By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar
Several years ago there lived a ghost. Well let us say there used to be a ghost as ghosts are not supposed to live. He didn’t have a name but he had a lot of friends, all of whom were living. To begin with there was Barly the kid, Meril the lamb, Su the infant, Kit the fawn and Rig the boy. These were his core group of friends and then there were many more.
One fine afternoon the ghost came whooshing on to Rig and asked him to accompany. Rig ran along, hardly able to keep up with the ghost’s floating speed. They came to a clearing where a lot of people had gathered and Barly was pinned to the ground forcibly. He was bleating as hard as he could.
Rig and the ghost heard that Barly was to be sacrificed to bring on rains on a certain day. He was chosen because he was healthy and of the correct age to appease the rain god.
The ghost gathered most of his friends and they animatedly discussed how the silly sacrifice could be stopped. Since they were all too young it was impossible to win by force.
Thus they thought hard with their little brains and finally came up with a plan.
Rig didn’t go home that day, as a result people started looking for him. After searching in and around the village the people decided that he must have got lost in the forest. They arranged for a huge search party complete with torches and drums beaters, to keep away the wild animals.
Now it had been decided that all the ghost’s friends would run towards the old temple in the forest, on the west bank of the river as soon as they see the people and create such an impression that something was going on there. The people will follow out of curiosity.
The search party did follow the animals and reached the temple. It was an old dilapidated structure with a deity that looked fierce and unforgiving. She was the forest goddess. People used to come to her once a year on a particular day with offerings so as to keep her happy. It was believed that she will protect the people of the village from the wild animals of the forest.
That day in the dark the goddess looked more fearsome than ever. The people were scared to their bones when they heard the booming voice of a lady which they were sure was of the deity.
This was actually Rig’s teacher who was speaking through a portion of a water pipe which had been altered a little to turn it into a mike that would make the voice loud and have the special effect of sounding divine.
The voice said, “I have taken one of yours as you were trying to take one of mine. Though humans are my children too, they behave as if they are above all the living things and can decide upon inflicting cruelty on them as and when they deem suitable.”
The people gasped and looked at each other.
The voice continued, “You fools don’t understand that animals are a part of nature and since the Gods have created them just as they have created you, the sacrifice of a life can’t appease the Gods. The Gods would be happy if you live in harmony. Would you want your children to kill one another?”
Some of the people found a little courage and said, “But the rains have been evading us for months so we thought a sacrifice like the elder days might help.”
“You are supposed to learn as you progress in years. Knowledge is supposed to be passed from one generation to the other so that the quality of life improves. Instead you pass superstitions. May be by coincidence it so happened that by sacrifice some end was met by an elder generation of yours, but did you try to find out if it was conclusive?” said the angry voice.
“We should not question everything that the elders have said, that will lead to questioning the existence of God himself,” said a very scared individual that was Rig’s father.
The voice now a little mellowed said, “Well you should. Only by questioning and by being curious can a society prosper and cut out unnecessary conflicts. Humans have always tried to attribute everything to God and wash their hands off. Would you like to know how rain happens?”
The teacher didn’t want go into deeper discussion about God, as she was posing as one and if caught the whole plan would fail.
“I know,” chirped one of the younger fellows, “The water bodies like ocean, rivers and lakes get heated up due to the sun. The heat causes the water to form water vapour which rises up in the air. That is evaporation”
Another young adult said confidently, “Since the other gases in the air is heavier than the vapour it keeps rising up and then the air pressure decreases temperature drops. The water vapour turns into tiny liquid water droplets. That is condensation.”
“And then?” asked the teacher excited about her students being able to remember and explain the water cycle.
The young fellow who had started answering said, “The clouds we see are a large concentration of these droplets. Then since the droplets are heavier than the air they fall back on earth. That is precipitation.”
“Stupendous children! You can ask for any boon related to your school,” the teacher in the guise of the goddess said, quickly adding, “Since you are young school going children.” The teacher was scared at every point of being discovered.
“Can we have this Saturday off please mother goddess?” said one of the boys remembering the ‘kabaddi’ match they had planned after school.
“Okay I’ll try to put these thoughts across to the principal,” said the teacher gingerly.
“Thus dear humans as you can see rain is a result of evaporation, condensation and precipitation and has nothing to do with sacrificing innocent animals,” said the teacher’s booming voice. She continued, “Stop cutting trees, rather plant more of them. That is the only thing that can bring back the rains”.
The teacher gave the people some time to consider all that had been discussed and then said in conclusion, “You will get back your son tomorrow morning. No harm has been done to him. But remember the earth belongs to all its inhabitants. You are not superior in any way.”
The mass started to disburse slowly talking in hushed tones.
Rig was home next morning, his parents called their neighbours and everybody rejoiced. The people called off the sacrifice not only for then but forever.
Meanwhile the teacher convinced the principal to declare a holiday on Saturday and the kids played ‘kabaddi’ to their heart’s content thanking the forest mother goddess profusely.
Eventually people stopped cutting trees recklessly and tried to plant more as often as possible. Consequently and also because of suitable climatic conditions the rains came.
All this while Rig had been thinking, since everybody had a name, the ghost should also have a name and decided to give him one. He spoke to the others and they unanimously decided to call him Gho. They also named their team as the Gho-team.
The Gho-team became the guardians of nature, they made it their mission to stop any unnecessary killing or cutting or anything that would bring harm to nature.