A Guide for the Millennial Ghost | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 20, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:38 PM, April 23, 2017

A Guide for the Millennial Ghost

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Look, we understand that you're confused just now. Being treated like you're invisible is normal but people walking right through you isn't. Something is clearly wrong here and, as you suspect, it's you. You've become a ghost.

Tell you what, we'll help you out. You must have a lot of questions about your current condition. Questions like, “What do I wear?” And “What is expected of a ghost in 2017 and how do I negotiate my behaviour against the framework of societal expectation given the actual context of my life experience?”

No? You'd rather ask, “What happens after this?” and “Is this a punishment for the sins of my mortal life?”

Well that's a bit heavy for a youth magazine, isn't it? Keep it light, you spooky weirdo.

So the first thing you have to do is dress for the job, but what does a ghost even wear? The answer is white. All day, every day. In the West they just put on a white bedsheet, walk around the corridors for a bit and call it a nice night's work. You on the other hand will be lucky to find any bedding in this country not lovingly embroidered with flowers and leaves, usually in pink. This will only strike fear into the hearts of those insecure in their manhood, and no one else.

The local dress code will get you more results. Who isn't afraid of a mysterious woman walking around in a white sari? It's scary because she's out after dark unchaperoned instead of at home taking care of her family. If you're male you can try the white panjabi but not paired with a scarf; you're trying to scare people, not make a questionable fashion choice. 

The problem is it's tough to get traditional white garments. The boutique stores want to sell you green panjabis and purple saris and awful yellow things. If you want any white at all, it'll have red, black or orange patterns to deal with. These aren't suitable for ghosts, especially if you have the bad luck of getting one of those panjabis that don't have buttons. An unbuttoned, hairy chest sneaking up on you in the dark is scary, yes, but not for the right reasons.

Then again you could identify as a hip, fashion-conscious millennial first and a tortured revenant second. There's no reason you can't dress trendy in the afterlife. So dump your nupur, cut your long hair, and visit the nearest coaching centre to get an idea of what kids these days wear.

In masculine fashion it is important to avoid any trend towards brightly-coloured clothing. It ruins the ghostly effect if you turn up wearing a yellow belt, and the same goes for T-shirts with superhero insignia. It could, however, be mildly effective to wear “Suicide Squad” shirts, if only to remind people of the horror they felt while watching it.

You may notice some girls walking around with ropes around their necks. This may remind you of nooses and death by hanging, but it in fact has nothing at all to do with asphyxiation. While you are cutting your hair short, a spot of colour can also be striking and memorable; try white or a blood-red. Avoid orange. If you wish to increase your visibility in the dark you might take a cue from some of those girls who find a way to make their cheekbones reflect light like aluminium foil.

Move away from the corner.

Now that you're all chic and fly, it's time to get down to business. First priorities – location, location, location. For example, you can't expect to scare people at a wedding. Your appearance, in comparison to some of the face-painted individuals there, would come off as quite tame. But don't get disheartened. You're still very scary. We believe in you, champ.

Growing up, you might have heard your grandfather's stories about how he was travelling on a lonely road late at night and saw a man in a white panjabi who he claimed was a ghost but was probably just a man in a white panjabi. These lonely roads have a scary reputation but there aren't any left in Dhaka not already haunted by biker boys, jhalmuriwalas and late night rap battles. Try the great highways instead: those endless dark roads, the trees surrounding you, moonless nights over fields, buses breaking down and all the passengers climbing out to urinate and vomit… Poe couldn't have written the scene better.

There are definitely opportunities in Sylhet's tea gardens and Chittagong's hills – but everyone expects that. Haunting Foy's Lake may seem a good idea until the amateur ghostbusters turn up. This might appear to be your chance to get on Bhaat FM, but these people will blame the wind blowing the trees on supernatural activity. 

Don't haunt a graveyard. The gravekeepers are so used to seeing ghosts running around the place at night that the only way to worry one is to not show up one evening. They'll come looking for you to see if you're feeling OK, which is just embarrassing.

You could definitely try a school, though the obvious problem is that everyone goes home in the afternoon so you'll rarely catch them alone in the dark. You can scare some darwans pretty consistently in the evening and occasionally ambush some hapless student on the way to the bathroom. 

Doing it right.

Haunt the old tree overlooking the playing field. The football boys deserve a good scare. This is a good plan so long as the school even has a field. It won't work if you're trying to haunt, for example, Little Genius Ideal Hope School whose campus is three rooms sublet on the sixth floor of a Green Road apartment building, next to the homeopath's clinic. The students there probably have enough problems without you coming into their lives.

At the end of the day nothing beats haunting the family at home. Ideally you'll want to get yourself one of those rich clans that owns the entire building and has an entire empty floor that you can take over. You shouldn't feel too put out if you have to settle for a bunch of students from Barisal boarding together and sharing one towel between them. Just be aware that these unmarried youths will likely treat the ghost of someone of the opposite sex hanging around their place at night with joy rather than fear.

Let's move on to striking fear into the hearts of your victims now. This is the most exciting part, since this is when you actually get to put your talents to test.

The don'ts first.

Don't do the clichéd crying in a corner with your hair falling over your face bit to scare a teenager because they'll just say, “Same” in response. It's actually better to just skip haunting this age group altogether. They already welcome death and will willingly give themselves up to you.

In fact, avoid lurking in the corners altogether. The modern hauntee is too focused on their screens to notice you in the periphery. Get yourself centre-stage. Try photobombing their selfies. You'll earn yourself some fame as the internet's biggest meme in the month of April.

Casual wedding look, not scary.

Don't call your victim saying, “You will die in seven days.” Because you'll just be left heartbroken as they ignore your call. And don't bother texting them either. They'll reply to you a week later with, “New phone who dis.”

Now, I know you put a lot of effort into your new attire and might want to show it off but don't be that kind of ghost who physically manifests in front of the hauntee on the first day. Take it slow and leave something up to the imagination. Make the wind blow a little stronger, do some casual poltergeistism, then move onto writing threatening messages on the bathroom mirror (“Beware, today I may be using your cheap lipsticks but tomorrow I shall use your Kat Von Ds.” “Your bathroom now smells like Axe. It was me. I did that.” And so on.).

Make something in their room fall at midnight. Then grab some popcorn and watch as your 28 year-old victim calls their mommy to come sleep beside them. You could also try subtler techniques such as knocking on their room's door at 3 AM, when everyone is fast asleep. Then repeat this every night until they can't stand it and move to a different city. Make sure it doesn't backfire to the point where your victim begins to look forward to your nightly visits as their only regular form of human interaction.

This should be enough to get your afterlife started properly. An eternity of ceaseless torment and lonely haunting isn't a great prospect, but that doesn't mean you can't give it your A-game! An entire world of hapless mortals await your fearful presence. Go get them. Get out there.

No, really. Get out. Go away.

Tasnim Odrika is having an existential crisis at the moment and doesn't really know who she is anymore. Send her compliments at odrika_02@yahoo.com

Zoheb Mashiur is a prematurely balding man with bad facial hair and so does his best to avoid people. Ruin his efforts by writing to zoheb.mashiur@gmail.com

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