It was a sunny afternoon. The full sun was smiling thirty-two teeth all out. Shishir was to start for his grandfather’s house. It was not remote from his village, yet not too close. Shishir had to convey a piece of news to his grandfather. As his grandfather or others in his grandfather’s family had no cell phone, Shishir had to go there on foot for the road was directed through a deep forest. First his mother did not want to send him to her father’s home. But Shishir convinced her about his ability that he was grown up enough to walk a long way alone.
As he was going through the forest, he felt tired and sat under a tree to rest. The branches of the tree spread around and created a shade like an umbrella.
“Oh! How long the way is! I really need to take some rest here.”
He leant against the tree and started feeling peaceful there, except some little flies were buzzing around him.
“Hey naughty tiny creatures, leave me alone. Why are you disturbing me? I want to take rest here. You know how much tired I was feeling for walking a long way?”
Shishir closed his eyes. A dry leaf from the tree dropped on his nose. He felt it with his nostrils and started sneezing but didn’t open his eyes as he was in a deep sleep then.
Sleeping in a forest! It’s much risky, yet good for an exhausted man who really needed a nap to regain his vigour that he would need to walk the remaining distance.
Near the tree were some bushes. In the bushes he heard a whistle. Shishir got up and went to look. He saw a bottle lying under a bush. The whistle was coming from inside the bottle.
Shishir opened the bottle to look inside. Immediately a lot of black smoke came out from the bottle. The smoke rose high in the sky. Then the smoke turned into a ghost. It was a big ghost, as tall as a tree.
The ghost was red in colour. He had red eyes and large golden earrings in his ears. He roared, “Give me some work or I shall eat you up.” The man was very frightened. “W-w-w-what sort of work do you want?” he asked the ghost.
“Any kind of work,” the ghost replied. “You have let me out from the bottle, so you have to give me work to do. I must keep working, day and night. The moment you stop giving me work, I shall eat you up.”
“Take me to my grandparent’s house,” Shishir said. The ghost picked up him. In half a second he reached his grandparent’s house.
“Oh, my dear grandson! Oh, Shishir, you came after a pretty long time. Where are your parents? Did you come alone? How did you come?”
“Wait, wait, Grandpa. Why so many questions together? How will I answer all of them at a time?”
“Shishir, Shishir, my young hero!” Shishir’s grandmother cried out, “It was a pretty long time since I had seen you, dear.” She kissed Shishir on the forehead. Shishir blushed in shyness as he has got older than his grandmother saw him before. She started asking him a lot of questions about his parents, brother and sisters. Shishir was just looking at the ghost.
To his utter surprise Shishir noticed that his grandparents did not see the ghost monster. He asked them, “Grandpa, Grammy, can you see somebody here?”
“Yes, yes. You and your Grammy,” Shishir’s grandfather replied, being astonished.
“I can see you and your Grandpa, and no one else. If you talk about any third person here, that’s me, your Grammy. But why did you ask it, Shishir?” Grandmother asked.
“Oh, just asking. I’m hungry. Can you please give me something to eat?” Shishir said to his grandmother.
“It’s our pleasure, dear. Come in, come in. I’ve got some special dishes ready for you, just for you. I know you love chicken curry, prawn fry, smashed potato …………..” she entered the kitchen uttering the names of the dishes she had prepared for Shishir.
“Let’s go inside, dear. Your Grammy is readying food for you. Let’s give a good hand to her,” Grandfather said to Shishir.
“Don’t you find here someone else, Grandpa?” Shishir asked.
“No. Not really. Have you come with anyone else, dear?”
“No. I’ve come alone. No one came with me. Actually, I came alone on my own will.”
“Oh, that means you’re grown up enough. You can journey a long way, no matter it’s a long way through jungles, fields and forests, right?”
“How come such a giant ghost evades my grandparents’ eyes?” Shishir said to himself, “Am I day-dreaming?”
For a few seconds Shishir stood still there. His grandfather was going on calling him to come in and have foods. But Shishir seemed to be completely heedless to the calls. He got his sense back when harsh sounds stroke his ears. The ghost was telling again and again, “Give me some work to do or I shall eat you up.”
Shishir’s grandparents weren’t rich enough. The house they used to live in was almost fifty years old. The roof was mossy, burdened with some wasted concretes, brick pieces, wood logs, sand, etc. Rooms were not decorated enough. Some old portraits of the forefathers of Shishir’s grandfather were hanging here and there on the walls. As Shishir’s grandparents did not have any other children except Shishir’s mother, they employed a housemaid who used to work for them and leave after her work was over.
Shishir was thinking of asking for a nice house. He thought if the ghost could really take him a long way flying within seconds, he would turn his grandparents’ house into a palace too. “Turn my grandparent’s house into a big palace,” Shishir said.
In a few minutes the palace was ready. To their utter surprise, Shishir’s grandparents started crying out in sheer happiness. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Where are we now? Shishir, you see, we are in a palace now? How is it possible? How can our house be a palace within seconds? God, you’re great. We were always praying for a better life, a better house. At last you heard our cry. You’re great,” Shishir’s grandmother cried out in happiness. She could not stop her tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Shishir, Shishir, come in. See, we’re in a palace now,” Shishir’s grandfather said. But Shishir was now completely beyond himself. He thought of asking for more and more from the ghost.
The ghost again said loudly, “Give me some work or I shall eat you up.”
“Get me plenty of gold and jewels,” Shishir said. Soon the gold and jewels were there.
“Grammy, Grandpa, come out of the room. See, you’re having now lots of gold and jewels.”
“Oh my God! Oh my God! What’s happening here? We have lots of gold and jewels now!” Shishir’s grandparents came out of the room of the palace crying out in joy seeing so many gold and jewels in front of them. Shishir did not pay heed to them. He was still not happy with what he got already. He wished he could have got more and more from the ghost. The ghost had become his servant and so he would not stop asking for things.
“Give me some work or I shall eat you up,” the ghost said again.
Shishir saw his grandparents were wearing very old clothes. Their dresses do not match with the palace. So, he thought of new and costly dresses for him and his grandparents. “Get me and my grandparents nice clothes to wear,” Shishir said.
At once the ghost brought the clothes. Shishir was now completely astonished at the eccentric behaviour of the ghost. “Who is the ghost really? Where is he getting so many things to give me? Why is he giving me so many things?” Shishir was muttering to himself.
Shishir’s parents were now too happy to call him to have foods. It was getting dark. Shishir was very much hungry. He was tired too. But the ghost was still there to offer service to him. Now what he needed most was only food. He thought he should now ask for food from the ghost. As he expected, the ghost said to him the same thing, “Give me some work or I shall eat you up.”
“Get me and my grandparents some delicious and costly food, mostly from the Royal Cuisine, Golden Biriyani, Mr. Baker, KFC, Chillox, Ajwah and McDonald.”
In a second Shishir and his grandparents found the table loaded with delicious food. Shishir’s grandparents could not resist the temptation to devour the most delicious and appetizing foods they had ever seen. They had gone crazy. Shishir tried to eat, but he got no time.
The ghost again said, “Give me some work or I shall eat you up.”
Shishir kept on giving work to the ghost. He could not eat at all. When night came the ghost would not let him sleep.
“Give me some work or I shall eat you up,” the ghost said again.
Shishir got very worried. A fear seized him suddenly. How could he eat? How could he sleep? If he did not find more and more work, the ghost would eat him up. Then Shishir had an idea. He thought to irritate the ghost now or to give him such a work which would never end, and thus to get rid of the menace. He told the ghost, “Make me a tall pillar, as high as the sky. And be quick.”
In just a few minutes the ghost was back. “The pillar is ready,” he said. “Now give me some work or I shall eat you up.”
“Now listen carefully,” Shishir said. “Climb up the pillar till you reach the top. Then climb down till you reach the earth. Then climb up to the top and come down again. Keep on doing so till I tell you to stop. And mind you don’t waste anytime.”
The ghost was very happy, for he now had plenty to do. He went up the pillar, came down, went up, came down. He went on doing so.
Shishir watched for some time. Then he went inside and ate the foods the ghost had brought. His grandparents had already slept. They were enjoying their sound sleep in the most comfortable bed. After having foods Shishir went off to sleep. “Oh, what a strange I passed!” he said to himself.
Next morning Shishir got up early, much before his grandparents got up, and went outside. He saw the ghost going up and down the pillar all the time. Shishir was very happy. “Now, do the work for ever,” Shishir smiled.
Shishir came to his grandparents’ house to inform them something. But he forgot what he had been told by his mother. He could not go back to his home until the ghost was driven away.
Many days passed. The ghost kept on going up and down the pillar. At the end of a month he was still doing it. He now felt a little tired. “Please sir,” he said to the man, “may I stop now? I have been going up and down the pillar for a month.”
“How can you stop?” Shishir said. “You cannot stop till I tell you. So keep on going up and down the pillar.”
Another three months passed. Now the ghost was really tired. “Sir,” he said, “I can’t do it anymore. I must stop now.”
“You can stop on one condition,” Shishir said. You must go away from here, and never come back.”
“I promise,” the ghost said.
“Very well, you may stop now. And take away that pillar with you.”
The ghost picked up the pillar and ran away.
“Good bye,” Shishir said.
The ghost went out of his notice. Shishir waited for some more minutes if the ghost would come back again. But he did not come back. Shishir never saw him again.