma in the village. One day she had her grandson visiting her for the first time. His name was Shoora and deserved the name as he was known to be very courageous. When he heard about this ghost he immediately decided to see it in person! That same night he reached the forest and went near the banyan tree. And lo! He sure found this ghost hanging down the branch of the tree! He just went past unmindful of the ghost! The ghost did ask loudly its usual question “Are you going?” “Are you going?” Without any trace of fear, Shoora replied “Yes, I am going. But are you coming?” He immediately heard the footsteps of somebody following him. Shoora never turned back and just went home. When he stopped at the house the sound of foot steps also stopped. And lo! When he turned back he found a pot full of gold coins lying there! His courage was fully rewarded.
Father explained to us that the ghost was actually in a transition stage. It was a miserly man who just went on saving his money and putting it in a pot in the form of gold coins. When he died he was asked by the God to hand over his treasure to a courageous man. Till then he was cursed to be a ghost. It was only this courageous Shoora who had the guts to reply its question and in the process was rewarded with the treasure. The man was released from the curse and attained salvation.
This narration by our father did encourage us to be brave. We thought that we could also show this bravery and end up with a treasure from some ghost. But our courage would start vanishing with the arrival of night! In the process we were denied this treasure permanently!
My father was totally against this miserliness. At the same time he never spent even a rupee out of his earnings! If this appears as a paradox to you let me explain. Father followed this simple cash flow method:
This strategy would have made the present day generation, which believes in credit card, proud! At the same time these new generation banks would have simply loved him. They could have sold all their credit cards to him! What I mean here is that my father always lived on borrowed money. Whatever money he earned always went for the loan repayment. Naturally he was not spending his earnings at all! More of it later.
I would end my narration of ghost stories with the most interesting of all ghosts. This was the highly romantic ghost called ‘Mohini’ ghost! It was highly fascinating to even children of our age! It was supposed to be moving around a place in our village called ‘Brahmana Bana’, which in Kannada meant Jungle of God Brahma. There was a small statue of Brahma in this dense forest and people were afraid to pass through this place in the night as it was haunted! The Mohini ghost had chosen this place for obvious reasons! It used to wear a white sari and had great looks to match its name! It would be singing a song beginning with “Ba Iniya Nanniniya!” This in Kannada meant “Come my dear! Come my love!” It was being said that there was a beautiful young lady in our family who died as a widow. Her name was Nagakka and her spirits appeared as this ghost. We were dying to see this ghost in person at least once. That we got no opportunity was only because we had no guts to go there in the dead of night.
It was customary in our families to start the child’s education on the Vijayadashami day during the Navarathri festival. Father would initiate his child by making him write ‘Shree Ganeshaya Namaha’with a piece of turmeric on rice granules kept in a plate. This was duly done in my case also. My education responsibility was entrusted thereafter to my eldest brother (AVR). This brother of mine was responsible for whatever I and my second elder brother (Puttanna) have achieved in our life so far! We both give full credit to him and him only! May be we have to take another birth to fully settle his dues by way of our gratitude!
You may not believe this, but my brother had this three language formula even in those days! He started with Kannada and stage by stage taught us English and Hindi also. Even though there was a Primary School in our village, there used to be no regular teacher. Hence this KG School set up at our home served us well. We were able to read and write in all the three languages before we had our official admission to the first Standard.
Another achievement of us was that of being able to read all sorts of Kannada stories and novels in our young age itself. Our brother did have a good collection of his own. He would also borrow plenty of books from other sources on which we could lay our hands. He would also bring home a Gramophone from his friend on many occasions. We learnt a good number of songs from Kannada Cinema and Hindi as well! I distinctly remember some songs of K L Saigal even to this day!
Reading the various stories and novels enriched us a lot in our younger days. We were particularly interested in history and we believed in everything we read. Sometimes our belief in written word almost made us ridiculous.
The chapter on Aryans in history stated that the ‘Aryans hailing from
Asia were very strong physically as they came from a cold
climate’. My brother Puttanna thought
that he could also become very strong physically by keeping his body in cold!
He decided to remove his shirt and sleep without any blanket during the night!
When I heard his strategy to become strong, I was terrified. As it was, he was
quite strong being my elder brother and even otherwise. In our usual day to day fights he always had
an upper hand. I thought it did not
augur well for me! Luckily for me within a short time he had an attack of
severe cold! My mother could not take this nonsense for long! She would cover
him with a blanket whenever she found him uncovered.
Thus ended my brother’s dream of becoming an Aryan! I was quite pleased and heaved a sigh of relief!
-- (To be continued)--