March 2015


Teni-da laughed at my ignorance. "You are a fool. All the ghosts do not go about breaking the heads of people; there are a few gentlemen among them too who reveal the questions that are going to appear in a test."


"Of course." Teni-da glanced at the crumpled paper bag and not finding a single popcorn sticking to it, flung it at Kaabla's face. "My uncle, Birinchi-mama, failed his B.A. examinations 18 times. Finally, when my cousin Gubre, reached the same class, Birinchi-mama decided something had to be done. He organised a planchet session. You will not believe this, Paala, but the question papers began dropping on the table like falling leaves."

"The previous year's question papers, or question papers of the examinations yet to be held?" I wanted to know.

"What an idiot! Why should previous year's question papers drop on the table? They were question papers set for the examinations to be held one month later."

"How many uncles do you have Teni-da?" Kaabla asked a foolish question all of a sudden.

"Why do you want to know how many uncles I have? If I start listing all my uncles, the list will run into pages and pages."

"Oh, leave it," Habul Sen said.

"Is the teacher, who has set our math question paper, your uncle?" I wanted to know.

"He could be," Teni-da said unconcernedly.

"Then, why not call him during the planchet session?"

"Shut up, idiot. You cannot call people who are alive during a planchet session. You have to summon spirits. Spirits have immense powers - they can do anything. If you succeed in summoning the right spirit, then nothing like it!"

"Well then, let's call a spirit," I begged.

"Easier said than done," Teni-da said baring his teeth like a ghost. Are spirits like your popcorn seller who arrive immediately upon being summoned? You have to make special arrangements to summon spirits - you need a dark hall, you need a table and you need four persons."

Kaabla's eyes glittered. "All right," he said, "there is an empty dark room next to our garage. I can arrange for a broken-legged table, and, of course, there are the four of us."

"Grand!" Teni-da declared. "You have settled the matter perfectly; I feel like patting you on the back."

Kaabla was well acquainted with Teni-da's "gentle" pats; he immediately leaped off the fence. "Then, it is decided; we meet tonight," he said.

"Yes, tonight," Teni-da agreed.

I wasn't feeling very comfortable. I did not want to meddle with ghosts and spirits. But the school final examinations were only seven days away while the cattle shed was all eager to welcome me one-and-half months after the exams.

Despite my apprehensions, therefore, I had to agree.

The garage was situated behind the house - it was absolutely dark. The tin shed next to the garage appeared as though it was coated with ink. Kaabla had arranged for everything. There was a table with a broken leg, there were four chairs around it, at a little distance from the table was a sand bag hanging from the roof, and on the table flickered a candle - I could inspect the shed owing to the light from the candle.

"What is that?" Habul asked pointing at the sand bag. "Is there something to eat in it?"

"The fellow thinks of food all the time," Teni-da said glaring at Habul. "That's a sand bag for boxing practice."

"Will the spirits come and practice boxing on it?" Habul wanted to know.

Kaabla laughed at Habul's ignorance. "That belongs to my brother," he said.

All this small talk was, however, annoying Teni-da. "Stop your prattle and let's get to work," he said. "But, tell me Kaabla, is anyone likely to come this way?"

"No, don't worry about that."

"Then, shut the door."

Kaabla followed the order and shut the door. Teni-da instructed, "The four of us will sit on the chairs; we will extinguish the candle and, then, meditate."

"Meditate? What for?" I was perplexed.

"In order to summon the spirit .... a spirit who would be able to tell us the questions that would appear in the examination."

"Not a bad idea," Habul interjected, "let's summon Haru Pundit".


Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission -
  • IIT-Kharagpur -
  • Indian Statistical Institute -
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras -
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad -
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission -
  • IIT Bombay -
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad -
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi -
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training -
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) -
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi -
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai -

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