This story is based on the real life experience of my grandpa and his brother as kids in their village .
It was a normal day in my village . I woke up at dawn,got my younger brother out of bed and headed to the river( which was around 7 miles away ) to fetch water. By the time we came back it was day and the food was ready .We finished our food and along with our sister headed to school.
When we came back from school we had our lunch, studied a bit and then headed to the hills along with our cows,buffaloes , bulls and all of the girls and boys who were also accompanied by their cattle.
On the way to the grassy hills ,we met a woman . None of us had ever seen her, which was strange as everyone knew everyone in our village and in our neighboring villages.She was also not a relative of any of us . She couldn't be traveling as she was alone and no one traveled on their own in these wild hills full of leopards .
I stopped and greeted her politely, she asked me in almost a whisper "Is this the way to Jaladi?".
"Yes miss , Are you going to Jaladi ?
"Uhmm..Yes "She said.
"Well it is not far miss , You can easily reach there"
"Yes,yes. Now I'll head towards the village"
Who is she ? And why is she here ? I kept thinking,but soon forgot while playing and climbing trees.
It was about to get dark ,so we ran home.On the way to my home I remembered about the lady.
During dinner I told my mother about the woman,she told me to describe the lady. I told her about her long thin black hair which were touching the ground even though they were tied and how she was speaking with her mouth barely open .I also told her about her pale face ,very light clothes and fingers which looked slightly burnt .My mother couldn't remember about anyone like her and told me that she might be a traveller. And I couldn't correct my mother because I knew nothing about her as well ,so I went to sleep in my room along with my brother.
I woke up , it was still dark but not very dark there were strokes of orange here and there in the sky , the birds were up ,my mother as usual was feeding the cows and bulls. I went to her and touched her feet ,she blessed me and told me to wake up my brother and sister.I woke up my siblings and told them to take blessings from mother . Then my brother picked a small pot as he was hardly 8 years old and I picked two huge pots . We started walking towards the river. We were in the middle of a road covered with trees on the side and with not a single house or hut around.Just then I saw a lady sitting under a Peepal tree with a diya in both of her hands, her thin black hair all around her white dress,her tongue so long that it was reaching her thighs. I saw my brother skipping slowly behind me . I was terrified not because of what she could do to me but because of what she could do to my little brother. I said in a loud and confident voice "Kushal go run "
To which he innocently replied "Why bhaiya?"
"Just run ",I thought he would be terrified of the lady but he didn't seem to understand the situation.
"Let's have a race alright , I'll give you a headstart.Go run "
"No,I know you said that because you want me to run" he said as he stood firmly near me
Chnnn..Chnnnn.Chnnn... suddenly a sound came ,a sound of someone shaking the anklets of a woman violently.I picked up my brother on my shoulder and ran . Finally we reached the river . We filled the pots and came back home as if nothing had happened. On the way back home I kept thinking about the lady near the Peepal tree ,was she the same woman who had come to our village yesterday?
After reaching home I calmly told my mother about all that had happened. She hugged me and called my brother and sister and hugged us tightly, She asked me if I could recognize the lady. I said no ,because what if they both were different women and I had seen resemblance as I was thinking about the lady a lot.In a motherly voice Mother told me and Kushal to never go by the route to fetch water and to go by another route which was longer but safer. Then we had our breakfast and went to school. After coming home Mother told us that the lady had come to our village to live here , her name is Kajal .She hardly speaks . She did not seem willing to tell about her past , poor lady must have gone through something terrible ,we must help her. Ramu Kaka has given her shelter and welcomed her into his home.I will also help her in every way possible.
Later that day I saw the lady in a nearby hut beside the house of Ramu kaka .
Many days passed without anything big or strange happening.Until one day a young shepherd lost his sickle .He said that he was grazing his sheep on the mountains ,as usual and a huge vulture was roaming around his sheep , afraid it would attack one of the sheep he threw his sickle at the vulture. The vulture almost disappeared as he didn't saw the vulture fly away and nor did he saw the vulture getting hurt . He thought that he might not have payed much attention and the bird must have flown away . After making sure his sheep were safe he went to look for his sickle.He knew where he had thrown the sickle so he went to look for it there . But it wasn't there!! He looked all around the place for almost 2 hours!but still couldn't find it . He searched for it all day long . He kept thinking where it could be.After coming back he asked every single villager about it ,but none knew a thing about it. He sadly exclaimed "Where has my sickle gone? Has the Earth swallowed it or has it vanished !?!
Now you must think what is the point of a big fuss over a sickle ,can't he buy a new one?Well firstly where did it go ? there was no person around and even if someone was no one would steal it , the villagers never locked their houses!! Because there was no crime .Secondly the shepherd boy was not very rich and in those time buying a new sickle was also not something a not so very rich man would do.
So, after enquiring and searching around for almost 1 month the shepherd boy almost gave up until one day he went to Ramu kaka's house and accidentally entered the hut in which the new lady resided and what he saw inside shocked him ,there were 6 sickles hanging from a hook and one of those was his!! He called Ramu and showed him the sickles . Ramu was in disbelief. He and the villagers had welcomed the lady and she was stealing!!
All the villagers were gathered and told about the incident. Then my mother said -
"But what was she doing on the high hills ?"
"Yes and you said there was no one around "A man said to the shepherd .
"Well there wasn't " said the shepherd
"Well maybe she was hiding " said a man
"But why was she following him in the first place?" said another
"I don't know" said the poor shepherd boy
Then an elderly woman came forward and asked the shepherd boy to bring all the 6 sickles.The boy brought all the sickles. The woman then asked who had lost their sickles in the past three months 3 men including the shepherd and two women raised their hands . The wise woman then asked each of them about how they had lost their sickle. A common thing in each of their stories was the mention of them throwing their sickles at a vulture. The wise old lady then said "It is not possible for a vulture to carry and hang these sickles in the lady's house and even if it did they were easily visible to Kajal and she could've told us ".The lady didn't tell anything else ,but after that Kajal never came back and it was as if she had vanished. Although after a while everyone in the village started saying that the lady (Kajal) could change forms and could become a vulture as well as a woman . Some said she summoned spirits. Well that is something people say ,some believe it some don't but I know what I saw.