Blind Faith

“Mani, the ache has become intolerable. Please call the ladies from the neighbourhood. This looks like labour pain.” Suchi screamed as she lay on a mattress on the ground.

Mani rushed out. Within no time, the small room filled with ladies to support her. 

“Push Suchi, push. Take a deep breath. You can do it.” The midwife said and encouraged her.

After almost 30 minutes, Suchi finally gave birth to twin boys. Both babies snuggled up on her chest. The younger one was weak compared to the elder child but was doing well. Suchi’s eyes welled up with tears of joy.

“Mani, come in and see your boys. They are cute.” Said the midwife to Suchi’s husband.

The entire village celebrated the arrival of these boys. 

A couple of days later, the younger one fell sick. His fever would not come down. They took him to different Vaidya’s, but it only resulted in the deterioration of his health. Soon he passed away.

They were overwhelmed with grief. It was like a bad dream, and Suchi could not shake it off.

As the days and months passed, the villagers saw an increase in fatalities due to an unidentified fever that invaded the toddler’s brains and claimed their lives. While some believed it was the evil eye, others claimed that spirits existed. They contacted Tantric and performed rituals, but it made little difference.

One day, a relative of Mani's who lived in a nearby hamlet informed him of a saint who adhered to a practice that had successfully cured many sick babies. According to the saint, individuals who performed this ceremony would please God, and the Almighty would then bestow good fortune, long lives, and riches onto their offspring and the entire family.

Mani immediately shared this with his wife, Suchi. Both decided to visit this saint who lived in Nagarala village, Telangana, located 200 km away from their home. 

As soon as the villagers learned about this, they also volunteered to visit the saint.

Mani along with his family and a few villagers proceeded to go to Nagarala Village. When they reached, a sizable throng had already gathered outside the saint's cottage, and his helpers were trying to control the crowd.

“This saint appears to be genuine. Isn’t it? Look at the throng. We have come to the right place.” One of the villagers whispered, and others concurred.

After a while, the saint showed up, and greeted everyone who had gathered around him like bees to nectar.

"Welcome to this village, everyone. I'm sure you're all curious to learn more about the ritual. Well, you need not do much. It is a simple process. The toddler is either taken to a shrine or mosque. The priest then holds the baby by its limbs, shake a bit and then tosses it down from a height of 30 ft. You will see a sheet miraculously appearing and saving the babies from falling. Those who wish to do the ritual come ahead.” The saint explained. 

The villagers had never heard about this ritual and expressed shock. The throng stood in silence. The saint’s helpers announced again.

Coming forward, Mani and Suchi said, “Guruji, we are ready to do this ritual.” 

As this was happening, an inquisitive traveller who had come to this village to learn more about the disappearing and extinct languages and civilizations was observing it all from a distance. 

As soon as Mani and his wife agreed for this ritual, the tourist ran in to intervene and pleaded, “Mani, all this is absurd and don’t fall prey to such saints. You will end up losing your child.”

“We have already lost one child to an illness. By doing this ritual God will bestow good fortune on our son. This saint seems genuine unlike other saints.” Mani’s wife said with tears in eyes and choked voice.

“These Barbaric practices are man-made and not God’s wish. Lack of prompt and appropriate medication contributed to a high fatality rate. Please understand and go back. There are good qualified doctors to treat illness. If the need arises I will guide you.” The man tried to convince her but in vain. 

Not only Mani and his wife but the villagers also remained stubborn and refused to concur.

They adhered to what the saint said and took their children to the priest.

Thankfully, they did not rely on the notion that a sheet would magically appear to hold the infant. 

However, there was a significant risk. The tourist felt helpless. 

The ritual began. The priest of the shrine, started tossing babies one by one, and the throng standing below was holding the sheet to catch the baby. Infants screamed and sobbed in horror while the priest threw them from a height of 30 feet. 

Mani's faith in the saint grew when he realised the infants were safe. It was Mani’s son’s turn. The baby clung tightly to his mother’s arms. Mani pulled him and handed him to the priest.

Holding the child by its limbs, the priest shook him thrice from left to right and then tossed him down. Hanging in the air, the little one yelled. Within seconds he came crashing down on the ground with a thud before people could spread the sheet to hold the toddler.

Blood began to ooze out from the toddlers forehead. 

The incident took place in front of Suchi’s eyes. She swiftly reached out and stroked her sons back. But he was no more. Suchi stood stiff like a lifeless structure & collapsed immediately. Mani, who was standing atop the shrine, sprinted down.

“Suchi, Suchi, what happened to our son? What happened to you? He shook her hard, but there was no response. The tourist made his way through the crowd and checked Suchi’s pulse. She was dead.

Mani broke down into uncontrollable tears. He lost his entire family. One son to a fever and his wife and another son to a bizarre ritual.

Disclaimer: It is believed that despite the Government ban on such rituals, some villages still follow them. 

This is a creative interpretation of the rituals and the narrative is entirely fictional.

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