All Kinds of Magic by Piers Moore Ede

All Kinds of Magic by Piers Moore Ede

Author:Piers Moore Ede
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: Hewer Text UK Ltd http://www.hewertext.com
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: 2010-10-28T21:00:00+00:00

Black Magic

‘I was telling my friend about our visit to Mata-ji,’ began Niraj, enjoying a fizzy green Limca on the rooftop of my guesthouse. ‘And that you were interested in the traditions of Benares. He asked me if you would be interested in meeting some Mantriks.’

‘Mantriks?’

Niraj paled. ‘Very unpleasant men, actually. Also worshipping Kali, although when they invoke her name it is not for purposes of healing or assistance. It is for death. They have the power to kill people through curses and charms.’

I froze. I’d heard rumours of such people, but certainly never expected to meet them.

‘Are there many such people here . . .?’

Niraj looked uneasy. ‘Bad men are there in every country, I think. For myself, I do not like such people. I want nothing to do with them. But yes, there are some such fellows around. I’m assuming you don’t want to meet with them.’

‘I think I do,’ I said, tentatively. ‘What if I give them a false name and pretend to put the evil eye on someone who doesn’t exist?’

‘This may be possible. But you must be careful. And you will have to go alone.’

‘Alone!’

‘I will drive you to the village,’ said Niraj. ‘But after that I will go no further. I am afraid of these people.’

In the event, it took some time to organise. Niraj’s friend knew of the Mantriks through his cousin, who had some recourse to seek revenge a few years back when a local crime syndicate threatened his business. They were cautious men, it seemed, who wanted money up front and certain assurances. What I did glean was that they were of the Dom caste, the untouchables who worked the cremation ghats. As untouchables they were entitled to handle corpses – a source of ritual impurity for orthodox Hindus – and it was their lot from birth to manage the rituals of death. Because of their trade, however, most Hindus were reluctant to even brush past them in the street. Their village was apart, and they were expected to marry amongst themselves.

Over the week before the ceremony, I discovered as much about the Dom as I could. They were not vegetarian, offered one pious Hindu with a shudder, but ate the bodies of animals that had died a natural death, even rats. Another person suggested that the Roma, the gypsies who first originated in India, stemmed from their caste. Doms were supposed to stand when a higher caste person walked past them; they were forbidden from wearing new clothes; their children were illiterate; their women amongst the likeliest to work in prostitution. Even at weddings they were only allowed to make four sacred rounds of the fire, as opposed to the seven traditional for Brahmins.

With all this in mind, I began to feel an increasing sympathy for those downtrodden members of society. But neither had I forgotten that these Mantriks were, in effect, paid killers. They made their living from causing harm and that, when all is said and done, is a choice.



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