It’s The Princess’s Wish

Part 3

The temple was a squat structure set in a clearing on a boulder-strewn flat that stretched from Ven Parai to the banks of Shailaja. The side-walls were made of tightly packed bamboo sticks with a thatched roof that could push back a good tropical storm. The moorti (icon) in stone of the Amman stood about three feet from the ground close to the back-wall. The temple and its moorti looked austere devoid of the usual adornments save the garlands of wild-flowers on the Amman.

The sound of gurgling waters of the river impeded in their flow by the boulders floated through as a gentle rumble.

The old Priest – he was as old as the Thaathi Ma – was about to retire to his cot in the corner after the ucchi kaala (noon) pooja, when Thaathi Ma and the Princess walked in.

Upon a cue, an attendant appeared, laid out the fruit baskets without any fuss and withdrew with all the humility befitting the occasion. After the introductions and apologies for the inconvenience, Thaathi Ma brought the Priest up-to-date on the bleak outlook for the Princess:

‘…Sir, that’s the story. We have nowhere to turn for help. And here we are hoping you would, by magic or miracle. I wish the earth opens up and swallows him, the rivers swell up that he cannot cross over or a case of severe pox brings him down.’

‘Strong views, Thaaye (mother).’

‘I’m sorry, Sir. It is just that cannot bear to see our Princess in any grief. Kindly do something to stave off this anartham.’

‘Is that how you too feel, Princess?’

‘Sir, I don’t want to be married to him.’

‘You’re wise for your age, Princess.’

The Princess nodded in assent with a wan smile.

What the Priest saw as significant in the exchange did not register with the loving Thaathi Ma.

‘As you know all these experiences are nothing but a projection of the accumulated karmic burden. Our scriptures clearly state that even the Gods respect the Law of Karma. At best they provide a little relief to the deserving or point them in right directions or at least give them the strength to face it. Let’s see what Amman has in mind for you. Come here, Princess. Sit here in front. Close your eyes and say in silence whatever prayers you have learnt. Meanwhile I’ll plead with the Amman for you.’

The Priest and the Princess sat in appropriate postures in front of the Amman, their eyes closed, the Princess mumbling some prayers and the Priest reciting manthra’s in a cant obviously frayed by age. The recitation soon gave way to the Priest slipping into a silent trance.

When he returned to the world of the living and called out to the Princess, it seemed he had received some directions from the Amman.

‘Princess, your good Karma has brought you the Grace of the Amman. Tomorrow morning, before the sunrise, complete your ablutions, still wet from the bath lay out a plantain leaf and spread some rice on it. Now write your single wish on the rice with the index finger on the right hand. No rewriting or erasures. Obviously his kingdom, family or he should be the sole subject/object of your wish and nothing else. Say the prayers you know. Collect all of the rice carefully, cook and feed the balls to the cows in your palace stables. Your wish will come true by the Order of the Amman.

A delighted Thaathi Ma profusely thanked the Priest – got the Princess and herself to prostrate in Panchanga Namaskar: ‘I’m glad we came. Didn’t I tell you, Princess? Now let us see how that arrogant Prince takes one step to the north.’

The Priest cut her euphoria short: ‘Caution, Princess. Whatever you wish for yourself would be granted to the Prince also verbatim, to be fair to him. If it does not apply to him, you would lose the wish. Also, don’t wish for his character to undergo an overnight change – even the Gods cannot manage it. But his circumstances can change.’

The Priest was not done yet: ’You’re not to discuss these with anyone outside of you two. No mention of it to anyone at all.’

Thaathi Ma sobered up: Well it isn’t exactly what I thought it was initially. I’m not even sure if I understood all of it. Never mind, we’ll figure it out, Sir, as long as you, Princess, have taken it in.’

The old man had a twinkle in his eyes as he looked at the Princess: ‘Yes, I’m sure our little Princess will figure it out.’

And the session ended.

(To be contd.)

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One Response to It’s The Princess’s Wish

  1. trisha says:

    it has taken an interesting turn.

    Like

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