Exorcists are rare birds, extortionists are an easier find, so I was amused when the genial baby face seated next to me on the speeding Volvo from cochin to Bangalore turned out to be an Exorcist !
As the bus flitted past the colored neon’s of downtown Koch with the video belting out Mammoty in an air force uniform I turned to look at my companion for the journey who was constantly tittering into his latest model of Nokia mobile which looked more like a palmtop.
He too turned at the same time and gave me a warm smile, after the formalities of introduction was over I came to know that my friendly neighborhood chubby was a practicing priest and an official exorcist, one among the twelve in the country.
“I drive evil by prayer he said e ,I am a trained exorcist and our center is at Milan in Spain.
I travel all the time summoned by anxious parishioners afflicted by the devil .”.
He made it all sound so ordinary ,laughing at me for asking whether ghosts existed these days .
“Of course they do, they are clever things and know when to hide but all their tricks melt before our prayers, they pack their bags and designs and run away, yes those rascals do, but often lurk around and pop up somewhere else leaving us with little rest.”
“Throwing stones pouring filth and mud into houses, naughty they are.,” said he literally chiding them for their supposedly impetuous nature! He talked of devils like we do of mischievous children.
“You know, it doesn’t come easy,” he said “we sacrifice a lot, we have to go on fast for days,” he stared hard at my disbelieving look at him and his rolls of fat,”
“We are like the Romans fast and later feast to make it up and then the travelling we plan it all up every month like for this time I start at Cochin, go to Ban galore,Mysore later Calicut ,Coimbatore ,Ooty, Kodaikanal, Hyderabad,Calcutta Darjeeling and so on and on .
we send our progamme to Jerusalem which decides on our dates and schedule our travel .
Geography is hardly important for them , at that distant control room for we may be asked to go to Coimbatore after Darjeeling and then flip back to Calcutta .No questions asked ,ghost busters cannot afford to have doubts .”
“We sleep on rocks with a thin sheet covering it ,yes like Bhisma pitamaji in his arrow bed we prefer hard rocks to soft beds, we have to steel ourselves to face the horrors well .
Our voices are trained to modulate on the type of ghosts we face ,soft and succulent to seduce the sensuous lady ghosts ,we would croon to them in silky husky undertones that they leave the place coyly ,the guttural roar is used to frighten the huge ruffians who are like caged lions ,like ring masters in a circus we use the whipping voice to snarling devils ,and shout in baritone shaking the very earth and sending our parishioners to quick hideouts to put the fright of the lord into those hardy ones which stay put ,
We wear protection you know which may not be a bullet proof jacket but a similar one to withstand the missiles thrown by unseen hands ,we often gaze at rotating heads and bizarre necks with unstinting gaze ,our ears are are hardened by the filth and abuse that spews out of those wretched beings ,we would continue unperturbed at sights that could revolt anyone with reason ,for we are trained to do so ,but it is an exhausting job indeed they take all your strength away yes they do saying this he opened his mouth wide to let a gigantic yawn which lasted for some time ,precisely at this moment Mamooty decided to call it a day and lights were put off by a conscientious driver who wanted his passengers to go to sleep while he carried on the serious job of making them reach Bangalore in one piece ,.
Silence refused to fill the space emptied by the garrulous exorcist who was in the early stages of developing a snore which was a cross between a swine’s whine and a donkeys bray, what with all his ghastly reminiscences and the musical accompaniments of his slumber while the dark bus hurtling in the highway everything looked positively horrendous ,sleep avoided me and counting sheeps didnt do the trick, they never do but this time the sheep seemed like devils to my imagination, slowly but suddenly I felt a weight descending on my now sleepy shoulders ,I looked at my side alarmed ,the lolling head of the exorcist father was resting on poor me ,he sunk more and encased himself comfortably into my folds digging his head like into a pillow ,having slept on stone this would be heaven to the father indeed ,but I had different ideas of sleep instead of being a pillow to a ghost buster so by using time honoured techniques in such situations to dislodge such infestations I tried coughing violently ,but in vain I remembered the father being pitted against violent beings regularly would hardly find my efforts worthy of his attention ,I tried moving away from him as I moved to front but he descended more now literally sleeping halfway in my seat ,matters were grave indeed .serious measures had to be taken to save skin and soul so this time I gave a fairly violent shake I woke up the father who mumbled some inanity and promptly hung his head the other side into space ,I congratulated myself for exorcising him successfully .so the night passed .
The morning sunlight streamed into the bus as a welcoming Bangalore approached, the father was quietly reading a paper, he looked positively harmless as he gave me a sly grin while I alighted, incredulous, I wondered whether I had been on a ride or been taken for a ride by an exorcist !
Ps : truly happened