Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two Men and a Ghost Cow

When I was twelve years of age, my father told me a story which I found intriguing hence, have remembered it vividly. I'd like to share it with you here today. I'll leave it to you to believe or not to believe.
My father was around the age of 22 when this incident happened. He was from a poor family and wasn't educated, so was only employable to do simple work; like, labouring at a milk farm.
In his days, the milk farms didn't have machines, everything was done by hand. My father, along with four other workers, would milk the cows in the day, and when came dusk, they fed the cows and let graze on the pasture.
After the chores were done, everyone would sit together, have chai (tea) and watch the beautiful sunset. After drinkingchai, all the men, except one, would take leave and return home. The one remaining, was the lookout for the eveningThat was, basically, the daily routine.
One particular evening, the men let out the cows for grazing, They thought they had let all the cows out, but realised later, there was still one inside the shade that didn't want to leave. They tried to persuade her out—pushing and pulling her—but she was too stubborn so they brought in some dry grass, incase she got hungry, and left her alone. They closed the doors to the shade and sat for tea.
That evening was my father's turn to act as the lookout. When the rest left, my father prepared more tea and sat to admire the final minutes of the sunset alone.
While he was engulfed by the beauty of mother nature, he heard a greeting, "namesta bai ji." (Hello brother)

Two men, dressed just like him—milk farmers—approached from nowhere. In the villages, it is not unusual to have perfect strangers coming from nowhere and joining you for tea, so my father poured them tea and they talked right through sunset.
Jamir and Balu were their names, and they claimed to have come from a village nearby. Although my father knew almost everyone from the neighbouring villagers, he didn't recognise those two.

My father remembered, that night was a particularly quiet night. Surprisingly, he said, he could hear frogs, crickets and leaves rustling softly but clearly, even over their conversation. Not only could he hear the sounds of nature, he heard sounds that sounded very unnatural too—he heard low rumbling sounds that he thought were words being recited but they didn't sound human at all.

The 'words' were coming from the shade. He looked at Balu and Jamir. They said they heard the 'words' too. My father and Balu went to check. They found no body except for the cow in the shade. Balu then excused himself to answer nature's call. He went behind the shade and my father returned to join Jamir. But Jamir was not there. My father thought he also had gone to answer nature's call. He waited and waited, the two men never materialised.
Bewildered, my father searched the entire shade, inside and out. He also went to the field to look for them but Jamir and Balu was nowhere to be found.
"Where could they have gone to?" He wondered. He found it impolite that his visitors left without saying goodbye, and was quite crossed, so he cursed as he made his way back to the farm.
As he neared the farm, he heard a loud moan. It came from inside the shade. It was the same low rumble but that time, it sounded like it was bellowing in pain. My father ran as fast as he could towards the shade. He suddenly realised, it sounded like an animal was being slaughtered. He feared for the stubborn cow in the shade.
He crashed onto the shade doors and they sprang open. The cow was not there! On the ground, where they left some grass, was a pool of blood.
My father was very scared and ran out of the shade into the pastures with the other cows.
He thought and thought but could not rationalise how Jamir and Balu disappeared so swiftly, the rumble sounds he heard, the cow's disappearance, and the pool of blood.
The only logical explanation he could come up with was that the two men were really – ghosts!
He could not stay on the open field, so he finally returned to the farm and stayed awake the entire night, jumping at the slightest sound or movement in the shadows.
Just before sunrise, the other workers started to come in. My father told them of the ghostly incident. To his surprise, they laughed.
According to them, Jamir and Balu had been real, and many of the men had seen their ghosts too.
Many years ago, the story went — At that very milk farm, two workers stole a cow and sold it to a Muslim butcher at the open market. They were found out and were beaten and stoned to death by the angry villagers.
My father, still insisting the cow was butchered in the night, led his fellow workers into the shade to show them the pool of blood. To his surprise, the cow was standing there safe and sound; there was no blood anywhere on the ground. But, mysteriously, that cow died three days later.   3SZHNAVYF4DB 

Card tricks with a spooky twist

Christian Cagigal

In the cards: Christian Cagigal combines tricks and scary stories in “Obscura: A Magic Show” at the Exit Studio. (Courtesy photo)

With his thoroughly intriguing and entertaining one-man presentation “Obscura: A Magic Show,” Christian Cagigal proves a fine example of the adage “good things come in small packages.”

Onstage through April in the appropriately cozy Exit Studio in the middle of the Tenderloin, this “evening of short stories and strange happenings” wraps cool card tricks, audience participation, appealing low-tech props and Cagigal’s undeniably irresistible delivery into a one-of-a-kind experience.

It’s easy to see why Cagigal, a theater artist with a long background of punctuating magic tricks with creepy tales (his somewhat similar “Now and at the Hour” last year enjoyed a long run and is being made into a film by director H.P. Mendoza of “Colma: The Musical” fame) has won awards for his unique, compelling display. 3SZHNAVYF4DB

Not more than a few dozen audience members fit into the theater. A table on the stage is outfitted with a camera above, which projects the contents of Cagigal’s cards — playing cards, tarot-style cards, vintage photographs and old-fashioned title cards, like the kind in silent movies — onto a screen at the back of the stage. 3SZHNAVYF4DB

An eerie, tinkling tune from a music box provides the perfect accompaniment as the stories’ nifty and provocative names — like “The Gambler and the Stranger,” “The Inquisition, “The Four Wishes” and “The Black Envelope” — come up on the screen.

Cagigal tells each story with verve, style and enough bravado to keep folks in the audience on the edge of their seats — aided, of course, by his sleight of hand and magic.

As the show progresses, he selects a few folks from the audience to help with certain tricks and tales.

A consummate showman, Cagigal skillfully works his helpers’ personal backgrounds — their names, residences and vocations — into his act in a way that’s engaging and respectful at the same time. Not only is he clever and quirky, he’s also got the chops to work the small crowd with just the right tone, never condescending or making fun of the people he pulls on stage.

After his epilogue, a story called “A Room for Death,” Cagigal bids his listeners goodbye, happily summing up — “this is my tiniest show ever” — and inviting them back with their friends.


Obscura: A Magic Show

Where: Exit Studio, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturdays; closes April 16

Tickets: $15 to $25 3SZHNAVYF4DB