Today I want to tell you the stories of two women separated by over half a century.
Sometime in the 1950s, my grandaunt, Mejo Thakuma, was 'possessed' by a bhoot when she was pregnant with one of her three children.
At the time, my father’s family lived in Chhakur Danga, a village that defined the word boondocks, in West Bengal’s impoverished Bankura district. Under the influence of this nasty spirit, Mejo Thakuma developed a frightening appetite. She ate chunks of dirt and spoke in an unearthly voice. The family chained her up, scared she would wring someone’s neck.
Finally they called an ojha, who beat her with a broomstick and drove the bhoot away. Later, all three of Mejo Thakuma's children were named after Hindu gods and mystics to ward off the evil eye.
Here's the second story. This is the story of Padma, my friend and founder of Suno India, India’s pioneering audio storytelling platform, who lives in Hyderabad. In 2012, Padma had tapeworm eggs go into her head. The cysts cleared up, but Padma had horrible side effects from the drugs they gave her. She had fits. She was in the ICU for four harrowing days.
One day, the hospital staff wheeled her into the doctor's chamber. The doctor ordered her family to leave. He closed the door. Then he asked Padma if she wanted to tell him something.