My maternal house was this giant campus in the middle of the town, where all the cousins, a dozen of us, have had our best memories from childhood.
It used to be my favorite summer destination despite being in the same town. It was basically a two-story bungalow with mango, litchi, neem, jamun(black plum) and various other trees in the vicinity of the campus. We also had many kinds of flowers and vegetables inside the well guarded, well-walled campus and also two cows and a giant shed for them.
The thing was, ever since we came to our senses, we were trained to be scared of one mighty beast called Kitaas. Every elder in my family who claimed to have seen it would describe it differently.
‘It has the tail like a langoor.’
‘It has giant claws with long nails like a witch’
‘It has eyes like a cat, glittering in the dark that can make anyone faint.’ and so on.
Every time mangoes went missing from the house or a dog was found dead,
‘It must be the kitaas’
It was so feared that no one(of the kids) dared to step out of the door after it went dark.
If someone was naughty or disobedient, they would be warned,
‘If you don’t obey, I will call the Kitaas and make it bite you.’
Every time our faith in the myth of Kitaas dwindled, a cat would die or a child would cry at night and we would quickly restore it back. There would be new stories with every new kid in the family.
‘Do you know, the kitaas has come back? This time with its wife and kids.’
Everyone treated Kitaas as if it was some sort of a Kraken.
Why would our parents and grandparents lie to us, we thought. For a large part of my childhood, I didn’t see a Kitaas. Then we grew up and dispersed in our own separate lives.
Nearly five years back, I saw a small, jackal-like thing (might be moderately harmful if attacked) eating mango peacefully near the back gate of that old house. I asked my Nani what it was and she told.
‘Tch. The Kitaas is back, eating our mangoes’
I felt sorry for the poor creature. I also felt relieved of finally seeing ‘Kitaas’ myself.
It was a cute funny lie that an entire generation told to an entire generation, just to keep them from going out at night. Of course, there were snakes and scorpions so in a way, the Kitas saved us.
It looked somewhat like a racoon. Might have been a racoon. But then, what do I know? I am a dolt.