Once there was a saint who lived in the outskirts of a village. He was popularly known as the ‘Babasahab’ amongst the villagers. They considered him as their god, always got enthralled with the tricks he played to brainwash them and made others believe that he had some sort of connection with the Almighty.

The village was very beautiful with lush green wide green fields spacing the four sides of the village. A large lake adorned the face of the village, the mud houses and the pucca houses stood proudly around the lake. One day, a group of college students came for their college assignments and decided to stay in the village. Nisha, one of the young girl of the group was Sarpanch friend’s daughter and so they got to stay in his lavishly built house. They had an assignment on knowing the village life. It was sort of a case study where they had to evaluate the customs and rituals that were still prominent in Indian villages. When they entered the village borders, many men started to look at the group with distaste while women started gossiping about them. But the five young stars didn’t pay heed to the rumours and started their work.

“Who lives there kaka”, Paanchi asked the Sarpanch the next day while everyone was having breakfast. She was a jovial girl who tried to spread happiness in other’s life. Sarpanch gave them a tight lipped smile and replied, “He is our God Paanchi. He is popularly known as Babasahab and we worship him. Nothing in  this village happens without his permission and during your stay I expect you all to respect him and his choice”. The five teenagers looked warily at him but nodded nevertheless.

Two days passed since that conversation and they all stayed away from that saint. All was going good and they had nearly completed their case study. It was the last day of their stay in the village when they were sitting by the lake and enjoying the cool night breeze. “Hey Nisha don’t you think we should do something to make the villagers know that the saint is bluffing them and taking advantage of their innocence?”, a boy suddenly asked others while gaining their attention. “I don’t think it is a good idea Ranvir. They are clearly being brain washed by that thug. They won’t believe you or me so leave it. We are here for the project and let’s concentrate on that”. Everyone agreed with Nisha but Ranvir pondered over the fact. They were returning back when suddenly they heard a scream that tore through the silence of the night sky. “What was that?”, Paanchi asked terrified while all others painted the same expression. Thinking that someone needed help they ran towards the direction of the sound only to get shocked.

“My brothers and sisters, she is a bad omen for you. If she lives, you all will die and mark my words, I won’t be able to save you from her wrath”, it was the saint who was giving his speech while looking at the tied up woman. She looked pretty beaten up, her face was busted and it was clear she was barely hanging by the thread. “No she is not”, Ranvir suddenly said aloud when his voice boomed in the open field making everyone go silent. “She is not the bad omen you cheater. You are. You are the one who has been keeping these people in the dark, making them believe that you are their god and all. So if someone is a curse, then it’s you not her”, Paanchi and the rest could feel the glares of the villagers at them but they kept their focus on Ranvir. “How dare you insult me like this? Sarpanch, they are your guest and so they are my guest. But I will not tolerate such disgrace being thrown towards me”, he said in a threatening voice alarming the villagers when they stood up.

The sarpanch told the kids to apologize and leave the place but the five never complied with him. Ranvir signaled for something and instantly a video was being played in the television. It was footage of the saint eating chicken, drinking alcohol and learning magic from a famous magician of the nearby town. All the people watched the footage carefully and when it ended, the villagers were shaking with anger. This time it was directed towards the saint. “You cheater, you liar, you ruined our faith. You played with our trust and made us belief that whatever you said was true. You made us all believe that Maasi ma is a black witch and she should be killed”, a middle aged man came out of the crowd and tried to hit him only to be held back by the group.

Soon the police came and arrested the saint. As soon as the police left, Ranvir turned his attention to fuming crowd who wanted to kill the saint. “As much as he was at fault, you were too. You let him brainwash you, you all allowed him to play with your sentiments and emotions when inspite of being educated you didn’t do anything to stop these superstitions”, Ranvir said to the Sarpanch while he lowered his head in shame. “Uncle don’t let anyone to compel you to do something, let alone invest wrong beliefs and thoughts within you.


-by Pallabi Paul

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