Stories for the Children
… M.K. Raina
Three Questions - Part 2
(Click for Part 1)
revealed that he was not always a poor man, but hailed from a well to do
family. His father Chalaka was a pious man and helped the needy. His
mother was an orthodox lady, shrewdly dedicated to her religion. She would
seldom venture out of her house. The family had a large chunk of land
which was enough to feed them throughout the year. They also had a good
house to live in. At the age of twenty, Anusuya was married to Pushpalata.
They were a happy family.
Chalaka, had a cousin by name Taraka. He was a man of
vices and had lost everything on drinking and gambling. He had to even
sell off his land. Chalaka, tried to correct him many a times but to no
avail. When Taraka turned a pauper, he got jealous of Chalaka. Chalaka
having no inkling of Taraka's jealousy, wanted to help him. He gave him a
small piece of land in charity and advised him to reform himself. Taraka
accepted the offer but requested that the land be transferred through a
proper deal. He said he was particularly suspicious of Pushpalata
rescinding the offer after Chalaka was no more. Chalaka agreed and asked
Taraka to get the transfer documented. Taraka got the documents and
Chalaka put his seal on them. Taraka however did not take possession of
the land immediately, stating that he was waiting for an auspicious time.
As ill-luck would have it, Anusuya's father and mother
met a fatal accident while on a pilgrimage. The news came as a shock to
all the villagers, for whom they were next to God. Entire village mourned
their death. But there was one man who rejoiced on their death. He was
After a couple of days, Taraka approached the still
mourning Anusuya and Pushpalata and asked them to surrender their land and
house to him. He showed them the papers bearing Chalaka's seal. He claimed
that the property had been sold by his father to him. Anusuya and
Pushpalata were taken aback. They were sure the papers were fraudulently
obtained. They complained to the village elders, but they could not help.
Papers clearly proved Taraka's claim.
Anusuya and Pushpalata vacated the house. They erected
a small hut in the corner of a vast area of barren land a little away from
the village. This land also belonged to them and luckily was not included
by Taraka in his deed. They moved into the hut along with their four year
Anusuya and Pushpalata had to start their life afresh.
The land they owned now, was slopy and the river water could not reach it.
Having no option, Anusuya decided to cultivate a small portion of land
with such crops needing scanty rainfall. He worked hard and gradually
started earning a meagre livelihood.
A good house had always been Pushpalata's dream. She
did not mourn the loss of land as much as she mourned the loss of her
house. Anusuya knew it. He promised to give her a new house but did not
succeed. He had nobody to help him. And the Rain-god did not seem to
favour him either.
• • •
Ananta was moved with Anusuya's pathetic story. He
decided to help him. So when Anusuya asked him if he could work with him
in his fields, Ananta agreed immediately. He had no specific destination.
He thought it was better to start looking for the answers right from here.
And who knew, God only brought him to that place to know the truth?
Anusuya and Ananta first removed all thorny bushes and
stones from the entire barren land. They then levelled it in terraces. It
took them almost three months. At the extreme elevation, there was a big
hump of stone conglomerate. They started breaking the hump with whatever
means they had. After days of toil, when they were about to finish the
job, a miracle occurred. Ananta's axe struck the bed of the conglomerate
with a bang. A crevice was formed and water came gushing out through it,
in the form of a spring. Anusuya and Ananta, both cried out with joy.
Water flowed down with force, flooding the entire land below. Anusuya ran
home to tell Pushpalata about the miracle. Ananta sat on a stone nearby,
watching the water meandering its way all through the land. On reaching
the site, Pushpalata could not believe her eyes. She fell at Ananta's feet
in gratitude. Ananta had brought them good luck.
With their sheer will, Anusuya and Ananta transformed
the whole area into a beautiful cascade of fields. These fields became the
prize land of the village now, because of the high yielding spring. In six
months' time, the duo's hard work bore fruit. The fields were full of
golden crop which fetched Anusuya a very good sum. Second harvest earned
him much more than his expectations. He then started constructing his new
house. In a short span of time, Anusuya was well settled. Pushpalata was
very happy, for, she had a good house now. Ananta was also happy working
In due course of time, Anusuya earned a fortune.
Pushpalata was fond of jewellery. She told her husband that she wished to
buy a jewel-studded necklace for herself. Anusuya bought her a necklace,
studded with gems, which was unique piece. Pushpalata wore it around her
neck. She was all smiles, her desire fulfilled. She did not part with it
even for a moment. Now the necklace was more dear to her than any thing
Ananta thought, he found an answer to one of his
question: 'What is that which a woman loves most?' And the answer was
certainly 'Her Jewellery'. He was now planning to leave the village, but
Anusuya did not allow him. He wanted Ananta to stay for some time more.
A few days passed. Anusuya and Pushpalata visited a
fair in the neighbouring town. Ananta stayed back to look after the child.
There were hundreds of well decorated stalls at the fair, selling items
brought from distant places. There were cattle shows and a variety of
entertainment programmes held under colourful Shamianas. Anusuya
and Pushpalata went inside a Shamiana to witness a magic show.
Suddenly, during the course of the show, the shamiana caught fire. There
was a chaos. People were running helter-skelter for safety. There were
cries and screams, some falling down and others trampling them. Anusuya
caught his wife by her hand and almost dragged her. In the confusion,
Pushpalata's necklace slipped down. Pushpalata jerked out her hand from
that of Anusuya's and turned back in search of the necklace. Anusuya
persuaded her not to bother for the necklace and instead run for safety.
But she would not listen. She managed to get her hands on the necklace but
as soon as she turned around, a burning wooden structure collapsed and
fell on her. Anusuya could only hear her groan. He ran towards her and
with the help of a few people, he managed to get her out. Her face was
badly burnt but the necklace was still tightly clinched in her hand.
Anusuya summoned the best hakeems and vaids,
to treat Pushpalata. They did their best but could not restore back her
original beauty. Pushpalata was desperate. One of the hakeems advised them
to seek help from a Tantrik at a far off place, who, he claimed,
had magical powers and was known to have treated many such cases. Anusuya
The Tantrik had a look at Pushpalata's face. He
assured to restore her face, but demanded a sum beyond Anusuya's means.
Even by selling his house, he would not make the requisite amount. So
Pushpalata decided to offer her necklace. "Beauty is more valuable
than the stones", she concluded. And the necklace changed hands.
True to his word, the Tantrik performed miracle.
Pushpalata's beautiful face was restored. No one could now say that she
had ever burnt her face. Anusuya and Ananta could not believe their eyes.
Ananta had to revise the answer to his question. In his opinion now, a
woman loved her beauty most. And this time, he was doubly sure, he had the
Ananta got ready to leave for his next destination.
Anusuya, Pushpalata and their child had returned to the old hut. Ananta
was sure, Anusuya would rise again. He promised Anusuya that on his
return, he would visit them.
• • •
Ananta set out for a new unknown destination. He had to
make his way through mountains and jungles. He came across a group of
shepherds. They informed him of a town named Saraspur on other side of the
mountain. It took Ananta three days to reach this town, while on his way,
he spent his nights with the shepherds.
Saraspur was a beautiful town. It was located on the
bank of river Saraswati. Ananta reached there at noon. He went to the
river and had a bath. He saw a number of Brahmins performing religious
rites at the ghat. Ananta watched them for a while and then
retreated to a nearby temple.
After performing puja in the temple, Ananta decided to
take a walk down the market. He was very hungry, but nobody would feed him
for free. While on stroll, he saw a middle aged man dressing stones. The
man was totally engrossed in his work. Ananta observed that there were a
number of stone blocks on one side and a few carved stones on the other
side. Ananta went up to him and introduced himself. He then enquired if he
could get a job as he was badly in need of one. The stone carver whose
name was Mihira, was alone and had a lot of work in hand. He readily
offered him one. On knowing that Ananta was hungry, Mihira offered him
food from his stock.
Mihira's job was to dress and carve stones. These
stones were used for constructing houses. Intricately carved stones were
also used in construction of temples. Mihira's stones were very much in
demand because of their finish. But he was unable to cope with the demand.
He had employed a few people initially but they left one by one because of
strenuous nature of work. Mihira was however contented with his earning
and lived happily with his wife.
Ananta picked up the job very fast. Mihira was pleased
with his work. On seeing Ananta doing a good job, more and more people
joined them. In a short span of time, Mihira became a big supplier of
carved stones. His stones were now in demand in other villages and towns.
His business began to flourish.
- To be continued.