The Black Tyrant
Godavari , an old friend of my grandmother's, was ill. My grandmother, learning of the news, met up with four of her friends and went to see Godavari at her house.
The women were relieved to find Godavari doing better. They stayed and chatted all evening. Then, when it was nearly seven o'clock, the five women left Godavari's place.
Home was quite far if they were to walk through well lit roads. It would save them at least half an hour if they went through Amrtala.
Amrtala is not a village. There are no houses and people living there. It is just a jungle centre-spot where there were networks of pathways that led to other villages.
The five women had each used Amrtala on many occasions when walking to and from other villages. This day wasn't any different. They walked blissfully in the dark without a concern.
When they reached a junction of the pathways, they separated; three of the women said their goodbyes and left in different directions. Lakshmi and my grandmother stayed a while longer and talked. They talked under the moonlight shadows of the rustling leaves. The night was cool and comfortable, and had made them lose track of time. When Lakshmi did look at her watch she was shocked to learn it was almost nine o'clock. They reluctantly left one and other and went their separate ways.
My grandmother walked peacefully, clutching a market bag in her hand. Amidst the rusting leaves and the shadowy moonlight on the ground, she saw a figure up ahead. It was a little boy of four or five years old.
My grandmother was surprised to see a little boy in the middle of nowhere. As she walked closer to the boy, she tried to make out his features but she couldn't see very easily in the dark. When the boy came forth into the light, she saw that he was very black and horrendously ugly.
The boy pointed at her market bag and asked if she had meat in there. My boggled grandmother shook her head and said she had sweets in there. The boy didn't believe her. He asked her to open it and give him the meat that was inside. My grandmother was annoyed by the boy's stubbornness. She dug into the bag and removed the sweets she had in there.
"Here take these sweets, little boy." She said.
The boy shook his head and shouted. "I WANT MEAT!"
My grandmother became scared. Even though he was a tiny figure, she was afraid. She realised how unusual the situation was because there could not have been a mother in the village who would allow her small child to wander about in the jungle like that.
My grandmother walked pass him and tossed the sweets on the ground. The boy began to pick the sweets up and threw them back at her. My grandmother was at the verge of screaming, but didn't. She kept her cool. She walked fast, and soon, she had walked almost ten meters away from the boy. When she didn't hear his call for meat anymore, she turned to look. He was standing at the spot where she dropped the sweets. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, the boy was right in front of her, barely a meter away. My grandmother panicked, let out a scream, and began to run. The boy gave chase, screaming for meat. She ran and ran, hearing the boy's footsteps but saw nothing when she turned.
Soon, she was out of Amrtala and ran to the first house she saw. The door opened after half a minute of frantic banging. The shocked woman at the door asked what happened. My grandmother told her what she had been through. The woman wasn't surprised. She said she has heard of the little black tyrant from other women too.
Amrtala it seems, is haunted.