By Sushil Kutty
So far no ghosts! But that’s standard ghost-behaviour. The first “sightings” of ghosts in Charki-Dadri, where two aircraft fell after colliding midair, killing over 300, were reported nearly two-and-a-half months after the horrific mishap. The ‘House of Horror’ deaths are not even a week old. Also, the police are camped outside and cop-fear follows the “guilty” to the grave, and beyond!
Superstition? There are laws against superstitious beliefs. But that doesn’t stop the superstition machine in the human head. The police have also done nothing to stem the thought that ghosts are waiting in the wings. If, anything, the release of the “supernatural” contents of the 11 diaries have given wings for superstition not to take flight!
The gate to the house is locked but the house is open to the mind to remind! To the locals, what’s “inside it” is a constant reminder. Locks can’t keep ghosts in or out, can they? Not even double-locked and chained. The cops themselves are positioned a little away, at an angle out of sight of the gate with ‘11’ iron rods. Nobody wants to count the odds.
In fact, the number ‘11’ is an unnerving number in the locality. It plagues the Burari mind as much as it marked the ‘family-11’ that lived and died in the house. Don’t be surprised if locals skip ‘11’ when counting from 10 to 12. The number ‘11’ will be a forever proscribed numeral in Burari. Even ‘1 and 1’ stands condemned.
But at least one set of ‘11’ is losing some of its baleful meaning: The 11 water-pipes protruding from an outer wall, “gateways for the 11 souls to exit”. Friday, the police traced the mason who had set the pipes in the wall and he didn’t give any sinister reason for them being there. Maybe, he is in cahoots with the bent and straight pipes, covering up for them!
You never know, everything about this case is out of this world, ominous. Could also be because the mason’s daughter happened to be a ‘Mata’ who was “consulted” by ‘Daddy Lalit Chundawat’. The police on July 6 questioned ‘Geeta Mata’ and more or less gave her a clean chit. Reason: Even Lalit was not impressed by her mystical powers. The ‘Dongi Mata!’
That said the police are not finished with the case. They are going to undertake what’s being touted as “psychological autopsy” of the ‘11’, a posthumous deep-dive into minds that stopped functioning even before life fled the bodies. For, only paralysed minds, shorn of common sense, could have planned and orchestrated such a grotesque act – a tableau of death in all its finality.
Anyway, for lack of a 12th or 13th or even 14th man to hang suspicion on, the police are swinging between ‘what’ and ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘why’, confused! Even the media is going out of its mind, holding noisy debates in TV studios with “babas” and “shastris” and “dharm-gurus” sparring with psychiatrists and psychologists to explain the ‘11’ deaths, find the elusive ‘meaning/motive’ behind them.
One TV channel sent a full-team of TRP-troopers to the ‘House of Horror’ to orchestrate a re-enactment of the murders/suicides, a parody of the horror genre. Luckily, for them, the police spotted them unloading their gear at the house gates – as if they had just bought the place and were about to move in – and sent them packing. Good riddance, too.
As if there was not enough entertainment for the ghosts! And, as if there was not enough superstition to muddle minds. Friday, there was talk of razing the building and constructing a temple in its place. When it comes to ghosts, leave it to the gods. Keep the temple gates locked, as all temple gates usually are, and let the gods and ghosts fight it out or come to a communion. Leave poor man alone and save number 11!
But not all men are riveted with ‘ghosts.’ Some see real estate. Among them relatives of the ‘11’. These people add 2 and 2 and see 4 & 5 and 6 & 7 in crores of rupees. The relatives are planning to return and do a ghost-buster ‘havan’. So are the locals. The police are not allergic to a ghost-buster ‘havan’. And the real-estate vultures, they are game for any ‘havan’, as long as there comes the time to make a killing!
Meanwhile, after the “shared psychosis” that drove the ‘11’ to experiment with death, it is the turn of “fear psychosis.” Several student-tenants have vamoosed. And a 21-year-old woman keeps the lights on at all hours and is afraid to bolt the washroom door “from inside”. Her mother too is no ‘Mrs. Fearless.’ She “sees the faces” of the 11, “who keep staring at her.”
Did somebody say, “So far no ghosts?” (IPA Service)