Ojhas are [medicine men, “the ones next to God,” religious ministers or priests who deal with the daily struggles of the village people]; this dynamic allows the village ojha to control the circulation of rumors, and he is the village member who has the power to trap daayans (witches). In some trials, the ojha reads grains of rice, burn marks on branches, and disturbances in the sand around his residence, for signs of a daayan. certain beliefs precede his name & yet he goes by many : dewar, bhagat, priest. passive ear, the kind of listener you’d give your own face. + first, the village must [agree that spirits exist]—some benevolent, some deserving of fear. everyone wants their universe to have reason. so it must be a woman who stole your portion of rice, woman who smeared your doorstep’s rangoli, woman who looked sideways at your child. + give him your gossip & the ojha conjures herbs to [appease the evil] : her raving, innocent mouth. & by that token what is truth. the other rumors, too, could corroborate—that bullets pass through, his body barely there but for the holy in his hands. + he chants her name with fingers pushed into his ears. just the sound of her bangles undoes : a single woman on a plot of land, unbecoming. he reads her guilt [in grains of rice, in the light of a lamp, using a cup which moves and identifies]. makes a circle around himself. white sand between him & the world. it’s the dead hour. now, he shouts, arms covered in ants, sing.