Do you really believe on the existence of Ghosts ?

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Ghosts – Their very mention sends a shiver down our spine. Can we laugh them away or are they yet another unexplained mystery? Read this story about Ruskin Bond’s Friend.

My friend Jummy has only one arm. He lost the other when he was a young man of twenty-five. The story of how he lost his good right arm is a little difficult to believe, but I swear that it is absolutely true.

To begin with, Jimmy was (and presumably still is) a Jinn. Now a Jinn isn’t really a human like us. A Jinn is a spirit creature from another world who has assumed, for a lifetime, the physical aspect of a human being. Jimmy was a true Jinn, and he had the Jinn’s gift of being able to elongate his arm at will. His arm would move through space or up walls or along the ground like a beautiful gliding serpent. I have seen him stretched out beneath a mango tree, helping himself to ripe mangoes from the top of the tree. He loved mangoes.

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It was during the half-term examinations that I stumbled on Jimmy’s secret. We had been set a particularly difficult algebra paper, but I had managed to cover a couple of sheets with correct answers and was about to forge ahead on another sheet when I noticed someone’s hand on my desk. At first I thought it was the invigilator’s. But when I looked up, there was no one beside me. Could it be the boy sitting directly behind? No, he was engrossed in his question paper, and had his hands to himself. Meanwhile, the hand on my desk had grasped my answer sheets and was cautiously moving off. Following its descent, I found that it was attached to an arm of amazing length and pliability. This moved stealthily down the desk and slithered across the floor, shrinking all the while, until it was restored to its normal length. Its owner was of course one who had never been good at algebra.

I had to write out my answers a second time, but after the exam, I went straight up to Jimmy, told him I didn’t like his game, and threatened to expose him. He begged me not to let anyone know, assured me that he couldn’t really help himself, and offered to be of service to me whenever I wished. It was tempting to have Jimmy as my friend, for with his long reach he could obviously be useful. I agreed to overlook the matter of the pilfered papers, and we became the best of pals.

Now the trouble with all Jinns is that they have a weakness for women with long black hair. Jimmy couldn’t resist touching and stroking along black hair. The cinema was the best place for the indulgence of his whims. His arm would start stretching, his fingers would feel their way along the rows of seats, and his lengthening limb would slowly work its way along the aisle until it reached the back of the seat in which sat the object of his admiration. If the girl felt anything and looked round, Jimmy’s hand would disappear behind the seat and lie there posed like the hood of a snake, ready to strike again.

After college we did not see each other for a few years. And then, holidaying in the hills last year, I found we were staying in the same hotel. One day we decided to take our lunch to a grassy knoll just below the main motor-road. It was late afternoon and I had been sleeping of the effects of the lunch when I woke to find Jimmy looking rather agitated.

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“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Up there, under the pine trees,” he said. “Just above the road. Don’t you see them?”

“I see two girls,” I said. “So what?”

“The one on the left. Haven’t you noticed her hair?”

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“Yes, it is very long and beautiful and now look, Jimmy, you’d better get a grip on yourself!” But already his hand was out of sight, his arm snaking up the hillside and across the road.

Presently I saw the hand emerge from some bushes near the girls, and then cautiously make its way to the girl with the black tresses. So absorbed was Jimmy in the pursuit of his favourite pastime that he failed to hear the lowing of a horn. Around the bend of the road came a speeding Mercedes-Benz truck.

Jimmy saw the truck, but there wasn’t time for him to shrink his arm back to normal. It lay right across the entire width of the road, and when the truck had passed over it, it writhed and twisted like a mortally wounded python.

By the time the truck driver and I could fetch a doctor, the arm (or what was left of it) had shrunk to its ordinary size. We took Jimmy to hospital, where the doctors found it necessary to amputate the arm. The truck driver, who kept insisting that the arm he ran over was at least thirty feet long, was arrested on a charge of drunken driving.

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Some weeks later I asked Jimmy, “Why are you so depressed? You still have one arm. Isn’t it gifted in the same way?”

“I never tried to find out,” he said, “and I’m not going to try now.”

He is of course still a Jinn at heart, and whenever he sees a girl with long black hair he must be terribly tempted to try out his one good arm and stroke her beautiful tresses. But he has learnt his lesson. It is better to be a human without any gifts than a Jinn or a genius with one too many.

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