Mohan, a taxi driver, was returning back from Ooty to Mysore through Bandipur National Park known for its elephant and tiger reserve. Though he had travelled many times in this picturesque route studded with variety of trees and had come across elephants, spotted deer, monkeys, different birds like peacock and eagles, the journey never staled. This day he had not seen the usual tourist traffic possibly because of forecast of heavy rain. There was however no rain and the weather was humid. He was in the middle of forest and it was slightly dark .His bladder was full and stopped to relieve himself.
As he was drinking water from a Bisleri bottle, a dark skinny figure clad only around the waist appeared before him. He had matted hair and long beard. The eyes were deep with a faraway look. He did not utter a word but looked at him and the bottle. Mohan opened the car and took out another bottle with cool water and gave it to him saying “Please drink. The weather is highly humid”
He hesitated for a while looking at him intently before he accepted. He drank the whole bottle in one go. Mohan felt pity for him and gave him another bottle saying “You keep it with you. You seem to be very thirsty. Have you taken any food? Here are two plantains.”
In what appeared as a smile, he bared his yellow teeth and nodded his head in satisfaction. When Mohan turned to reach his car, the man said “Just one minute” and looked around on the ground for something. He picked an old horse shoe and cleaned it with his cloth. Holding in his palms, he closed his eyes and mumbled something for a couple of minutes. As Mohan was getting impatient, he opened his eyes and gave him the horseshoe and said “Keep it carefully. It will grant you two wishes if you hold it between two palms” Before Mohan could ask anything he had just vanished as abruptly as he came.
He was amused and started driving back to Mysore. Suddenly he had the urge to try his luck. He has been dreaming to own car for tourist taxi purposes hut had no money. Who knows if the bearded man were a siddha with some occult powers, he thought to himself. He stopped the vehicle and ensured no one was around. He stood facing East side and held the horse shoe in his palms after cleaning it. He closed his eyes repeated his wish “I want a crore of rupees” twice. Nothing happened and no one appeared before him. He looked around and there was no semblance of money or a clue.
Disappointed he drove the car cursing his luck and his unrealized dream. He would have driven for about 30 minutes on the desolate road. To his great surprise, he found a suit case on the left side of the road a little ahead. The car screeched to a halt there and he opened the box to find wads of 1000 rupee notes. He could not believe his luck and gratefully remembered the siddha purusha. He hid the money by spreading it in the boot of the car and covered it with bed sheet. He threw the box away and was in cloud nine as he drove the car thinking of what model and how many cars to buy. The dream is now within his reach and his life would be changed. He can now find a good girl and marry.
A little while later he found the road blocked by a barricade by the policemen. When he stopped the car one policeman ordered him to open the trunk. They were checking cars that carried freebies, liquor bottles and also cash for distribution as elections were close by. When they found the money and questioned him its source he mumbled horse shoe, siddha and the wish. They slapped him and took him to the lockup in the nearby police station. Some other policemen came and questioned him further. Much to their annoyance,he could not tell them more than he saw the suit case and took the money. He could not explain why he threw the suitcase. They tortured him to make him sing. His talking about the man who granted him wish infuriated them. They beat him blue and left him hungry without even water for hours. He never knew when he would be let out or sent to jail. The whole body ached with bruises all over.
He looked around. There were no windows save a small opening at the top of wall that was high with no means for an escape. As he was feeling bad at the adverse turn of circumstances, he felt the small horseshoe in his hip pocket. He took it out and kept in his palms. As he surveyed the situation, he knew there was no away to get out unless he was a monkey. A few minutes later the locked door to the lockup opened and a policeman with an inspector entered. To their great shock, the driver was not to be seen. They looked up at the ventilator 14 feet high. No one can jump that high and it was physically impossible. Trace alerts were sentTourists driving along Bandipur forest have been observing of late a monkey with a horseshoe in its palms looking curiously at every passerby.