The forest is plunged in darkness except for the reluctant half moon beaming its borrowed light scantily above the western horizon. The rustle of leaves- alive and dead -predominates the sound-play in the forest , often punctuated by howling owls ,chirping crickets and the heavy steps of a man.We can see him coming at a distance near the peepul tree,clad in royal attires with a drawn out sword in his right hand and his left hand freely making way among the thick weeds.But what is he carrying on his back? That impish creature with lemon sized eyes ,deformed nasal pits and a wide open jaw filled with long outgrown canines. It hold fast to the neck of the man with hand-like limbs and its slimy tail curling around his waist.In a deep guttural voice the creature started to speak.
“O Mighty king of Ujjain ! Ideal of men , passion of women, shall we start our story for tonight?”
“No Vetala ,not again , I am exhausted and spent.”
“But King ,what is Life without the amusement of stories. Everyone has a story and everything is a story.”
“I know your tantrums , unless you change our terms, I will not hear your story”
“Change. Change my King “. The vetala made a weird laughing noise.”You humans always want it don’t you ? You can never stick on to one thing. Alright, how do you want to change our terms?”
“ If I answer correctly you become my slave , if I don’t you are free to go”
Again the weird noise. “My proud king, learner of all Vedas. I accept your change whole heartedly. Shall I start now? “
The King nodded.The vetala stared at the dark sky above and started its bizarre story.

In a distant yet close alien land , creatures not like humans yet alike live in huge colonies. They are a strict class based society. Each with its own form and function. The prominent and singularly important class is Invaders – they are the actual sons of the land , everybody else serve them in loyalty and faith. Ironically , invaders are impregnated with the thought that their destiny lies in another land , the promised one and their current inhabitation is only transient preparing them for the more fertile land of milk and honey where they will get a new life. The job of the servants is to prepare them, nurse them and arm them for their destiny.No one ever questions.They live in total harmony.The land also has a white sea believed to be the abode of Gods. In some unpredictable hour,known only to the Gods, the sea will start to churn by itself. At that moment the invaders braving the billowing sea jump in to it. After a while , the sea will shoot a geyser carrying all the invaders into the emptiness above. That is the moment of joy and celebration for the servants. Their mission accomplished. They know not the fate of those invaders but they just believe and relish they have got a new life. The hero of our story is one such invader. Let us call him X or Y for identification sake.One day he heard the conch sound indicating the churning. All the invaders who were ready for the ritual , armed with their traditional clothes ran in to the awaiting sea eagerly.The sea roared like a wild animal. The swells of wave plummeted them .The temperature rose foretelling the geyser moment. In a split second a geyser shooted with great velocity carrying all the invaders including X.

When X woke up , he found himself in engulfing darkness. He couldn’t conceive where he was. But the smell. A unique smell seemed to attract him. He slowly moved towards the direction of the smell. With all other senses blunted, his only hope was the smell. To his surprise his co-invaders were also moving in the same direction. Slowly a competitive urge sets in. He started to move faster and faster and wanted to be the first to reach the smell. What began as a crawl slowly became a sprint. Everyone was running at high speed in darkness following the smell. And they saw a light in the dark, on moving closer it seemed like a round casket floating in the air radiating a white glow. The urge in everyone doubled. X was leading the race along with few others .But in one swift jump, X lunged forward ahead of others and hit the white casket first. The casket willingly dragged him inside. His limb got cut and dropped out. But he felt no pain. He found himself immersed in a liquid full of the smell that attracted him. His mutilated body slowly floated in the liquid .He felt his body is being pulled apart. Suddenly he realised this is his destiny. He smiled and said “ I get a new Life” before disintegrating completely. And for your information King, other invaders couldn’t get in to the casket after X’s entry. They just died in the darkness.

Now what is this story about ? and why did X say I get a new life ?

The King looked totally awed and perplexed by the story. He couldn’t understand head and tail of it.He started fidgeting , trying to focus all his mental faculties on the story.He has never heard of any such land nor any such people. He felt ashamed at the very thought of an imp outwitting him. Atlast in a heavy saddened tone he spoke:
“ O wise Vetala, I accept my defeat and give you your freedom but reveal the answer to this bemusing story before taking leave”
Vetala unclutched its hands around his neck and soared into the air. Hovering around, it looked down at the King and shouted,

“O poor mortal King of Human
Answer to this story lies
Part in man , Part in woman
In whose union we get a Life.

If you still don’t know
May be thousands of years later
Your sons will know.”

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