Prabhu and Vilasini were watching TV.

Vilasini noticed that Prabhu’s attention was not on it, though.

She carried the kid sleeping next to her, put him on the bed, and came back. She held his hands and said, “Don’t worry everything will be alright soon.”

Prabhu let out a long sigh. “I think we chose the wrong time to invest in the house. It seems to be jinxed right from the start. First the problem with the loans, then the lockdown, and now this legal issue.”

Vilasini switched the TV off and leaned against his shoulder. “I understand. But there is no use worrying, is there? Let’s see what we can do to solve the problems.”  


Vilasini was very excited. She preferred to wait for Prabhu to get back home to give him her news, rather than calling or texting. 

She broached the subject when he was having his tea after he came back from work.

“Prabhu, you remember my colleague Nishanth? I was telling him about our apartment voes and he mentioned about this place called Cairnteract.”

She explained everything to him and Prabhu was convinced that they should give it a try.


It was the next Sunday. All three of them bathed and dressed up in formals and left home. It was a good hour’s drive, away from the city. They traveled through paddy fields, coconut groves, and vegetable patches.

They reached the place and bought a ticket at the counter. There was a sizable crowd. There was ample space for parking and the fee was nominal.

There was a small enclosure and they were given a bag of stones and the guy at the entrance explained that they had to place them, one on top of the other, neatly balanced so that the Cairn would not topple. They were given a spot which was in the name on the receipt.

Religiously, Prabhu placed them as directed. Both of them prayed sincerely, asking that all the delays in the possession of their new flat be resolved.

They saw that the enclosure was almost full and many other families were busy building the Cairns


They came out and saw that the place was buzzing with shops selling coffee, tea, snacks, and icecreams. There were ladies sitting on both sides of the roads selling fresh fruits and vegetables for a pittance of what they cost in supermarkets and most of the visitors were buying from them. They chose to have some sugarcane juice.


Venu put up the ‘closed’ sign and shut the huge gate at the entrance to Cairteract. As he came out, he met Jagan, his friend.

“Venu, I see that your business idea is working out very well.”

They sat having dinner at one of the kiosks next to Cairnteract.

“After I returned from Europe, I realized that many people are having issues with houses. Apartments and villas and independent houses were struck in various stages because of the economic meltdown. I had seen these Cairns in Europe and got the brainwave of starting Cairnteract, a word that symbolized counteract, and added the word Cairns to it,  suggesting this is counteraction for the voes of the buyers. I decided on the ritual, put up an enclosure, collected some stones and I am in business.”

Jagan asked, “Aren’t you cheating the public?”

“Not actually. Just for Rs.300, I am peddling ‘hope’. I am sure all of them leave in a better frame of mind than when they come in. This is a placebo that is given for their mental health. I made sure, I did not link any religion to it. Who knows? Maybe the building of the cairns like this will really bring better luck to the believers.  Also, look at how the economy of our village has revived after I started ‘Cairnteract’. That way I am helping the local farmers. I even heard there is a proposal to build a petrol pump nearby. So you can’t actually call it cheating.”

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