An Urban Quettawaal Legend: the Mumm
Updated: Jul 28
In the early 19th Century, amid the intense rivalries between Britain and France, a significant battle unfolded not only in Europe and the Mediterranean but also on the African shores. The British, aided by the strategic advantage of the 'gift of the Nile,' achieved a game-changing victory over the French, marking their first major defeat in a long time.
Overjoyed by this triumphant success against their long-standing adversaries, the British crown decided to honour the regiments that played a pivotal role in defeating Napoleon's Army in Egypt by bestowing upon these brave soldiers the emblem of the Sphinx. The insignia spread across the world with the British Imperial Army.
Little did they know that this symbol would later evolve into a mysterious and eerie legend that would captivate the imagination of a quaint British Indian city. Welcome to Quetta, affectionately dubbed "Little London" for its enchanting snowfalls and charm. Let us delve into the fascinating tale of the Sphinx and its transformation into a chilling urban legend of the Mumm in the heart of Quetta.
According to ancient tales, Mumm was a fearsome being with the upper body of a human female and the lower body of a mighty lion. Some even believed Mumm translates to “bear” in Balochi, so it also be similar to the frightening brown bears that roamed the region. Even in post-partition Quetta, the fear of the Mumm, many Quettawaals avoided travelling alone along Baleli Road where the Gora Qabristan (British Cemetery) is situated.
The legend of Mumm began centuries ago when strange occurrences plagued the people of Balochistan. Goats and cattle vanished without a trace, and even people disappeared without any explanation. The townsfolk were terrified of the unknown monster, which could strike during the day or emerge after nightfall, walking on two legs or running on all four.
The legend told of how Mumm would come to life at night, hunting for prey in the hills behind the cantonment area. It was said to have a thorny tongue that would lick the feet of its victims, leaving them injured, bleeding, and paralyzed, unable to escape. Many claimed to have seen the creature with its long nails, black curly hair, and bushy tail, making it a truly frightening sight.
Local elders warned children to return home before dusk, as Mumm was known to prey upon mischievous kids and those who lingered in the mountains after sunset. It was even rumoured that unmarried girls could fall victim to Mumm's grasp if they were outside after the evening prayers.
The legend gained further credence from a statue on Zarghoon Road, near Gora Qabristan (British Graveyard). The statue was a memorial for the fallen soldiers who fought in the Second Anglo-Afghan War but the locals, fearful of its appearance, named it Mumm.
As time passed, the legend of Mumm became deeply ingrained in the city's folklore. Families would be cautious, quickly closing their doors after the call of Maghrib Prayer, hoping to keep the creature from entering their homes. Parents warned children to stay indoors after dark, lest they encounter the mysterious beast and become its next prey.
Mumm was believed to dwell in dark caves, primarily in the Hanna Valley and the Koh-e-Murdar mountains. It was said to have a voracious appetite, mysteriously snatching goats and sheep from local farms to satisfy its hunger.
The story of Mumm was passed down from generation to generation, its origins shrouded in mystery. It was a chilling tale that intrigued and frightened the children of Quetta, who would gather around campfires, listening in awe to the tales of the enigmatic creature that once roamed their lands. And so, the legend of Mumm lives on, a captivating urban tale that continues to be a part of Quetta's rich history and culture, a story that both terrifies and fascinates the young and old alike.