Friday, October 3, 2008

The Hunchback & the ghosts

There was a guy called Kanai. He had a very big hunchback.

Kanai was a really nice, helpful guy. He used to look after old people in times of need, gave money to the poor, always stood by people's side in need. But, no one loved him for his hunchback.

Kanai was a weaver of cane wickers. No one in town could weave like him. So, other wicker-makers were jealous of him, and always backbit him to the town people. Hence, the town people used to think that Kanai was a really bad guy, and no one wanted to talk to him except on severe need. Kanai was so sad for all these reasons...

Kanai could not freely walk with his big hunchback. One day he went to sell his wickers to a far-away village, and could not return home in daytime. On the road it got dark, and he was already so tired he wanted to take rest. The spot where Kanai stopped, was a haunted place. Even in daytime, people tried to avoid that place. They said ghosts were everywhere around that area. But, Kanai was so severely tired that he decided to sit there and rest.

Sitting there in the dark and among mosquitoes, Kanai almost fell asleep. Suddenly he heard in half-sleep a sound coming from the old building where on the steps he was sitting. It seemed many voices, in chorus, were singing. And aha! what a divinely harmonious melodious tune that was! Kanai got relieved of all weariness. He forgot everything. Only kept listening to the music.

The tune was strangely beautiful, but it had only one line! "Loon hai, tel hai, imlee hai, hing hai!"

Kanai was so engrossed in the music that he automatically joined the chorus on high voice, "Loon hai, tel hai, imlee hai, hing hai!" After singing this much, suddenly more words came to his mind. So, he kept on the top voice:

"lasoon hai, mirchi hai, chang bang shootki hai!" (chang bang = snake-frog; shootki = dried fish)

Kanai sang so loudly that his voice reached inside the house and went to the ethereal singers there, no doubt. Those singers, however, were ghosts. They became so happy hearing the new words that they ran out to find Kanai, without delay.

They came out, took Kanai in with themselves, and entertained him like a King. They fed Kanai with strangely delicious foods and sweets. Then, all together, they started dancing and singing the two lines in a choir.

"Loon hai, tel hai, imlee hai, hing hai,
Lasoon hai , mirchi hai, chang bang shootki hai!"

Kanai also started merrily with them. Suddenly he found himself dancing without any effort. And he was so surprised what to say of that. He thought, "Strange! I can't even walk with this big hunchback! How am I dancing?!!" As he said he tried to touch his back and ... what a big surprise! There was no hunchback anymore!!

One ghost noticed all this, and said, "Whatta look there for, buddy? It's not there any more. See, it's lying on the floor!"

Indeed, the hunchback was no more on his body. It was lying separated on the floor. Aha! Kanai was so happy seeing that! And he felt so easy and light, that he fell asleep there on the dusty floor in seconds.

When he woke up the next morning, he saw he was lying on the garden outside the house; and that he was wearing a very fashionable colorful new dress.

He quickly got up and reached home. There, nobody was able to recognize him, he had a long time to convince them that he was indeed the same Kanai, only without the hunchback, thank to the ghosts.

Very rapidly, Kanai's story was known across the whole land. Whoever heard that got amazed. Now, no one ignored him, everybody wanted to talk to him only. Every night, people invited him to listen to the story of his transformation from his own mouth. So many people came to buy his wickers just to listen to that story only. Kanai became a rich man selling wickers.

This way, days passed. One day, while Kanai was weaving wickers in his shop, a very old woman stopped and asked him, "Hey boy! Which way to go to Kebalhati?"

Kanai said, "This is Kebalhati. who do you want?"

So, old woman said, "Is there someone called Kanai whose hunchback was cured by ghosts? I came here to learn the magic chants from him, so that I can cure my Manik's hunchback too."

Kanai said, "I'm that Kanai. The ghosts cured my hunchback only. But, that was not by any magic chant. They were singing all night, I was lying outside their house and heard them, and added a new sentence to their song. So they became happy and cured me and gave me new dress."

The old woman then learnt all details by asking Kanai, and then blessed him and went home.

Her son, Manik had a hunchback even bigger than Kanai.. But, that fellow was such a rogue that neighbours always avoided him. So, his familymen took him one night to the haunted house where Kanai got cured. Manik lay there in the darkness and thought when would the ghosts start singing, he would add words to that, and they would cure him.

That night, when the ghosts started, "Loon hai, tel hai, imli hai...", without letting them finish Manik cried out in broken voice, "Gurcharan modak ki dukan ka gulabjamoon hai." Thus, the singing got totally off beat, and some ghosts started vomiting by hearing the word gulabjamoon. Ghosts hate all such sweet things. They cannot even hear their names.

So, they snarled with all teeth out and ran out to see who made such a cacophony. The head ghost slapped Manik for two hours continuously and said, "Who're ya uncultured dumbass? Tonedeaf, beatless uncouth animal, you dare spoil our song??!! Let us show u!"

Saying this, he brought Kanai's hunchback and set that on the top of Manik's own one. It fixed itself there so permanently that nobody could tell he was not born with two giant hunchbacks below his shoulder.

Next day, when Manik's familymen came, they were so shocked and sad by seeing him... But, the villagers all said, "Good punishment for such a rogue!"

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