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REALTY SPEAK

Fighting evil and frightening visitors

D. MURALI

One man’s waste is another man’s treasure, say environmentalists when discoursing on the uses of recycling. In fact, some of the more enthusiastic ones among them don’t use the words ‘trash’ or ‘waste’, but prefer to call what’s junked, ‘experienced resources’. These are laudable and progressive thoughts, because there is money in muck, and gold in garbage, as they say. But I’m only worried about residents w ho take the maxim to illogical limits and imagine that trash could include intangible ill luck too.

Thus, exploding pumpkins on roads in front of premises is as common a practice as sweeping the house clean and in the end throwing the dust to the winds. Obnoxious for everybody else, but the theory is that evil things should be thrown off, as far away as possible.

Stampede

The slippery vegetable would lie stampeded by bigger vehicles, waiting to wreak its vengeance on some unfortunate two-wheeler who, for all you know, may be driving back to his apartment, just there. Then you hear the thud…

The common pumpkin may find its place outside many buildings, suspended from a rope.

It is usual to paint a frightening face on the thing and it is left exposed to elements. You never know when the rope will give way or when the once-fat-but-now-decayed thing falls off, bringing upon its target all accumulated misfortune. I don’t know if cats love playing football, because in some places people use the sunshade right on top of the entrance for perching the pumpkin, as if inviting a kick from a stray animal that loves fun.

Have you ever noticed staircase steps in front of some flats blackened by smoke?

It may not be the remnant of a fire accident but more probably an indication that the inmates there believe in some periodical warding off “drishti,” the proverbial ‘bad eye’, by burning camphor, broom twigs and so on.

I’m told that some people even add some red chilli and such pungent spice in the fire, and along with the smoke would go the spirit, entering perhaps the nostrils of all those who dare inhale the same involuntarily, though, in the upper floors.

This may explain your Monday blues, because this exorcising exercise often takes place on Sunday nights! A practice, one may say, that smells of irresponsibility when living in clusters of flats, unless you can shrug it off as some tolerable oddity?

Vile has to be stopped at source, and over the ages, humans have perfected the art of frightening ‘it’ away before entrance is granted.

Historically, it would have been necessary to ward off predators and enemies by curdling their blood with a severed human head held on a spike right at the door! But days have changed.

Pizza delivery boys tell me how they encounter different things. Horseshoes are old fashion on the main door, it seems.

Feedback to dmurali@thehindu.co.in

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