I must confess that I had never really given much thought to stereotypes, at least not before stories of the same were shoved before me.
One night (all eerie things are bound to happen at night, surprisingly); I woke up with a start to the sound of utmost clamour. The clamour seemed to be coming from outside and being the curious cat I am, I stepped out to find its source.
What I saw made me curse my curiosity. My entire verandah was alive with ghosts! I rubbed my eyes once or twice, not daring to believe what I saw until a scornful voice yelled, “Oh, she’s going to start the ‘I-can’t-believe-my-eyes’ process! Ugh, stop her somebody!” Then a deeper voice emerging from a stately ghost calmly said-“Look kiddo, you aren’t hallucinating. We are ghosts indeed and we need help from mortals like you.”
I summoned up all the pieces of my quite sparse courage, and foolishly said, “My…my help? Why d-do you need my help? Aren’t you supposed to be frightening me?”
A few ghosts cried out phrases like, “Another movie fan!” or “This is what mortals have done to us” before the stately ghost cut them across, “Before I address your questions, let me begin with a few pleasantries. I am Canterville, the leader of the ghostly folk. You see, long, long ago, humans had a choice between dying and becoming a ghost but that was before the supernatural forces realized that this ghostly business is far too messy. Ultimately, this privilege was restricted to just one generation of humans. We, ghosts, lived a happy, contented after-life until the Mortal-Ghost War.’ I listened, entranced.
‘One day in the seventeenth century, ghosts and humans had a squabble over crops, a squabble which eventually led to protests on both sides leading to war! We, ghosts, were small in number but powerful in strength and predictably won. Yet, the humans, bitter with the loss, cursed us to never be able to eat again! We, too, took our revenge by haunting them but then, emerged theories generalizing all ghosts as haunters and stalkers. Before long, we were shunned from society, stereotyped in culture and practically deserted until we became a ‘myth’. The newer generations came to know us as eerie, creepy works of fiction. This is a complete falsehood! We, ghosts, are so much more than that. We demand freedom from our stereotypes and labels which have defined us for centuries. We, too, have personalities!”
Another ghost chimed in, “This is why we need your help. Write to the world and tell them our story. Tell them the truth and perhaps, a day may come when beings won’t be discriminated on the basis of transparency.” Bit by bit, the ghosts poured out not just their stories but also, their personalities. Soon, the dawn saw us singing popular songs (like “Ghosts just wanna have fun” by Cinder Lauper) together in a group in a theatrical way and us parting as friends.
Therefore, keeping my word to the ghosts, I tell you their story in the hopes that those poor, down-trodden ghosts shall find freedom from their designated tags. That night, as I made new friends, I realized the stinging impact of labels. I realized that we all, mortals, ghosts, and other ‘so called’ mythological creatures, are so much more than we appear. Hence, I urge you to look deeper into a person’s personality, even if they are literally translucent, before judging them. Only then would we create a society that is truly free from ‘jibes and prejudices’.
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