Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Ghost story

Of late my daughter is scared of Ghosts. It all started when she saw a program in the Discovery channel on ghosts – how a hotel in the US of A is said to be haunted by ghosts and people claiming all sorts of the usual stuff – hearing strange noises, things moving on their own and so on and so forth. So the bottom line is she would not stay by herself nor go into a dark room. When she was scared today by an innocuous noise I took her to the balcony and showed her that it was empty and it was just people walking in a distance. To which she retorted, “But you cannot see ghosts.”

I said: “Oh, okay, then ghosts are invisible like gods ( the other myth she believes in ). Then why can’t gods kill the ghosts.”

She: “Because ghosts are in the earth and god is outside.”

I: “Oh so god is not very powerful, right?

She did not even take a moment to reply – “That is a long story. I will tell you.” And so here it goes.

Once there was a Ghost near God. The Ghost was troubling the gods and goddesses. So god locked him in a cage and put him in the earth so that people can see them (ghost has now become ghosts) and kill. Why god did not kill? Because ghosts will come in the night only. God will not have that much power in the night because he will get his power from the sun.

When the ghosts were fighting god, they made one bad god their friend. That god has power during night. So every night he would come and make their life good. One night the ghosts asked the god to make them invisible and open the cage. The bad god opened the cage, made them invisible and let them free.

Even now ghosts come only in the night and god cannot defeat them. If somebody like robbers or bad people die they become ghosts. There are many more stories like this but this is the most famous story of ghosts. So people tell this story if they want to scare the children. So be very careful. The ghosts may harm you.

I was surprised to see the process of 'myth creation' in such a simple manner - There is a good entity and a bad entity; the good entity powerless in some way; the bad entity enlisting the help of someone and becoming powerful. I was also surprised by the 'inputs' she has received from the society including the television programs in creating the myth. And I liked the concept of god deriving energy from the sun. Finally I was happy that she realizes that 'there are many such stories and people tell the story to scare children.'

But then I don't know how I can help her to outgrow the fear of ghosts. Any suggestion?


Vaishnavi said...

you might wanna elucidate with a 'good ghost' concept perhaps? this would probably negate the negative?
P.S i'm surprised, coming from Abi this is a 'short' story, goes to say we run out of stuff when we dig deep into myths? quite ironic!!

Balu said...

In my view, this is a normal phenomena, the child is still young to question certain things or to differntiate fiction and reality, the TOM is also yet to develop completely. It’s not only myth, we even tell them fairy tales to stimulate and create imagination of child. A year back Pratham, when he sleeps use to hold my hand tightly, when I asked why he did so. He said ‘you might go out leaving me alone here’, I asked “so what if you are alone”. He said “ET might come and I am scared, if I close my eyes it comes near me”. Similarly he even thought superman and spiderman were real. With all these combinations the questions and statements he forms were unlimited.
But now, he demonstrates his bravery by going into the dark rooms etc. Now he has many friends like chota bheem, power rangers, ben10, etc. I do tell him mythological stories, concocting with little explanation that makes him differentiate between story and reality.
I am very happy that Abhi has wonderful creativity, my advice. Ignore, she will outgrow the fear on her own within a year or so.

Adithya said...

I have a 15 months old daughter and being an atheist myself, I have pondered over how to tackle such a situation.

I try refer to my own childhood to get clues. Having grown up outside India, in a country that aired various cartoons on local television, I recall believing in all the characters I watched on TV. It was over a short period however that I realised everything was make believe.

It is a combination of factors that will lead to this realisation. Science education in school, other programs on discovery/NGC like the 'myth busters', parents' views on such subjects, all these will produce the eureka moment one day. Till then I suggest you let her dream more. Add more ideas to the existing ones such that she must question the concepts. Talk to her about Greek myths on ghosts and Indian myths on ghosts and show her the contradictions. Before long she will learn to laugh at the ideas.

All the best

Geetha said...

Thank you all. I read the comments to my daughter and she has already promised to tell me a 'good ghost' story and wanted to know more about ETs and Greek myths...a long 'story time' tonight I guess.

prema -just sharing my thoughts said...

I think ur daughter is the prime example of the fact that the 'the art of story telling starts right from the childhood'... good creativity... don't dispel her ideas .. if she gets it all out... over a period of time she will see her own contradictions and laugh over it...

Vijay said...

Better distract her with novels like ponniyin selvan or something like that. Tales on bravery may her help her too..

Anonymous said...

Is Bigfoot True or make-believe? For over 400 years, there have already been reporting’s of a guy like creature that's wholly covered in hair.