I wisely kept my mouth shut and did not reveal that it was I who was responsible for summoning the goat ghost. But what was that? Something tickled me on the legs! I almost cried out in fright but checked myself just in time. It was a cockroach!
I made an effort to forget my hunger and concentrated fervently on summoning Haru Sir. But, is it possible to sit quietly for a long time? Suddenly someone hit me on the legs.
"Teni-da, a spirit has hit me on the leg," I screamed.
"Don't yell like a donkey," Habul said, "my leg accidentally hit yours".
Teni-da gnashed his teeth. "How can you meditate with all these fools around? They have been disturbing me all the time. If anyone utters a single word now, I will catch hold of his ears and throw him out of the room."
The meditation commenced once again.
I had almost succeeded in recalling Haru Pundit. Here he comes ... has almost arrived. I could clearly envision the bald pate; I almost felt his beard tickling my face. I prayed fervently, "Please sir .... the school final examination, sir ..... math questions, sir." And, just then .......
I heard a strange sound above my head.
Raising my eyes to the roof, I saw two blazing eyes. They were exactly like the eyes of Haru Pundit glaring at me through thick glasses. I was frightened to death.
"Oh Teni-da, oh Teni-da," I screamed. At once, the two blazing eyes seemed to descend, and I felt a hard whack on my head. Teni-da had said spirits are amiable, but this was a whack which I would remember for life.
"Help me," I said and sprang from the chair. This caused the table to overturn.
Habul, by my side, cried out, "The ghost has got me, help."
"The table is squashing me to death," I could hear Teni-da's groan.
Although it was pitch dark, I tried to make for the door. Someone leaped on my shoulders. A sound like "Go ... gaak" emerged from my throat and the next moment everything was blank. Potoldanga's Paalaram had fainted!
When I opened my eyes I found myself lying on the floor. A candle was burning, and Kaabla was sprinkling water on my face. The table and the chairs lay in complete disarray across the room.
I said, "Gho ..... gho .... ghost."
"No, it was not a ghost," Kaabla said. "Teni-da and Habul fled at once but I must tell you the truth. We have a goat tethered behind this room; my grandfather suffers from asthma and goat's milk provides him relief. It was the goat that was bleating".
"What about those blazing eyes and the whack on my head?" I was still not convinced.
"That was Hoolo."
"Who is Hoolo?"
"Our cat; he comes to this room frequently to hunt for mice."
"But, can Hoolo deliver such a nasty whack?"
"Why should it whack you, silly? When you screamed, it frightened Hoolo and he leaped from under the tin roof. Incidentally, Hoolo's leap carried him to the sand bag and he clung on to it for dear life. The bag swung under the force and hit you on the head; you thought it was Haru Pundit who had hit you," Kaabla could not control his laughter.
"And who sprang on my shoulders?"
"Habul. In his hurry to get out, he flattened you on the floor," Kaabla was now almost rolling on the floor laughing.
I shut my eyes once again. Maybe Kaabla was right; but deep in my heart I was convinced it was Haru Pundit who had drummed my head. The reason: no one in this world other than Haru Pundit could deliver such a whack like the one I had received!