Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Monday, January 16, 2006

You think life is hard now, wait til you're dead.

My favorite news story of the day, from ABC News and The Mail And Guardian.

OK, so a guy named Raju Raghuvanshi in Katra, India, was sent to prison for a minor tax infraction back in October. While in jail, he suffers a stomach ailment and is transferred to the hospital. Because the prison and hospital are so far from Katra, the family asks a distant relative to check on Raju, and for some reason, there's a mix-up and the relative is told that Raju has died, and his body has been cremated. Terrible, right?

Well, OK, so Raju gets out of prison finally and goes back to Katra. But by then, in accordance with the Hindu religion, the family has already performed the last rites and shradh bhoj (community feast to ensure peace for his soul), and begun the greiving process for him.

So is the family thrilled and relieved that he's alive and home safe? On the contrary. Raju returns home to shouts of "Help! Ghost!" and the sounds of neighbors locking their doors in his home village of Katra. No one will even speak to him because they believe that he is a ghost that has come back to haunt them.

"My family thinks I am dead," he said in a phone interview on Monday. "They will not permit me to enter my home because they think I am a ghost." He said his brothers even "argued that they had completed all religious death ceremonies" and he should not have come back to haunt them.

Rural India remains deeply traditional and many in Katra share the traditional Hindu belief that they will be haunted by a ghost if ceremonies are not performed to ensure the soul of the deceased makes a peaceful transition into its next life.

Ostracised by the people of Katra, about 450km from Bhopal, he's now living in a nearby village and struggling to prove he's alive and not actually a ghost. He's appealed to the local police who have agreed to help him convince people, but his family and local villagers want him to prove that he's not dead.

The best proof he had -- that his feet were still properly attached, not turned backward as ghosts' feet are thought to be in Hindu -- was dismissed by villagers, as a cheap ghostly trick. Other tactics such as deliberately walking into walls, and saying "boo" unconvincingly, have yet to make any impact. He's now considering some kind of dangerous stunt in front of the whole town, in which he would be severely injured, in order to show that he is, in fact, mortal.

The poor guy is gonna get himself killed trying to prove he's not dead.


Anonymous msShad said...

Absolutely hilarious, but heartbreaking too.

1/17/2006 9:05 AM

Blogger Victoria (toy) DeIorio said...

This is the plot of a play I sound designed in Chicago titled The Masrayana. This is actually true for many people in India. There are hundreds of "walking dead" for various reasons. Some husbands want to rid themselves of their first wives. Some younger brothers wish to inherit the land and declare the older brother dead. It's usually a great deal of money, but it pays off in the end. There was an uprising not too long ago where hundreds of these "walking dead" ambushed the Prime Minister and created such havoc that they were eventually heard in court and issued new identification cards.

1/17/2006 11:25 PM


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