Monday, July 12, 2010

The guardian angel

Once upon a time there lived a wise old lady in a bustling village along the course of River Cauvery. Rajammal clad in her traditional six yard sari sporting a bright red bindi centered like a fire ball, was the mascot for the village. The dingles from her ear drops dangling down her earlobes were the harbinger for the children waiting to hound her with love. She could be found under the huge banyan tree near her house, vividly narrating moral stories to the young children of the village every evening.

The villagers looked up to her for wise decisions, she happened to have quick solutions for all their woes carefully wrapped under the secret folds of her sari. As she walked along the green paddy fields in the early mornings, she brought in an aura of an intellect. Under her guidance the villagers lived as one unit in harmony despite their cultural diversity. Her charm was magical. The villagers had immense respect for her and sought her blessings before the commencement of any critical tasks.

Rajammal grew up in the small village, it was her world. Her grandsons were working in a distant town, she refused to move with them, she made the village her home, the villagers her relations. She enjoyed living in the serenity of the village. The houses were small, the lanes were narrow but their hearts were big. In those quiet lanes there was chirping happiness all round the year. There wasn’t a better sight to behold than the rays of the golden sun evading through the fields and reflecting off the river in the early hours of the day.

One fine morning, the village woke up to the news of a theft. The people were crestfallen and the children were sullen at the lack of buzzing activity and cheerfulness amongst the elders. Rajammal infused faith and courage to move on. Few weeks later, their temple was stolen of 20 sovereigns of jewellery and the pundit was beaten up. The Entire village fell in a state of shock. The villagers considered this is bad omen and the old lady’s advice was sought. They decided to lodge a complaint in the police station and awaited the news of nabbing the criminals. Days passed by, the village sprung back to normalcy but the thieves weren’t caught.

The thieves continued their mayhem. There was another theft in the neighboring village and the thieves were getting notorious. Rajammal called for a discussion and devised a plan to nab the thieves. The village was gearing up for their annual festival. With all the arrangements being made for the festivities they announced the Shrine would be adorned with new jewels and special invocation would be done to wade off the evil spirits in the village. This news spread wide and far.

The festival pulled in people from neighboring villages. On the night before the festival day, the idol was adorned with the jewels and was taken around the village to be witnessed by the public. They expected the thieves to return and many villagers patrolled the temple to safeguard the jewels.

Rajammal ordered the men to return home and leave the temple unguarded. Some villagers were anxious, but they humbly obeyed her orders. The pundit who came to offer early morning prayers found the lock broken and raised an alarm. When the villagers gathered to barge into the temple, they found the thieves trapped in a pit at the entrance to the temple. Rajammal with the help of few villagers had dug pits around the temple compound to trap the thieves when they attempted to strike. She had dug pits, laid netted traps and camouflaged the pits with dried leaves. The thieves, who came to rob, fell into these pits and the netted traps pull them down, tightening the noose.

The villagers turned the thieves to the village panchayat. Thousands thronged the banyan tree to witness a deserving punishment being handed out to them before the onset of the festivities. The villagers celebrated and rejoiced their annual festival with jubilance. This incident augmented their respect for their wise old lady.

Next day when the children gathered around the banyan tree, Rajammal had a story to narrate that evening.

[This story was presented at Toastmasters club as a Folk tale classified under the Story Telling manual]

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