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Festivals of Midnapore District
Festivals of East and West Medinipur (Midnapore)
Books on Midnapore (Medinipur) District
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The Diary of the Wolf-Children of Midnapore
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Economics of Mat Industry - A study of P.S. Sabang, Midnapore
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Anselm Beaumont - Bangal Merchant (By Dr. P A K Covey-Crump)
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Life of an English Memsaheb in India in the late 19th Century (By Rajeswari Chatterjee)
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LAL JAL Rock Painting
 
 
 

The Diary of the Wolf-Children of Midnapore

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The Reverend J. A. L. Singh -  Missionary S. P. G. Mission and the Rector, The Orphanage, Midnapore, India

Written by The Reverend J. A. L. Singh
Missionary S. P. G. Mission and the Rector
The Orphanage, Midnapore
Midnapore, India.


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These are Singh's diaries, as also published in Wolf-Children and The Feral Man .


Chapter I

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We, on our missionary tours, went through the thickest portion of the jungle area of the Midnapore district and encroached upon the Morbhanj Raj territory in search of human habitations.

On one of these tours we came upon a village named Godamuri on the borderland between Midnapore and Morbhanj. We took shelter in a man's cowshed in the village. The man's name was Chunarem and he was Kora by race (one of the aboriginal tribes in India). At night the man came to us and reported in great fear about a man-ghost in the jungle close by. The Manush-Bagha (man-ghost) was like a man in his limbs with a hideous head of a ghost. On inquiry, he told me that it could be seen at dusk. The spot he cited was about seven miles from the village. He and his wife begged me to rid the place of it, as they were mortally frightened of it.

September 24, 1920

I got curious and wanted to see the ghost. We went out a little before dusk on Friday, September 24, 1920, but failed to see any sign of it. I thought it was all false, and did not care much. The second time the same story was repeated to me with great alarm and anxiety. They were so afraid that they wanted to abandon the place if nothing was done to remove the ghost from the area.

I thought of a plan and advised them accordingly. I pointed out to them a big tree in the vicinity, about one hundred yards or so from the place where the ghost was supposed to have lived. I asked them to prepare a shooting machan (a high platform from which one can shoot wild animals) in that tree, so that we could board the machan and secretly see the ghost when it came out from the den.

After coming back I borrowed a field glass from Mr. Rose of Khargpur (a railway colony) on October 3, 1920, Sunday, and started for the Morbhanj border on October 5, with Messrs. P. Rose, Henry Richards, Janu Tudu, and Karan Hansda, Janu Tudu being our pilot in the jungle.

October 8 and 9, 1920

We arrived at Godamuri on October 8 and stayed there with Chunarem. Early in the morning on the 9th we went out to see the machan and examined the haunts of the so-called ghost.

It was a white-ant mound as high as a two-storied building, rising from the ground in the shape of a Hindu temple. Round about, there were seven holes, afterwards found to be seven tunnels leading to the main hollow at the bottom of the mound. There was a bypath near the white-ant mound. The villagers used to pass by it, going into and out of the jungle for fuel, charcoal, and leaves, which they sold in the Hat (fair), after their work in the fields was over, and also after they had collected their harvest. It so happened that at times in the early morning, and sometimes at dusk, they came across these hideous-looking beings. They left that bypath altogether, through fear of molestation, and were living in a terrible fear, so much so that they were on the brink of leaving that area to go away to some other place. When they found us, they thought that by the help of our guns we could kill the ghost, and so put an end to all their fears.

Personnel of the Midnapore Orphanage: The Wolf-Child Kamala at the feet of Rev. and Mrs. Singh
Personnel of the Midnapore Orphanage:
The Wolf-Child Kamala at the feet of Rev. and Mrs. Singh

October 9, 1920

The same Saturday, October 9, 1920, evening, long before dusk, at about 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., we stealthily boarded the machan and anxiously waited there for an hour or so. All of a sudden, a grown-up wolf came out from one of the holes, which was very smooth on account of their constant egress and ingress. This animal was followed by another one of the same size and kind. The second one was followed by a third, closely followed by two cubs one after the other. The holes did not permit two together.

Close after the cubs came the ghost a hideous-looking being hand, foot, and body like a human being; but the head was a big ball of something covering the shoulders and the upper portion of the bust, leaving only a sharp contour of the face visible, and it was human. Close at its heels there came another awful creature exactly like the first, but smaller in size. Their eyes were bright and piercing, unlike human eyes. I at once came to the conclusion that these were human beings.

The first ghost appeared on the ground up to its bust, and placing its elbows on the edge of the hole looked this side and that side, and jumped out. It looked all round the place from the mouth of the hole before it leaped out to follow the cubs. It was followed by another tiny ghost of the same kind, behaving in the same manner. Both of them ran on all fours.

My friends at once leveled their guns to shoot at the ghosts. They would have killed them if they had not been dissuaded by me. I held their barrels and presented the field glass to Messrs. Rose and Richards and told them that I was sure that these ghosts were human children. Seeing through the field glass, all present on the machan agreed with me, except Chunarem. He still maintained that they were not human beings, but Manush-Baghas. We all disagreed with Chunarem and descended from the machan. It was about 8:00 p.m. when we reached our shelter at Chuna's cowshed.

October 10, 1920

We again sighted the ghosts and wolves the next day, October 10, 1920.

After dinner the same night we called Chuna and told him that we desired to dig the white-ant mound the next day to get those children, and take hold of them if possible. We asked him to help us with some men to dig out the place for us, and we would pay them handsomely. But he flatly refused, saying, "No, sirs, we cannot do that. You are all here only for a day, but we have to live here. When you all go away these Manush-Baghas will play havock with us and would kill us all." We absolutely failed to make him agree with our views. However, we did not press the matter further, because I knew what to do, and so I dropped the subject altogether. We left Godamuri on the eleventh of October, 1920.

October 11, 1920

I arranged with my friends to leave the spot that night and go to a distant village onward, and to secure some men who did not know anything about our findings. They all agreed, and we started on our tour. We came to a distant village near about Tpuban. The people there did not know anything about the ghosts. Here I spoke to the villagers to do a job for us in the jungle by cutting for us an opening like a temple door in one of the white-ant mounds. I promised them their daily wages and tip money for the work. Thfy agreed and we started back the day following, straight to the haunt of the wolves. None of us told them anything with regard to the ghosts living therein.

The white-ant mound in the jungle was about seven miles away from the village Godamuri. We brought the men straight to the spot; half of us boarded the machan, but I remained with them to instruct them to cut out a door in the particular white-ant mound on the seventeenth of October, 1920, Sunday, at about 9:00 a.m. I took the whole responsibility on myself, remaining with the men on the ground. I distinctly told my friends not to fire at any cost.

October 17, 1920

After a few strokes of the spade and shovel, one of the wolves came out hurriedly and ran for his life into the jungle. The second one appeared quickly, frightened for his life, and followed the footsteps of the former. A third appeared. It shot out like lightning on the surface of the plain and made for the diggers. It flew in again. Out it came instantly to chase the diggers howling, racing about restlessly, scratching the ground furiously, and gnashing its teeth. It would not budge out of the place.

I had a great mind to capture it, because I guessed from its whole bearing on the spot that it must have been the mother wolf, whose nature was so ferocious and affection so sublime. It struck me with wonder. I was simply amazed to think that an animal had such a noble feeling surpassing even that of mankind the highest form of creation to bestow all the love and affection of a fond and ideal mother on these peculiar beings, which surely once had been brought in by her (or by the other two grown-up wolves who appeared before her) as food for the cubs, Whoever these peculiar beings, and whatever they might be, certainly they were not their cubs, but had originally been brought as food for the cubs. To permit them to live and to be nurtured by them (wolves) in this fashion is divine. I failed to realise the import of the circumstances and became dumb and inert. In the meantime, the men pierced her through with arrows, and she fell dead. A terrible sight!

After the mother wolf was killed, it was an easy job. When the door was cut out, the whole temple fell all round, very fortunately leaving the central cave open to the sky, without disturbing the hollow inside. The cave was a hollow in the shape of the bottom of a kettle. It was plain and smooth, as if cemented. The place was so neat that not even a piece of bone was visible anywhere, much less any evidence of their droppings and other uncleanliness. The cave had a peculiar smell, peculiar to the wolves that was all.

There had lived the wolf family. The two cubs and the other two hideous beings were there in one corner, all four clutching together in a monkey-ball. It was really a task to separate them from one another. The ghosts were more ferocious than the cubs, making faces, showing teeth, making for us when too much disturbed, and running back to reform the monkey-ball. We were at a loss and did not know what to do.

I thought of a device. I collected four big sheets from the men, called in that region Gilap (the villagers' winter wrapper). I threw one of the sheets on this ball of children and cubs and separated one from the other. In this manner we separated all of them, each one tied up in a sheet, leaving only the head free. We gave away the cubs to the diggers and paid them their wages. They went away happy and sold the cubs in the Hat for a good price.

I took charge of the two human children, and came back to Chuna's house in Godamuri. I requested him to keep an eye on these children. I kept them in one corner of his courtyard in a barricade, made of long sal poles, not permitting the inmates to come out. The area of the barricade was eight feet by eight feet. There were two small earthen pots for rice and water placed on the side of the barricade, so that the keepers could pour in their food and drink from outside. Chuna agreed to keep them until my return.

October 18, 1920

I left Godamuri on the eighteenth of October, Monday, and went away to complete my tour program. My friends returned to Khargpur. It took me five days to return to Godamuri.

October 23, 1920

I returned on Saturday, the twenty-third of October. On my way back, when I approached near Godamuri, I was told of the miserable condition of the children. They had been left to themselves without any food or drink. For Ghosts to be living in Chuna's courtyard was more than enough to create a panic in him and the family. They had left the place in hot haste, just after we had left, and gone away to a place no one knew. The panic was so great that it depopulated the whole village.

I found the situation very grave, but did not wait or indulge in that thought for long, but made for the barricade at once, broke open the sal props, and found the poor children lying in their own mess, panting for breath through hunger, thirst, and fright. I really mourned for them, and actually wept for my negligence. I sprinkled cold water on their faces. They opened their mouths; I poured water in and they drank. I took them up in my arms one by one and carried them to the bullock cart.I tried to make them drink some hot tea.

The feeding was a problem. They would not receive anything into their mouths. I tried by spyhon action. I tore up my handkerchief and rolled it up to a wick. I dipped it in the tea cup; and when it was well soaked, I put one end into their mouth and the other end remained in the cup. To my great surprise, I found them sucking the wick like a baby. I thanked God most fervently for the great kindness in forgiving me my negligence in leaving the children under such a care. I thanked God doubly and many a time after this.

I stayed at Godamuri for a few days to tend and nurse the children to fit them to take the journey in a bullock cart, in which there is a good bit of jolting in the way for seventy-five miles to reach Midnapore. I kept them on raw milk only, and they improved beyond recognition. When I found them in a fit condition of health to be able to stand the journey, I prepared myself to start off.

October 28, 1920 - to - November 4, 1920

I left Godamuri on Thursday, the twenty-eighth of October, and reached Midnapore on Thursday, the fourth of November, 1920, and did not tell anything to anyone except my wife. We were delayed on the way, halting at different places to give them rest. They bore the journey splendidly. We reached the Orphanage safely, and thanked God for their rescue and for saving them. They were admitted into the Orphanage the same day we arrived. They were accepted simply as the neglected children. They were so weak and emaciated that they could not move about, so no one could suspect anything with regard to their extraordinary history. I took my wife into confidence and told her the whole fact of the discovery of the children, requesting her very strongly not to tell anyone, or disclose the fact in any way. I thank her that she kept her promise splendidly.

 

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