Stories to frighten us, keep us safe

My grandma used to tell me not to go out in the fields or Tukuche (ghastly man), just 2-3 feet tall with a big sack and harpoon would come, put me in a sack and take me away to make me his recipe. I can’t totally forget it because that image is still carved somewhere in my mind. And my heart doesn’t allow me to trample on this creepy creature. I don’t use the same story with my children, instead I tell them, “Don’t peep Munna or Gabbar will come.” It is not so terrifying and today’s children know Hindi.

— Sagar Dewan

We find elders trying to keep young ones from dangers by using stories of ghosts, tigers, beggars. Everyone experiences such threats when they are young and the same formula is used to control our younger ones too. Such threats are taken simply as they stop young ones from demanding impossible things. But most of us have not realised that it might have a negative impact on children and they may feel afraid or frightened to do something creative their whole life. We must stop such habits as far as possible and try to make young children understand by using simple conversation.

— Pramit Dhakal,


I was a naughty boy when I was young. My grandmother and my mummy used to warn me saying, “If I do any mischief, tigers would take me to a nearby jungle and I would have to suffer there alone.” They also said that my life would be very difficult. Such warnings were really terrifying and I used to go to my mum’s lap thinking I would be safe there. I am here in Kathmandu now and do not fear any tiger. I don’t want to use such stories as precautionary steps for my younger ones because I think such stories put a lot of psychological stress on them. They also might make children timid and depressed.

— Rahul Bajracharya

My mum used to tell me that if you go out in the night then a bhoot (ghost) will come. This was the most common precautionary step that our elders used to frighten us with. Although it works very well, it also has a long lasting negative impact. Today I am 20 but I am still afraid to go out at night alone. I don’t show my fear to others but deep inside my heart I feel afraid and insecure. I am not going to use such frightening and fearful stories with my younger ones that have such a deep effect that it affects one’s personal development.

— Gravefilth Jhulphaka

I was in Class II or III and I remember my mum warning me not to stay late in the playground which was a little far from my house. She told me that I might be kidnapped by a big monster that had fire in its hands. According to her, there had been many cases of child abductions in that particular place. Since then I stopped going there alone. I was afraid even when I was there with my friends. As a result I got weaker in extra curricular activities. I was appreciated as an obedient boy, but the fear that was rooted in my mind was really dangerous. Precautionary steps must be taken, however, we must not forget that a child’s brain is just like a tabula rasa (a blank sheet of paper). What we tell them will be imprinted in their minds. And once it is imprinted, it is very difficult to remove it from their minds.

— Basanta Raj Pokharel, Ghachok, Kaski

My mother often used to tell me not to go to the riverside as it is very dangerous. She told me that the big fishes in the river are very dangerous, and if I went there they would swallow me. Even today I still feel scared when I remember my mother’s horrible stories about the big fishes. And I still kind of believe it. I also use the same story as a precautionary measure for children. I think it is the best way to control children. Precautionary stories are important in today’s context to keep them safe.

— Kes Bahadur Pun,


When I was seven-year-old my brother scared me saying that a ghost who hides in his head in a handi comes and takes away girls who eat meat. My psyche was greatly affected and I stopped eating meat. It has now been 12 years that I turned into a lacto-vegetarian. There is no question of believing in that story any more, but it was the initiator that helped me transform into a spiritual and more conscious person.

— Rashmi Giri,


My elders used to tell me, “Don’t go there, there is a ghost, it will take you away.” I believed them and I was scared. But not anymore. I will not tell the same story to my children. They will slowly know what’s wrong and what’s right, then they will stop their bad behaviour. I don’t want to leave a bad impression on them, which will affect them. They will be cowards from the beginning. They will feel so scared that they won’t be able to go from one place to another alone. They will always have hesitation rather than confidence to go ahead.

— Simaran Thapa

“Don’t go there otherwise Chameli will get you.” This is something that I heard a lot from my mum. She always said this to stop me from doing any mischief. Chameli was a mad woman who used to roam around our locality. She looked dreadful with messy hair and big black eyes and she used to stare at me. I used to hide behind my mother when we passed by. I was really afraid of her, so my mum used fake a story to scare me.

— Ashmita Bhandari, Imadol, Lalitpur

My elders used to tell me all those stories about jogis and ghosts. They often said, “Don’t go outside at night, otherwise a ghost will eat you.” The story about the jogis didn’t have much impact on me, but the ghost’s one had a long-term effect. Because of this I could not even go to the bathroom alone at night. At present I am on my own and all the fear has faded away. Till couple of years ago even I used to tell all those “if you do this, this will happen” stories to make my younger siblings behave. But now I know that such things can have an adverse effect on their minds. So I have stopped doing that.

— Binod Shrestha

When I was a child, my parents used to tell stories that if I went out alone, the priest from the village would take me away by hypnotism and would sacrifice me before the deity of the temple to fulfil his wish. Children were stopped from going out alone. Now the stories are that jogis and sadhus will take away children in their big bag, and break the children’s legs and hands and use them for begging. When we tell this story to our children, it will be a precautionary step to protect them.

— Mohan Narshing Shrestha, Kupondole

Even I use the same type of stories as precautionary steps because our mums and aunts have told us the stories for our good. They wanted us to be strong, independent and fearless. And yes I still do believe in it.

— Nirvik Shakya

I can still remember those ‘if you do this, then this will happen’ stories that I had been told by my elders. Usually my parents used to tell me that if I go out of my house, some jogi will take me away, kill me and take some parts of my body. I used to get so terrified that I would hardly step out of my home. But now, I have realised the truth.

— Sujan Pradhan

My mum and dad both used to go to the office, so most of the time I used to be left alone at home. I still remember my mum warning me not to open the door and if I did open, a sadhu might take me away in his big cloth bag. I used to get scared during my childhood days that I never opened the door to anyone. Whatever, my mum said was not true but she said all those things for my safety because as a child, we can’t understand many things. If my mum hadn’t told me that story, I could have opened the door to any stranger. When I have my children, I’ll definitely use this same story as the fear of sadhu might protect them from the strangers.

— Khushboo Priya

When I was a child, I used to go outside and my parents used to say ‘don’t go outside, jogi will take you far away’. I still remember it but as I grew up I understood that my parents told such stories to keep me safe from kidnappers and from having serious accidents. I guess these kind of stories are quite useful to protect young children, so I am also going to use it with my younger ones. Younger children can hardly differentiate between right and wrong. These techniques can be useful to keep them safe.

— Sandesh Gurung

My parents used to scare me saying that some jogi or sadhu may take me in a cloth bag to another place. They used to say this when I used to ask them if I could an go out by myself. So, because of the sadhu story I used to go out only with my elders. But I think scaring children like this only makes them inconfident even if it is an easy way to make them stay at home.

— Ava Pradhan,


I did hear a lot of stories of jogis and ghost and all. Back then I was really scared of darkness and imagined that each room of the house was haunted. I often expected a monster to pounce on me any minute at night. And of course, the spooky stories helped a great deal. One particular night, I was afraid to go to the bathroom but my mum told me that there were no such things as ghosts. When I was not convinced fully, she told me that ghosts were people like us with mask on their faces. She pulled out a hideous mask from the wall, and put it on her face and said, “See? This is what ghosts are! People with masks!” From that night on, I never had to wake my mum up to go to the bathroom.

— Rhea Gurung,


It’s a great way to frighten children and prevent them from going outside. I still remember when I was a child my mum used to tell me that when I go out jogis would take me and dip me in hot oil. I was very frightened listening to such stories and never went out of my house. I don’t believe it now but I do use the same stories to frighten those younger than me.

— Sen Gurung

We have often heard that ‘prevention is better than cure’. Sometimes to take precautions, we have to refer to some untrue facts or false statements for the security of our kids. But this does not mean that we are misguiding our younger ones or turning them into cowards. Time and experience makes everyone bold and smart. With time, younger ones gain maturity and become capable to identify the right and wrong. Some children are naughty and disobey their parents and guardians and in such cases these precautionary steps work as a successful formula. My parents and guardians did the same, maybe I was also a naughty kid at that time. But now I am mature enough to know what I should and shouldn’t do.

— Ekta Kabra,

Putali Sadak

As parents or gua-rdians, it is our duty and responsibility to take care of our children and take initiatives to prevent them from danger. But I strongly oppose the idea of frightening kids with stupid stories of jogibaba or something else. We can directly tell them that strangers may take you away, or vehicles moving in great speed may hit you. Children will understand slowly and obey us. But if we scare them with such stories, a kind of fear will remain in their minds and they may harm their mental development. We need not forget that we are raising a human child, not an animal. We want them to grow up to be responsible human beings, and the development of a child depends upon the environment that s/he has been brought up in.

— Sarika Thapa,

Kolma, Syangja