Witch Stories





I will now tell you something I have seen with my own eyes. In the

village of Dhubia next to mine the only son of the Paranik lay ill

for a whole year. One day I went out to look at my rahar crop

which was nearly ripe and as I stood under a mowah tree I heard a

voice whispering. I stooped down to try and see through the rahar

who was there but the crop was so thick that I could see nothing;

so I climbed up the mowah tree to look. Glancing towards Dhubia

village I saw the third daughter of the Paranik come out of her house

and walk towards me. When about fifty yards from me she climbed a

big rock and waited. Presently an old aunt of hers came out of the

village and joined her. Then the old woman went back to her house and

returned with a lota of water. Meanwhile the girl had come down from

the rock and sat at its foot near a thicket of dhela trees. The old

woman caused the girl to become possessed (rum) and they had some

conversation which I could not hear, Then they poured out the water

from the lota and went home.



On my way home I met a young fellow of the village and found that

he had also seen what the two women did. We went together to the

place and found the mark of the water spilled on the ground and two

leaves which had been used as wrappers and one of which was smeared

with vermilion and adwa rice had been scattered about. We decided

to tell no one till we saw whether what had been done was meant to

benefit or injure the sick boy. Fifteen days later the boy died:

and when his parents consulted a jan he named a young woman of the

village as the cause of the boy's death and she was taken and punished

severely by the villagers.



It is plain that the boy's sister and aunt in order to save themselves

caused the jan to see an innocent woman. I could not bring the boy

back to life so it was useless for me to say anything, especially as

the guilty women were of the Paranik's own family. This I saw myself

in broad daylight.



Another thing that happened to me was this. I had been with the

Headman to pay in the village rent. It was night when we returned

and after leaving him I was going home alone. As I passed in front

of a house a bright light suddenly shone from the cowshed; I looked

round and saw a great crowd of women-witches standing there. I ran

away by the garden at the back of the house until I reached a high

road; then I stopped and looked round and saw that the witches were

coming after me; and looking towards the hamlet where my house was I

saw that witches were coming with a bright light from that direction

also. When I found myself thus hemmed in I felt that my last hour

had come but I ran on till I came to some jungle.



Looking back from there I saw that the two bands had joined together

and were coming after me. I did not feel safe there for I knew that

there were bongas in the jungle who might tell the witches where

I was. So I ran on to the tola where an uncle and aunt of mine

lived. As I ran down the street I saw two witches at the back of

one of the houses. They were sitting down; one was in a state of

possession (rum) and the other was opposite her holding a lamp. So

I left the street and made my way through the fields till I Came to

my uncle's house. I knocked and was admitted panting and breathless;

my uncle and aunt went outside to see what it was that had scared me

and they saw the witches with the two lights flashing and made haste

to bolt the door. None of us slept for the rest of the night and in

the morning I told them all that had happened.



Since that night I have been very frightened of witches and do not like

to go out at night. It was lucky that the witches did not recognise

me; otherwise I should not have lived. Ever since I have never stayed

at home for long together; I go there for two or three months at a

time and then go away and work elsewhere. I am too frightened to stay

in my own village. Now all the old women who taught witchcraft are

dead except one: when she goes I shall not be frightened any more. I

shall be able to go home when I like. I have never told any one but

my uncle and aunt what I saw until now that I have written it down.



So from my own experience I have no doubt about the existence of

witches; I cannot say how they "eat" men, whether by magic or whether

they order "bongas" to cause a certain man to die on a certain

day. Some people say that when a witch is first initiated she is

married to a bonga and if she wants to "eat" a man she orders her

bonga husband to kill him and if he refuses she heaps abuse on him

until he does.





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