Kali and Mizha continue the conversation they started before they left the temple. Many days have been spent wheedling this information out of Mizha, I suspect. Although the fact that Kali has been successful means that either she’s more stubborn than any person Mizha’s yet encountered (very probable) or they’re well on their way to becoming BFFs (also likely) or both.
What is it about the truth that humans struggle with so much? We want to know it, but often only when it comes delivered in a certain package that’s easy to digest. I know I’ve struggled with processing valid points independent of the emotional content that framed them. Perhaps it’s also that truth is relative. Nobody has the whole story. Just their own perspective, and the additional data points provided by the truth of others, whether gleaned from personal stories or books.
I’ve been listening to a new podcast that makes me think a lot about the need for narrative and relative truth. It’s called LORE, and the tagline is “Sometimes the Truth is More Frightening Than Fiction.” It’s a podcast about where myth and legend intersect with the often far more unsettling facts. I’m really enjoying it, but it’s not a podcast I can 100% recommend without a warning: Human beings can be monsters to each other, and the gruesome details of that are not for the faint of heart. Violence, assault, and stomach-turning bloodshed are not uncommon. I find them simultaneously easier and harder to deal with when the events described are actually true. Easier, because they are not imagined by an author to titillate. Harder, because it means that these were things that real people did to real people, and not a metaphor for something else.
One of the things that’s struck me is how often the myth, terrifying and unsettling though it may be, is often easier to hear than the grains of truth behind it. Almost as if people invented something terrifying to actually numb the horror of the truth. Couched in stories of The Other, people can pretend that a normal person, such as themselves, could never be capable of such acts. In an odd way, perhaps it becomes a way for people to assure themselves that no matter how much they lose their temper, lash out, degrade, or despise someone else, at least they’re not a monster. As though somehow the legend of a terrible creature allows folks to ignore their own bad habits. The Thing that’s outside isn’t a neighbor or a relative or a friend. It’s a demon, a witch, a beast. And above all, it isn’t you and it isn’t me.
By creating terrifying scary stories, we create a safe space for our own darker impulses to hide in.
And that’s a truth I find scarier than any ghost story.
What is your favorite legend, ancient or urban, scary or otherwise? What do you think it says about the culture that created it?