(The readers are informed in advance not to expect any twist or mystery end. This is a story of the sincere prayers of a devout couple answered)
It was a narrow dusty lane crowded with people, erratically moving cattle, and small vehicles inching their way. It was not much tiresome for the Gujarati couple to wade through this as the distance to Banke Bihari temple was short and the early November weather was pleasant. They let a sigh of relief as they reached the entrance to Radhe Krishna temple.
Urmila told her husband Pankaj Desai,” I am excited to be here at last. I have been dreaming of a visit to this famous temple for many years. I sincerely hope Lord Krishna here known for His beauty and expressive eyes would turn His merciful eyes on us and grant us our long awaited wish.”
“Surely He would, I have no doubt. I am also thrilled like you to be here. The crowd inside the temple seems unmanageable and I wish we get a close darshan,” Pankaj replied.
Once they presented themselves at the entrance, the milling crowd took over pushing them from all sides to present them in front of the deity. It was a great ordeal. But what a mesmerizing experience it was looking at the idol that was at once incredibly charming and indescribable in words. In the few moments they could manage to stand, they prayed devoutly for a child that was denied to them for almost eight years. As she was praying with bent head, a garland that was thrown by the priest fell on her. Overjoyed by this good omen the couple happily came out of the temple.
All the way up to the end of the lane where their car was parked, mendicants were pestering them for alms which they generously gave. As they were walking briskly free of beggars at the end of lane towards the car, they espied an ash smeared old man in ochre robes with flowing beard smiling at them and blessing them with raised hands. As he made no demand and his personality evoked an instant respect, they moved near him and bent down with folded arms.
He blessed the couple with raised hands and remarked with a smile, “I know the object of your visit. It will be fulfilled by Banke Bihari soonest but I can also foresee your getting much earlier a Mahalakshmi.”
Confused about the import of his strange statement and yet happy, they prostrated before him and gave him 500 rupees. He broke into loud laughter and said, “Don’t you see I have renounced all material possessions. I do not need your money. Go home happily and accept the joyous things as they come to you.” he said abruptly standing up and walking away towards the temple to be lost in the crowd. The visage of the saintly man lingered for a long time.
On the second day the couple came to New Delhi station to board the Swarna Jayanthi Rajdhani express to Ahmedabad leaving around 8pm. They had come earlier to the station by 6.30 pm. As they were waiting in the platform for the train to be placed, they heard a commotion behind them with several passengers and onlookers crowded just a few yards behind them. Pankaj went near to know what the furor was about. He found a two year old baby girl crying aloud calling “Ma, ma” and plucking the sari of a young woman lying on a bench. There was no movement from her and it was a pathetic sight to see the crying child. One porter in the crowd came forward and shook her shoulder to wake her up only to find her inert with the head falling on its side. He felt the nostrils and said to no one in particular, ”margaya.” One doctor who happened to be in the crowd examined her eyes and the chest with stethoscope and pronounced her dead. A gloom fell on the assembled people.
The pitiable baby was still trying to wake her mother by clutching at her hand and sari. The baby was very cute and looked from her dress as hailing from a middle class family. The woman about 28 was also well dressed and evidently came to the station to board the train from the box placed beside her. There seemed none else accompanying them.
A railway police inspector rushed to the spot and took stock of the situation. He asked the crowd whether anyone knew her. The box was opened and its contents rummaged to see whether her identity could be established. Only a ticket to Ahmedabad by Rajdhani was available. There was no evidence to reveal her identity and there was strangely no mobile phone too.
Meanwhile Urmila dragging their two boxes came near Pankaj. The baby was wailing seeing the surrounding crowd of men. With motherly instincts surging, Urmila held the baby in her arms against her chest and patted it gently. To the great relief of the depressed crowd, it broke into a smile. Urmila looked at Pankaj with a meaningful smile.
Pankaj Desai told the inspector whom he took a little away,” I am a reasonably well to do businessman from Ahmedabad. Here is my card. We came to Brindavan to pray for a child. I have a humble suggestion to make for your consideration. Till such time someone comes forward to claim the baby legally that she is related to them, let her be with us. I will take care of her as if she is God’s present to us. I am well known in my locality. You can talk to the SHO to check the veracity of my statement. If no one comes forward to claim, I wish to adopt the baby complying with legal requirements. The baby as you can see is already attached to my wife.”
The Inspector gave instructions to have the body removed to a hospital for post mortem and took Pankaj and Urmila with him to the outpost in the station.” Do not worry. I will have it in writing from you. I will talk to SHO of your area now on face time and ask him to identify you. I feel a loving home is better for the baby than a destitute home and you both are wanting one to fill joy in your family. Still I need to take the approval of my boss. If necessary, you may have to cancel the journey and depart after a day or two. We will still try to rush it through before the departure time. Give me copies of your adhaar if you carry with you or from the photos in your mobile. But all these are subject to the condition, the moment someone comes up having a better claim, we may ask you to personally come here to return the child if we decide in his favour. I feel it unlikely though.”
Pankaj looked at his wife Urmila, who told him instantly, “Don’t you remember what the Sant told us and that we should accept whatever comes in our way and she would be a Mahalakshmi?” This clinched the issue.
The energetic inspector managed things so efficiently and quickly, the couple could get into the train with the baby in the nick of its departure.
Predictably Urmila in a few months was expecting a baby, firm in the belief that Banke Bihari had answered their prayers in His infinite mercy. The little girl was aptly named Mahalakshmi. True to her name, she brought with her great prosperity and happiness in the family with Pankaj Desai’s business growing by leaps and bounds. As there were no claimants, Desais legally adopted baby Mahalakshmi in a grand and gala celebration.