Menaka in her late thirties had crazy dreams and vaulting ambitions of a life in opulence and comfort. Sadly she had three children and her husband slogged in a small position for an income that was just adequate for a Spartan living in a rented house. She was not qualified to seek a job and depended on her wit to augment the income. She took tuitions for small kids in the locality and taught music to the beginners. She made pickles during season and sold them. She believed that planets have an influence on one’s life and consulted astrologers who would suggest remedial measures for free. She wore several rings with different gem stones. She prayed to all gods and goddesses for prosperity and observed rigorous fasts but her financial condition did not improve.
She would set apart some small amount by cutting some essential grocery item to buy lottery tickets. She used to justify that God cannot shower gold through roof and that she should facilitate His job for Him to shower Grace through the lottery medium. Never has she won but her faith that one day she would hit a jackpot remained undimmed. She used to envy the winners in Kaun banega crorepati
It was in such despondent moment a middle aged man in ochre robe, in flowing beard with entire forehead smeared with white ash and dotted with a red bindhi appeared before her door. It was a hot afternoon
She was sitting in the wooden swing after lunch. The kids had gone to school. A lady from the adjacent portion was chatting with her about how costly vegetables were.
“Amma, can I have a glass of cool water?” Menaka heard a voice.
When she saw the ochre robed man, she indicated a bench and asked him to be seated before hurrying to kitchen to fetch water
“God bless you. You seem such a kind hearted lady” he said
Highly pleased, she asked him “Have you had any food Swamiji?”
“It does not matter. We are accustomed to hunger and eat once a day whatever and wherever available. We have no home and always peripatetic”
“One second Swamiji"she said and hurried inside only to come out soon with two plantains and a glass of buttermilk.”I am touched by your compassion” he said as he gulped all that were given and added “I do not want to leave obliged. I wish to help you through my siddhi (attainment) powers. Get me a lemon sized tamarind. If you give me a small piece of copper, you will get a treasure in copper. It will be a silver treasure if the piece is silver. A gold piece will fetch you a big bounty of gold. You can choose what you want. I do not usually confer this boon but I am moved by your generosity. I don’t see you in rich circumstances”
Menaka was in two minds whether to trust the Swamiji or not. She looked at her friendly neighbour and could read the signal of caution in her eyes. For a moment she wondered whether it was God who is using this medium to confer on her the riches. Her hands became damp and she sweated profusely. She went inside and took one of the pair of silver anklets of her daughter. Let me get silver. Its prices have risen abnormally high, she thought.
When she brought it to the hall, the swamiji saw the anklet in her hand and said “Not that big size. It should be something small that can be concealed in the lemon sized tamarind”
She thought surely this man is not a fake. He refuses the bigger size for a smaller one. She had nothing that was small in silver. Her daughter had worn her gold rings to her school.Menaka had a pair of thin gold bangle and thinner chain on her. Their absence would attract the attention of husband. She had a much worn out gold ring in her finger since her marriage. She did not want to miss the God send opportunity. What if the ring is lost, she thought and consoled herself that it is not a big deal. She can always tell her husband it had slipped somewhere.
When she gave the ring to swamiji, his eyes glistened while her friend’s were perplexed. He took the tamarind ball and kept the ring inside. He placed the ball on his left palm and covered it with right palm. He closed his eyes and muttered some mantras for a while with both gazing at him in wonder. After what looked like eternity, he opened his eyes and asked the two ladies to see North, East, West and South so that Goddess of wealth can come from all directions. The two women obediently complied with his request. He then lifted his right palm and lo, the left palm was empty with the tamarind ball vanishing mysteriously before their very eyes.
“Don’t look worried. It has gone where it should. There will be a kanakadhara (golden rain) very soon may be within a day or two. Never lose faith on Goddess and doubt her. I am happy that I could do a good turn to you. You deserved it” he said and took leave of them.
Both of them stood hypnotized as he walked out in dignity.Menaka asked her friend “Do you think I have been taken for a ride? But his eyes were so kindly and honest.”
“Initially I doubted but when he looked at me before chanting and asked me to see on all sides, I had developed awe for him. After all in two days, we will know how lucky you are. I had half a mind to try my luck too but I thought you may mistake me”
It was 6.30 pm. She was in the kitchen cooking dinner. She heard her husband in the hall swearing and cursing and rushed out to see him scraping the bottom of his shoe with a broken knife.
“What is it? Why are you raising a hell as soon as you enter the house?”
“Don’t you see that someone has thrown some dark sticky thing outside our house?”
Shocked Menaka bent down to see what it was. She fainted and slumped down when it turned out to be the tamarind ball.