Inspector Mudassar Basha was stumped. Nothing made sense in the case. There was a crime and there was an accused, but he just couldn’t understand the situation. He looked at the demure girl slumped over the rickety wooden bench in a corner of the Police Station and sighed. She looked frail, certainly incapable of committing the crime she was accused of; at least in his eyes. Of course, his experience had proved more than once that reality is much weirder than fiction.
Inspector Basha kneaded his forehead with his knuckles; a headache was starting in more ways than one. Outside the station, the chants were increasing in pitch and becoming a crescendo. The PCs and CRPF were standing at the ready, their batons and shields in position. He needed to do something to ease the tension that was building. He could see the media vans starting to line up in the street corner. Yet another reason for his headache.
Basha walked over to the girl and knelt next to her. He nodded to the WPC who shook the girl. The girl got up and looked at him, the look sending shivers through his soul. There was no malice or anger in those eyes. Actually, there was nothing there. She looked blank, almost devoid of a soul. He knew at that moment that there was no point in trying to talk to her.
The girl was seventeen. She had just given her school final exams. She was accused of digging up a grave and eating a portion of the corpse inside. She was a Hindu and the corpse belonged to her best friend who had committed suicide. The dead girl was a Muslim. More than the actual crime itself, the community had occupied itself with the identity of the two girls and worked itself into a frenzy. Basha sighed, no one gave a second thought about the girl’s psyche.
Sub Inspector Karthik stepped inside and saluted him.
‘Sir, things are getting ugly outside. We might have to use tear-gas.’
Basha sighed and said, ‘Wouldn’t that be a great spectacle for the waiting media vultures!’
‘We have to do something, Sir!’ Karthik was young, and restless. ‘Why don’t we tag this one as a mental patient and send her off to the hospital?’
‘Can’t do it, Karthik. This is a small area where everyone knows everyone. This girl and the dead girl were best friends. Both were very smart and extremely kind. We need to find out what actually happened.’
‘Sir, while we worry about the girl we might end up having more than a few murders right on our doorstep.’
A harsh laugh stopped their discussion. It was laced with pure evil, and it was clear that whoever was laughing was mocking them. Basha turned around and noticed that the girl was the one who was laughing. He noticed something else; her eyes had turned red – like there was an unholy fire burning inside.
‘You are all idiots!’ A gruff voice emanated from her throat.
Basha was taken aback. Yet he approached her, slowly.
‘Why did you dig the grave?’
‘You are dealing with something you can’t fathom, pitiable creature!’ She laughed that harsh laugh again.
Constable Muniratnam fell to his knees and started sobbing, ‘Sir, this girl is possessed!’
‘Possessed?’ Baasha said, ‘What are you saying?’
‘By a Pisasu, Sir!’ Muniratnam said between his sobs, ‘No wonder the girl dug the grave and ate the corpse.’
‘Listen to the whimpering fool,’ the girl said cruelly, ‘He’s right!’
‘Nonsense!’ Karthik said, ‘I think this girl is suffering from split personality or DID type shit. Let’s take her to the mental institute now, Sir!’
‘Can a personality disorder change the voice or the colour of her eyes?’
‘Sir, it’s a pisasu. I’ll get our village kodangi. He’ll know what to do!’ Muniratnam said.
‘I’d like you to try.’ The girl said and started laughing again. Her laughs echoed around the station like an ominous thunderclap. Outside, the crowd’s frenzy was increasing. A sudden crash indicated that someone had started breaking the windshields of vehicles on the road. Full-blown violence was about to begin.
Baasha went to the window and saw that the CRPF personnel were proceeding towards the crowd with their batons raised. Chaos had begun. The laughing continued. He was perplexed and had no idea what to do next.
A sudden gunshot rang. Baasha turned around and saw the girl lying slumped on the ground. Crimson blood was pooling on the floor around her head. SI Karthik was holding the pistol that was still smoking.
‘Karthik, what have you done?’
The crowd had heard the gunshot and started throwing things at the Station and at the Police personnel.
Karthik started laughing maniacally. His hand that held the pistol moved and centred on Baasha. Baasha looked at the SI’s eyes. They were red.
Notes: Pisasu/ Pishach/ Pishacha are supernatural entities from the Hindu mythology. They are described as flesh-eating demons that are capable of possessing a human being and alter their thoughts and emotions, driving them insane. The pishachas are said to consume the life force of human beings and they usually reside in burial/cremation grounds and on trees. They have huge, bulging veins and red eyes.
Kodangi – a shaman
Pischachas are a part of folklore from Thailand too.
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1. Tales With A Twist – A collection of my short stories.
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