Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 2018
Raju Raghuvanshi is a ghost (2008), H 55
Raju Raghuvanshi is unmarried; he's forty-five; his parents are dead; no siblings. He's had to move to Bamni nearby. For here in Katra where he lived, they rush into their houses, locking all the doors, locking all the windows, crying ‘Ghost! Ghost! Ghost! Ghost! Ghost!’ at the sight of him. He was in prison, you see, where he was hospitalised. Rumours were rife: he's fallen ill; he's been moved to another town; he's dead; cremated. Ganeshi, his cousin's wife, performed the last rites so his spirit could rest. ‘Imagine our surprise when he turned up alive,’ she said, ‘We thought he was dead.’ Poor Raju. Poor Raju, Raju Raghuvanshi; he's technically a ghost. ‘Now I have to prove I'm alive. N. V. Vayangankar, Chief of Police, will help me. I have property, you see, a few acres of land. I know their game. They shall not beat me. I say to them: “But, can't you see that my feet are the right way round? If I was a spirit or a ghost, they'd turn backwards.” I was not gone long, now I don't exist.’
The Legend of Melusine (2013), H 72
It's Saturday and the Lady Melusine is bathing, as ever, behind closed doors. She had married her husband, Raymond, Duke of Aquitaine, on one condition: ‘You are forbidden from seeing me bathe!’ she said. Because, you see, she is cursed! Every Saturday, she changes; changes into a serpent from the waist down; changes into a fork-tailed mermaid. Her enchanted bathing eases the pain; the pain of her changing. Her splashing, silvery, scaly tails, flash like mirror shards.
A wight boy spins this yarn. A wight, yes, a wight.
She bears ten sons and, with magic, builds entire castles over a single night. With these castles their riches grow. But, of course, stories like these always end badly. Driven jealousmad by thoughts of cuckoldry and through a crack in the door, Raymond glimpses her demon-change and screams a scream too loud to stifle. Melusine, her secret exposed, her bat-black wings flexing, her tails writhing, flies out from her tower, shrieking a wild, animal shriek and circles the castle; a monster, forever.
A wight boy spins this yarn. A spirit; an imp; a ghost.