Fate or Faith

Fate or Faith

It was an ordinary day. He woke up to the continuous honking of cars. The footpath was his bed and his sore left arm, his pillow.

Rubbing his eyes, he stood up from his place. He looked around and spotted his begging bowl. He picked it up and started his monotonous day, not bothering to take a bath. He wore the same rags he had once found in a dustbin, a tattered shirt and  ripped jeans. 

Making his way through the polluted roads, he knocked on each and every window pane of those luxurious cars. He was ignored and shooed away ruthlessly. 

He begged for alms from morning to afternoon but odds were not in his favor. His was hungry now. Finally he decided to visit the local temple where his one time meal was assured. 

After satiating his empty stomach with the prasadam offered by some devotees, he kept looking at the idols of Krishna and Balaram. He heartily thanked them for the food and asked for forgiveness as he was not able to offer anything to them in return.

Although he was a beggar, he still possessed gratitude. He believed that the Almighty was listening to his prayers and one day he would be able to offer his obeisance. 

As he was about to leave, he saw two teenagers playing with a coin, not an ordinary coin but a gold coin.

‘If only I could snatch that gold coin from these two boys, I may become rich,’ he thought to himself.

From their appearance, they seemed to belong to an affluent family. They posed a striking appearance, one of them with dark complexion and a soft smile while other one was fair wearing an inquisitive expression. Both of them wore a dhoti-kurta, making them look poised and wise.

He approached them and asked, “What are you two doing here? Where are your parents?”

“Who are you? What do you want?” One of them asked. 

Somehow, he wasn’t able to lie to these boys. 

“I am a beggar and live on the footpath. I come to this temple so that I can have some food. I came here to snatch this gold coin from you.”

“Ah ! I see! So you want this coin. We will give it to you but you have to earn it,” said the boys. 

“Earn it? Why do I need to earn it? I can simply snatch it from you.”

Saying this, the beggar marched forward to grab the coin. However, the boys were quick. They tossed the coin in the air while running and caught it before the beggar could. The beggar kept running behind them and finally relented.

“I will earn it,” he said, gasping for air.

The boys waited for the beggar to catch his breath.

“You can have this coin only if you earn a penny by fair means. We’ll wait for you here at the temple.”

“What if you don’t keep your word?”

Do you have a choice?” They asked him in unison.

The beggar immediately knew the answer. He pondered and realised that he needed to be clean to be hired by anyone and so he took a quick dip in the nearby lake.

However, no one hired him. He returned to the temple and met the caretaker. He pleaded to the caretaker for clean clothes and any work he could do. The caretaker gave him clothes but told him that he had to work without wages as it was devotional service.

The beggar hesitated but continued to clean the premises and swept the floor. He was not paid for his service.

As the day came to an end, the boys arrived at the temple. The beggar looked towards them and hung his head in shame, they understood

“We shall give you the last chance. We have a bag full of gold coins. If heads, then you will get it; if tails, then you will get only this one coin. You’ve only one chance. Heads or tails?”

“Heads!”

One of them flipped the coin and it turned out to be tails. 

“Sorry. You get only one coin.”

The boys said nonchalantly.

The beggar smiled and humbly accepted the gold coin. Placing it in his bowl, he stood in front of the deities, closed his eyes and said, “Please accept my humble obeisance.”

When he opened his eyes, his bowl was filled with gold coins and the two boys had disappeared.
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