Monday, August 25, 2014

The Cursed Talisman????; The Transfer of Poison in Bhutanese Belief


I have always been intrigued by our beliefs be it religious or mere superstitions. Amongst others, I have been most intrigued by our belief in dark sorcery and poison giver. I assume that it is because I was brought up in rural settings where such beliefs were accepted as truths. When you travel to some villages, the village guides or some good-hearted people would tell you never to eat from this and that house. We would listen to them due to fear for our lives because it be true or not, we didn’t want to take chance with our life.
Recently, the same belief that intrigued me also saddened me. In high school, there was a pretty girl I used to admire. I never confessed feelings to her because in high school we admired numerous girls. This is because mostthe time, we found later nothing more than passing infatuation. Anyway, last month I met a high school friend in Punakha with whom I talked about high school life.
You know how old comrades are. We talked whole night over bottles of beers. Our talks touched this and that subjects. Finally, our talk turns to various gals in high school. Casually, our talk turn to that girl I admired in high school whose named I preferred keep as S.  She happened to be from his village. In turns of event, he told me her family is now feared in the village.
I asked him why? Then he narrated a tale of accident and misfortune. Her mother one day found a cat-eye on her way to Mongar. Unsuspecting any misfortune, she picked it up and brought home hoping that owner would come looking. Since then, whoever eats from her hand started to get sick. Slowly, people started ignoring her mother. Her mother immediately knew that it was due to cat-eye. Her mother started to ask around for real owner (woman) who turned out to be a poison giver. In turn of an event, that poison giver was miraculously cured of her poison-giving ways since losing cat-eye. Despite the fact, her mother returned cat-eye to its rightful owner, but poison remained with her mother. Today former poison-giver is not feared as earlier used to be.
Later when my S’s husband found that her mother has turned into poison-giver, her husband left her. She was left to fend for their children. Now her family will have to bear the curse for generations. After her mother, she would inherit and it would pass onto her daughter unless with stroke of luck, they can lose the poison.
While asking elder, it is believed that poison is usually attached with some precious gem. It can’t be discarded or thrown. It should be lost without giver’s knowledge which means accidentally not intentionally. By some miracle, former owner got rid of it while her mother was ill-fated enough to find the jewel.
Saddest part of all is that even poison-giver will seldom know she/he (usually she) is poisoning the victim. Whenever people eat from giver’s hand, people gets sick or die. After once or twice, people start blaming the giver. When giver dies, the poison will pass down to daughter/daughters. In absence of female heir, it will pass down to male which becomes even deadlier. If there is no heir, it could pass down to even nurse who attended her. It is believed that only after passing the poison (inheritance) will the giver die.

Whatever the truth may be about mystery of poison, it is quite a punishment for S. She and her family are being ignored. Even a rational person like me may not eat from her hand. After all, nobody wants to gamble with one’s life. But I can always pray for her so that she gets emancipated from such allegations or curses (whatever one believes). May her life be better and brighter.

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