On the outskirts of Chennai, the city where I live in Southern India, it is said that there once lived a famous knife thrower. I don’t know how many of you know what knife throwing is all about for now it is a dead art and you rarely find knife throwers except in a few stray circuses.
For the benefit of the uninitiated let me explain what knife throwing was all about. The knife thrower was usually a man who could throw his knife blind folded with deadly accuracy. Normally, the knife thrower would have a partner; usually a female who would be strapped on to a rotating wheel and the knife thrower who would then be blind folded would hurl his knives from a distance of about fifty metres at the rotating wheel. While the knives would land on the circumference of the wheel with precision and accuracy they would appear to just miss the hands and feet of the woman tied to the wheel, while a collective gasp of anxiety would go up from the assembled gathering with every miss of the knife.
It was such a knife thrower that I am now referring to. The knife thrower and his paramour who also was his female partner in his knife throwing act, lived on the outskirts of Chennai and frequently toured other parts of the country to display their skills and make a living out of it. It is said that the knife thrower during one of his tours had by mistake thrown the knife at the heart of his paramour and killed her on the spot. It was also rumored by a few people that the knife thrower had begun to doubt the fidelity of his paramour and had therefore deliberately thrown the knife at her heart and had killed her.
Whatever, the case may be it is said that the grief stricken knife thrower took to the bottle in a huge way to overcome his grief. It is said that in his inebriated state he turned into a dacoit and began looting the passer bys who traveled on the high way near which he lived. It is also further said that the knife thrower turned dacoit amassed a huge fortune and one day in a fit of drunken frenzy stabbed fifty knives into his heart and killed himself in remorse for his lost paramour.
While this incident had taken place nearly a hundred years ago, many of my friends who used to travel on this high way regularly have informed me that while traveling in the middle of the night on a particular stretch of the highway they come across an apparition of the knife thrower turned dacoit who appeared before them with a knife dripping with blood and staring into their eyes demanded, “Shall I throw?”, with the arm holding the knife outstretched as if in preparedness to throw the knife at them. Needless to say that all my dear friends who witnessed this apparition and faced its threatening gesture ran away in fear before the knife thrower could kill them.
News of this midnight apparition spread far and wide and people started avoiding that stretch of the highway at midnight and rather took a detour while traveling. However, there was another friend of mine who did not believe in God or Ghosts and having heard of all this decided to go and meet the apparition of the knife thrower at midnight on a new moon day.
The apparition appeared to this non believer just as it had to all the others and threatened him as well. My non believing friend assumed that it was all a prank being carried out by some mischievous elements and boldly challenged the apparition, “Throw if you wish. I am prepared.” The moment my non believing friend said this, the knife throwing apparition dropped its knife and picked up a huge wooden chest and threw it by the feet of my non believing friend.
My friend was surprised to find that the chest contained rubies, diamonds, emeralds, pearls and many other precious stones and gold coins as well as ornaments. The apparition then peacefully looked at my friend and said, “Thank you, for accepting what I threw at you; for this treasure is what I had looted from all the innocent people who passed by this highway and I was destined to escape my bondage as an apparition only if a living human being accepted the treasure from me. Thanks to you, I can now go and live in the spirit world with my dear paramour,” having said this, the apparition vanished and never again reappeared on that stretch of the highway.
My dear non believer friend is now a rich believer. He is greatly into charity and social service as well as the renaissance of religion. All my other friends who ran away from the apparition now curse themselves for not having had the guts to face the apparition and accepting its challenge.