Satya was all excited today. He had returned from school to the news that Lachchu mama was in town and that they were going to meet him that evening. For the six year old Satya, Lachchu mama was almost a magical being, who had the ability to carry Satya and the other children to the otherwise inaccessible land of magic, ghosts and spirits, just through his stories.
Lachchu mama was Satya’s maternal uncle. He was a very colourful character in many ways. His clothes would always be of excessively bright colours. His long and bushy moustaches accentuated the total baldness of his head that had an un-natural sheen of it’s own. At the age of sixty, he was a confirmed bachelor. His blunt and loud mannerisms, were not quite appreciated by many in the household. He was essentially a wanderer and would land up suddenly, at the doorsteps of his parental home, whenever.The children loved Lachchu mama. Lachchu mama too loved being with the children, the most. He would play cricket, football, hide and seek and all sorts of outdoor games during the day, with the children and the evenings were exclusively kept for story-telling. What a story teller he was! He would transport his rapt audience, to any land he chose to, through his stories. There was nothing that could keep the children away from his story-telling sessions.
Satya was the biggest fan of Lachchu mama. Lachchu mama would answer all his questions that cropped up through these stories so patiently, that he believed him blindly. Lachchu mama would take him to the enchanting fairies, the tiniest and ugliest of dwarfs, the monstrous and vile creatures, the most powerful in spelling casts, witches and spirits and ghosts and what not. All these vivid visions in Satya’s young, fertile mind, would take life and Satya would become more fearless by the day. He would accept them with all the understanding, acceptance and kindness of his young heart for through the stories Lachchu mama always would give some sad and unfair treatment as the reason for their very being. Satya would embrace these aliens with all the compassion of his little heart.
Satya could barely conceal his excitement,when they all reached his grandparent’s house in the evening. The ever so familiar Lachchu mama, engulfed Satya into his embrace. His eyes were brimming with love. Soon after the customary greetings, all the children of the family pulled Lachchu mama to the usual study, their story-telling room. Today, was a new land for Satya. Mama mentioned a cremation ground. A place where dead bodies were burnt to destroy it, while releasing the immortal soul. In the story, the people who died issue-less, had no one to give the customary fire to the mouth, would have their spirits roaming restlessly, never knowing peace. The protagonist of the story was one such restless soul, who would trouble people and scare them. Mamu ended the story by introducing a Tantrik, who through certain rituals that were painful to the spirit, managed to release it from the bondage.
The faces of the children were ash-white with fear. Many were unknowingly clenching at each other’s hand. No one moved. Satya, too sat motionless. He had a strange look on his face. His eyes were set at Lachchu mama. Their eyes met. Mama smiled. The trance was broken . Everyone dispersed for dinner. Satya and his mother were staying that night there. His mother wanted to spend some time with her parents and also her brother, Lachchu mama.
It was quite late at night. Almost everyone had retired to sleep after a long day of fun and gossip .Lachchu mama was snoring hard in his deep sleep, when suddenly his eyes opened. He saw a purposeful face, bent over him with a lit candle in his hand, so very close to Mama’s mouth. Lachchu mama shot up from bed. “What are you doing, Satya”?he stammered.
“I am giving fire to your mouth Mama. You don’t have children to do so , after you die. I don’t want you to become a restless spirit,”replied Satya with love dripping from his pools for eyes.