Mr and Mrs Vervey contemplating the photo of their daughter Joey who affirmed that she had lived ten previous lives...

For thousands of years, men have believed in reincarnation.  In certain traditional civilizations in Asia, Africa, Oceania and South America, this belief still exists.  It is only the Western world which mockingly refutes this “fairytale”…

There are however some very troubling cases.  Here are four, stripped to the bare facts, without comment or the slightest attempt at explanation.

***

Shanti Devi is born on 17 January 1926 in New Delhi.  Until the age of three, she is a well-behaved, calm baby who is just like other children.  But suddenly, one morning in 1929, when her parents call her, she answers them with a strange air:

“My name isn’t Shanti, it’s Amned…”

She is scolded, told that she is silly, and that her name is Shanti, not Amned.  She insists, starts a tantrum, is slapped and cries…

The next day, she starts again:

“I’m called Amned, and my home isn’t here…  It’s in Muttra.  And I’m married there.  My husband is a cloth merchant and his name is Ahmed Lugdi…”

This time, little Shanti’s parents are astounded.  Either their daughter is mad, or she is making fun of them.

In doubt, they slap her again and order her not to recount any more stupidities.

But over the following days, then weeks, the little girl continues to give precise information on the one she calls “her husband”, on her “Muttra home”, on her way of life, her habits, her neighbours, her friends and the streets of the city.

Finally, Shanti’s parents think that their daughter is possessed by a demon.  They take her to a Brahman doctor.  Very intrigued, he takes the little girl to the Benares University to have her examined by psychologists.  An enquiry is then ordered.

And it is discovered that at Muttra, a locality unknown to Shanti and her parents, there lives a cloth trader named Ahmed Lugdi, whose wife Amned died in 1910.

A commission of doctors is designated to proceed with an experiment.  Shanti is taken to Muttra.  She is led to the main square.  She is asked whether she can find her home.

“Of course.  It’s that way!”

And she leads the doctors through a labyrinth of streets to the home of the cloth trader.

Then, a second experiment takes place.

Ahmed Lugdi is convoked to the hospital, on the pretext of a medical examination.  He arrives, a bit worried, and is put in a room where there are nine other men.

After a moment, a door opens and a doctor sends in Shanti.

She hardly glances at the group before rushing to the trader crying out:

“Ahmed!  Oh!  My darling…”

And she throws herself into his arms.

Ahmed Lugdi becomes livid.  He wants to know who this child is.  Shanti says:

“It’s me, Amned.  You see, I’m alive.  Oh!  My darling, remember…  We were so happy together…”

And she evokes the memories with a precision which astounds the cloth trader.

“That day, remember, it was raining and I fell in the mud…”

Or:

“You had lost your key;  we found it under a bench…”

Or again:

“You sprained your foot coming back from your cousins’ place.”

And she did not stop repeating:

“You see, it’s really me!”

Then she reminded him of the recipes that he liked, the tender nickname that he had given her and details which were known only to them.

Ahmed Lugdi is stunned.  Then, a doctor asks him if this is all true.

“Yes, it’s all true…  This little girl reminds me of things that no-one knew, except myself and my dear wife…  How is this possible?”

Lugdi saw little Shanti several times.  For hours, he asked her questions about “their past”, questions which the child answered with confounding precision.  Then time passed and, little by little, all this seemed to fade from the little girl’s memory.

In 1934, the cloth trader died.  And Shanti Devi no longer had any memory of what could be called her “previous past”.

***

Joey Vervey, aged three. As soon as she could talk, she astounded her parents with the story of her different previous existences.

Second case.

A young Turk named Ismail Altinklish, a grocer’s son, is born in 1956 in the district of Midik.  The doctor notices that he has a deep mark on the top of his skull.  His parents, worried, ask questions.  The doctor tells them that he has never seen anything like it.  It looks like a scar.  He hopes that it will disappear.

This mark effectively lightens little by little and disappears completely over two years.

Meanwhile, something strange happens.  When Ismail is eighteen months old and is starting to talk, one day, he suddenly turns in his cradle, looks at his father and says:

“I’ve had enough of being here!  I want to go back home to my children!”

Mr Altinklish, astounded to hear this baby talking like an adult, remains speechless for a moment.  Then he manages to ask him to repeat what he has just said.

“I said that I’ve had enough of living here!  My name is Abeit Suzulmus.  I live in Bahchehe where I’m a vegetable grower.  I want to go home…”

This time, the father is terrified:

“Look here, Ismail…”

“I’m not Ismail.  I’m Abeit Suzulmus…  I was married twice and I have three children…  I was assassinated in the stable.  I died from a blow that I received on the top of my head…”

Mr Altinklish, convinced that his child is possessed by an evil spirit, runs to the doctor and recounts his son’s words.  The doctor tells him severely that he doesn’t like people playing jokes on him.  The father insists that it is true and bursts into tears.

The doctor doesn’t believe a word of this story, but Mr Altinklish is sobbing so much that, in pity, he accepts to follow him home.

There, he is dumbfounded.  For little Ismail repeats his words and maintains that he is a vegetable grower.  The doctor is bewildered.  He prescribes a tranquillizer for the baby.

Months pass during which Ismail continues to affirm that he is called Abeit Suzulmus, that the Altinklish family doesn’t interest him and that he wants to return home.  The doctor, who has visited several times, finally alerts a parapsychological centre directed by Dr Banerjee.

For years this doctor has been specialised in the study of “extra-cerebral memory” and he comes to see little Ismail who is now three.

After having listened to the child’s strange words, Dr Banerjee turns to Mr Altinklish and tells him that they have to verify them.  He takes the father and son to Bahchehe, where they arrive a few hours later.  Ismail immediately cries out:

“Turn right and take the second street on the left.  My house is there!”

The doctor obeys.  Ismail points out the house.

Banerjee stops the car in front of a big building decorated with a sign on which can be read:  Suzulmus, vegetable grower.  Ismail immediately rushes towards the house, opens the door, enters, followed by a bewildered Mr Altinklish and the doctor who asks to see Mr Suzulmus.  A young man says that it is he.  Ismail goes to him and says:

“Hello Zaki!  I’m your father…”

And he adds for his companions:

“This is a son that I had with Sahida, my second wife…”

He goes to the young man who is livid.

“Zaki, you had two brothers, Ismat and Zinhu who were killed with me and your mother…”

Banerjee interrupts to ask if this is true.  It is.  He asks the name of the young man’s father.

“Abeit Suzulmus.  He died from a pick blow to his head, three years ago…”

Ismail leads everyone to the stable where he was killed and shows them the place.  He denounces his murderers:  the men who had been arrested after his death.  A little later, he suddenly says that Abdul Razak owes him a large sum of money…  Mr Altinklish asks who this man is.  The Suzulmuses reply that he is a neighbour.  Dr Banerjee decides to go to see him.

They immediately go to the neighbour’s place, and he admits that he had formerly borrowed a large sum of money from Abeit Suzulmus…

After this interview, Ismail was brought back home where he gradually forgot what he had recounted and became a child like any other…

***

To be continued.

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