Santosh Bakaya: The Uncanny and I

Santosh Bakaya

Ask Baby

“Oh mummy, how can this be possible? This appears to be a figment of your imagination. ”
 I rejoined with an incredulous chuckle when my mother  related an incident when my parents  had left, Srinagar, Kashmir,  our home state,  in search of greener pastures and father  had landed a lecturer’s job in the prestigious  St. John’s College , Agra in Uttar Pradesh.  
Soon after relocating, my mother fell sick, and the doctors consulted, despite their best efforts, could do nothing.  Some even predicted in sepulchral tones, that only a miracle could help her now. The family was devastated. My grandmother said that they shouldn’t have left Kashmir at all [it was after all their Jannat] and everyone hoped and prayed for a miracle. 
Then the miracle happened.
One day, as she drifted into sleep, she had a dream.
“Is there a Dr. Sarkar in Agra?”  She asked father the next morning.
“Yes, there is, and a very compassionate one.”
“Does he wear spectacles and a dhoti and kurta?
“I haven’t seen him, but ….”
 “But I have!”
“Where?” Dad asked, bewildered. 
Then she related her dream. 
“Yesterday night, as I closed my eyes, a pleasant looking, short structured man, wearing spectacles and neatly attired in a dhoti and kurta appeared before me with a shy smile on his face.
“Don’t worry, beta, I am Dr.  Sarkar.  Please do come to meet me, I will give you some medicines, you will be absolutely fine.”
“This is my address. He said, handing me a piece of paper, and then he disappeared, but I don’t remember his address”. 
“It was only a dream, but no harm in trying, Dr. Sarkar is a famous doctor, anyone will tell us his address.”  My dad, though a rationalist, for once, did not laugh away the dream, but decided to go ahead with what the pleasant faced doctor had mentioned in the dream.
It was not difficult to know of Dr. Sarkar’s whereabouts. So, the very next day, my parents were at Dr. Sarkar’s clinic, the dhoti clad, pleasant faced doctor, peering at them in bespectacled amusement as mother related her dream to him.
“Some things cannot be explained,” he said handing her a prescription, which he said, would cure her in a fortnight. 
“If the malady persists, do come again, beti”. He insisted.
They did not go again, as she was cured, but they called him to give him the latest update and thanked him profusely.

That was long, long ago, even before I was born. 
But when I was born, I turned out to be a brat. Even the nuns in the school maintained that they had never seen a greater brat. 
But I was a brat, with an extra-sensory- perception, which was initially laughed off by folks at home, but gradually, taken seriously.
 If anything was lost, the stock remark was, “Ask Baby.” 
And sure enough, I had the uncanny power of seeing the elusive things in my dreams- be it a pair of scissors, a cricket ball, a misplaced book or a misplaced shoe. 
The next day, amid an air of suspense and with the required dramatic pauses, I would reveal that the cricket ball was behind the bougainvillea bushes, the pair of scissors lying near papa’s wastepaper basket, the misplaced shoe inside Nipper’s kennel, and the elusive book on the right hand corner of the topmost shelf of the book case in Papa’s study.  I had seen all the lost items in my dreams! 

“But how to locate your lost mind?” I had no answer to this cheeky query of my cheeky siblings. 

Then, slowly my ESP started becoming sharper, I would know my school results beforehand, I would see the examination question papers [in the same sequence as they appeared the next day] , I could even predict the exact runs a cricketer would make, which team  would win in cricket, [our family obsession]. 

 When my friends in school came to know of this power of mine, they would crowd around me before the exams. 
“Santosh, please tell us what questions are going to come in tomorrow’s paper?” 
It was as if I could dream up the dreams that I wanted, on demand. I did not disappoint my friends. 

In the Sixth grade, one day I refused to go to school on the day the result of the Periodical tests was going to be out. I had always been an incorrigible shirker and a malingerer, so my parents found nothing surprising about it. But this time the reason of my feigning a stomach ache was the particular dream that had made me break out in goosebumps. 
Till the sixth standard I had always stood first in class, but in sixth standard came a new girl to my class, who usurped that position from me. I was heart- broken! In the dream, I saw my report card, every letter very clear and the marks of Sanskrit a humiliating punch in the face. 
Out of five marks, I had secured a mere one and a quarter marks in Sanskrit, having failed in the subject! How could I have gone to school to receive this report card? The marks [or the lack of them], underlined in red, still give me sleepless nights. 

Another nightmare, which still makes cold shivers run up my spine was very bizarre and blood- curdling.  It was a Sunday, and I had no intention of getting up early, there being no school, but I woke up exactly at five, perspiring profusely.
I raced to the kitchen where mummy was pottering around, all bathed and sparkling. 
“Someone has killed nine strays and they are lying outside our boundary 
wall!” I cried, shedding copious tears. 
“Are you crazy? You and your imagination!”She continued kneading the flour, and I continued kneading her, tugging at her hand, pulling her out of the kitchen. 

“She has again had one of her dreams”, Mummy said to Papa, who was busy in the garden, de-weeding his rockery. Flanked by both on either side, I headed towards the boundary wall. 
Papa peeped over it and gasped. 
Sure enough, he counted them- the strays were nine in number! All fallen victim to a trigger happy colleague of his! 
He had always pooh-poohed such claims of ESP as fraudulent, proclaiming with a robust conviction that it was sheer nonsense and fell within the jurisdiction of charlatans and quacks; maybe he continued to consider it humbug,   but I would like to believe that his own daughter’s experience with Extra- sensory -Perception made him rethink his perceptions, making him finally realize that there was some sense in ESP, after all. 

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