It was dusk and getting dark.I was standing on the bridge over the river watching the almost stagnant water and enjoying with a tinge of sadness the fading skyline.The smell was not pleasant.The park in the distance with dazzling lights and varied plants and flowers looked alluring. A boat was seen gliding down the lethargic water with a young boy pushing it forward with a long pole leaving behind faint ripples.I had no interest to rush home as my wife was away at her parent’s place. She was expecting.
He heard a soft voice by his side”Sir, sorry to disturb you.Are you inclined to see a little magic?”
Startled I turned around to see a middle aged man in a much worn out jeans and a faded Tshirt with a coat that had seen much decay.His face was slighly long but there was a twinkle in his eyes suggesting a pleasant personality behind.He wore a hawai chappal that must have been in long use.
I asked him “What do you want?” even as I put my hand in my trouser pocket looking for small change.
He smiled at me saying”Please don’t bother.I am not a beggar seeking alms.I just wished to show you a magic if you are in a mood to witness.”
Feeling bad that I had hurt him I said”Why not? I would love to see your trick”
“Good.Give me a ten rupee note.I will transform it into a beautiful butterfly” he said with a faint wink of his eye.
Intrigued as I was as how he can change a tenner into a butterfly, I played along and proffered a ten rupee note watching his movements carefully.I thought I heard a sweet humming tone and as my attention was distracted for not more than a second, he produced a multi hued butterfly in his hands with the tenner vanishing in thin air.The insect fluttered its multi coloured wings as he handed it over to me.I was bemused and totally taken by surprise by the sleight of his dextrous hands.
I asked him “Where is the ten rupee note?”
“It is in your hands, sir in the form of butterfly”he replied with a smile.
As I sheepishly smiled back at my naivette,he said he can transform a 100 rupee note into a 500 rupee one.I thought he did produce a butterfly as promised for a tenner and why not trust him for a 500 rupee note that surely would be in my hands.. Greed overpowered my caution.I parted with a hundred rupee note.
But this time I decided I would be extremely careful in focussing all my attention on him.As he took the 100 rupee note and asked me to watch carefully, I heard for a second a hiss like sound of a viper by my feet and involuntarily I jumped to see nothing near my feet.Meanwhile he held in his hand a crisp new 500 hundred rupee note.I took it with eagerness and turned it several times.When I asked him whether he can change one more hundred rupee note, he declined saying”It is my prmise to my guru that I would not use this magic for profiteering or for personal benefit”
I walked back home happily thinking of my good fortune.I rang up my wife and told her of my good luck.
It was three days later when I met my good friend at Adyar and related to him about the man transforming a tenner to a butterfly,he interrupted me and asked whether I got a 500 rupee note fin lieu of a hundred.Surprised I asked him whether he had spoken to my wife, he laughed uncontrollably and said “You are a sucker.That fellow has ben cheating all gullible folks like you.The 500 rupee note you have is a counterfiet one.Go to bank and check it”
It was then that I remembered the sounds of the tune and the hiss and became aware he was a ventriloquist too besides being a magician.