By Anuradha S. Bannore

Shyla lived with her daughter Devika near a thick forested area. Their home was a hut made of mud with a thatched roof. It was surrounded with lush tall trees on which perched beautiful birds. Devika enjoyed watching varied types of birds and animals that came there to drink water from a nearby pond. All said and done it had a great panoramic view.

The hut had just two rooms, a small kitchen cum dining room and a little bigger bedroom with a small window. When Devika was quite small her mother would put her on a stool near the window while she did the routine housework. Devika would shout and laugh out loudly calling out to her Mother to come and see the beautiful sight, the Sun glowed tall trees with their branches and rustling leaves swaying to and fro along with the gentle breeze. She would be excited and overjoyed seeing the birds and animals bathing in the warmth of the Sun. Devika would very often suddenly stand up on the stool clapping her hands joyfully and implore her Mother to join her. Initially Shyla used to come to see but would be surprised and puzzled as there was nothing except the trees and a few birds. Shyla thought it was just to get her Mother to play with her that Devika would play such tricks on her so she too would join her (Devika) in her game clapping and laughing.

This continued for quite a few years which not only worried but frightened Shyla because now Devika was almost eight years old. Shyla couldn’t think why Devika behaved in such a weird way. Now being old enough she would talk of imaginary things staring out of the window at times happily but would at times cry too saying things beyond Shyla’s comprehension.

She was absolutely bewildered by her behavior and one day she said, ‘Devika, what are you talking about? There’s nothing out there except the trees, some animals, birds and that small pond’

Devika would hit her forehead with her hands and say, ‘How can you not see all those people working in their field while their children are playing in the pond? Can’t you see them enjoying splashing water on each other?’

Hearing this Shyla stood transfixed with fear. She kept staring at her daughter wondering whether someone had cast a spell on Devika. She talked to some of her friends who lived a little away from her hut. They told Shyla, ‘Listen, you better take her to some Tantric. She’s probably under the spell of some witchcraft. Take her as soon as possible. You never know what else she’ll start saying or doing and then it might be too late ’

Shyla didn’t believe in such things but her daughter’s condition seemed to be worsening as very often she would insist, ‘Please let me go out to play with the kids near the pond’ At times she would start crying and when asked what happened, rubbing her eyes she’d say, ‘You see that tall woman standing near the tree. She’s a horrid one, always beating someone or the other. She thinks everything out there belongs to her even the pond and doesn’t allow us to play there. Once she slapped me too and my Mother gave her a good piece of her mind and told her the next time she touched me she would be imprisoned. You see my father is a big police officer’

Shyla was dumbstruck. She didn’t know what to say or do. Calming herself after a few minutes she said, ‘Beti (daughter) your father wasn’t a Police officer. He was a Teacher’

This irritated Devika and she insisted that he is a police officer. Actually she hadn’t seen her father as he had passed away when she was a just few months old. Shyla had then relocated to this village.

Devika would talk about her life in such a way that Shyla felt as if she wasn’t talking to her daughter but to a complete stranger. One day Devika said, ‘Do you know there’s a big garden on the other side of the pond beyond those trees? I loved playing there with my friends. Can I go there? They must be waiting for me’

Shyla said, ‘There isn’t any garden there. It’s a forest.’

Hearing this Devika burst out crying saying vehemently, ‘Beyond the garden is my big house so why do we live here in this small hut. I want to go there just now. If you don’t want to come then I’m going there alone. You stay here all by yourself but I’ll love it if you come too’

Shyla finally gave in and both of them walked and walked to no avail. There was nothing except trees. Devika suddenly stopped near some dilapidated structure, looking all confused. She started sobbing, ‘Where has my house disappeared? Where are my parents? Why have they left me with you?’

This scared the life out of Shyla. She said, ‘Come Devika, let’s go home before it gets dark.’

Devika became very angry and started screaming, ‘Which home? My home has been broken. I don’t know where my parents are. Do you? Please take me to them’

Panicked Shyla was unnerved by Devika’s behavior. She tried to coax her but when she realized nothing was working she got real angry and in a sharp stern tone said, ‘OK then. I’m going. You stay here and when it becomes real dark then all the wild animals will come prowling and eat you up. Now do you want to stay here or come with me?

On hearing this she immediately started walking back home with Shyla saying, ‘You are a bad woman. You broke my house and sent my parents away. You kidnapped me. My Father will never leave you. He will definitely imprison you and stop calling me Devika. That’s not my name. I’m Daivi.’

There and then Shyla decided to take her to some doctor. She thought her daughter wasn’t an ordinary being. She felt her friends were right. Devika was definitely under some spell. It was a sleepless night for Shyla. She lay awake staring at her daughter wondering at her eccentricity that was a bloodcurdling experience for her (Shyla). It seemed an endless night to her.

After a few extremely difficult days she told Devika, ‘let’s go to the nearby city. It will be a good change for both of us and you will love it’

Devika said, ‘Why are you taking me far away from my house? Aren’t you satisfied that you kidnapped me? What do you want now? You have probably killed my parents too. You are a nasty woman’

Her daughter had never ever spoken to her in this manner. Shyla felt like slapping her but then realized it would worsen the matter so calming herself she just said, ‘Let’s go to the city. Maybe your parents are there. We will look for them and then you can stay with them. Just remember one thing Beti, I have neither broken your house nor killed your parents. I love you a lot and I haven’t kidnapped you. God wished you to be with me so He blessed me with a sweet beautiful child like you.’

Somehow she managed to convince Devika and they went to the city. Devika was in high spirit as she was dreaming of meeting her parents. Shyla had narrated the whole story to one of her friends and asked her to take an appointment for her daughter from her family doctor which she had done.

The doc spoke to Shyla and asked Devika a few questions. Her answers baffled him. He advised Shyla to take her to a Psychiatrist which angered her. She said, ‘Doctor, my daughter isn’t mad. She’s sick and I need your help. Please tell me frankly will you help me or not?’

The Doctor calmly replied, ‘I can very well understand your reaction. I’m not saying she’s mad but trying to help you. I think it’s probably a case of rebirth. This doctor I’m sending you to is a good friend of mine. It’s only for a second opinion and he might be able to help you more than I can.’

Shyla was relieved to hear that and apologized. She did as advised. She was extremely overjoyed to know that her daughter was under no black magic spell but it was unfortunate that Devika remembered her previous life which confused her as well as Shyla. The Doc said, ‘don’t worry as Devika grows old she’ll hopefully forget her past life. You just treat her like any normal child and listen to what she says. If possible take her to places she would like to go to as they have a connection with her previous life. The only thing I can say is that it’s a case of Rebirth.’

Shyla thanked the doctor and left for her home with Devika asking constantly, ‘When will you take me to my parents?’

Shyla cheerfully said, ‘All in good time. We will go in search of them everyday and one day we will definitely find them’

Silently she prayed, ‘O God please help me either to find her previous birth’s parents or kindly wipe out all her past memory’

About the Author: Anuradha S. Bannore is a prolific writer and an alumni of Jabalpur University with M.A in English. She retired as a teacher and currently lives in Vadodara India. 



One Comment

  1. this creepy story is very well written , congrats ms anuradha for the final twist
    yes, rebirths do take place and sadly some remember their past life for some reason or the other which makes the family sad and bewildered towards the outcome
    its painful specially for the child who cannot adjust to her present life because the past shatters the present