Smoking is Injurious to Health!!!
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“You can wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”

 

When Tyler Durden referred to this statement in Fight Club, he had no idea that this can not just be a mere dialogue but can be a reality for someone. I guess Tyler had never been to Rajasthan ;)

 

Rajasthan is a State in India known for its rich culture, tradition, warriors, forts, kings etc. There were kingdoms, there were battles, there were victories, there were defeats and yeah… there were a lot of tricks. Time and again it has been proved that humans have played tricks to get power. May it be the today’s techie information age where diplomats use viruses and hackers to get access to confidential information with an objective to become more powerful or may it be seventeenth century where Kings used to invite supernatural powers and sprits to play tricks to gain control over others. This is one such story which describes the aftermaths of using such supernatural power and its repercussions can be felt even ages or generations after the actual incident.

 

This is a story of a village called “Ratan Garh” in the flat, barren lands of the Shekhawati region of this mysterious state called Rajasthan. I am not sure if you have ever visited there but to help your imaginations, it’s a flat and plain, barren land which lasts till the horizon. You can hear the sound of wind blowing and giving some kind of energy to the sand to dance with its rhythm. If you have ever kept an empty glass on your ears, you would hear the same powerful sound of the wind blowing in the deserts. There are few naked trees spread randomly all across and the only green things you can see are the small thorny shrubs and cactus in between. Amidst this dry and hot land there were two big old trees standing on both the sides of the road. One tree had some tin shades around it and was now the local bus stop for the villagers. And another tree had a small temple at its fat trunk. This bus-stop was on the state highway and a crossroad called “Chattur Chohraya”. Ratan Garh was around 8 kms from this chohraya. Any bus crossing this area would definitely stop at Chattur Chohraya, passengers would get down to have some water and the driver would go to this small temple, behind one of the old trees, and ask for blessings of God for a successful journey. The place was generally silent, and without any said rules people also used to maintain the decorum of the place. People from neighbouring villages would get down here and wait for the local bus to take them to there respective villages. There was only one local buses commuting between the villages and Chattur Chohraya, it would start at around 7:00 am in the morning from the last village and would reach here by 9:00 am and again in the evening, it will start at around 6:00 pm from the Chohraya and would reach the last village by 8:00 pm. If you miss this bus or if it’s not matching your schedule then one would prefer to walk, or if you are lucky, you might get a ride on passing tractors or motorcycles.

 

As I mentioned above that aftermaths of playing with nature can be felt even after ages and centuries, Chattur Chohraya was also victim of one such incident. People say that over hundreds of years ago, the King had invited two ghosts to protect the kingdom and they used to live on these two trees. People still believe that even though the kingdom is no more nor the king but the two ghosts are still protecting the area. And if anybody tries to cut the trees they will destroy the area. Old beliefs but still followed in the villages around.

 

The above belief was also backed up by various unusual incidents that happened at the Chattur Chohraya, where villagers have observed activities on the tree late at night, or sudden accidents, blood coming from the trunk of the tree and many more.

 

So, this story take you back to a warm and windy summer evening of the year 1989. Summers (minus the hot climate of Rajasthan), has always been a feast for school and college students because of two months full of holidays. Although IPL is a glamorized formula of today’s cricket, but back then also people used to enjoy cricket in every part of India. It was a time for inter village cricket tournament and the team from Ratan Garh has won it for the first time. The team members were more then happy because of this victory and after the celebrations they were returning back to their village in the state transport bus. They were a little behind their schedule and would miss the connecting bus from Chattur Chohraya to the Ratan Garh. But the young guns had no problems they had already planned to walk from there till the village.

 

After getting down at Chattur Chohraya, the team got scattered all around, just to stretch and get relaxed before starting the 8 km walk. Some of them went behind the bus stop to take a leak while Chandar and two more boys were sitting next to the old temple and were sharing a cigarette. Although they all knew about the haunted stories of this place and the ghosts, which people still believe live on these two trees.. but for them it has always been a topic to make fun out it. In a while every one was ready to start the walk and was just waiting for Chandar who went to pee behind the tree and was sharing the last few puff of his cigarette.

 

Celebration was on during the walk also and within two hours every one reached their respective houses. Chandar reached his house by around 9’o clock, right on dinner’s time. It was a typical Rajasthani village house structure, made of semi concrete and mud. After the dinner was over it was time to sleep… a deep satisfying sleep after a day long of playing and excitement of winning the tournament.

 

Mornings are always very fresh in villages and the day start early there. The life was back to normal for every one with boys doing their routine work. They used to meet in the evening, discuss their daily work.. have some fun and go back to their houses for dinner and sleep. Life went smooth and normal for next few day, or atleast every one thought so.

 

One night, Gopal was coming back from his relatives place with his family and they were walking back to their house. They were coming back from a function and it was pretty late for a village lifestyle. The lane was all empty and dark with only moonlight showing the directions. Some 10 meters ahead, Gopal observed that someone was walking in the opposite direction and was going outside the village. After observing it more closely, he spotted it was Chandar… who was walking with a slow and steady pace. He was alone and was going some where at this hour of the night… this obviously surprised Gopal a bit. He shouted to ask Chandar if every thing was fine. Although his voice was loud enough to be heard in this silence, but some how it could not reach to Chandar, who continued to walk in the opposite direction. Anyways Gopal was with his family and they were already late.. he though we would ask him the next day. After the loud shout the village went silent again … and Gopal with his family reached his house and went to sleep.

 

Next day when they all met in the evening, Gopal enquired Chandar if every thing was fine last night and where was he going? Chandar was completely blank on this question, as he slept on time and there is no point roaming around so late. Every one made fun of Gopal, of him being drunk in their family function and just making a story out of it. Or probably he must have seen some else, which Gopal also admitted that can be true. It was late at night and he must have mistaken some one else for Chandar. Life went on as usual in the village.

 

Two days after, Ramesh also encountered a similar incident. It was late at night and he was coming with his elder brother on a tractor from their farms. He saw Chandar walking in a slow and steady pace in the opposite direction. It was obviously strange to see anyone walking alone at village that too after midnight. They stopped the tractor and Ramesh jumped out of it to see if every thing was fine. He ran towards Chandar and tried to ask him where he was going. There was no expression on Chandar’s face and he completely ignored Ramesh and his questions and continued walking at his pace. It was irritating and it was a little scary for Ramesh to see such behaviour. But Chandar continued walking at his pace and soon was gone far ahead to be followed. Ramesh was shocked and silent, he came back to his tractor and went back to his house in silence.

 

Next evening, everyone again enquired Chandar about his lonely walk in the night and his cold behaviour towards Ramesh. To their surprise, Chandar again denied the fact that it was him. According to him, it was a normal night and he went to sleep at around 10’o clock after the dinner. But this time Ramesh was sure that it was Chandar only and he has seen him face to face, which Chandar was not ready to accept. His blunt reaction to this fact made every one concerned about him. If Chandar would have accepted it, for whatever reason he was going out, it wouldn’t have been an issue. But his pure denial made everyone more inquisitive and concerned about him. They thought either Chandar has taken some bad habit like drugs or something, which makes him unconscious or he goes out to meet some girl… but whatever may be the reason .. he is hiding something.. and something is not right. Ramesh decided to discuss the issue with Chandar’s father. He would be the right person to keep a check on his activities and it should be in his notice that his son is doing some thing wrong.

 

Next day, Ramesh met Chandar’s father “Kamlu Ram” on the farms and told him about both the incidents. In first reaction, even Kamlu Ram was not ready to believe this as he saw Chandar going to his room to sleep after the dinner and things were normal at home. But Ramesh could manage to create a doubt in Kamlu Ram’s mind, who in-turn decided to investigate it himself.

 

After reaching home Kamlu Ram asked Chandar indirectly if he is sleeping well or if he had to go out somewhere last night, to which Chandar gave a confident negative response. Kamlu Ram decided to keep a watch on him.

 

The very same night, Kamlu Ram got up at around 3’o clock in the morning and decided to check Chandar who he thought was sleeping in his room. To his surprise, Chandar was not in his room and the front door of the house was open. The fact that Chandar was lying to him and he is slipping around from house so late at night made him very angry. He decided to wait in the hall till Chandar gets back to home. Kamlu Ram was sitting on a cot in the hall and didn’t realize when he went to sleep. He got up suddenly at around 6’o clock in the morning to see that the front door is locked from inside. He rushed in the Chandar’s room to see that he was sleeping comfortably on his bed.

 

In the morning when Chandar got up from his sleep at around 8’o clock and came out of his room to the mail hall, he noticed both Kamlu Ram and his mother were impatiently sitting in the hall. Kamlu Ram was very angry and without losing a single second, he shouted on Chandar. And to all the questions he asked, Chandar had the same reply that he was sleeping in his room. But Kamlu Ram can’t be wrong either… so that made the issue more boiled up. Chandar’s mother tried to cool down his husband by saying that Chandar must be sleeping walking these days and instead of shouting on him .. we should consult the local doctor or should take him to the pandit ji. But Kamlu Ram was still not totally convinced by this. Kamlu Ram finally decided to catch Chandar red handed and to find out where he is going.

 

At night, when every one went to sleep, Kamlu Ram got up and hides himself in the hall. Some where at around 12’o clock, he headed some low sounds from Chandar’s room and then Chndarad opened the door of his room.  Kamlu Ram was hiding him self behind cot and he got alert as he heard the door opening. As soon as Chandar was opening the front door, Kamplu Ram jumped from behind and caught his hand. He shouted on Chandar and asked him where is he going. Chandar had no expressions on his face, his face was cold. As soon as Kamlu Ram noticed his pale face, he got scared and he lost his grip from the hand of Chandar. Chandar opened the front door and was walking out side. Soon, Kamlu Ram revived from the shock and again tried to grab Chnardar’s hand. This time Chandar reacted by suddenly unlocking his hand from Kamlu Rams grip and pushed him hard. Kamlu Ram fell backwards on the ground and without any expressions Chandar moved outside the house. Kamlu Ram was shocked and scared by observing this reaction. He had never imagined such a reaction from Chandar. It took him some time to get back to his senses and he decided to follow Chandar.

 

Chnadar kept on walking at his pace, simply walking out side the village without any reaction on his face. He kept on walking for almost 1:30 hours and reached to the Chattur chohraya. Kamlu Ram was shit scared and was observing all this and have maintained some distance from Chandar. He wouldn’t have dared to follow anyone who has shown such a reaction, but it was his own son and hence he was just watching everything. Chandar went close to the two trees and sat next to that temple. He was just sitting there silently and was not doing any thing. His head was bent towards the ground and his body was slowly moving backward and forward. It was dark with only moonlight, the area was flat and barren with not even any animals or incsects around, complete silence. Kamlu Ram could even hear Chandar breathing heavily, and infact Kamlu Ram own heart was beating faster then ever.

 

Chandar was sitting there silently for almost an hour, with his face bent towards the ground and his body moving in a consistent backward and forward motion. And then suddenly his breathing got even harder… it was like his breathing sound was coming from his mouth…  ahmmmm hmmmm ahmmm ahhh… and then Chandar got up. He took a cigarette from his pocket and match box from another. He lighted the cigarette and smoked it completely standing there under the tree. And after he threw his cigarette.. without any reaction he started walking back towards the village. It was around 4:30 am when Chandar reached back home. He entered his house and without closing the main gate he directly went inside his room and slept. I guess he knew Kamlu Ram was following him … but till now he showed no sign of it. Kamlu Ram was frozen by then. His face was pale and he was literally shivering. He had just observed something … that was not only difficult to believe but was far beyond the human psychological understanding. He silently came inside the house, locked the door from inside and went to his room and slept. He didn’t tried to wake up his wife or create any scene … he was too shocked to react on this.

 

Next day, Kamlu Ram got up late and found himself suffering from intense fever. The day was already started and he could hear Chandar and his wife talking in the hall. With all his courage he managed to come out of his room and observed things to be perfectly normal as ever. Neither he mentioned any thing of last night’s incident nor did he notice any difference in Chandar’s behaviour. One thing was clear in his mind that who ever he saw last night was not Chandar but someone else in Chandar’s body. He wanted to solve this and he wanted to save his son. He knew if this is not stopped immediately then some thing really evil is going to happen.

 

 

Next few days, things even got worse. One night Kamlu Ram again tried to stop Chnadar and tried to wake him up.. but got thrown on the ground and fractured his arm. Now even his wife knew about what has happened to their son. And as things were getting more open, more and more effects of the same had started reflecting on Chandar. He some times gets completely mad during the day time aswell… he started to spend most of his time in his room only and have started smoking heavily. His face had become pale and white with skin getting older and pealing off from the body. The very sight of this handsome young boy was so scary now that no body wants to see him any more. Both Kamlu Ram and his wife were very concerned and tensed and wanted to get their son out of all this at any cost. Then to their good luck they got to know about an old Tantrik who has powers to communicate with ghosts and sprits. The problem was no one knew where this tantrik used to live. But every year he used to come to the annual village fair some 30 kms from Ratan Garh. And the fair was scheduled to begin from coming Sunday.

 

Kamlu Ram, together with Chandar, his mother and few more villager decided to go to that fair. This tantrik was their only hope. They all hired a Jeep and started early from the village on Sunday morning. Kamlu Ram was still positive that he would get his son back and every thing will be back to normal soon. As soon as they reached Chattur Chohraya, Kamlu Ram noticed the spot where he saw his son sitting and doing weird things under the spell of some ghosts. He turned back to see Chandar and just by looking at the blank pale face of Chandar, his eyes got filled with tears. It was a pain that a father was feeling for his son and still helpless to do nothing and just see his son dying day by day in front of his eyes. As soon as they were crossing the two trees their Jeep stopped with sudden jerks and the engine stopped working. Silence of few seconds appeared like ages to Kamlu Ram.

 

Without saying a single word, Kamlu Ram slowly and silently got out from the Jeep. He first saw Chandar who was sitting on the back seats of the Jeep and then saw the two trees. He knew at this moment if he got freaked out or showed any signs of fear, then the entire team will get scared. A small mistake can be dangerous for his son’s life. There was a strange look in the eyes of Kamlu Ram, it was surely not fear … but yes it was very close to anger. His eyes were red and he was prepared to fight any trouble and danger to save his son. He went in front of the jeep and open the bonet to check the problem. Other villagers sitting in the jeep also got down slowly and were trying to find out the problem and start the jeep again. It was hot, it was dry and wind was blowing around… making the sand dance again on its rhythm. Chandar’s mother decided to go to the temple and prey for the well being of his son. Chandar was Chandar and was sitting alone inside the jeep. He knew what is happening and even he wanted to get out of all this. I guess, saying about the place is true that you cant go ahead of this chauraya without getting blessing from the temple… and something really happened. The jeep started working as soon as the mother went to the temple. Every one took a breath of relief and Kamlu Ram smiled a bit for the first time after days.

 

Everyone got ready to sit in the jeep again, but Kamlu Ram smelled and noticed smoke coming out from the back side of the Jeep. Chandar was sitting alone in the jeep with his head bent towards the ground and his body in a consistent backward and forward motion. And he was smoking a cigarette!!!

It was a sight that Kamlu Ram would have never wanted to see again in his life time… and there they were .. still some 20kms from the tantrik and Chandar was overpowered again.

 

One of the villager tried to got inside the jeep and Chandar turned his head towards him. The look at his white face and the white eye made this villager faint right on the spot. Every one got scared … no one knew what to do. Should they run to save their own lives or should they stay and save Chandar’s life. One thing was sure that they cant take Chandar to the fair like this, infact they just cant move him a inch from where he was sitting.

 

As rightly said, “God has much more powers to save than evil has to kill”

 

Suddenly, they noticed a bus approaching towards the Chattur Chohraya. It stopped there and as usual people got down to have some water and driver paid his visit to the temple. No body bothered to observe a jeep with few men standing there and soon the bus was ready to leave. From behind the bus comes an old man with a very wired appearance with lots of beeds in his neck and a trishul in his hand. He was the tantrik baba to whom Kamlu Ram and team wanted to visit in the fair. As the one who can communicate with evil, knows where he is required the most. Baba got a sixth sense that some thing is wrong at the Chattur Chohraya and hence instead of going to the fair he directly came there. No one had to explain him any thing, he knew exactly what is going on and what is expected out of him. He straight away walked towards the jeep where Chandar was sitting. On the way he patted on Kamlu Ram’s shoulder and asked him to be at the side only.

 

As the Baba was approaching the Jeep, Chandra started to breath heavily as if the sprit inside him is acknowledging the presence of someone more powerful around him. Baba got inside the Jeep and sat on the seat opposite to Chandar. He took out his Trishul and put it on Chnadra’s face and asked..

 

Baba: Who are you?

Chandar: I am your guard King.

 

Baba: Then why are you bothering my people.

Chandar: I am not bothering anyone, I am just making the kingdom more strong.

 

Baba: This is not the way you make the kingdom strong, you are going to kill this boy.

Chandar: He is killing himself already, I am just speeding up the process.

 

Baba: How did you get to him. And why only him?

Chandar: I generally don’t bother anyone, I see a lot of people here. They come and go, they worship you. A lot of them are weak, your kingdom is getting weaker day by day. A lot of people are killing themselves.

 

Baba: But why only him?

Chandar: As he offered me a smoke, he wanted to make the guards of this kingdom weak.

 

Baba: But you are also killing him and not helping him.

Chandar: He is going to die anyways, he has opted for a slow death and in process he will make others also weak. I am just eliminating a weak link from the heard. It will eventually make the cumulative strength of the kingdom more strong.

 

Baba: I appreciate your concern, but the child has taken his lesson. And as the king himself is here you may leave now.

Chandar: You are asking me to break the rules king. I don’t get free until I complete my work. And my work is to make the kingdom strong and to guard it always.

 

Baba: No, you have done you work. You are free to go now. I have appointed you to guard the kingdom and you are doing good. And if you leave this kid now, you will not only give a much stronger person to my kingdom but would give one more mouth to spread this story. People of my kingdom might get inspired to be strong.

Chandar: You are the King, I will obey your orders. But if I find anymore weak people… I will continue to haunt them. Either you free me from my duties or you let me do it my way.

 

Baba: You are free to perform your duties your way. You will still be here guarding my kingdom and making it strong.

Chandar: As you say king.

 

 

Suddenly, chandar takes a deep breath and falls on his seat. Baba gets down and go closer to Kamlu Ram. Baba informs him that Chandar will be fine now. Baba also tell Kamlu Ram that you are the guards of your own kingdom. You come to me when you are in trouble, but instead I have given you all the powers to foresee the trouble and stop it even before approaching you. You cant be so negligent in your duties. Today my Guard has saved your son from death, Chandar has already embarked on a journey towards death and he was moving slowly and steadily towards his own death. Not every one is lucky enough to have guards sitting on the gates to protect them. You have to start taking care of your self and your family. I am sure Chandar has got his lesson and he will be much stronger now.

 

After this, Baba went to the bus stop .. had a glass of water .. paid his visit to the temple and took the next bus back to nowhere.

No one understood a single word from the discussion that Baba and Chandar had, except Chandar himself. The one who understood this will only be benefited and not others. Now either they will understand this story from Chandar or they would prefer to call the guard. Whatever may be the case guards would never let the kingdom get weak.

 

 

“People always come up to me and say that my smoking is bothering them… Well, it’s killing me!”

 

Smoking is injurious to health !!!