Casper The Friendly Indian Ghost

I never set out to write a ghost story, not in the traditional sense at least. For me, the story of an infant mysteriously drowning in the home of a wealthy Bombay family, and the repression of that tragedy spoke to me more of the nuances of memory and how truth can never be fully buried. It finds it way out, somehow, someday, speaking in the intangible languages of the body, heart, and soul. Sickness, for example, can be a truth wanting to be released – and once it is, the body can finally heal. As I began to write Haunting Bombay, the little ghost of the infant who died began to gather itself from the vapors, coalescing into form, in order to tell her truth. Pipes began to rattle, water dripped, faucets gushed, but the ghost remained fundamentally contained, like an Indian version of Casper, friendly and inert. I knew she couldn’t stay like that, but where and how was she to get where she needed to go? I needed to hear her voice. I needed her to tell me. I wrote in the night with a candle flickering beside me, the ghost urging me to dive into dark places, into my own past and consciousness. It’s not easy, this journey into murky waters, but when I came up for air, the ghost had grown into a wondrous character, mighty and powerful, able to harness the monsoons to wreak havoc upon the family who had locked her away. She wasn’t boxed in, she was in and out and everywhere, flooding the past and present, her fluid presence indisputable, compelling grief, pain, and forgotten memories to finally rise up and break open. The horrific truth of her death, for it was no accident, washed over that family like a blessing. Friendliness only gets you so far, Casper, the real riches lie below the surface.

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