It is the ghost night in Kalimpong. Tonight the old Sherpa will act as the medium. Like a jackal’s shadow, he moves fast through the rocky terrain, through the tall trees, ignoring lizards and deadly Himalayan leeches. We follow him with swift foot, feeling the heat of tribal torchlight behind us; hearing the clapping of their cymbals. The old man tells us in broken English why he likes this job so much. He describes all the good food they serve after the occasion, the mound of rice piled high like the crest of Kanchanjangha, a bowl of fresh butter, and especially the honor of being a ghost medium. To me, he appears like another poor, hungry man of the region who could do almost anything for a living. Suddenly he jumps into the cold water of Subarnarekha. We cannot see his head above water for quite some time; men sing and dance to the beat of their drums. Everyone is silent when the Sherpa man reappears on the shore. He looks a lot younger and speaks rapidly in an obscure tongue we cannot understand.

About the author

Sankar Roy, originally from India, is a poet, translator, activist and multimedia artist living near Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of three chapbooks–…

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