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The Blessing

2006-07-13 23:30

  Once there was a Santhal woman called Rani who lived with her younger brother. She was very poor and a daily labourer. She went from shop to shop and house to house looking for work. Whatever work she got she did with sincerity and honesty.

  One day a rich woman called her and asked, “Yesterday there was a feast in my house. I want you to clean all the vessels. I'll pay you well but on the condition that you do a perfect job.”

  Rani worked the whole day cleaning the vessels. Her back ached with all the hard work but she didn't stop. She was hopeful the rich lady would pay her enough so that she and her kid brother could eat properly at least for a few days. In the afternoon, after all the vessels were cleaned, the rich lady came to examine the vessels.

  “Good, good,” she mumbled as she inspected each vessel one by one.

  Suddenly she stopped. “What's this?” she upturned a plate and showed it to Rani. There was a grain of rice sticking to its bottom.

  “See you have not done a perfect job. So as per our agreement you get nothing.”

  “B…。 but I worked the whole day, cleaned more than a hundred vessels.”

  “I had asked you to do a perfect job and you haven't, now get out before I ask my guards to throw you out,” thundered the mean lady.

  Poor Rani walked out, tears streaming down her face. She went and sat under a tree not knowing what to do.

  Finally with folded hands she prayed to Jahar era, the Santhal deity.

  “I cannot struggle any more mother. Either you give me strength so that I can look after myself and my brother or let me end my life.”

  After some time she got up and started walking towards her house which was at the farthest corner of the village. She decided to take a short cut, which passed through a clump of trees where a lot of herbs and shrubs also grew. After walking for some time she saw an old woman sitting under the shade of a tree. She looked old and ill.

  “My child, I think I am going to die of thirst. Can you get me some water?”

  “Sure ma,” Rani said and sprinted across. There was a pond close by. She cupped the water in her hand and brought it to the old woman to drink.

  “Some more child,” the old woman said.

  Rani made another trip.

  “Oh! My child. This water is so refreshing. Can I ask for some more?”

  Rani made another trip and then another and so on till finally she collapsed at the feet of the old woman.

  “Thank you my child. I am finally feeling better now. Take these seeds and plant them in your garden. One of the seeds will grow into a tree much faster than you think. The tree will yield a special fruit. And all your troubles will be over.”

  With these words the old woman got up and walked away with surprising agility.

  Rani was puzzled. She did not know what to make of all the happenings of the evening. Anyway she went home and planted the seeds. Next morning when she got up she found a huge tree dwarfing her tiny hut.

  When she went out to check she was surprised to see bright yellow fruits the size of lemons hanging to its branches. She plucked the fruits and tried to bite them.

  “Ouch!” they were hard as stones. She was about to throw them and curse the old woman when she stopped. There was a strange glitter to them - a glitter she had never seen before.

  She took all the fruits to the village goldsmith. He was a kind old man. He looked at the fruit and exclaimed, “Where did you get these from?”

  “Why?”

  “This is gold, pure gold.”

  “What!” Rani said almost fainting from shock.

  Well, after that Rani became not only the richest woman in the village but one of the richest in the region.

  As soon as she could, she built a temple and dedicated it to Jahar era. Can you guess why? I am sure you can!

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