Getting Crabby at the Sickbed

A young woman named Fali was ill for a long time, and no one could cure her. Therefore her family concluded that she must be possessed by some demon. The local shaman was called in to her village in the foothills of Nepal to exorcise the evil spirit.

First the shaman went to examine her. Then he and his son discreetly slipped into the rice-paddies to look for crabs. Finding quite a big one, the father told his son to put it in a tiny basket and keep it under his loose cotton shirt till his father began to rattle his drum and shout, “Ru-ru!” At that point the boy should let loose the crab at the feet of the sickbed.

The shaman went to the girl again. The parents were around her bed. She was moaning softly, clutching her stomach.

The shaman seemed to go into a trance. To the villagers it seemed that a voice spoke through him: “Mali has a crab eating her entrails. When the drum rattles and “ru-ru” are heard, the evil force will be driven out and the crab pushed out from her poor, suffering body.”

Just then his son spoke up, clutching the basket beneath his shirt. “Father, is this the time to let loose the crab we caught in the paddy-field?”

The shocked villagers murmured angrily when suddenly the shaman’s trance was over and he left in a hurry. He and his son never returned to the village again.

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