The Devil-Possessed Wild Boar
It was way back around 1973 when I heard from my brothers about a “spirit” possessed wild boar which was creating a big nuisance in our tea garden bordering the Manas River. We had gone for an intensive grow-more-food program there and were cultivating rice, wheat and various cash crops to augment the income for funds that were required for the development of another group garden where I was posted. In those days wild boars could be shot with the permission of the forest authorities as they were considered vermin for crop cultivation. So taking time off for about 7 days we decided to try and shoot this “Deo” Boar which was rampaging around destroying all the cash crops we had planted as well as of the local populace in the area.
It was at the end of May, with some pre-monsoon rains, that I arrived on the scene quite excited to nab this animal. But as per the local people’s theory this wild boar was possessed by the devil and could never be killed. It appeared in different areas knowing by some instinct whenever a local hunter was sitting up for it; the boar simply played with everyone, managing to dig up the farms least expected. I first ascertained some of the fields where it was seen and seeing the way it was eating the choicest crops like pumpkins, sweet potatoes and various types of gourd plants besides, of course, the ripening Ahu paddy, I thought that it would be easy to get him. The first night we sat up in a farmer’s house where it had come about a week ago and in all probability would revisit soon. I sat alone outside on a machaan about ten feet above the ground as a wild boar is a very fearsome adversary especially this one which was purported to have the longest protruding tusks that could rip you up in one charge if it can reach you. So for wild boars it was best to be on a slightly raised platform and not on the ground when one could be vulnerable if the shot misses. I was awake till dawn but the boar did not come at all. A boar is a noisy feeder and one can hear it digging up the soil with its fierce tusks and grunting as it feeds. It was the first of many fruitless and tiring nights for me.
The second night my two elder brothers again accompanied me but this time they brought some clothes to be comfortably asleep while I kept watch. For the next couple of nights my elder brother dropped out and my second brother accompanied me. We were rotating the likely spots but to our utter dismay the boar never came to the spot where I was sitting up; to add insult to injury it kept on visiting the areas where we had stayed up the previous nights. It became a game for the boar, and another hunter who had been accompanying me, a garden employee called Jagmohan, decided to do a little puja before we sat up for the fifth night in a row. That night we waited with keen anticipation and I was willing to believe that this time it would definitely show up. It did but only when we left around six in the morning and a man came running to tell us that it had come and I rushed back in the jeep only to see this huge black boar look up once at me and run off into the thicket nearby. It had shown itself to me hardly for about 10 seconds before I could come into range to even pick up my gun. By that time I had tried to get this animal for over 120 hours, sitting up for it for over 60 hours, working for around 45 hours and sleeping for only 15 odd hours during those five days.
By now I was also inclined to believe that this wild boar was indeed having special powers. But I was young then and wanted to get the better of this animal which had kept me awake for all these nights and only shown itself to us for a few seconds! The situation got worse as it started to rain and there was going to be no respite for the sixth night when we had chosen a field which was next to the forest area and I had asked for the machaan to be put up on a small Semul tree. Due to the rain we put up a light tarpaulin sheet on top and settled in for the night. To our horror however the weather turned for the worse and developed into a lightning storm. It was a big trauma to see the lightning bolts unleashing from the sky and waiting to hear the thunderclap deafening our senses. Once or twice the sizzling sound of the electric currents all around us was terrifying and to make it worse we were by then totally drenched. I was scared to hold on to my gun in case it was struck by a bolt and the only option was to buckle down and wait out the storm. After about twenty minutes of real terror the storm abated and then I was reminded of our purpose of getting the devil possessed wild boar when it appeared for hardly 5 seconds as it sauntered off in the distance with its tail held high as if taunting me. There was no point waiting after the storm and as the rain abated my brother and I walked off silently to our jeep parked some distance off truly beaten that night.
My schedule allowed just one more night in pursuit of the pillaging boar and I decided that we would sit up again in the same field where we had sat up the first night. That evening, I went alone and sat up a bit earlier than normal and prepared for a long night. I don’t know how I had the energy to stay awake but towards 2 am I heard the sound of grunting similar to that of a wild boar digging up the ground. We turned on the flash light and saw not one but two small pigs merrily eating up the potato crop. It was not the “Deo” Boar I was after so I did not fire at all. I was now extremely tired out and started hallucinating a bit seeing a lot of wild boars in the darkness. So I told Jagmohan to watch out and wake me up if the boar did appear as I dozed off into a very disturbed rest. Finally it was time to leave and I had to concede that there was something in the story of this wild boar being possessed. In the house I calculated the total hours we had spent looking up for this boar. It was stupendous reading of being awake for a total of 138 hours and sleeping for only 30 hours.
Before I left to our other garden I wanted to just drive once to see the areas where we had looked for this elusive wild boar; the local farmers all wished us better luck next time and one of them said the reason we failed was because we had declined to acknowledge his special powers and not propitiate the concerned spirits before our hunt. I had to believe him fully as while we were returning to the bungalow this wild boar came out of the jungle area and trotted alongside our jeep vigorously for a full thirty seconds without a care in the world. We were unarmed and it was indeed unnatural as to how it seemed to know this. I just raised my hands in a salute to this spirited animal and silently wished him a long life. Later I confirmed that he was never shot and went on plundering the crops for a few years after which he was not seen or heard of.