A Strange Wrestling Match

A Strange Wrestling Match
By Indira David [abridged Rajasthani folktale]

Even though a brave and open mind can victory over anything, including ghosts, one should avoid boasting. This is revealed in this storey. It is about a man who got himself into trouble and had to face a ghost as a result of his boasting. Ultimately, however, he wins in the end over the game.

Everyone thought Vijay Singh, the famous wrestler, was unbeatable. His weakness was boasting about big things. He was caught up once because of his habit of boasting. He told everyone that he was not afraid of ghosts and that he would like to meet one. When he heard this, someone suggested he go to Haunted Desert, where ghosts roamed freely. Vijay Singh was ready and had walked for miles to reach the Haunted Desert. In front of him appeared a ghost named Natwar. To hide his fear, Vijay Singh insulted the ghost, calling him a simple and stupid ghost.
Despite his fear, Vijay wanted to win this game psychologically, so he expressed his desire to fight the ghost to prove his strength. The ghost was left speechless by Vijay's words. He also warned the ghost not to judge him by his appearance because people's appearances are often deceptive.Seeing Vijay Singh's strength and power, the ghost considered another method of defeating him. So he invited him to spend the night at his house.
Vijay agreed after some back-and-forth. The ghost tried to kill him by hitting him at night. Vijay Singh, fortunately, was not on the bed and was saved. When the ghost discovered him alive in the morning, he was terrified of Vijay Singh and fled the place, leaving behind all the wealth he had stolen from the people. After that, no one came back to haunt the place.


There was once a wrestler called Vijay Singh. A tall man with massive shoulders and muscular arms, he towered over others like a giant. Vijay Singh, people said, was a born wrestler and could beat all other wrestlers in the world.

  • Wrestler: a person who fights with others as a part of game or sport

Once upon a time, there was a wrestler named Vijay Singh. He was a tall man with broad shoulders and powerful arms. In comparison to others, he appeared to be a giant. People thought he was a born wrestler who could never be defeated.

This pahalwan had but one shortcoming which often landed him in awkward situations. He was fond of boasting. One day, he was sitting in the market-place surrounded by several young men. After drinking many glasses of milk, he suddenly proclaimed, “Why are people afraid of ghosts? I am not. I wish I met a stout ghost. I’d teach him a lesson.”

  • Boasting: to speak too proudly about one’s belongings and accomplishments
  • Proclaimed: to announce something publicly
  • Awkward : to cause worry or problem
  • Stout : fat and solid

This pahalwaan had a flaw that caused him problems. It was his habit of boasting about his possessions. One day, while sitting in the market with a group of young men and after drinking milk, he stated that he was not afraid of ghosts, but rather that he wanted to meet a ghost and teach him a lesson.

There were murmurs of applause as well as apprehension among the young men. “If you walk alone at night through the Haunted Desert,” one of them said, “you are sure to meet ghosts. They roam there freely. Strange shrieks and moans can be heard all over the place. Travellers have been looted and killed. Would you really want to go there?” Vijay Singh’s mighty heart missed a beat or two. Why did he have to boast? “Yes, I have heard of the Haunted Desert,” he said nonchalantly. “I think it’s just a fairy tale.”

  • murmurs : to speak in a low voice, whispers
  • apprehension: suspicion or fear about some future happening
  • Haunted:place visited by ghosts
  • Nonchalantly: to behave in a calm manner that shows disinterest

People began to whisper. Some were praising, while others were suspicious and fearful. One young man told him that if he could walk alone through the Haunted Desert at night, he would undoubtedly meet ghosts. Ghosts freely roamed the place. Strange noises were frequently heard there. Travellers were robbed and murdered. Vijay Singh was terrified and repented for saying such a thing. Nonetheless, he stated casually that he was familiar with the place and that it was nothing more than a fairy tale in his opinion.

“Oh no,” said one of his admirers, “it’s true. This place is ten miles to the west on the road to Jaisalmer. The landmark is an ugly black rock that looks like the head of a camel. Beyond that there is nothing but sand and wilderness and, of course, ghosts.”

  • Landmark: place or building that can be easily recognised
  • Wilderness: an area which is not inhabited by human beings

One of his admirers confirmed this and informed him of the location. The road to Jaisalmer was ten miles to the west. The easily identifiable sign was a horrible looking black rock shaped like a camel's head. There was nothing else but the jungle and ghosts beyond that.

Almost the entire village turned up that evening to bid farewell to Vijay Singh, who was ready to set out west. Just then an old woman came forward and thrust a small packet into his hands, and Vijay Singh started walking into the red sunset of the desert.

  • Thrust: to push forcefully

The entire village came to bid Vijay Singh farewell as he set out on his journey to the haunted place. He began walking towards the desert after an elderly lady thrown him a packet.

As he walked, the night deepened. The moon was bright and the stars shone clearly in the Rajasthan sky. Still a few miles short of his destination, Vijay Singh remembered the old woman’s packet. He opened it and found nothing but a lump of salt and an egg. The old woman was well-known for her eccentricities.

  • Eccentricities: strange behaviours

As he continued walking, the night became darker, the moon became brighter, and the stars became visible in the Rajasthan sky. After a few miles, Vijay Singh remembered the packet given to him by the old lady. When he opened it, he discovered a lump of salt and an egg. This elderly lady was well-known for her strange behaviour.

As Vijay Singh stepped into the Haunted Desert, he heard a voice. “Vijay Singh, Vijay Singh! You will get lost in the desert. Come this way. I am your friend, Natwar.” At once Vijay Singh realised it was not his friend but a ghost. Trying to sound brave, he called back, “Where are you, my dear Natwar? It’s dark and I cannot see you. Come here and show me the way.” Like all good wrestlers, Vijay Singh wanted to size up his enemy.

  • Size up: to guess

As soon as Vijay Singh stepped into the Haunted Desert, he was called up by a voice that asked him to follow it. This voice introduced himself as Natwar, his friend. Vijay Singh found it was a ghost. Vijay Singh called back, showing that he was not afraid, but rather brave, and asked the ghost where he was because he couldn't see him due to the darkness. Seeing the ghost, Vijay wanted to guess his opponent's strength, just like a good wrestler.

Soon the ghost appeared at his side. Vijay Singh peered into his face and declared, “You are just a plain, lying ghost. Anyway, now I don’t have to walk all night. I was longing to meet you.” Not used to insults, the ghost was taken aback. People generally started back in horror when they met him.They often fainted. But here was this unfeeling creature claiming he wanted to meet a ghost. It didn’t make sense.
“Really, I don’t know why you longed to meet me,” the ghost said.
peered into; To look at carefully to search something

  • Taken aback: surprised

Shortly after, the ghost appeared, and Vijay Singh examined his face carefully and declared that the ghost was a liar. He had wanted to meet him for a long time and would no longer have to walk. The ghost was shocked when he heard such insulting language. People were generally afraid of him, and when they saw him, they began running and fainting. However, in this instance, the situation was diametrically opposite. He wished to speak with the ghost. The ghost, shocked, asked him if that was true.

“That proves,” said Vijay Singh in a bored voice, “that you are a stupid ghost. The least a ghost can do is to read a man’s thoughts. However, a worthless ghost like you is better than no ghost. The fact is, I am tired of wrestling with men. I want to fight a ghost”.
The ghost was speechless. Marshalling his ghostly wits, he made an attempt to look Vijay Singh scornfully in the eye. “Frankly,” he said, “you don’t appear all that strong to me.”

  • Marshalling: reordering

The ghost, according to Vijay Singh, is stupid and unable to read a man's thoughts. He claimed to be a useless ghost. Vijay went on to say that he was tired of fighting men. That's why he wanted to fight a ghost now. The ghost had no response and attempted to frighten Vijay. Vijay, he said, did not appear to be strong enough.

“Appearances can be deceptive,” Vijay Singh said. “Take your own case. You claim to be Natwar, though actually you are a rascal of a ghost. If you doubt my strength, let me give you a demonstration of it.”

Vijay Singh abused the ghost and told him not to judge him by his appearance. Vijay even offered to demonstrate his strength to the ghost if he was interested.


VIJAY Singh picked up a piece of rock from the sand. “Take this,” he offered it to the ghost, “and squeeze it hard. It is filled with fluid. See if I am wrong.” While the ghost tried to squeeze the rock first with one hand, then with both, Vijay Singh stealthily took out the egg from his pocket.

Vijay Singh snatched the rock from the ghost and placed it between both hands and squeezed. At once the yellow yolk oozed from around his fingers, and the crackling of the egg-shell created the illusion of the stone being crushed. The ghost was so astonished he did not notice Vijay Singh bending to clean his hands with sand and disposing of the tell-tale shell. Vijay Singh then picked up another piece of rock and gave it to the ghost. Without a word the ghost took it, felt it, and peered at it. Vijay Singh put his hand into his pocket to take out the lump of salt.

  • Squeeze: To press something with force
  • Stealthily: In a way that cannot be seen or heard
  • Snatch: To pull away or taking something, often in a rude way
  • Ooze: To leak through small openings
  • Crackling: A series of sharp sounds

Vijay Singh had a thought. He decided to play a joke on the ghost. He wanted to demonstrate the ghost's inefficiency and weakness. He then took a rock from the sand beneath him. He handed it over to the ghost and told it to squeeze it hard. He informed the ghost that it was now full of fluid. The ghost had faith in him. It tried everything it could to press and squeeze the rock, but it couldn't. It was, after all, a genuine rock. And, while the ghost was busy with the rock, Vijay Singh took out the egg given by the old woman. He did it without drawing the ghost's attention to himself.
Then Vijay Singh pulled the stone away from the ghost. He squeezed it while holding it in his hands. And, predictably, yellow yolk oozed from his hands. The crackling sound gave the impression that Vijay Singh was crushing a stone.
The ghost was shocked. It surprised and shocked me to see him break such a hard stone without realising it was an egg.

Vijay Singh then knelt down to carefully dispose of the egg-shell without drawing the attention of the ghost. Because it was so dark, the ghost assumed Vijay Singh had bent down to clean his hands. It didn't seem to notice him burying the eggshells in the sand.
Vijay Singh had not stopped, but had switched to a different strategy. He took another rock and presented it to the ghost for the second time. The ghost took it, felt it, and looked deeply into it. Vijay Singh intended to defraud the ghost once more. He directed the ghost to examine the stone, and while it was doing so, he removed the lump of salt from his pocket.

“This is only a stone,” protested the ghost. “And anyway it is too dark to see.”
     “Never heard of a ghost who can’t see in the dark!” remarked Vijay Singh. “That stone which you hold in your hand contains salt. Crumble it and see.” Again the ghost tried to crush the stone, but in vain. He handed over the stone to Vijay Singh. The ghost was now beginning to doubt his ghostly powers.
     “I can see that you’re not going to be a worthy opponent. What’s the use of wrestling with a weakling whom I can floor in a minute?” So saying, Vijay Singh casually crumbled the lump of salt and let the stone drop in the darkness. He held out his hand and commanded the ghost to taste the powdered stone.


  • Protested: To disagree or disapprove something
  • Crumble: To break something into small pieces
  • Vain: Unsuccessful or failing to produce the expected result
  • Worthy: Having value or importance
  • Opponent: A person against someone

Vijay Singh's words were not accepted by the ghost, who disagreed with them. Vijay Singh had already fooled the ghost with the first stone when he claimed to have broken an eggshell. It never wanted to make a compromise again. It simply stated that it wouldn't be able to see anything because it was too dark. The ghost's words amazed Vijay Singh.
Vijay Singh remarked sarcastically that he had never heard of a ghost who couldn't see in the dark. While Vijay Singh was preparing the lump of salt in his hands, he claimed the ghost's stone contained salt. He dares the ghost to break it. The ghost attempted to break the stone but failed on his second attempt as well. As a result, it passed it back to Vijay Singh. The ghost has begun to doubt its ghostly abilities. Vijay Singh puzzled the ghost once more.
Vijay Singh began to make negative remarks about the ghost and its abilities. He also explained that fighting an unworthy opponent like this ghost is pointless for him. Furthermore, Vijay Singh informed the ghost that it would take him less than a minute to defend him against a weak opponent like the ghost. He pretended to crush the stone into salt powder while explaining these facts. Vijay Singh placed the stone in the sand deftly. He also gave the ghost the powdered salt and told him to taste it.

Mesmerised with the pahalwan’s extraordinary strength, the ghost did as he was told. Alarm shot through him. This man could easily vanquish him in a wrestling bout in the dark. But perhaps, he could be tricked in other ways. Assuming a servile manner, the ghost said, “Friend Vijay Singh, it is an honour to meet a man like you! I admit to being defeated. But where will you go tonight? Rest in my house. You can leave tomorrow.”
     Now thoroughly elated, Vijay Singh replied, “I cannot refuse your hospitality but tomorrow you will go with me as my prisoner. I must display the trophy of my victory to my people!” The ghost bowed in agreement, but silently vowed to kill Vijay Singh in the night. He led him to his house in the cave.


  • Mesmerise: To hold or attract someone completely so that they cannot think of something else
  • Bout: A short period of involvement in an activity
  • Vanquish: To defeat someone completely
  • Assuming: Believing something to be true without any proof
  • Servile: Wanting to serve and please someone
  • Elated: Extremely happy and excited that something expected has been achieved
  • Hospitality: Showing kindness towards your guests and strangers
  • Bow: To bend your head or body to accept something
  • Vow: To promise to do something

The ghost was astounded and drawn to Vijay Singh's extraordinary strength. Vijay Singh appeared to be a one-of-a-kind individual for the ghost. It had only seen ordinary people all these days. A plan comes to the ghost's mind all of a sudden. Recognizing Vijay Singh's strength, the ghost concluded that his enemy would be unable to defeat Vijay Singh through combat. Instead, he can be fooled and tricked into winning.
The ghost thought up a scheme to defraud Vijay Singh in order to win him over. Despite the fact that the ghost spoke to him in a pleasant manner, he had a plan in mind. It conveyed that meeting such a strong person as Vijay Singh was an honour for the ghost. It openly admitted that he had defeated it. The ghost spoke to Vijay Singh in a deceptive manner, demanding a night's stay in its place. It told him that Vijay Singh could leave the next morning after resting in its place because it was late at night.
Vijay Singh was pleased with his accomplishment. He then told the ghost how grateful he was for the ghost's hospitality. Nonetheless, he demanded that he accept the ghost's invitation. The demand was that Vijay Singh take the ghost as a prisoner the next day. Vijay Singh also explained why he made his request. It was because he wanted to demonstrate to others that he had done something unusual.
The ghost had not refused, but had agreed to Vijay Singh's request. Though it agreed to Vijay Singh's request, it secretly promised to kill him during his night stay in the ghost's place. He accompanied him to its home within the cave.

The ghost fed him dry fruits and a lot of milk, and later led him to a luxurious bed to sleep on, complete with pillows and bolsters.
But Vijay Singh lay awake listening to the snores of the ghost. In the middle of the night, he slipped off his bed. He placed a bolster in the centre of the bed, throwing over it a coverlet to make it look exactly like a sleeping man. Having done this he crouched watchfully in a dark corner.
Sure enough, just before the break of dawn, the ghost approached the bed armed with a stout club. He brought the club down on what he thought was Vijay Singh’s head. Not hearing even a groan, he smiled, pleased that he had killed his enemy.


  • Bolster: To support something
  • Snore: To breathe loudly through one's nose and mouth while asleep
  • Coverlet: Refers to a bedspread
  • Break of dawn: First light of the day
  • Approach: To come near or to deal with something
  • Groan: Sound that indicates pain

Vijay Singh was led by the ghost to its haunted house. It was kind to Vijay Singh. It provided him with dry fruits and a large amount of milk. It later provided him with an expensive, high-quality bed to sleep in. Pillows and bolsters completely surrounded the bed.
Despite being given such an expensive bed, Vijay Singh did not sleep the entire night. He was clever enough to devise the ghost's strategy. The ghost snored the entire night, and Vijay Singh was awakened by it. And Vijay Singh got out of bed around midnight. He made his bed with bolsters in the middle and closed it with a bedspread to make it look like a sleeping person. After that, Vijay Singh hid himself in a dark corner. He began to silently observe what was going on around him.
The ghost appeared near Vijay Singh's bed with a stout club, as expected, just before dawn. It mistook Vijay Singh's bed for his own. He moved the Stout club closer to the bed, thinking it was his head and strikes on that spot. It thought to itself that it had killed its enemy. The ghost smiled broadly as he realised he had killed his enemy without making a single sound.

However, just to make doubly sure, he struck the bolster six times more. Satisfied with his work, he returned to his couch, and covering his head, settled down to sleep again. Meanwhile, Vijay Singh crept silently back into bed. After a pause, he groaned, as if in disgust, threw back his coverlet,and sat up.
Disturbed by the noise, the ghost peeped from under his bedclothes to see the strong man stretching his arms above his head and yawning. For a moment the ghost turned rigid with shock. “Friend ghost, there are insects in your cave,” said Vijay Singh in a complaining voice. “Here I was, enjoying the sweetest sleep I’ve had in years, and there comes this insect to trouble me. I distinctly counted seven flappings of its wings. Of course, it has not bitten me, but it’s most annoying.” The ghost panicked. Those seven blows would have reduced any other man to pulp. ‘There is no safety near a formidable wrestler like this,’ he thought and fled from the cave leaving behind all his ill-gotten wealth.

  • Crept: To move slowly and carefully without others notice
  • Disgust: A feeling of disapproval or dislike on someone or something
  • Peep: To look at something secretly
  • Panic: A strong feel of fear that prevents logical thinking
  • Formidable: Something that inspires fea

The ghost had a doubt, despite the fact that he was happy and satisfied with having killed Vijay Singh. It questioned whether it had killed him in the end. To be safe, it struck the bolster six times in a row, thinking it was Vijay Singh. After that, the ghost was satisfied with its work. It happily returned to its bed and slept, its head covered. Vijay Singh then slowly returned to his place, oblivious to the ghost's presence. After a while, he pretended to make a disgusting sound. He then sat on the bed, removing the bedspread from his face.
This unexpected, strange noise bothered the ghost. It peered through the bedspread to see what was making the noise. It then noticed Vijay Singh yawning and stretching his arms above his head. The ghost was stunned to see Vijay Singh alive and froze for a moment. Around this time, Vijay Singh began to speak. "Friend ghost, there are insects in your cave," he complained to the ghost.
Vijay Singh kept talking. He told the ghost that he had gotten the best sleep of his life in its cave. Even so, there was an insect in the cave that bothered him while Vijay Singh slept. He then pointed out that he could see seven flappings of its wings. Despite the fact that it did not bite him, he found it disturbing.
The ghost was terrified and surprised to hear such an unexpected response from Vijay Singh. It had no idea how Vijay Singh had escaped the ghost's seven heavy blows. Those powerful blows could have shattered any human being. It was astounded and terrified by Vijay Singh's extraordinary strength. Because the ghost felt unsafe being near him, he fled the cave. It kept everything it had looted in its cave.

It took several camels from the village to remove the property Vijay Singh had acquired. He returned much of it to the rightful owners. He went especially to the old woman, thanked her for her invaluable gift, and asked for her granddaughter’s hand in marriage.
     Thenceforth, Vijay Singh was more careful about boasting. It is said that no traveller was ever troubled again in the Haunted Desert.

  • Acquire: To get or buy something
  • Invaluable: Something extremely useful

Apart from being a wrestler, Vijay Singh demonstrated his intelligence. Despite being a strong wrestler, he psychologically weakened the ghost and got the win wisely. Unlike others, he dealt with the ghost brilliantly. Finally, he won the challenge and returned all of the looted items of the village people.
The looted items were carried back by several camels from the village. Many of the stolen items were returned to their rightful owners by Vijay Singh. During his journey, he met the old woman who gave him the egg and salt's lump. He thanked her for the priceless gift that had saved his life. In exchange for her assistance, he married the old woman's granddaughter.
Vijay Singh was cautious with his words after that. He never boasted about himself. And, most importantly, no other traveller was harmed or killed in that haunted desert by anyone. Though Vijay Singh's habit of boasting got him into trouble, he was able to overcome it with his knowledge. Vijay Singh's efforts not only saved himself, but also protected others from the ghost, particularly later travellers.