The Known Stranger

The Known Stranger

Chandra was a noble lady, known for her benevolence and charity. Her husband Mr. Roy was a high court advocate. A man of few words, his professional success did the talking. They had the grace of all the materialistic pleasures of life, one could ask for. But, as it’s said ,there is no one in this world without any problem. The  poor couple had a mentally challenged son Sundeep, a perennial grief, which left them shattered. 

Their lavish mansion was the talk of the town. It overlooked a beautiful Shiva temple, that attracted hundreds of worshippers on a daily basis. A staunch devotee of lord Shiva, Chandra went to the temple regularly with her son. She had got used to the snide looks that her son garnered from the onlookers, something that didn’t bother her much. Instead  she chose to ignore them, for the sake of her mental peace. 

There sat a lame beggar outside the temple entrance. Chandra carried lunch for him, the only thing that she did against her husband’s wishes.  “ What makes you feed him? Is he your kin? Why so much concern for a stranger”? Mr.Roy rebuked at her. To which she said “ We should not always help people with some inner motive. Unconditional help is equal to serving God”. Though Chandra’s answer made Mr. Roy mum, inwardly he disapproved it. 

Once a Monk came to the town, wearing an ochre robe. He called himself the messenger of God, a Demigod, with magical powers. He stayed in a tent in front of the temple. His popularity amongst the temple devotees increased within no time. People thronged towards him, more than going to the temple. They went to the Sage with all their personal problems. His voice had a mesmerizing effect on the masses. The beggar, mute spectator, witnessed all his actions.

The news of the Monk had reached Mr. Roy. He persuaded his wife to visit him. Chandra never believed in human Gods. “You can feed a lame, but cannot visit a Sage? Why don’t you try your luck for our son’s sake”?

Unwillingly, Chandra went to the Monk the next day with her son. He moved his hands up in a weird way , turned his head  vigorously from side to side, spoke ineloquently and gave her an amulet for her son. “You will be blessed soon, Son.” he said in a throaty voice. 

A few weeks later, on a rainy night, Sudeep went missing. Mr. Roy and Chandra searched for him like maniac throughout the town. Crying uncontrollably Chandra fainted, leaving Mr. Roy in a lurch. He finally lodged a police complaint. A sudden knock on the door brought him to the present. He stood unmoved, seeing his boy with the lame beggar. “The sage is a black-magician. Your son was to be sacrificed today”. Mr. Roy hugged his son. Deep inside, he appreciated his wife’s unconditional help and thanked the beggar with folded hands. The conman was arrested the next day.
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Vijeta Harishankar
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