My son loves ghost stories. I try my best with the few ghost stories that I know and when I run out I have to create them. Most of the time before I finish a story he falls off to sleep but there was one story that we were able to finish.
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Dangphu dingphu… there lived a demon. He had ten heads. The demon, Doe as we Bhutanese know it, was very strong and intelligent and it was all because he had ten heads. He could think ten times faster than an average demon and all his senses were ten times stronger and clearer than other demons. He had long hair on all his heads. He had fangs in all his ten mouths. He had ten pairs of bulging bloody eyes and ten pairs of huge sharp ears.
Strong and powerful as he was yet these powers came with unbearable itches that his heads underwent every moment of his life. He did the best he could to get rid of the problem but every remedy failed to redeem him from his troubles.
Taking care of his heads took most of his time. Every day he had to oil his heads with warm oil, soap them, wash them, dry them, and comb them. These tasks would have been easy for a person or the easiest for a demon but this demon had ten heads and only one pair of hands.
One stormy night when the demon was about to go to bed, he heard someone banging on his door. The loud bang echoed through the halls of his castle and into his bedroom. He thought of not answering the door as he was tired from his daily ordeal of taking care of his heads but the bang seemed desperate and persistent. As he opened his door he saw a girl drenched by the rain. She was cold and shivering.
She could not see him clearly as he stood in the dark behind his half-opened door.
The girl pleaded and begged for a night’s lodging. He said he didn't have any empty rooms and was about to shut her out when she said she could work for him the next day, just one day’s work for the night’s lodging. He thought about what she could do. There was no work around the castle but he could ask her to wash his heads. So, he asked if she knew how to wash heads. The girl seemed confused but she said she knew. He told her to close the door behind her and to sleep on the floor by the thab (oven). The girl closed the door and expected to see her host but there was no one. She was in a dark hall, all by herself. Everything was dark except for the faint glow of light from the dying embers in the thab.
As she laid her head on the wooden floor she thought about the lost cow she had come looking for. But she was too tired to continue worrying about the cow and quickly fell asleep.
The next morning when the girl opened her eyes she was terrified to see the demon before her. But the demon assured her that she will not be harmed if she kept her promise, rather she would be rewarded with riches if she was successful in what she was to do. Yet every muscle in her wanted to fling herself at the door and run as fast and as far as her little legs could carry her. But the demon said he knew what she was thinking and that it was useless. He then told her that her work was to wash his hair on all his heads. The girl felt relived to know what she was to do. But she was wrong to think it was a simple job. Through out the day she labored; heating water, oiling his heads, soaping his hair and by the end of the day she was only able to complete washing two of his heads. And when she wanted to leave she was told that she would not be allowed to go, as she did not finish her job. So, she continued the next day and the day after and then the day after but her work never seemed to finish. It was as if she forgot how to count and felt everyday like she was starting all over again and again.
Finally one day the girl came up with a plan to completely free herself. She heated pig’s fat instead of water and told the demon to take his usual nap in the sun, which he usually took when she washed his heads. And he usually went into a deep slumber never waking up until she finished her job for the day. She took out the knife which she had been sharpening every night. The steel glowed in the midday sun.
The demon was startled when he opened his eyes. A strange yet familiar face stared at him. For the first time he was scared in his life. It looked like him but was different. It took some time for him to realize he was looking at himself in the huge mirror that was placed before him. The only difference was that he now had no hair on his heads. He was bald. As he screamed the girl’s name, she appeared slowly from behind a tree where she had been hiding. He rushed to choke the life out of her when she commanded him to stop and told him that she had completely gotten rid of his problem. She explained that with his hair he had also lost the irritation. She shaved his heads and oiled them with the pig’s fat so that the hair would never grow back. His hair was the price he had to pay never to suffer from the problem again.
He could feel the cool air on his heads. He felt his heads with his hands and the feeling was prickly and strange, something he had never known before and there was not the slightest itchiness to bother him.
The girl left the bald but happy demon with all the gold she could carry.