Jagannathan after his retirement started visiting the famous Krishna temple twice daily as if to atone for his lapses in this regard while in service. He lived in a modest house very close to the temple. There was no hurry in steps or disappointment when there was long line for darsan at the various sanctums. He took leisurely walk around the corridors chanting hymns in praise of the Lord.
One evening as he was resting on a bench in one of the corridors, he chanced to see a young boy of 12 years piling white salt in crystal form on a small black stone before a minor sanctum. It was more a niche on the wall housing some minor god. It was a belief among the school boys (girls were rarely seen) that if one successfully piles the entire quantity of a kilo of salt on the small base of an elevated stone without spilling, he can be assured of good success in the examinations. This place would usually be visited by many students prior to examinations. None else went near the place save folding their arms in reverence while passing by its side.
Jagannathan saw the boy repeatedly failing to keep the entire salt on the base and seen wiping his face often in great tension. He took pity on the youngster and went near him and asked, “Shall I help you? You can put a small portion of salt at the end to signify that you had completed.”
“Thank you uncle. I am unable to do it. My mother would be worried as it is late already,” said the greatly relieved boy.
Jagannathan in a trice accomplished it and the boy put carefully a small quantity on the pile. After prostrating before the Deity, he turned towards Jagannathan beaming with smile to touch his feet and thank him profusely.
“What is your name and where do you live? This is no examination time. Why are you doing it now? It is unusual, “asked the old man.
“Yogesh, I live on the Eastern side of the temple tank. True there is no examination now. I am getting only average marks in mathematics while I am good in other subjects. I cannot afford to have tuition. I am praying to god to help me score high marks,” replied the boy.
Taking pity on the boy, he said, “I will teach you free for just three months and you will start scoring very good marks. You need not have to come thereafter. Take permission of your parents. I live in the house adjacent to the hotel you see on the Southern road. You ask for Krishnan’s house and they will point out. He is my son and popular here.”
He found Yogesh hardworking and sincere but lacked the concepts. He taught the boy daily in the evenings elementary algebra, geometry and solving various problems in arithmetic. His scores improved dramatically to the surprise of his teacher and parents. At the end of the year, he came along with his parents with a bag full of fruits to inform that he scored centum in mathematics and stood on the top of the class. Jagannathan was very pleased and blessed the boy. Thereafter they used to meet once a while at the temple or at the house and on one occasion he mentioned about the impending transfer of his dad to North. That was the last he saw the boy but his memory lingered whenever he passed by the small sanctum.
More than a decade had passed and Jagannathan’s visits to temple got reduced to only festival days. He fell sick frequently. The boy also had faded away from his mind. He was taken care of by his only son Krishnan who was getting a small income. His house stood out in a dilapidated condition while other houses were well maintained.
One morning as Krishnan was standing outside the house, a flashy car drew up to stop at the gate. Wondering who could be the visitor to come in such expensive vehicle, he found a young person in mid-thirties alighting from it.
“Is this not Jagannathan Sir’s house? Is he available for my meeting him?” the man asked. Seeing the bewildered look on Krishnan’s face, he said, “Don’t you recognize me? I am Yogesh. Sir taught me mathematics when I was in school. Can I see him?”
“Yogesh, my god, you have changed so much since I saw you as a young boy. Appa is very much there and he was remembering you till a few years back. Sadly, he is bed ridden after a stroke and one portion is paralyzed. He is improving slowly but his mind is alert off and on. Only he is not mobile and cannot also speak clearly. Come inside, he will be delighted to see you,” said Krishnan. The driver placed a tall basket of fruits, dry fruits and nuts of various kinds.
“Appa, see who has come to meet you. Let me see whether you can recognize him,” said Krishnan loudly in jubilant tone.
The old man blinked for a short while and made feeble attempts to sit up. The dim light was switched on. Yogesh went close to him and said, “Can you see my face now? I am Yogesh and you made me what I am today, uncle.”
The old man’s face lit up after a pause and showed some evidence of a strained smile. He put his left palm on Yogesh’s head and gently caressed it. Tears started flowing from the old man’s eyes. He tried to say something but only some guttural sounds came out. Meanwhile Krishnan drew a stool close to bed for Yogesh to sit. Yogesh could size up the humble circumstances in which his benefactor was living in a dark and poorly furnished room with very little comforts to make life easy. He was emaciated and a pale apology to the uncle he knew.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Yogesh bent forward and told,” Thanks to you, I could do well in studies and did engineering. I studied further in US and am in a very good position. But for your spotting me at the temple on that fateful day, I would have been a total failure. You built in me a strong foundation. I could not meet you all these days as my father was transferred to North. I am visiting Chennai after my school days for the first time and you are the first of two persons whom I have come to meet.”
Jagannathan could not speak but was patting Yogesh repeatedly. He muttered something to Krishnan who turned to Yogesh and said,” Appa wants to know whether you are married and have any children?”
He nodded his head and showed two. Meanwhile Krishnan’s wife handed him a cup of coffee with her two young boys standing behind her. After a while, he stood up and bowing deferentially held the trembling hands of Jagannathan and said “As a token of my eternal gratitude for you, please allow me to take care of the education of your two grandsons till they finish PG in US if they like. I am like your another son and intend to take care of you in some ways possible, “and prostrated before him. Overcome with emotion, both could hardly speak except shed tears.
Yogesh put his arm around Krishnan and said, “Kindly give me your bank account details to enable me to remit the money once a quarter towards education of your children in a very good school. Do not worry about high fees as I am going to pay. I am very happy today as I could meet my living god and now I will visit the other one in the temple. Today happens to be New Year day.” He lingered for a while overcome with emotion and finally took leave of them.
It was evening when there was a message from the bank for Krishnan that his account has been credited with US $1,00,000 by a remittance from an American bank. The message was followed by another from Yogesh stating,” I hope your account has been credited with the remittance. Please use part of this to renovate the house completely including electrical work with couple of ACs and to acquire new cots and beds and other furniture. You can use the interest on the remaining amount for medical and other uses. I wish to keep your dad and my uncle in good comfort and reduce your financial burden. I will take care of your children’s education and remit you money periodically. Feel free to ask if you need anymore”
Krishnan’s jaws dropped at this unexpected windfall and rushed with his wife to his dad’s room and told him loudly,” Appa, Yogesh has remitted a huge amount of one lakh dollars that is more than 70 lakhs rupees. He has suggested that part of the amount be used for complete renovation and the interest on balance for other purposes to keep you in very good comfort. He has undertaken to bear the education of the two boys till they secure good jobs I am so excited at his munificence and immense regard for you.”
Jagannathan slightly turned his head towards the temple possibly to pay obeisance to the presiding Deity.
“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”