The Examination Paper
This is a story which I believe. Of course, this is not my personal
experience; but it has been repeated by so many men, who should have
witnessed the incident, with such wonderful accuracy that I cannot but
The thing happened at the Calcutta Medical College.
There was a student who had come from Dacca, the Provincial Capital of
Eastern Bengal. Let us call him Jogesh.
Jogesh was a handsome young fellow of about 24. He was a married man and
his wife's photograph stood in a frame on his table in the hostel. She
was a girl hardly 15 years old and Jogesh was evidently very fond of
her. Jogesh used to say a lot of things about his wife's attainments
which we (I mean the other students of his class) believed, and a lot
more which we did not believe. For instance we believed that she could
cook a very good dinner, but that is an ordinary accomplishment of the
average Bengali girl of her age.
Jogesh also said that she knew some mystic arts by means of which she
could hold communion with him every night. Every morning when he came
out of his room he used to say that his wife had been to him during the
night and told him--this--that--and the other. This, of course, we did
not believe, but as Jogesh was so sensitive we never betrayed our
scepticism in his presence. But one significant fact happened one day
which rather roused our curiosity.
One morning Jogesh came out with a sad expression and told us that his
father was ill at home. His wife had informed him at night, he said; at
that time we treated the matter with indifference but at about 10
o'clock came a telegram, (which we of course intercepted) intimating
that his father was really ill.
The next morning Jogesh charged us with having intercepted his telegram;
but we thought that he must have heard about the telegram from one of
the students, as there were about half a dozen of us present when the
telegram had arrived.
Jogesh's father came round and the matter was forgotten.
Then came the annual University examination.
Jogesh's weak subject was Materia Medica and everybody knew it.
So we suggested that Jogesh should ask his wife what questions would be
set, during one of her nightly visits.
After great hesitation Jogesh consented to ask his wife on the night
before the examination.
The eventful night came and went. In the morning Jogesh came out and we
anxiously inquired what his wife had said.
"She told me the questions" said Jogesh sadly "but she said she would
never visit me again here."
The questions were of greater importance and so we wanted to have a look
at them. Jogesh had noted these down on the back of a theatre programme
(or hand bill--I really forget which) and showed the questions to us.
There were eleven of them--all likely questions such as Major ---- might
ask. To take the questions down and to learn the answers was the work of
an hour, and in spite of our scepticism we did it. And we were glad that
we did it.
When the paper was distributed, we found that the questions were
identically those which we had seen that very morning and the answers to
which we had prepared with so much labour only a few hours before.
The matter came to the notice of the authorities who were all European
gentlemen. The eleven answer papers were examined and re-examined, and
finally Jogesh was sent for by Col. ---- the Principal to state how much
truth was there in what had been reported, but Jogesh prudently refused
to answer the question; and finally the Colonel said that it was all
nonsense and that the eleven students knew their Materia Medica very
well and that was all. In fact it was the Colonel himself who had taught
the subject to his students, and he assured all the eleven students that
he was really proud of them. The ten students were however proud of
Jogesh and his mystic wife. It was decided that a subscription should be
raised and a gold necklace should be presented to Jogesh's wife as a
humble token of respect and gratitude of some thankful friends, and this
plan was duly executed.
Jogesh is now a full-fledged doctor and so are all the other ten who had
got hold of the Materia Medica paper.
After the incident of that night Jogesh's wife had an attack of brain
fever and for some time her life was despaired of, and we were all so
sorry. But, thank God, she came round after a long and protracted
illness, and then we sent her the necklace.
Jogesh told us subsequently that his wife had given him an Indian
charm-case with instructions to put it on with a chain round the neck
whenever he required her. Immediately he put on the chain, to which this
charm-case was attached, round his neck, he felt as if he was in a
trance and then his wife came. Whether she came in the flesh or only in
spirit Jogesh could not say as he never had the opportunity of touching
her so long as she was there, for he could not get up from the bed or
the chair or wherever he happened to be. On the last occasion she had
entreated him not to press her to tell the questions. He had, however,
insisted and so she had dictated to him the examination paper as if from
memory. The theatre programme was the only thing within his reach and he
had taken down all the questions on that, as he thought he could not
rely upon his own memory. Then she had gone away; but before going she
had walked up to him, unbuttoned his _kurta_ (native shirt) at the chin,
and removed the charm-case from the chain to which it was attached. Then
she had vanished and the charm case had vanished too. The chain had, of
course, remained on Jogesh's neck. Since that eventful night Jogesh had
had no mystic communion with his wife during his stay in Calcutta.
She refused to discuss the subject when Jogesh afterwards met her at
Dacca. So the mystery remains unsolved.
Talking of questions and answers reminds me of an incident that took
place on one occasion in my presence.
A certain Mohammedan hypnotist once visited us when I was at College.
There was a number of us, all students, in the hostel common-room or
library when this man came and introduced himself to us as a
professional hypnotist. On being asked whether he could show us anything
wonderful and convincing he said he could. He asked us to procure a
teapoy with 3 strong legs. This we did. Then he asked two of us to sit
round that small table and he also sat down. He asked us to put our
hands flat on the table and think of some dead person. We thought of a
dead friend of ours. After we had thus been seated for about five
minutes there was a rap on the leg of the teapoy. We thought that the
hypnotist had kicked the leg on his side.
"The spirit has come" said the hypnotist.
"How should we ascertain?" I asked.
"Ask him some question and he will answer" said the hypnotist.
Then we asked how many from our class would obtain the university degree
"Spirit", said the hypnotist "as the names are mentioned one rap means
pass, two mean plucked"; then he addressed the others sitting around
"see that I am not kicking at the leg of the teapoy."
Half a dozen of the boys sat down on the floor to watch.
As each name was mentioned there came one rap or two raps as the case
might be till the whole list was exhausted.
"We can't ascertain the truth of this until 3 months are over" said I.
"How many rupees have I in my pocket" asked one of the lookers-on.
There came three distinct raps and on examining the purse of the person
we found that he had exactly 3 rupees and nothing more.
Then we asked a few more questions and the answers came promptly in.
"_Yes_" and "_No_" by means of raps.
Then according to the hypnotist's suggestion one student wrote a line
from Shakespeare and the ghost was asked what that line was.
"As the plays are named rap once at the name of the play from which the
passage has been taken" said the hypnotist, solemnly addressing the
"Merchant of Venice"
One loud rap.
"Macbeth" said the hypnotist "now which Act."
One loud rap.
One loud rap.
"Now what about the lines" said the hypnotist.
"Line one--Two--Three ... Thirty nine"
One loud rap
One loud rap
One loud rap
One loud rap
One loud rap
One loud rap
A copy of Shakespeare's Macbeth was at once procured and opened at Act
V, Sec. III, line 40.
"Can'st thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote,
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff,
Which weighs upon the heart?"
This was what we read.
The student was then asked to produce his paper and on it was the
Then the hypnotist asked us to remove our hands from the top of the
teapoy. The hypnotist did the same thing and said "The Spirit has gone."
We all stared at each other in mute surprise.
Afterwards we organized a big show for the benefit of the hypnotist, and
that was a grand success.
Lots of strange phenomena were shown to us which are too numerous to
mention. The fellows who had sat on the floor watching whether or not it
was the hypnotist who was kicking at the teapoy-leg assured us that he
The strange feats of this man, (hypnotist astrologer and thought-reader
all rolled into one) have ever since remained an insoluble mystery.
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