Dusk was slowly setting in Mettur Village. Raman Namboodiri, who grew up in this village, had finally got his posting as an Agricultural Officer here. He wrapped up his work, locked the door of the Department Office and started his walk home. Recalling his mother’s words that morning to take the Panchayat Road and not the dreaded shortcut, Raman yet, took the shortcut near the old temple. That route reduced his walking time by 15 minutes and he wanted to reach home before nightfall.
As Raman walked on that mud road, he noticed that the dense, leafy overgrowth was still there on both the sides of the road making it look foreboding. There were no buildings of any sort except an ancient temple on a stony mound through which that 1 km long wild route passed. As per a folklore, no lamps have been lit at that temple since centuries due to presence of a Yakshi. Its said that she used to trap unsuspecting men and drink their blood. Till date, many villagers avoided using that route even during the day time.
Recalling the story of how the Yakshi took form of a bewitching fair, young maiden tempting the way-farers, Raman chuckled to himself. He did not believe in the superstitions and thought that folk tales are just stories to pass on lessons to younger generations. As he walked on, he tried to remember the story the way he had heard it as a child. It seemed that this Yakshi had fragrant jasmine garlands on her long black silky hair & used to be beautifully dressed with silk garments and gold jewelry. She used to entrap unsuspecting men walking on that road during dusk asking if they could give her some betel-nuts in her clear sweet musical voice. After that she used to cajolingly invite them towards the old temple.
The aftermath was that none of these men were then seen in the village or nearby districts. Raman looked at the old temple whose outline stood out clear in the twilight. He laughingly shook his head and walked on. After some steps, he heard the jingling of anklets behind him. He stopped but did not dare to look back. The jingling stopped. He could see the broad panchayat road with lights around 200 meters ahead of him. He started walking fast. But, the jingling also had the same rhythm as his speed of walking. Suddenly he inhaled the scent of fresh jasmine flowers wafting around him. The hair on his neck rose electrified, his throat went dry and his limbs froze, as he heard a sweet musical voice asking “Sir, would you be having some betel nuts”??!
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