The awkward and disrupted notes of my favourite song, “Star Light, Star Bright” on the flute that I was proudly playing were lost, suddenly as a strange ringing of the bells was heard. The “practice session” which was taking place in my balcony- yes, my balcony – was stopped short of an encore.
It was a black night with only the faint glimmer of a tired moon shining above. And I was practicing my flute. In the balcony. At night.
My family was trying to catch some sleep as the power breakdown continued. Two hours had lapsed since the electricity had “gone”.
The bells were heard again. This time, I tried reasoning to myself. It cannot be our door bell. Certainly cannot be a lady’s anklets tinkering in the night. Or could it be…?
My mind raced towards the age old sagacity of the numerous stories that my friends had retold me during my span of 12 years of age.
It could only be a “Picchal payrree” in the black of the night!
“Abbaaaaaaaaaaaa!” I screamed, dropping my flute, and running to my dozing father.
“Abba, please, wake up. Recite the Ayatul Kursi on me!”
I couldn’t bring myself to give him any reason for my reason. If I mention the cause, she will get me. The Pichhal Payree.
Knowing his daughter, Abba recited the Holy verses, giving me into the care of Allah. Climbing onto an arm chair, consoled and feeling safe, I welcomed sleep forgetting all about my flute practice.
The next day while getting ready for the school- the realization dawned that the ringing was still audible during day-time.
A “Daytime Picchal Payree”?
The mystery was soon resolved. With Eid -ul -Adha being near, one of our neighbours had brought a sacrificial animal for the holidays. The anklets were tied to that goat.
Picchal Payree, indeed!
- Picchal Payree: An Urdu word for “Banshee”; a “lady-ghost” with her feet twisted backwards.
- Abba : term for father in Urdu.
- Ayatul Kursi: Literally, “The Verse of the Throne”- a verse from the Quran praising Allah. This invocation is widely recited for protection from all harm.
- Eid-ul-Adha : A Muslim festival celebrating the sacrifice that Abraham (May God’s mercy and blessings be upon him) carried out to please God. His son, Ismael, was saved by a miracle and instead, a ram was sacrificed.