It’s not a philosophical discourse on belief. It’s about an erroneous belief built into a tradition over time. Nobody tried to challenge or verify the claim. It’s the unholy story of how I did it.
I’m originally from rural Bangladesh. Our matriculation examination center was about 8 miles from our village. In fifties there was no transport facility available. We had to trudge it on foot. Midway to the center there is a tall mango tree, barely 10 feet away from the road side. In height and girth it’s as good as any very tall teak-tree – like that of Burmese species. Such tall mango tree I didn’t find anywhere in India. It’s a wild variety of mango found probably only in the Chittagong district of Bangladesh. A thick creeper -- the circumference of the cross section will not be less than 12 inches – climbs on the side of the tree. It doesn’t surround the tree. It’s a creeper, because it cannot stand on its own. I don’t know its botanical name and have no knowledge if a second such creeper exists anywhere else. Local name translated into English would be “left-twisting” creeper. The explanation is that in its spiraling climb upward it turns left before making a full 360 degree rotation. It’s debatable, but let’s accept it, as it is.
The special characteristic of this creeper is that it‘s worshipped by people of all faiths – Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. Worshipping the creeper is thought to be auspicious. It’s commonly believed that it bleeds, if cut. Red blood oozes out from the incision. Hell will break loose on the sinner cutting it, with its attendant retribution.
Before the exam, we -- about 15 boys-- were going for fixing up staying facility as paying guest, near the exam center.
On the way – it was our first time traversing the road -- the moment we saw the tree we immediately recognized it by the presence of half burnt candles, incense sticks, spilled over melted wax, and some flowers etc lying around. We saw some feathers of birds, indicative of offering of chickens to the totem. Soon, my mischievous brain came into play: why not verify, if it really bleeds. Terrified by the terrible idea all the boys hurried forward to the destination, leaving me and my faithful friend behind.
My friend was a bit shaky first. He didn’t anticipate I would go to the extent of cutting it practically, risking hellish vengeance on us. However, seeing me serious on my intention he didn’t object actively. Next problem was, how to cut it. We didn’t have any implement. After searching all around the place we found a small flat iron strip. While placing the blade on the creeper I too felt a mild tremor in my heart: in case it turns out to be true, then? Then what will happen to me not known, but something horrible was sure to happen. In a moment I became ready to accept any outcome it might lead to. With difficulty we incised the bark of the creeper and paused -– with anticipated consternation – to see the blood oozing out. Instantly nothing gushed forth, but after some time a little watery fluid was found – hardly enough to wet our finger tips. We didn’t find any trace of blood or coloured sap.
So, it is a belief without foundation that lives on through time.
My purpose of telling this story is that there may be such stories around you. Have you ever dared to verify it?