Infectious Goodness

I met my friend Gautam yesterday. Like me he too is very regular in his exercise regimen, especially the walks. His doctor has told him that at his age, one-hour walk everyday is a must. If he wants to go to a gym, do Yoga, learn karate or any other activity, it has to be ‘walk’+ that activity. During one such walk something strange happened with Gautam. He narrated to me the story next day.

Gautam had already completed his daily walk quota in the morning. He had come out again in the evening for a stroll in the park; maybe just to stay a little ahead in life. He was only half way down the track; he spotted a wad of money on the ground. He stopped right next to it, keeping his shoe near the neatly folded notes and looked down directly at it. Watching an awkwardly static person in the jogging park; other walkers too followed his look and also saw the money. Gautam looked up at some passing men engrossed in serious walking.

Gautam: does this belong to any of you? He stayed near the money. But it seemed that those people had already started breaking their carbohydrates into glucose and water. So, no one was in a mood to break the pace for little money that didn’t even belong to them. A tall man just nodded ‘no’ and walked off without slowing his pace. A dark lady in short hair said smilingly, ‘finders keepers’, not bothering to stop. Gautam picked up the money. Watchman from his cabin had also noticed this. Gautam walked to the watchman, showed him the money and told him, “I found it (pointing to the spot) there. Did any one inform you about their lost money?”
Watchman: “no (extending his hand to grab the notes); but I will keep an eye.”
Gautam: “wait, let me count it (he counted the money). It is 110 rupees. Keep it but if I cannot find the owner then I will take it from you before I leave. It is 110, ok?”
Watchman: “ok sir.” But just as Gautam was about to hand over the money to watchman, Gautam noticed a large bunch of women entering the garden. He stood at the edge of walking area and raised his hand with the money.

Gautam: “anyone lost this… any one?” Most ladies laughed and passed him by; but a thin woman with graying hair said, “you are giving so much of your time for someone else’s money. Everyone is not so nice.” Gautam: ‘

“that’s no problem; I will give it just a few minutes more.”
Thin woman with graying hair: “good luck to you” (she walked off laughing away).
Gautam: (trying his luck again) “hello any one dropped this right here, any one?”
Next was a group of four women, chatting loudly. Among them there was a fat lady in yellow suit, “Yes, it could be mine. I had a 50 rupee note with me when I was shopping.” She showed her empty handkerchief. So careless! Gautam thought.
Gautam: “you should have at least tied up the money in your handkerchief.”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “yes. I don’t know how it slipped.”
Gautam: (placing money in her hanky) “here, take this.”

Other women started complimenting him and smiling, as they always do. Gautam was hugely relieved; but by now he had lost precious five-minute walk. So he picked up speed thanking women for their complements. The women too continued walking for a while. Gautam paced faster in the next two rounds. That group of women was now sitting on a bench and chatting. So every two minutes Gautam passed them, he knew they were looking at him. He felt very uncomfortable.

Soon there was a surprising twist in the tale. A small made woman had walked to that group of four women and was talking to them. As Gautam passed again, group of women stopped him.
Fat woman in yellow suit: “actually the money belongs to this lady. She has come back all the way from her house trying to find it.”
Gautam: “so now you are giving it to her?”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “yes. I thought it was mine; but it is surely hers.”
Gautam: “but what about your fifty rupee note? Do you have it or is that lost too?”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “no, it is in my bag.”
Gautam: “sure? Otherwise tell me I will keep an eye on the ground for your money too.”
They all laugh aloud. Gautam coolly started his walks again. He was pleasantly surprised at what had happened.

Dark lady in short hair: “you can’t go on finding money in every trip.”
Gautam: “yes I know. But even if I do find more money, it will be a big headache to find it’s owner every time.”
Dark lady in short hair: (laughing) “true. I don’t think anyone thinks like you do.”
Gautam was moving away from her.
Gautam: “oh that’s no big deal. Bye.”
Dark lady in short hair, “bye.”

King Vs. Carpenter (P-4)

It became a huge point of contention in Amor that meetings of Suyesh were ten times more, well attended than the temple of the King. People were going crazy listening to discourses of Suyesh. No one in the King’s court could analyze the reasons for this, especially when there was no comparison between the two. One was the most powerful king of all land and the other was a mere carpenter following Godaism! King’s ministers had already started working on the plans to break the spirit of Suyesh and his followers.

Now there were no discourses where king’s spies were not present. The spies had initially started incognito, but soon turned brash and bold. They would appear in their army uniform and watch over what was being said. They also would not allow the meetings to continue beyond certain duration of time. This became troublesome for people who came from far off villages. The soldiers would announce suddenly that the time was up and meeting would have to be dispersed. Army would attack the harmless villager returning home after discourses and rob their belongings. They would snatch their food packets, only to throw it away to dogs. In spite of this torture nobody seemed overly discouraged; not just as yet. Kingdom had decided to that non-violence of villagers be replied with violence. In order to break them, soldiers attacked regular devotees more. Suyesh’s body guards tried to interfere with a soldier who was being rough with an old lady. In retaliation the soldier had drawn his sword and body guard had to cool it. Everyone saw it. Now the picture was clear.

It had been Suyesh’s routine to discuss each day’s matters with all his supporters and advisers. They sat on a large wooden dining table. Mangala would serve dinner and wine quietly and efficiently. These days mostly there were security and violence related problems. Everyone was concerned about Suyesh’s followers. A villager who was attacked on his way back home had succumbed to his injury. His funeral was attended by Suyesh and all his close men. During the last rites some young people threw stones at the King’s soldiers shouting, ‘killers killers’. They were taken by surprise and had to retreat. But this made the battle lines even more clear. Now every one of Suyesh’s followers was marked and was being persecuted. They were being harassed for taxes. Their properties were being confiscated.

It was high time a tough decision was taken by Suyesh and his advisers in order to solve this tangle with king’s men. So many innocent people cannot be allowed to get killed or even hurt. It was decided to send a senior person as a messenger or ambassador to King’s court to discuss matters amicably. But before he could put his point across, he was arrested and put behind bars. No one ever saw him again. This was a big loss to Suyesh’s think tank.

In the next supper meeting it was decided that the all discourses be suspended until further notice. Innocent villagers were getting hurt in so many different ways. It was totally unfair. Suyesh’s personal message, ‘there will be no meetings, until further notice’, was sent to all residing near and far through a chain of messengers. The villagers now were to follow regimen of Suyesh’s teaching inside their homes only. While outside, the soldiers with bare swords were combing the area to find their unarmed enemies. The war was in the open.

It was a gloomy evening in Suyesh’s hut. There were eleven of village’s most worried men sitting on the large wooden table. They had nothing better to do except glare blankly at the food and wine glasses. Breathing the air thick with tension; Mangala too was uncomfortable. She had been working extra hard to serve them. She could not bear to watch the faces of those strong and intelligent men feeling so completely helpless. She decided to stay at the back of everyone. All those intellectual minds did not have an answer to current situation. No one was speaking. No one was drinking and eating either. They were so static that all together they seemed like a painting. The most senior security adviser spoke, ‘we have to move out of here. Soon the soldiers will attack this hut.’ With this statement the existing pin drop silence became even heavier. Everyone’s minds were racing with various thoughts. After a short while the silence was broken again but this time, by Suyesh. He said, ‘I don’t know what must be the good reason; but one of us has betrayed me.’ This statement burst like a bomb inside the humble hut and started a flurry of activity on the table. Suyesh had never ever uttered a thing like this before. It was totally unbelievable. A traitor! One of them! Everyone was trying to look at others, to find hidden clues in the faces. Suyesh raised his hand in order to quiet everyone’s mind and added, ‘it did not matter as long as it put only me in trouble; but it is going to be very dangerous for each of us. I feel sorry for all of you. I ask for everyone’s forgiveness on his behalf.’ Now the security adviser got up with a firm, ‘let us go now.’ With this decisive announcement the last supper of Suyesh and his close friends was over.

As the seriousness of the situation dawned in their minds people they started getting up, leaving their unconsumed food behind. Soon everyone was up and was packing their essential belongings methodically. Mangala took her cloth bag and pushed her and Suyesh’s cloths in. She also packed all the bread and dry meat from the table. As a woman she knew life was going to be very uncertain from now on. She was wearing a multi layered long flowing robe. Suyesh had noticed Mangala looked rather fat in it. Just before she stepped out of the hut, she went to the bathing place and puked.

All the inmates now had entirely covered themselves, in dark blankets. Outside, Suyesh’s hidden security experts were keeping an eye for enemy’s prying eyes. They sent a quiet ‘all clear’ message. Soon many shadows walked out in the darkness of a moonless night. There was no one to notice twelve shadows walking briskly to nowhere.

Early morning king Vikram’s soldiers fanned out everywhere. They cursed themselves on finding the hut, empty! They had the information that Suyesh and his group will soon be moving to an unknown place. But perhaps they were a day too late.

King’s spies dressed themselves in villager’s attires and were trying to find the whereabouts of the group. But their bulging muscles and well fed faces gave away their secret. In the next move they started looking for people carrying food stuff outside any village. They caught some of them. They were promptly killed on not giving the location of Suyesh’s group.

Suyesh had about 250 of his most faithful followers spread around. They all had strict instructions from Suyesh that since he was in danger, everyone must stay away. None of us can fight a huge army. We are also not trained to fight. There is no point in loosing precious life. Many of Suyesh’s people were regularly being nabbed and killed. The security expert chose few strongest of men to keep Mangala hidden in the middle of group. From the hut itself they had moved quickly to most unlikely and entirely different route. At that point she was the most precious person in the world. Mangala couldn’t even give a last look at Suyesh. She knew it would be the last time she was watching ‘his’ shadow receding away.

Sound of running horses was a matter of concern for a small group of people huddled together in a dark patch of behind a large bush. Someone threw water on the fire to hide it. The smoke rose up. The gradually horses were came close. And soon the group of soldiers spotted the huddled shadows. Suyesh forced many of them to run away. But his most faithful did not listen to him. They wanted to fight. To save them from being slain, Suyesh came out swiftly and surrendered to Amoran soldiers. Suyesh and three of his men were tied up and soon horses were galloping dragging the group.

King had his carpenter.