Durjanang Prathamang Vande, Sajjanang Tadanantarang1. I have heard this adage many times in my childhood. It translates as: you must first appease the evil, and after that you greet the gentlefolk. Our forefathers always followed this to the T.
My great great grandfather was a poor peasant. He had a small plot of land, and many mouths to feed. His wife was an excellent housekeeper, and even though they had seven children and the income was paltry, they managed to keep the wolf out of the door.
We are extremely well off today. The wealth has been accrued by my forefathers starting from him. The common belief was that if the lady of the house prayed to Goddess Lakshmi, then they would have a lot of wealth. But my great grandfather thought otherwise. He felt that evil should be worshipped first. While on Thursdays, his wife worshipped goddess Lakshmi, every Saturday he worshipped Shani, the evil God.
One Saturday night, he was sitting outside his house and worshipping Shani. Suddenly he heard the barking of dogs. A huge dark animal came and stopped in front of his house. It had blazing eyes and it growled fiercely. The stomach of the animal ruptured and out came God Shani. His hands were blazing too. The darkness was dispelled and the night became as bright as a day. The God was dressed in a black garment and he advanced towards my great grandfather. My great grandfather immediately prostrated on his feet and offered him food. God blessed him saying that he would never enter his house or the house of his children and grandchildren. My great grandfather bowed again and scurried back into the house. He firmly bolted the door from inside.
My wife and I are both avid readers. She is a librarian working in government archives. She regularly supplies me with books which I read before going to bed. One day she gave me a book titled Memoirs of Lord Arden. Lord Arden was a high placed government official in the East India company. He was posted in Dhaka for a brief period. He loved hunting and used to visit the jungles of Assam frequently.
I sat up in my bed. My ancestors are from Assam. In his writings he documents a particularly strange incident.
“We went out hunting with three cars. After the hunt it was time to go back home. It was raining heavily and I lost my way. The forest was dense and dark. Suddenly I saw a flicker of light and my hounds started barking. I advanced towards the light source. It was a hut and an old man was sitting on the porch.
Indians are friendly and helpful. So I got out of the car and flashed my torch light. The man stood up and I hoped that he would come to my aid. I asked him for a glass of water and directions to the town. He fell on my feet and offered me some food and water and promptly went into the house, never to come out again. I didn’t understand the meaning of this eccentric behaviour.’
The story has been influenced by a Bengali story.
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