Someone living near us died recently in sad circumstances. As usual, I only found out about it from Mary, who came to me and said, "The watchman wants more light in the back garden. There's one place near the kitchen that's very dark and he's frightened." I pointed out that we have plenty of security lights, whereas our neighbours have none at all.
Then she told me about the ghost. It has not been seen, but it is assumed that there must be one, because the death was unusual. Mary's room is outside, and when she got up in the night she felt afraid. The watchman was afraid because one night he heard a sound in that dark corner, something like "HOO!" In fact, he hadn't come to work for the last two nights. I said that there were no ghosts, and added, unkindly, that if ghosts are afraid of light bulbs, the watchman could just shine his flashlight on the dark corner when he did his rounds. I said that if it did exist, it would surely go away again soon.
A couple of days later, Mary said that some neighbours had done puja to exorcise the ghost from their property. Since we were not so protected, it was more likely than ever to linger with us. Could we also hire a Hindu priest? He would drive the ghost into a gourd, and break it on the road -- as is done with evil spirits on Ayudha Puja. I wasn't sure -- R already grumbles about Ayudha Puja. But when I asked him, he said that he would authorise a certain amount of money to hire a priest, and if that would make everyone feel better, fine.
For a week or so I heard no more about it. One day I asked Mary, "What happened to that priest you wanted?" and she said vaguely, "Oh, it's so far to go, to find one." I thought the ghost scare was over. Then yesterday she told me, "I've found a (Christian) pastor. He will come and say prayers." I asked if that would satisfy the Hindu and Muslim watchmen; she said that it would.
Later: Well, the pastor didn't show. Mary was all a-flutter -- she said he was a thaalaivaar, the leader of so many churches. I guess he was too busy. We had to go out, and when I came back and looked in the kitchen I saw a tray kept ready, with a good china cup and a pot of tea, all untouched.
I feel sorry for her disappointment, but I'm sick of this ghost now. A month has passed since the death, and no one has been harmed, except for a little fever suffered by the brave nightwatchman. Let the spirit rest, I say, and be soothed in the dark corner of our peaceful garden, out behind the kitchen.