Yesterday, I called up a friend in Makunudhoo who is pretty familiar with the mass hysteria (or jinn possession, depending who you ask) that has gripped the students of the island's school for the past month to have a little chat about the events taking place there. Some of the events, including the digging of the school grounds, are missing from here because we had talked about it an earlier conversation which I sadly didn't record. I am posting a transcript of the later conversation here (with permission). It is a translation from Dhivehi ofcourse but I've avoided doing the sort of fancy rephrasing and rearranging that is advocated in Dhivehi translation classes in the hopes of preserving the original as much as possible. The bits inside brackets were added by me to help make subjects and contexts clearer.
Me: Hey, this is Jaa. You busy?
ZZ: No. No. Excellent time.
Me: I just wanted to get some more details on what's happening in the island. I am hoping to write it up on my blog.
ZZ: Great. Go ahead.
Me: Can you tell me how this happened. Did it happen to many at once or was it just one kid?
ZZ: It was one kid at first. It was about a year ago.
Me: Is it! How does that relate to this event?
ZZ: It happens to this kid every now and then. But it got so serious only this month.
Me: So the kid has fits? Regularly?
ZZ: Yes. There are about 3 or 4 kids in the school that gets fits.
Me: So what happened this time?
ZZ: What happened this time was that one of the kids got possessed, by Jinn. Following that, a boy in Grade 10 said it was happening because of a tree in the school. He said he was going to hit the tree with a ball and went ahead to kick a ball into the tree. When he did that the ball is said to have hit the hand/fingers of a Jinn child and broke it. The boy fell unconscious immediately following that.
Me: I see.
ZZ: The boy's hands were contorted as well.
Me: Uhuh. So that was the first two kids?
ZZ: Those two escalated the situation. There are a total of about 6... err 10, 12 kids now. 10-12 have been admitted sick now.
Me: I see. The kid that this first happened to... you say it's regular... Had a doctor been consulted earlier?
ZZ: They went to a doctor even the first time. They didn't call it a Jinn event then, it was diagnosed as fits then. It is only now this became a Jinn possession. So many kids had fallen sick at the same time so it wasn't believed to be fits.
Me: Newspapers made it seem that this happened to a lot of kids, at the same time. Did it happen that way or was it gradual... one by one... a few at a time?
ZZ: No no. This school is 40 years old. And in this 40 years, about every year or every six months a kid would fall sick. That is fall during assembly. Whether that's because of fainting or something else, it's not known. But since talking to the Jinn (by the fanditha/blackmagic practitioners), it has appeared that the school is also attended by 1000 Jinn children. And that the Jinn parents number to 300,000...
ZZ: And that their kids are not as good at studies as us Dhivehi, us humans. They are taking revenge because they haven't been improving and also because when our kids play ball during assembly, err PE, the ball hits their kids.
Me: How did this spread to other kids?
ZZ: Apparently the Jinns have made a list... those Jinns. So all kids on the list are to get sick and it's been happening that way.
Me: So the first day this happened, a lot of kids fell sick and the second day more kids fell? Is that how it happened?
ZZ: Yes that is how it happened this week... this month.
Me: I see.
Me: Has any of the kids gotten better?
ZZ: No. None of the kids have gotten better.
Me: But the fanditha is still going on?
ZZ: The fanditha is proceeding very strong. They have now put 150 Jinns into a can and sunk them into the sea... the fanditha men have said.
Me: I see.
ZZ: A psychologist came to the island last night. The psychologist assessed the kids and said it wasn't related to Jinns. But the parents didn't believe that. They say it was caused by Jinns and no treatment by the psychologist will treat that.
Me: I see.
ZZ: So the psychologist had to leave (the island) immediately.
Me: Hehe. I see. Umm. Is there any news if any sort of change, like that of odour, was noticed in the area?
ZZ: This is happening not because of a change in odour. There are no smells. There were a number of trees. Even the affected sick children are saying that something lives in those trees and they see it as their land. So when the tree was cut, those Jinns got furious and many more children fell sick.
Me: But wasn't the tree felled recently?
ZZ: Yes. Things got this bad when the tree was felled.
Me: I see. But why did the tree have to be felled? Didn't one of the kids say things would get better once the tree is felled?
ZZ: No no. Not that because it would release the kids. It was done with the intent of sending the Jinn off. It was assumed that they wouldn't stay there once their home was destroyed and so when the parents requested for the tree to be felled it was done so.
ZZ: Now the Jinns have moved to the largest "nika" tree in the island.
Me: So how far has the fanditha proceeded? How long is it to take?
ZZ: It is going on full speed. They had a 40 man chanting last night and they are going to do chants tonight too. He (the fanditha practitioner) says he doesn't want to "cure" the kids just yet because he still needs to question the Jinn over certain things. He assures though that he is going to leave only once he "cures" the kids.
Me: Did he say how long he is going to take?
ZZ: He hasn't given a date yet.
Me: So hopefully the Jinns would go away soon? To a nearby island.
ZZ: (Laugh) People have asked for the Jinns to be sent off to another island.
Me: How about the two near uninhabited islands?
ZZ: Not those two islands. People have requested the Jinns to be expelled from the island, to make it so that they are unable to enter the school. People would like a (magic) barrier to be placed around the island to prevent the Jinns from coming in. The fanditha men has now created the wall around around and they have expelled around 300,000 Jinns from out the wall. They say that only a few infidel crippled Jinn remain now.
I made a short post earlier
about this incident in Makunudhoo and linked to a few interesting research papers related to mass hysteria in hopes of putting things into a more scientific perspective. MaldivesHealth has since posted on the amusing case of the genitalia vanishing epidemic in Nigeria
. It maybe true that it really are the Jinns that are at the root of the problem Makunudhoo is facing, yet centuries of (global) experience and amassed knowledge tells us that it is far far far more likely to be a ...