ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Spirit of the Mango Orchard

The humanity of a “ghost” is revealed in the stories and memories surrounding a family-owned orchard.

My grandfather Mahmud Daryabadi owned acres of land and orchards in our village Daryabad, on the outskirts of Lucknow. We lived in a big white house like a castle, with hundreds of rooms, of which most remained locked, hiding secrets, spirits, and things children were not meant to see. The house was surrounded by a mango orchard, where the kids—my cousins Khurram and Aaliya and I—played after school. Amma always warned us to leave the orchard before dusk had ascended. In that orchard lived the spirit of Madhumati, who ate mangoes in the dark, jumping over the branches. “She is fed up of eating mangoes, all she wants is the tender sweet meat of a child.” She would stick her tongue out dramatically to scare us.

For Amma, everything began and ended with spirits. Her father was a soothsayer who had left home when she was born, to practise exorcism around the world. That incident disturbed her all her life, having a lasting impact on her. When we asked why some rooms in the house were shut, she would say, “Don’t go near them, your grandmother’s spirit resides and prays there.” She would take rice and dal and two mangoes and place them outside the room every day. When we returned at dusk, she would show us the empty plate with two mango kernels. “She was hungry today,” she would say in a hoarse voice.

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Updated On : 26th Sep, 2022
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