Ten years, since i last stepped inside our 200 year old ancestral spirit temple. gush of scorching black smoke and yellow powder struck my face, causing painful tears to roll down.
My mother being very religious and superstitious, even all her five elder brothers were devoted to and worshipped the Family God. Our family God according to them is a deity who has the body of a man but the strength and the face of a wild boar. There was one stone idol of the face of the wild boar with tusks made of pure old, then there was the sword, jeweled head gear, the silk red cloth, about twenty coconuts and banana leaves all placed in the main prayer room. There were many other things which I didn’t know what but I knew they were very important for the God when he would take control over the human body and visit our family and clear all our issues.
And not everybody is able to handle to power of the God, only men who have been doing these practices could do it. For us we had our man and from our family. Distant relative.
He was called Bijju by everyone. He was an old man in his mid-forties, he was a farmer nearby, so he was a strong man. He had a perfect chest but due to his excessive drinking habit, he had a huge potbelly. It somehow didn’t fit with the other parts of his body.
He had long, thin, grey hair which he tied to a bun on top of his head. He chewed tobacco throughout and his teeth were rotting away.
“Hi mama” I hugged my second eldest uncle. I touched his feet for blessings.
“Finally, I am very happy that you have come here. The God will surely shower you with blessings. And in fact you are the next head of this house. It is your responsibility now.” he said.
For now, he was the head of the house and the main person. He had to conduct the rituals and the everything required his consent and also his assistance. With this came a lot a power and responsibility just like any other post.
It was actually my eldest uncle who had first become the head but then many years ago during one of the rituals where he had to carry the God idol across the hallway and wash them with our well water. The powers form the idol seemed to have too much for him and he started shaking badly. He couldn’t handle it. His body was vibrating, he was having seizures and he was the taken to the hospital. He was unconscious for two days. The doctors couldn’t explain it but they said that there was too much neurochemical simulation taking place which cause him seizures.
After that he took a back seat in the family.
Even though people respected him like before but I could see he wasn’t very proud of what happened. He knew people considered him unworthy.
I was future, since I was the only boy from my mom’s side. She was the only girl and I was the next blood.
For the next two hours I met all of my family. It was great seeing all of them. It brought back all the happy times when we used to live together in one house. That was when my grandparents were alive. They were the glue which kept us together but then after their demise all of them shifted to different cities and houses. So we weren’t inn touch like before. And me I went to the UK to do my post-graduation in internal Medicine.
The preparations were in full flow finally when the sun was high in the sky, it was time.
Bijju was ready, so was our family.
A young dark man, he was ripped up presented a cup of water to Bijju.
He poured the water to his hair, let his hair down and cleared off the excess.
Then folding his hands, and touching the ground he went to the prayer room.
He would put all he rings, the crown and then invite the God into his body.
He put on the ring, put the red powder across his forehead. He slowly placed the tusk head on his head, it only covered head with his face still visible. Then finally he took the sword.
He touched it to his forehead and then came out to the huge courtyard where everyone was there.
He stood at the center and we were standing along the sides.
My uncles, my mother, me and the important people at the front.
Bijju stood there quiet and after a few seconds it started.
His legs started quivering, then his hands then his arms and finally he was shaking.
The frequency kept increasing every second, and reached a peak where it was almost seizures. For those few seconds, he was very violent. He threw his arms all around and danced around in very haphazard manner.
He pulled his assistant who was carrying a fire torch with him closer. He needed the het, the energy for the fire. The fire was touching his body but surprisingly he didn’t finch, he kept it close to his chest.
After that he ran up and down the stair of our entrance. He drank about ten coconuts or more. It required a lot of energy, he was sweating like crazy. The floor had become so slippery that he himself tripped over and fell badly but quickly recovered. It didn’t even affect him. Nothing hurt him.
Then finally he settled at the center of the court, the coconut and fire supply was continuous.
He performed the Pooja and now was ready to solve the family issues, like if any one of the member had health, wealth or other issues.
One of them passed on to the guy who would ask it for all of us.
First one was of my third eldest uncle. He had chronic kidney dysfunction and needed a transplant. He was trying for a donor but was having a hard time but now he had two choices, both of them out of country. His doubt was which country.
One was Sri Lankan, other was Egypt. It was relatively easier to get a donor because of my father’s contacts.
So we asked him that. He didn’t even take time and said Egypt is where he should go.
So we asked him that. He didn’t even take time and said Egypt is where he should go.
No one objected. Now no matter what we had to do it in Egypt even if it was more expensive and less safe.
Then came a few wealth problems from other uncles. They were all businessmen and wanted to expand their business.
Solution was given to each. One had to go to some hill temple, other had to shave their head and offer gold. It was manageable.
We had a lot of problems in our family.
So finally the God decided to offer a general solution to all of this.
“This family, is encountering very difficult times now. There is a bad presence over the family and it is affecting everyone. So for this there is one solution”
All of us waited.
“First offer me the blood of fifteen health chicken right now”
My uncle immediately ordered it and the chicken were brought. We had a chicken farm by the side of the house itself.
After this, there was a dinner arranged where we would get the best cooked chicken curry. That was the best chicken ever. Nowhere did I taste such chicken.
Fresh, tender, spicy gravy with the boiled rice will always be the best meal for me.
The god, took one of the chicken alive in his hands and then bit off the head with his teeth. Raw. The blood poured out on the floor. The god opened his mouth and drank the blood. The second was ready before he finished the first and this kept going till he finished all fifteen. Blood was all over the floor.
God rotated his head around like he was getting impatient. There were some feathers stuck in his teeth, chicken blood all over his face and body.
“He is still thirsty” the assistant said.
“Get me coconut water” the God said.
Immediately got the coconuts.
“No……Not that I need the water specifically from that tree” he pointed to the famous family tree outside the house.
That tree had been there since my childhood and our family worshipped it. It is considered that our ancestors take shade in that tree and that tree provided our family with all the necessities. So it was very sacred.
Ok, the assistant got ready.
“No, I want the eldest in the room to get it for me”
That was crazy. The eldest can’t walk properly and the God expects that person to climb the tree.
It was crazy but no one questioned.
“Please, do it fast, the God is getting thirsty” the assistant announced.
And the eldest one was my eldest uncle.
He had severe arthritis and was in his early sixties.
“Mama, he can’t. He has arthritis. It is too risky” I told my uncle.
“Yes, but” he knew it was wrong but he couldn’t do anything.
But he decided to try. It was a question of life. It was too risky.
“He is too old” my uncle tried.
The assistant raised his hand to stop talking. The god didnt react. His decision was final.
Everybody kind of panicked. But my uncle was ready. He wanted to prove himself.
I held my uncle “It is too risky for you. Don’t do it. It’s not worth hurting yourself. Let someone else do it.”
“The God has asked me to do it. I have to fulfill his wish, he is thirsty. Otherwise bad things will happen to this family. I can’t let that happen. Don’t worry”
“But your body is not that state to climb a tree. You will injure yourself if you fall from that height. Listen, let me send someone else.”
He knew it was dangerous. He was a very emotional person and I knew he would do it save his family.
HE pushed me aside and walked to the tree.
We all went outside to witness the climb.
Our whole family watched him as he took his shirt off.
It was crazy, our family watching one of us hurt himself.
The people tied a turban to his head and then a cloth attached to his legs for grip.
He used to climb in his younger days but now I knew he couldn’t. Not with his arthritic knee.
First he hopped on the tree, slipped the first two times but finally found the grip.
The sole of his legs were on the tree and the hands pulled him up as he hugged the tree.
He was doing it fine.
It was good. He slowly climbed to the top.
His technique was good but I noticed that he had to strain a lot with each hop and the tree was very tall.
But he did it, he reached the top.
He raised his right hand and plucked out the coconuts and let it fall to the ground. There was a net placed to catch them.
“Thank God” I was happy.
After ten coconuts, the God raised his hands signaling it was enough.
“That is enough” the assistant screamed.
Uncle sopped plucking and began the descend.
The coconuts were immediately given to the God who drank all of them one by one.
The focus was shifted to the God.
Uncle was still descending; I could see he was exhausted.
He was breathing heavy and hugged the tree tight.
His legs were slipping; he couldn’t get the grip.
“Someone help him” I shouted.
All of them realized that uncle was struggling to come down.
One of the men started climbing up, I didn’t know for what. It was useless, he couldn’t carry uncle down.
I told them to get a bigger net.
But suddenly, uncle lost his grip.
He slipped and fell off the tree.
Directly to the ground.
We heard a loud thud as he hit the ground.
I rushed to the spot.
He had landed directly on his head on hard ground, his skull was broken open and his brain were visible.
He was not even moving.
I didn’t believe it.
My uncle was no more.
This was a preventable accident. I could have prevented it. My family didn’t do anything about it.
Our whole family was to blame for this.
All of us stood around the body, weeping. It was our fault.
The God was finally satisfied with the chicken and the coconut water but we had lost one of our own.
Our superstitious beliefs and rituals had cost us a life of a family member.
We couldn’t blame anyone for what happened, it was our choice.
The God couldn’t bring him back to life.