The Moment Of Truth
January 4, 2011 1 Comment
The story has farcical elements of improbable situations, exaggeration, humor around a small nugget of truth.
The strain of the morning proceedings was getting to him. He settled down in his rocking chair in the hall. The daughter settled down by his side bringing with her the small basket piled up with gifts – most were envelopes enclosing congratulatory cards plus cheques or cash.
The daughter was half-way through opening up the packages and envelopes.
She held up the next envelope bulging with its contents: ‘Appa, your friend Khanna Sir from Delhi – he has done the usual thing. He sends you his best wishes and also photographs of his feeding children on your behalf at some orphanage.’
‘Khanna Sahib has always followed this practice – he doesn’t believe in buying gifts.’
‘Appa, you open this one – it is addressed to you; from whom is not known, and talks about changing your life,’ she made a little ceremony of giving it to him, in mock seriousness.
It was a longish thin cover which bore an intriguing message written boldly in black ink on its face that said ‘Open this cover and your life will change forever.’
He took it and tore the flap side open.
What happened thereupon, they were not prepared for it.
The lights went out and came back in a few seconds. Emanating from the open end was a voluminous burst of odorless white smoke that quickly engulfed the hall. Hearing the daughter’s startled cry, his wife and the son, his wife and the child rushed to the hall. Slowly they could discern above the swirling smoke the torso of someone who recognizably looked like the ‘deva’s’ from mythology.
As their jaws stayed dropped, the form spoke up: ’Don’t be afraid. I’m a Yaksha. I’m here to help you.’
The child was most ready for the Yaksha: ‘Oh, I know, you’re a jinn. And you’re going to grant us three wishes, haiyaah.’
Yaksha looked at him: ‘I’m not what this child calls a jinn, you should know. On your well-wisher’s bidding, I’m here to grant you not three but one wish.’
The son sent away the child: ‘Go to the bedroom and play on the computer, I have got ‘Galaxy’ up on the screen for you. And don’t come out until I tell you.’
The earthlings in the scene quickly gathered their wits and were now ready for the intercourse with the Yaksha.
He was the first one to find his voice: ‘Who was the kind soul who sent you here?
‘That, I’m not at liberty to disclose.’
The son had no patience for such digressions: ‘Dad, haven’t they said ‘Don’t look into a gift horse’s mouth’? How does it matter who sent him here? Let’s get down to business.’
The Yaksha gently rebutted the allusion, ‘I’m no horse and I’m not letting you peer into my mouth.’
‘Appa, they’ve also said ‘Be wary of the Greek that bears a gift,’ it was the daughter cautioning him this time.
This time the rebuttal was sterner: ’Let me have you all understand this clearly. I’ve been a Yaksha for ages and that’s what I’ll be for ages to come. I’m no jinn, no horse and no Greek.’
‘Kindly don’t get upset. I believe you now. In fact I know you from the episode in Mahabharat where you quizzed the poor Yudishtra until he dropped dead, I meant almost.‘
The Yaksha was well within his rights to be upset for being taken again for someone he was not. But he was not. ‘You got it almost right. I’m not he, but his second cousin if you wish to know. I give it to you, we are not easy to tell apart. It was dashed unfortunate – I meant the drama and the third degree that followed on that occasion. He was later pulled up for his pranks.’
‘Those prashnas were quite tricky, you know. Am I glad it wasn’t for me to be taking those questions.’
‘Dad, will you stop exchanging tales and return to the base please?
‘See, it turns out we do have a common contact – that makes him not entirely a stranger. So, no more questions on his credentials. Is that understood, everybody?’ He looked around if anyone in the assembly had questions.
‘If you say so, Appa. Though from here we still can’t see his feet firmly on the ground. You know what that means?’
Ignoring the daughter’s grave circumspection, he threw it open for views, ‘Now what do we do? I’ve but one wish to make.’
(To be contd.)