The Golden Mongoose

Posted: March 3, 2016 in GUEST!!!!
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untitledSrikanth KN: I have read many great stories but never got a chance to meet a great writer and then life surprised me with one. Rich with Indian history, vivid flavored culture, with depth of ocean I always wonder how Srikanth can write like a pro, being a down to earth person, loving husband and great father. Daily fed on NewYork times he can shoot anyone point -blank merely with his knowledge.Simplicity is his added wing. When his son went on naming the wild animals from wild cat to different exotic spices like mouse deer, which were dancing on the desktop  I died in shame in front of 3 year old kid with my master degree. Already shining in the queue of his fan list I am eagerly waiting for his next story which is forming in his head. Thank you Srikanth for being part of my blog. All the very best for your next upcoming story. You can reach him@ srikanth.kn@gmail.com

 

A talking Mongoose! With golden fur. Quickly go get the king, it wants to question him on Dharma, he won’t refuse” said the sentry to the other.

The sentry scurried to find the king while the palace was being emptied of the guests who had attended the recently concluded Ashvamedha sacrifice. The king, though exhausted, couldn’t resist such a proposition and hurriedly followed the sentry.

O strange creature, I was told that you have a question for me. Please go ahead. I’ll try to answer it to best of my abilities” said the king humbly

Dear king, I am moved by your humility. I have been to many sacrifices and people are scared of me and shoo me away without even listening to me. I was told that the King of Hastinapura will not disappoint me and so I came here despite the long journey” said the mongoose.

The king and sentries looked on in wonder at the talking mongoose, as it continued

Dear king, I come from a village near Kurukshetra, where I stayed near the house of a pious man. He observed the Unccha vow, and never did he turn away anyone who came to his house for alms. Once, there was a famine in the village and his family went without food for several days. After many such days, he found some flour and the family prepared a meal. As they were about to eat, an old man knocked on their door begging for alms. The pious man welcomed him to his house and gave him his portion of the meal. His family members followed suit and gave the old man their portions as well. The old man blessed them and had a hearty meal. The next day, I saw that the house was empty and was tempted by the scent of the flour. I ran and played inside for some time and rolled around in the mire created by the old man while he had his meal. I noticed that my fur which was moistened by the mire turned gold. Also, I started to speak from that moment. I suspect that the virtue of the family’s sacrifice is responsible for my fur and speech. Since that day, I decided to turn my entire fur to gold. I have been visiting sacrifices, to roll in the sacred ashes of the ceremony in the hope that all my fur turns gold. I did roll in the ashes of your sacrifice as well, but it was of no use to me. Why do you think it is? O great king. I was told only you could answer my question”.

The king pondered for a long time while everyone waited for his answer.

O great creature, selfless sacrifice in the time of adversity is the greatest virtue that can ever be. Even a fistful of flour given away selflessly is a far more virtuous than the gifts given away during these grand sacrifices. You have opened my eyes and I bow before you for the lesson”

Thaatha, with his animated voice, variety of hand gestures and intense narration was Ani’s favorite story teller and since few days, the story of the golden mongoose was the one most sought after.

Thatha, did the mongoose ever turn all its fur into gold?” asked Ani his eyes still transfixed on his grandfather like a doe.

I am not sure putta, selfless sacrifice is indeed a very rare thing. Ask appa if he knows about the mongoose” replied Thaatha.

Vinod who was sitting in his chair, immersed in the newspaper, sipping his coffee was taken by surprise. He wanted to be left alone on a Sunday morning with his newspaper.

You were the ‘Kathe Mama’ for all my friends while growing up and I only know the stories that you have told me. How do you expect me to know about the mongoose?” he replied irritated.

Paati interjected, “Ayyo, Vinu, even today, kids in our neighborhood come to him for his stories. He always had a thing for storytelling. It is a pity, we can’t visit Ani often to tell him all the stories. You knew so many, before you were six. I have to nag at him for many days to make him come to Bengaluru”

The accusation rankled Thaatha and he started on his endless list of qualms against Bengaluru

It’s wrong of you to say that I don’t like my grandson. Don’t I speak to him every day over the phone? But I don’t like this city, its crowd, weather and traffic gets me every time I am here. You can’t even walk peacefully on the footpath, always have to be weary of stepping on dog shit. People here are eager to rear pets but are not ready to scoop their shit”

Paati cut him while he rambled on “As though everyone in Mysuru scoops”

Ani who was patiently watching his Thaatha complain, was bored. He had forgot about his question about the mongoose and was eager to put across his pet peeve to his dad which was bugging him from past few days and the story of the golden mongoose strangely heightened his peeve every time he heard it.

Appa, did you think about what I asked you on Friday, Rohit and Hasini’s parents gave up theirs, yesterday”.

Vinod screwed his eyes and his lips twitched every time he was irritated, even if mildly.

Ani I made it clear to you last time, I am not going to give up my LPG subsidy just because others have done it. I have my reasons”

But Appa, don’t you think we should help a poor family by giving it up. Our PM says it helps many families who still use smoky stoves to cook their food”

Vinod was exasperated with the argument and was silent. He knew the link between the mongoose story and Ani’s pet peeve, hence turned his ire on his dad

Why do you tell him such stories? You could have told him some funny story, Akbar-Birbal or Tenali Rama does it have to be this one?”

Oh, so it’s my fault. I better stay back at my home than come here to be told about the stories I should or shouldn’t tell my grandson” retorted Thaatha indignantly.

Vinod realized he had touch a raw nerve and was eager to console his dad.

Appa, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. But children are very impressionable at such a tender age. He’ll not understand that I put up with pot holed roads, filth and pollution, despite paying my taxes“

Sarita turned up from kitchen with breakfast for everyone, and Vinod tried to sneak back into his newspaper while everyone had their breakfast.

Ani, did you finish your homework? I know that were playing with Rohit all day yesterday. You will have to finish it by noon or I’ll not let you play today evening” said Sarita with motherly sternness.

Amma, I’ll finish my homework as soon as Appa agrees to give it up”.

Vinod’s temper boiled as he was denied reading the world affairs sheet.

He’s become a brat. Look at him blackmail me .We are too lenient with him and indulge all his whims” looking accusingly at Sarita which unleashed all her housewife fury.

I work all morning in kitchen preparing breakfast while you idle with your newspapers. You don’t even ask him to do his homework, so he has time for all these stupid ideas and you accuse me of being lenient with him”

Everyone went mum as though they’d just seen a volcano erupt near them. Ani started crying.

Vinod acted swiftly before Paati could add a mother-in-law-daughter-in-law dimension to the situation at home.

Ani, stop crying, let’s make a deal. You give up eating chocolates and sweets for a week and if you succeed, I’ll give up my subsidy as well”

Paati moved to Ani’s defence “Vinu, aren’t you being a bit harsh, after all he’s just a child”.

Amma, it will be a lesson for him, he will understand what it means to give up something. Also, he eats too many chocolates and sweets these days. Ani, are you ready to take up the challenge?”

Ani thought for a while and nodded his head in agreement.

Well then, we have a deal, no chocolates and sweets till next Sunday” said Vinod re-confirming.

Ani and Monday mornings didn’t get along well. His wakeup time, bathing and dressing were hostage to his whims, which left Sarita exhausted by the time he was ready for school. But today, school uniform, socks and shoes were on him in no time. Sarita was pleased with his newfound focus and silently thanked the golden mongoose for it.

It’ll be Sunday before you notice” said Thaatha adding fuel to his enthusiasm while dropping Ani to school.

Ani’s energy hadn’t diminished when he returned from school and he listened to the story again in the evening as though reinforcing his will to spurn the temptations.

Appa, I haven’t eaten any chocolates or sweets all day” declared Ani triumphantly once Vinod returned from office.

A pat on the back from his dad pleased him. Monday had indeed passed in a hurry.

Thaatha was woken up by a honking call center cab early in the morning and couldn’t sleep. As he carelessly opened the tap to wash his face, the cold water fell on his brittle fingers likes shards of glass. He was suspicious. Perhaps, Bengaluru was conspiring on him. The newspaper confirmed his suspicion: A forecast for continuous drizzle for next 3 days due to a depression. Bengaluru had planned to sentence him to solitary confinement and he was determined to escape it.

Three days of cold weather. My feet will kill me. Kamala, Let’s leave” said Thaatha.

Paati was familiar with his tantrums when he was confined to home and wanted to avoid the scene in front on her daughter-in-law and readily agreed.

At least we’ll leave once Ani is back from school. I’ll prepare Carrot Halwa by the time he returns” added Paati enthusiastically.

Carrot Halwa was Paati’s parting gift to Ani every time she returned to Mysuru. She turned pale when Sarita reminded her of the mongoose challenge.

In this family, stubbornness runs in their viens. Your son included” grumbled Paati which made Sarita laugh.

The news of their departure was kept secret till Ani readied himself for school. Vinod dropped him in his car today as the weather was too cold for Thaatha to venture outside.

Thaatha broke the news of their departure after Ani returned from school, and promised to take him to the zoo when he visited them in Mysuru next week, which pleased Ani. As he bade them goodbye, his new found energy for the challenge seemed to go away with them. Sarita allowed him an extra half hour of TV to console him. He remained silent once Vinod returned from office. Thaatha and Paati were on Ani’s mind than the challenge.

The whimsical Ani of the pre-challenge days was back on Wednesday morning. Every task in preparing for school was a drag, interrupted by a demand for a short game or a short story. Each task celebrated like a project milestone. He was pale once he returned from school and Sarita suspected it to be withdrawl symptoms due to denial of sugar from past three days, but it turned out to be a Birthday Invite.

Amma I have been invited to Rohit’s birthday, Friday evening” he said glumly.

Ani liked birthday parties and Sarita understood that the mongoose challenge stood in his way to enjoy the party.

Don’t worry Ani, I’ll talk to Appa to end this challenge today. You can continue it some other time” said Sarita consoling him

Ani recoiled, “It’s just 3 more days. I’ll manage it somehow”

Sarita could sense his diffidence, but remained silent.

Ani woke up to his favorite breakfast of Akki Rotti and strawberry milkshake on Thursday morning. They lifted his mood and he made it to school forgetting the birthday invite. But he was sad again when he returned home and even gift shopping for Rohit’s birthday didn’t seem to lift his mood. The long chocolate bars at the toy shop seemed to laugh at him and almost made him cry.

I have asked you teacher to grant you leave from school tomorrow. We’ll take you somewhere to cheer you up. It’s a surprise” said Vinod tucking Ani into bed.

I am not going to eat chocolates or sweets till Sunday come what may” said Ani in a defiant tone.

Alright, you don’t have to. Now, please smile for me once” pleaded Vinod.

Ani obliged and he kissed him goodnight. Ani wondered about his parents plan for a few minutes before sleep got the better of him.

The energy of the mongoose was back in Ani on Friday morning and he was eager to know their plan. But Sarita was a hard nut to crack and would let out the secret. Once they were ready, the family got into the car and drove for some time. Ani wasn’t familiar with this part of the city and stared intently at the street trying to figure out clues about their destination. “WonderLa, perhaps through a different route” he wondered.

The car entered inside the compound of an old building and he could see many children playing in the garden. He was silent as his parents took him inside the building. Ani thought it might be some school, but couldn’t understand why he was brought there.

Vinod began “Putta, You had done very well over the past few days to hold your end of the bargain. So much so that I am bit scared of losing to you. So I have bought you here for a compromise. I promise to donate the LPG subsidy money that I get to this orphanage. Along with it, I’ll make a monthly donation to cover the school fee of three students who study here. Do we have a deal?”

Ani looked at his parents for a few moments. It was something out of the blue for him and took him by surprise. He was mighty pleased and hugged his parents.

Yes, dad, Thank you very much”

It was Amma’s idea so thank her” nodded Vinod.

They made the donation, spoke with some children of the orphanage and returned home. Sarita reminded him that the challenge had expired and he could have some chocolates if he wanted. She had bought a long bar of chocolate that he had seen in the toy shop in her purse.

Later, Amma” Ani declined which surprised her.

Once they reached home, Ani phoned his grandparents and told them about his day which pleased them

He prepared himself for attending Rohit’s birthday party and Sarita could see the same energy of the mongoose in him. He presented Rohit with his birthday gift, but refused the pastries and sweets offered to him at the party.

What’s up with you Ani? Why are you still refusing sweets?” she asked

Amma, it’s just one more day to Sunday, I’ll wait” replied Ani with a smile.

Somewhere, a hair turned gold on the mongoose’s fur.

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