The Thirsty Ghost

Unfortunately, there are no supernatural entities in India starting with the letter ‘T.’ There are mentions of the monstrous creature ‘Timingala’ in Srimadh Bhagavatam, Mahabaratha, and Ramayana. These Timingalas are huge aquatic creatures that are capable of swallowing whole whales. The mentions about these creatures in the epics are in just passing, so I couldn’t garner enough information to spin a yarn about them. Maybe the Timingalas are similar to the extinct Megalodons and Icthyosaurs that were recorded in the ancient Hindu epics. So today, I bring to you a story that I heard a long time ago. 

My friend, Pradeep, traveled to Chottanikkara Bhagavathi Amman Temple in Kerala along with his extended family. He was twelve years old at that time. The Chottanikkara temple is famous for its exorcism rituals. According to Pradeep, the family landed in the city of Kochi late in the afternoon and decided to hire a taxi to Chottanikkara which was located some twenty kilometers away. The year was 1993 and the roads were not good, especially in the mofussil areas. By the time the party reached the small suburb, it was around 8:00 in the night.

As the last pooja for the day was scheduled at 8:45 PM, they decided to proceed to the temple immediately after checking into the lodge. By the time they had dumped their luggage int heir rooms and had freshened themselves up, the time was 8:30 PM. The temple was only a five-minute walk from the lodge, so they decided to reach the temple on foot.

The children in the party were munching on chips and slurping 7-Up as they walked. The road leading to the temple was quite dark and was eerily calm. As they crossed a tamarind tree, they became aware of someone following them and hence picked up their pace. A minute later the smell of cigarette smoke hit their nostrils and a voice piped up from behind.

Anna! I’m very thirsty. Please give me something to drink.’

Someone in the party had been to Chottanikkara before and had heard about this particular voice. That person asked everyone else not to turn around and walk forward as quickly as possible.

Anna! Will you please give me something to drink?’ The voice kept asking. The cigarette smoke was also keeping them company.

The moment they left that particular road and stepped into the road where the temple was located, the voice faded away. When they narrated the incident to the temple priest, he nodded and said that they had shown sense in not turning around or replying back to the ghost. Yes, it was a ghost that was said to have taken residence in the tamarind tree. The priest gave them sacred threads that would ward away any evil spirit.

While walking back to the lodge, they walked with caution and muttering prayers but didn’t encounter anything. They did see a cigarette that was in its last embers at the end of the street with the tree.

Thus ends the story about the thirsty ghost narrated by my friend Pradeep when we were studying in the sixth standard. It was quite thrilling to hear the story at that time, but sometime later I did brush it off as something he had imagined, or heard from someone else. Thirteen years later, in 2006, I heard my colleague in Brakes India narrate a very similar experience that his sister’s family had gone through in Chottanikkara. Now, this gentleman and Pradeep are no way related, nor have they come across in their lives. Yet the stories they narrated were eerily similar. I have been to Chottanikkara once but never heard any ghost asking for something to drink. Maybe there is a ghost, maybe there isn’t. But the lore is real. 

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