Friday, 20 April 2012

The breast-sucking turtle

The urban myth surrounding a breast-sucking turtle allegedly forced onto young women by an unknown man has once again resurfaced after a Tsumeb resident and alleged victim, Lina Sames, related her ordeal on the NBC Damara/Nama radio service this week. Sames featured on Monday on the weekly radio programme ‘Crime and Society’, presented by Johannes Mushindi, alleging that she was forced by a middle-aged Indian man to breastfeed a small turtle that grew bigger with every suck.

During the interview conducted by Mushindi and Sergeant Siegfried Geiseb of the Windhoek City Police, Sames narrated how she hitched a lift from Tsumeb on 11 April with the alleged perpetrator to visit a friend in Otavi, 60 kilometers away. After the visit to Otavi, the two reportedly returned to Tsumeb together, agreeing to meet the following day at a popular hotel. On 12 April, Sames and her new acquaintance purportedly drove towards Grootfontein before coming to a halt half-way between the two towns.

Sames, a domestic worker, related how the mysterious man suddenly produced a live turtle, no bigger than the average grown up’s hand and pressed the reptile against the victim’s right breast. “It proceeded to suck, while at the same time growing bigger. I was then forced to drink blood from the turtle,” a traumatized Sames said.

According to Inspector Kauna Shikwambi of the Police Public Relations division, Sames was in a state of shock upon admission to the Oshakati State Hospital and was unable to give a coherent statement to the police. “I was informed that she was so hysterical that she even left her medication upon her release on 16 April,” says Shikwambi.

Inspector Mathee of the Tsumeb police station also acknowledged the incident and confirmed to Informanté that a case was opened, but declined to provide the case number without permission from the Oshikoto Regional Crime Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Naomi Katjiua. The Commissioner however denied any knowledge of the strange incident.

A neighbour and friend of Sames, known only as Marianne, also confirmed to this reporter the factuality of the reported incident. Sames, who has no mobile and was reported to have been at work at the time of enquiry, could not be reached for comment. The folklore surrounding the breast-sucking turtle first surfaced late last year, after a young woman was lured with the promise of a shopping spree into breast-feeding a turtle on the northern outskirts of Windhoek. Although she was rumoured to have been admitted to Windhoek state hospital and later died, this could not be verified.

The deadly Sphinx

[…] In the year 1802, the emblem of the "Sphinx" was conferred upon the regiments “that helped to defeat Napoleon’s Army in Egypt in the previous year” as a battle honour. […]

Around the same time in a part of the world far removed from the Napoleonic wars a very different drama was unfolding. Both the nomadic and settled populations of Balochistan were experiencing a horrific predicament. It began with stray goats and cattle going missing.

Then, people began to disappear with no apparent cause or explanation. The young, the old, men and women, lonely travellers and shepherds alike fell prey to this unknown scourge. Even the newly dead were not safe and their bodies were dug up and seemingly devoured. Sometimes, mauled and mutilated bodies and crushed bones were discovered, at other times there was no trace at all. Clearly a beast, nay, a monster was preying on the living and dead alike. Some claimed to have seen it, they said that it walked on two legs and sometimes even ran on all four. It was huge and menacing and had a roar that would stop a heart from beating. The locals gave it a name that, in retrospect, doesn’t sound very menacing.

They called it the “mum” and despite its somewhat cuddly name, bone chilling stories of its boundless hunger kept circulating and still exist in oral traditions. Even as recently as the 1980s, as a child I remember my own mum threatening me with the possible arrival of this other “mum” whenever I used to be mischievous. Oblivious to the details of the Balochi version, I used to brush aside the possibility of another mum being more frightening than my own mum, when  she really wanted to be.

Here’s where these two tales intersect…

Back in the days of the British Raj, Quetta, the current capital of Balochistan, was a beautiful little town. It was the western most cantonment of British India and provided easy access to Afghanistan as the border was much closer as compared to that of today. In fact, the border kept shifting until the boundary commission fixed one permanently, in the shape of the Durand Line. The beautifully constructed colonial buildings, the cherry blossoms and the snowfalls of Quetta earned it the nickname of ‘Little London’. With the high-stakes geopolitical drama, known as “the Great Game” going on, both the Russian and the British empires had their eyes set on Afghanistan. More and more British regiments were being allocated to the Anglo-Afghan wars, among them the elite soldiers who had beaten ol’ Boney back in Egypt. They marched proudly into Afghanistan carrying the Sphinx insignia, but sadly for them, this was no Egypt. The Anglo-Afghan wars proved to be very costly for the British and their men were being slaughtered by the hundreds. Some of the dead from Afghanistan were eventually brought to Quetta for burial and a memorial was erected to honour them. And what else to guard the monument, than the insignia of their parent regiment — a relic of their past glory to crown their fall. The Sphinx! With the construction of this stone lion with the head of a human, the locals could finally put a face to their hitherto faceless terror. The Egyptian sphinx was now the Baloch Mum.

Interestingly, the legend and the statue jelled together very well. Legend had it that the Quetta Mum was a female of the variety that had been left behind when others of her species moved on due to increasing human encroachments.

It was said that she came to life during the nights and hunted for prey, which she used to take up to a cave on the Murdar Ghar peak in the hills behind the cantonment area. This fit perfectly with the fact that the graveyard sphinx sat as still as, well, a statue during the day. Who knew what it got up to during the night? Such was it’s notoriety that even in post-partition Quetta, much of the local population avoided passing alone at night along the Baleli Road where the “Gora” qabrastan (Christian Cemetery) is situated.

However, it was this very notoriety that spelled its unfortunate demise. In the 1990s, the statue was smashed during a protest against the destruction of the Babri Masjid. An enraged mob decided to take revenge on the poor Mum for preying on their ancestors for all those centuries. […]

Olympic floater passed from ring to ring

Enormous Olympic rings have started popping up in London. There's a set at St Pancras, another recently floated down the Thames, and a third set will be suspended at Tower Bridge.

We're told that there's something special about one of the rings. Someone involved in their construction had a bit of a downer on the whole Olympics in London thing. So he took a shit inside one of the rings. And then had it welded shut.

Vampires, cannibals and monkey-men

Vampires and cannibals prey on fear in Mumbai

Over the past week, the fertile imagination of Mumbai's collective consciousness has been in the feverish grip of some dreaded creatures. Vampires, cannibals and monkey men all appear to have chosen the city as the site for their spring rendezvous. While Mumbai cowers under the covers, cops are having a hard time laying their fears to rest.

In Bhandup-Mulund,  rumours swirl that a tribal group is on the prowl to snatch kids. Imaginations run wild in Ghatkopar-Sakinaka-Marol-Andheri, where residents claim to have seen "vampire-like-creatures". Another fantastical rumour doing the rounds in Andheri-Malad concerns a "monkey man", who"kills people". And residents of Chembur-Trombay are convinced that hungry cannibals lie in ambush nearby.

Mumbai police have been inundated with reports of sightings of these creatures, but have found no evidence to substantiate them. As mass hysteria sweeps the city, terror-stricken residents are caving into fear and altering their daily lives.

Take Vrinda Thakur (name changed). She didn't send her 12-year-old son to school on Thursday, petrified by the news that a group of tribal child-snatchers who have entered the Chembur belt and were kidnapping kids.

"Last night, many people in my area were on the streets. They told me that there are cannibals lurking in the streets, looking for kids to kidnap. I got scared, and decided not to send my son to school," she said.

Residents too prefer to stay indoors after twilight. "We have heard many rumours. There is a group of criminals who enter the colonies, only to kill and loot people. I also hear that the police has taken in many people for questioning," said Dr Vijay Sangole, resident of Pestom Sagar.

L Mandalia, a resident from Andheri (East) said, "A friend told me that he knows of a man who had an encounter with a vampire-like creature in Andheri, and since then has called in sick." Cops, however attributed these to rumours. They have tightened patrolling measures, just in case. Qaisar Khalid, additional commissioner of police, Central Zone, confirmed that such rumours were making the rounds.

"The rumour originated in Mulund-Bhandup, and then spread like wildfire. We are adopting the ignore-and-kill-strategy ” whenever we receive a complaint, we go there, explain to the residents that there is no substance to their claims as no one has seen anything. This way, we hope to kill the rumours," he said.

Source: Mid-day, 24 February 2012
Similar rumours, sometimes with racist overtones, subsequently spread across the region, and are reported in the Hindustan Times, DNA, The Indian Express and the Times of India  

Spring-heeled monkey men

The Bhandup cops were hauled up by the police top brass last week for falling prey to rumours that ‘monkey men’, who could climb tall trees with ease and jump over rooftops, were trying to break into homes and kill residents before committing robberies. […] Policemen were visiting shoe shops in the area in an attempt to identify whether "shoes with special springs" were being manufactured there, sources revealed. […]

“For a few weeks, rumours were floated by some people in Bhandup (West) that have been causing a lot of inconvenience to local residents. They said ‘monkey men’, who were capable of jumping great lengths and climbing tall trees, were prowling around the area to commit violent robberies. With the civic polls coming up, various political parties had also seized upon the opportunity to create patrolling squads of their own,” said a senior Mumbai Police officer, who did not wish to be named. “The Assistant Commissioner of Police of the area ordered men to go to shoe shops and conduct enquiries about shoes that had special springs built into the soles to make people jump to great heights."

Monday, 9 April 2012