Bahar mat Jana(don’t go out), screamed my maasi. I was five years old then and, I had kajal smeared over my forehead as a protection toolkit from bad omen.
Those days killing of widows on the pretext of Dayan was common. It was a piece of daily news. Was it a way to get rid of old women from our society or, was it an easy way to get revenge on someone or their family?
A few years later, I asked my maasi why she made me stay indoors even in the daylight. She replied: Bahut Dayan hai yahan(There are too many witches in this village). She does not want anyone to know that she has a visitor, a young boy.
My maasi shared some stories and a few incidents which have made the existence of Dayan more real.
Last year for consecutive months, most newborns died within a few weeks of their birth. The village panchayat sent for a Tantrik who identified eight women as witches. The villagers punished them and, the death of newborns came down significantly.
My maasi always stayed away from her village during ten days of Durga Puja. She says those ten days are most active for the Dayans(witches). Their superpower can do anything like converting a tree into an Arial riding machine.
Many villagers saw women dancing in the Kabristaan holding a newborn corpse. They were more in action during moonless nights. Some villagers reported a loss of eyesight and voice because of Dayans.
I have not visited Maasi in twenty years. She visits us.