They went to the village together as promised, and she recognized

it as they approached, pointing out the place where

the bus had hit her, and asking to be put in a rickshaw,

whereupon she gave directions to the driver. She stopped the

rickshaw when they arrived at a cluster of houses where she

claimed she had lived. The little girl and her bewildered father

made their way to the house she said belonged to her former

family, and her father, who still did not believe her, asked the

neighbors whether there was a family like the one Kamaljit

Kour had described, who had lost their daughter. They confirmed

the story and told the girl's astonished father that

Rishma, the daughter of the family, had been sixteen years old

when she was killed; she had died in the car on the way

home from the hospital.

The father felt extremely unnerved at this, and told

Kamaljit that they should go home. But she went right up to

the house, asked for her school photo, and gazed at it with

delight. When Rishma's grandfather and her uncles arrived, she

recognized them and named them without mistake. She

pointed out her own room, and showed her father each of the

other rooms in the house. Then she asked for her school

books, her two silver bangles and her two ribbons, and her

new maroon suit. Her aunt explained that these were all

things Rishma had owned. Then she led the way to her

uncle's house, where she identified some more items. The

next day she met all of her former relatives, and when it was

time to catch the bus home, she refused to go, announcing to

her father that she was going to stay. Eventually he persuaded

her to leave with him.

The family started to piece the story together. Kamaljit

Kour was bom ten months after Rishma died. Although the

little girl had not yet started school, she often pretended to

read, and she could remember the names of all her school

friends in Rishma's school photograph. Kamaljit Kour had also

always asked for maroon-colored clothes. Her parents discovered

that Rishma had been given a new maroon suit of which

she was very proud, but she had never had time to wear it.

The last thing Kamaljit Kour remembers of her former life was

the lights of the car going out on the way home from the hospital;

that must have been when she died.

I can think of ways that one might try to discredit this

account. You might say that perhaps this little girl's family had

put her up to claiming she was the reincarnation of Rishma

for some reason of their own. Rishma's family were wealthy

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