Short Story: Ghosts Of Ulaua

The town of Ulaua was surrounded by farms, mountains and fallow land. Some towns and the rivers that flow through them share the same name. So it was with the Ulaua town and the river that flowed through it.

Over the river there was a long concrete arch bridge painted in fluorescent lavender interspersed with black and pink inverted triangles. It was the idea of two beautiful ladies who were in charge of designing the bridge. They had plenty of time to design because they were married to each other, and lived together in the same town. Most of the town was on one side of the bridge – South Ulaua to be precise. On the other side there stood schools, factories, a cemetery, playgrounds, houses and farms.

Minu, Smita, Julia, Anvesha, Ritu and Shreya were learners in the “Girls Academy” in North Ulaua situated about 200m from the bridge. All women in the academy regarded themselves as learners. The academy has always been known to be an excellent institution for scientific studies and clear thinking. Minu and Smita were polymaths, Julia liked mathematics and physics alone, Ritu and Anvesha liked philosophy, and Shreya liked social studies and language. These six young women were all lesbians, and did not believe in any religion. Minu had three houses to stay at because she was in relationship with at least Smita and Anvesha. Lesbians are lucky in other ways too.

Some schools in south Ulaua were bad because they simply made their students repeat things like parrots do. They did not try to explain why or how various things happen. They did not accept scientific facts such as evolution, and did not believe in science and critical thinking. Their students lied often, believed in miracles, imaginary gods, ghosts and spirits. In fact, they were taught to believe in prayers, magic rocks, magic talking animals, magic invisible animals in the sky, magic invisible people in the sky, people who have come from the sky and magic rocks that stand for imaginary gods. These schools were mostly owned by greedy people who wanted to amass fortunes at the cost of others. Narendra, Didi, Bhakta, and Ahamitra were friends who studied in one such school. Narendra and Ahamitra’s fathers were rich priests who fooled gullible people by spreading rumours about ghosts, gods, God’s wrath and fate. Bhakta repeated and believed everything that Narendra and Ahamitra said, while Didi was Narendra’s religious sister who often threw tantrums and indulged in gimmicks. Narendra, Ahamitra, Didi and Bhakta hated all nonreligious girls and women.

When it is not raining and the weather is sunny, then one can see a long way ahead. In some places it rains a bit during the rainy seasons. In some places it rains more, and one cannot see a long way ahead. On some days in Ulaua it rains so hard that one can barely see a few feet ahead – in these seasons, the Ulaua river is always in spate. During such a season the four friends decided to go to a playground in the North. But no sooner had they crossed the bridge it began to rain heavily and they tried to rush towards an abandoned restaurant very close to the bank of Ulaua. Ahamitra reminded them that ‘ghosts haunt abandoned spaces’ and all four froze and held on to each other just outside the front door.

Some girls shouted at them to rush inside the deserted place from the first floor of the academy. Their reply was “Shut up! We do not need advice from vampires!”. Thereafter, Bhakta’s feet slipped on cow dung, and he held on to Narendra’s Khaki pants. All four then slid hard, fell into the fiery river and were washed away into the sea.

The sound of heavy rain merged with laughter.

Moral: Superstitious beliefs lead to calamities!

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