“Did you see any ghosts during your recent trip to Europe?”Colonel James Kanagaraj, wanted to know in response to my blog Ghost Writer. I do not blame him for asking; my title was deliberately loaded with a double meaning. The richest and well known GW in recent past is the man who ‘ghost’ wrote Donal Trump’s autobiography. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money to write about Trump. The writer not only regrets having written the piece, but also claims his literary brilliance led to the elevation of the Trump image to such an extent that he became Presidential material.
Coming back to the question, no, I did not ‘see’ any ghosts simply because we cannot see them. According to a well researched book resting in a nook in the British Council Library, Chennai, presence of ghosts and spirits can be experienced in three ways, sounds and invisible signs or through a medium – usually an animal.
My own theory is, and explaining by the nearest resemblance of similarity as we currently know, is that the ‘atma’ or soul is akin to sound wave or vibrations. It travels through the air unseen. Yogi Jaggi Vasudev in an interview explaining the spiritual significance of the ritual for dead people says that the brain and thought process creates vibrations. When a person dies not too peacefully or suddenly with unfulfilled wishes the thoughts created are abounding in the atmosphere with no longer any control over them. This may be what disturbs close ones, especially those receptive to such paranormal activity. Those born between February and March especially during the cusp are considered more receptive. I myself was born in that bracket and throughout life experienced many paranormal events.
My children are pleading that I write about the actual ghost experiences, but I will save that for a later date. Many are wondering about the grey area between my Mallu upbringing and sudden transformation to an ‘English’ writer. Besides well stocked libraries, the Gurus in literature are the most significant contributors. Mr. Chatelier, our English Teacher in Montfort School, Yercaud, certainly enlivened our English Literature class, embellishing even boring classics in to fun. He also dressed like an English gentleman; suit and tie. Bennet Albert, the Professor of English Literature in Madras Christian College was responsible for fine tuning my English with his erudite simplicity and British humour (maybe even Scottish humour as many of MCC founders and fellow staff were Scots and could have possibly passed on that influence). Sir, (we never called him by name to his face) was more down to earth -always dressed in white drill pants and white cotton full sleeved shirt. The humour stayed in his eyes and rarely traveled to his lips. He was also the Warden of Selaiyur Hall, and woebegone any resident who wrote a leave letter unsure of the spelling of diarrhea. The medical officer of MCC was puzzled why students were claiming to suffer from dysentery, (easier to spell) though there was no cases diagnosed.
There was one more reason for the boost to my proficiency in English. My father had joined the Oil Company Burmah Shell. All the kids my age were British, Dutch or the odd Scottish or Irish. Playing with them and secluded from the outer world beyond the Officers’ Colony, my spoken English soon picked up too, replete with a few Cockney phrases and cuss words. Perhaps it also left a cultural and ethnic footprint on the sands of time relative to me.
The only occasion I regretted not being equally adept in my mother tongue, Malayalam, was when the US Consulate wanted to hire me to read Malayalam newspapers and magazines and condense to English those of economic or political significance to America. The salary was 20 times more than my employer a public limited company was then paying me!
Once a writer, always a writer! After a lapse of 7 years I have taken up my pen; literally. I always use a fountain pen and write down notes in my diary after some intense research. Fountain pens not only improve your handwriting, but occasionally the spill ink and buttress the claim of a famous washing powder brand; more so if you use ‘washable royal blue’.
I owe this return to the pen mainly due to my 43 day sojourn in Sweden the perfect environment for a writer’s fertile imagination and creativity- surrounded by nature and absolute calm and peace all around.