Maithreyi Nandakumar

Mohini Pisasu (Mohini, the female ghost)


I rest, languid, on the neem tree –

my sari matches the near white light
that shines through the fluorescent leaves,
as the pleading prayers go on below.

To the King Cobra that guards me from his anthill,
“Come and drink this milk,” they say.
“Appease her spirit,” they pray.
I am appeased, I suppose.

It’s noon and it’s too hot to be on the prowl,
your daughter’s safe, for now.
I look beyond, into the cavernous depths
Of the well I chose not to fall into.

I see her at night at her window, unable to rest –

the young, eager, restless thing.
Yearning, longing, anxiously looking
for a dream lover to slake her thirst.

Till I appeared in eerie splendour,
poor little princess.
So petrified, yet so sweet,
She lies in shock screaming for her mother.

They came to see her the next day –

greedy eyes, salivating smiles,
the local princess.
Oh weren't they so fortunate. 

But those cheeks had lost their fresh bloom,
her eyes looked dead, they said.
She looked as if a ghost had thrashed her.
They stayed a while, but soon left.

I too screamed silently night after night
The shame, the agony,
my wasted youth, my wasted life
Wrung out of my pretty neck.

Only then did they take notice,
the husband cuckolded
His brother drunk but sated.
Their shame, their pain – all hushed up.

The story that never came out,
they may be poor, but they were respectable.
Now, in between death and reincarnation

I command respect in my ghostly existence.


This is a tragic story of a young woman’s life cut short but also in memory of the woodland opposite my childhood home being razed to the ground. It had lush trees (neem, mango and many coconut palms) anthills, a massive well and mud huts for the staff of the rich family on our street. It is now a sea of concrete and a carpark for expensive automobiles.

MN Picture3.jpg

Bats on a tree, Theosophical Society grounds, Chennai, India