Story: THE GHOST MACHINE
THE GHOST MACHINE
(Translated by Cauberi Mukherjee)
Scientist Tarun Sarkar got a proposal from Kumar Construction Company. The owner Mr. Kumar came to Mr. Sarkar’s house and said,”Sir you are a renowned scientist but your scientific discoveries are confined within your laboratory. You are so famous , we now want you to enjoy commercial success. Your many instruments have acquired many international patents but they cannot be used commercially. We now want you to discover a ghost machine . We have been looking for such a machine for a long time. At last we found that you are the most appropriate person. Please begin your research on the ghost detection machine. We will grant a huge sum for your research work.”
Scientist Sarkar, in a serious tone asked, “why do you need such a machine ?Please clarify your request for such ghost detection ?” Mr. Kumar, replied,”We have promoted many buildings in Kolkata. We have demolished many old decrepit buildings and built multi storied
buildings . Due to fear of ghosts ,people do not show interest of buying the flats. Just as there are fire detection machines fitted in the flats, similarly a ghost detection machine will help us to find an old, ghost- free house. We want that you should head this special department.”
Scientist Sarkar, had a keen interest in ghosts for a long time ,but his busy schedule kept him away from chasing ghosts. He found this a very challenging project. He knew when a man dies his body is buried or cremated and his soul takes another body. When a man’s death is unnatural which means he is , murdered or is killed in an accident his dissatisfied soul becomes a ghost and hovers around the house to take revenge.
Mr. Sarkar once went to the Ganga Sagar Fair . It is a big fair where thousands of devotees go to take a holy dip in the river to cleanse their body and soul on the auspicious day on 14th January every year. Many monks go there, for purging themselves. Mr Sarkar met such a monk. He was intrigued to know about souls. The monk explained that souls are like onions. They have many layers. The outer layers rot and peel off, but the core remains. The dissatisfied souls remain in the core. They move around as shadows where they once lived. The monk said, “ I have a powder and if you burn the powder these evil souls take a physical form ,and then it is easier to destroy them. I got it from my guru after meditating for years.”
Scientist Sarkar, accepted the powder for its chemical composition. He asked the monk, “Can it not be made in a proper scientific manner? if I get the chemical composition perhaps I can make this powder. People will no longer be scared of ghosts”. The monk replied, “You are a scientist, if you burn a little bit of this powder you can derive the chemical composition. You will not do any business with this powder I hope. If it serves for the good of the people I will be very happy.”
Many years lapsed, Mr. Sarkar preserved the powder in his laboratory. Mr. Sarkar thought perhaps the powder will be of some use now. He began to chalk out a plan.He wanted to begin work right away. He began looking for an old ,abandoned , haunted house. He intended to make that house his temporary research laboratory.
Kumar Construction came forward and they helped him to find a desolate , decrepit house. After an intense research scientist Sarkar discovered that the powder was made up of formaldehyde and an acid. Now he focussed his concentration on the the types of ghosts, their behaviour, and other characteristics. Besides he also tried to give those evil sprits a physical form. Mr. Sarkar knew he had to get a physical form of a ghost for practical demonstration.But who will come forward to help? No body would like to involve himself in such a spooky research.
He decided to use a easily carry able fire extinguisher .Temporarily he thought he would use a bicycle pump and spray the possible areas where the ghosts can be found.He knew the task was highly risky. A scientist’s life is more valuable. Any human being cannot tolerate the presence of a fearful ghost more than a minute . He had to act fast.To change a ghostly shadow into a physical form, was something he learnt very well.
Mr. Sarkar anxiously waited for some ghosts in that old dilapidated house but had no luck. He was in a difficult situation. How could he practically experiment his instrument if there were no ghosts ? Soon he got an information that every dark moon night somewhere near a bazar in Alipur one can see a ghostly van carrying bundles of hay stack rush past the road. The driver drives very rashly like a maniac. He passes the Central Jail and as he tried to cross the bridge over river Ganga, it dashed against the bridge with such force that the van caught fire and the burning van fell into the river and sank. The driver was charred to death. This incident occurred hundred years ago. The driver who now drives is actually a skeleton of the dead driver.
Scientist Sarkar tried hard to find a ghost, but he couldn’t achieve any success. He visited many haunted houses on his own. He recorded the cries of a ghost, their shrill calls, but couldn’t experiment . Before he set up his equipment the shadowy figure disappeared through a wall. Many people gave references of their relatives who died unnaturally, but the scientist had no luck.At last he got an information of a ghost who lived in a garden house. Mr. Sarkar with great difficulty managed to spray the powder and capture the ghost in a bottle. Mr. Sarkar was very happy. He was at last successful. He now wanted to get an international patent.
This extraordinary discovery was splashed in all media. People began to talk about this. Ghosts were turned into dust by chemical reaction and sealed in bottles. Mr. Kumar of Kumar Construction said “we understand how you solved this ghost problem.But my question is how will you destroy these sealed bottles carrying the dust particles of the ghosts?” Scientist Sarkar was so engrossed in happiness of his successful experiment that he completely overlooked this aspect. The dust particles sealed in the bottles , if kept for long, will radiate radio active gases and emit powerful rays from the bottle. If let out in the air, they will cause severe poisonous air pollution. Besides, some of the dust particles could join and turn back into shadowy ghosts. Mr. Sarkar already had one hundred bottles in future more will be added. This was a very serious problem.
Mr. Sarkar, thought deeply. He rationalised that , if a nuclear war between India and Pakistan takes place, about two hundred million people will be killed. He thought of a daring plan. He wanted to take these bottles along with some helpers to the India Pakistan border. He wanted to release the bottles there. Of late, many soldiers and civilians had been killed at the border. His ghosts would mingle with the ghosts existing at the border or fight with each other.
Mr. Sarkar, boarded a plane the next day. He reached Kashmir. He took a car and went to Uri border. A week ago, eighteen Indian soldiers were killed at the border. There was high tension on both sides of the border. He camped at Uri border. His juniors also camped along with him. When the moon climbed higher in the indigo night his juniors brought one hundred bottles to release the ghosts.Mr.Sarkar, believed that the ghosts who were captured for a long in the bottles will not have so much power. After being released they would surely fly away to Pakistan. So the operation had to begin immediately.
As soon as he began to open the bottles. the ghosts began to fly. Soon those dust particles in which form they were sealed, began to join themselves and took frightful shapes. Some had chopped limbs, some were headless they began to take ghastly shadowy
forms. They now began to chase Mr. Sarkar and his team. They ran to their camps. In this moment of crisis, Mr. Sarkar forgot to spray the powder which he earlier used to trap them.
The spirits who were liberated, were dancing in happiness. They looked like a fire ball from a distance. The soldiers guarding the border saw in their radar those fire balls. They thought these were Pakistani drones who were hovering over Uri 400 kilometres from the border.
Scientist Sarkar realised his experiments with ghosts needed more thorough research., Although he had a life threatening frightful experience in Kashmir, he would remain undeterred and carry on with his research. Scientists all over the world are not afraid of the consequences. They fearlessly go on with their research. Scientist Sarkar would also conquer his fear and go ahead with his experiments. If his curiosity regarding ghosts dies then he cannot progress. No matter how frightful the spirits look, he promised to himself he would not shudder. Scientist Sarkar was determined that even if he feels restless or his his heart starts palpitating, on seeing a ghost, he would not give up. He would expel the darkness from his mind and fear from his heart and forge ahead to chase the ghosts from the haunted houses who terrify the innocent people ,who live around the ghost mansions.He had been successful once and he would be successful again.Ghosts are creatures of the night. They are afraid of light.He imagined himself lighting a lamp in his mind ,and in the light of the flickering flame, he would be successful in expelling the ghosts.