Shamik walked faster. The long, dark stretch of the graveyard made him uneasy. Not a soul around. No sounds emanated except for the crickets. The bamboo thickets loomed large, occasionally swaying in the breeze that blew. He clutched his sacred thread and marched ahead with the fireflies for company.
A twig broke behind. They were after him. Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa*, Shamik started running. Crossing the graveyard, he collapsed into a heap, panting heavily. Collecting himself, he thanked Lord Bajrangbali* and stood up only to stumble over a piece of wood.
“Ha ha ha.”
Shamik looked up. There was no one.
“Hey donkey. Look up.”
There, on the Bilwa* tree, a man hung upside down, doubled up in laughter.
“Ha ha…still scared of the dark, eh?”
“There were shadows and whispers, Shamim. People were following me.” Wiping away the mud from his pristine white dhoti, he raised his brows. “But why are you hanging upside down?”
“Well, this posture gives me a perspective. Heard about the Inversion therapy? Arrey, why don’t you come up and see it for yourself.”
“Ha ha, you haven’t changed. No wonder we bullied you so much in school. How can you forget that this is the Bilwa tree? You just can’t climb it.”
“STOP LAUGHING, Shamim.”
Shamik stood up and stretched his limbs.
Shamim gazed in shock as his friend extended himself to the height of the tree, located a branch that would bear his weight, swung his legs over it, came back to his normal height and made himself cozy.
“Baprey. That was impressive.”
“Did I scare you?”
“Unfortunately, NO! Let me show you a feat of mine.”
Shamim opened his mouth and his tongue flopped out. It snaked in and out of the tree and then finally came to rest.
“Good good. Well done.”
“Shamik, I can’t imagine that someday we will be sitting here having the most important discussion of our life…err…our afterlife.”
“Hmmm. Strange! We have always been at loggerheads and now we reconcile under strange circumstances. So why are you here?”
“Yesterday, on my way home, the thugs hiding in the graveyard ambushed me, stole all my money and killed me. And now, the Bromhodotti* society has deported me to investigate why a Mamdo* has been occupying the bilwa tree. You know it’s meant only for us.”
“I am here to nab those thugs, Shamik. I am the Mamdo leader and we have to evict them from our graveyard. A spy informed that the thugs will be back tonight after a heist.”
“Mamdo. I have a terrific idea.”
“No, wait…mine is even better. I love the way my tongue curls around them, slowly crushing them.”
“Ssshhh…” Mamdo signals Bromhodotti to keep quiet. “I can hear them coming.”
Shamik curls his legs around a branch and tries to hang upside down.
“Whoa…Mamdo. Now I know why you hang upside down.”
“Shut up. Listen to my plan.”
Mamdo and Bromhodotti hang in silence hatching a plan.
Bajranbali : The well-known deity Lord Hanuman
Hanuman Chalisa: A devotional hymn dedicated to Lord Hanuman
Bilwa: Stone apple/wood apple tree
Mamdo: A popular ghost in Bengali folklore. The ghost of a Bengali Muslim man who hangs upside down from a tree and harasses every passer-by.
Bromhodotti: A popular ghost in Bengali folklore. The ghost of a Bengali Brahmin who wears the poitey/sacred thread and usually haunts the Bilwa tree.
Connect with Penmancy:
Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!