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God Brings Luck
Prakash and his wife, Seema, peered in through the cracks in the door as Santlal, Prakash’s father, put the tiny key in the lock and turned it. He then pulled the lock open, cast it to one side and, opening the casket, quietly admired its contents.
Prakash and Seema looked on quietly, the unasked question looming in the air: What on Earth is inside that casket?!
The small casket had arrived in their house one day, some two years back. Somebody had written Santlal’s name on it with chalk. It was a plain-looking dark-green casket made of iron. On its front were a sturdy-looking latch and a small padlock. Just beneath the rim of the lid, a little to the left, was a line of text engraved into the iron.
Even as they wondered what was in the casket and where it had come from, they honoured the fact that should be carried to Santlal, since it bore his name, and was obviously intended for him.
Santlal, on seeing the casket, was as perplexed as they had been. He puzzled over where it might have come from. Suddenly, he caught sight of the engraved text. He asked one of the children, Gopal, to get his glasses. Hurriedly putting them on, he read the text, which was in Sanskrit, and let out an audible gasp.
Then, he asked to be left alone, and in solitude, he gently lifted the casket and pulled out a small key that was glued to the bottom. With shaking hands, he opened the lock and, on seeing what was inside, let out a cry and clasped his hands together in prayer.
Later in the day, he carried the box to their small store room, had the room emptied of all its contents, and placing the casket in the room, locked it and hung the key from a string around his neck. Seema complained bitterly about his using their only store room for something they didn’t so much as know about, but soon realised that her words were falling on unheeding ears.
Despite repeated enquiries, complaints and pleading from Prakash, Seema and the children, Santlal refused to divulge the contents of the casket. The only information Prakash managed to prise out of the old man, in a state of intoxication, was that the engraved text on the casket was the name of a famous saint, and that he, Santlal, had been entrusted with some monumental “responsibility”.
Prakash assumed from this that the casket contained something of great value. He was a blacksmith, and business wasn’t going well. For years, they hadn’t bought any new clothes, or utensils. Being thus deprived, when he saw the promise of what seemed like imminent wealth, he lost all humanity. Greed took over all this rational, human feelings, and through the green haze of greed, he saw only his own selfish interests. His wife, too, shared his passion for wealth and a good life, but she wasn’t overpowered by her demons in the way he was.
He realised that he would only get to see the contents of the casket when the old man died. And so, he waited.
Four Months Later
In the middle of the night, Ravi, Prakash’s eldest son, was awakened when he heard Santlal call out to him in a feeble voice. Startled, he dashed up to the old man.
“What happened, dadaji?” he asked.
“Call P-Prakash,” the old man gasped, out of breath.
Hearing this, Ravi quickly ran into the second room, where Prakash and Seema were sleeping. He roughly shook Prakash awake and relayed the news to him. As soon as Prakash heard the news, his face first showed stunned disbelief, which quickly transformed into an inhuman delight.
He quickly woke Seema up and together they went to Santlal’s room, which he shared with the children. They asked the children to go into the other room, telling them that their grandfather was very ill. Then, they crouched down on either side of Santlal.
“P...Prakash...,” the old man wheezed.
“Yes, father. I’m here,” he replied and held his father’s hand in a semblance of concern.
“My time is...is up, Prakash, and--,” the old man paused for breath, and then continued, “I want you to...”
“Here,” he whispered finally, unable to continue, and pointed to the keys hanging around his neck on a string.
As soon as he said that, Prakash, ever the obedient son, jumped up and pulled the string off, as Santlal looked on in disbelief. Then, holding the coveted keys in his hand, he asked Seema to stay by his father’s side and himself went off to unlock the casket.
Reaching the door to the store room, he opened the lock with the key and entered inside. Then, crouching low, he tried the second key in the padlock on the casket. It fit perfectly. He turned the key, and the lock snapped open.
Prakash removed the lock and sat still for a moment, wondering for the umpteenth time what he’d find inside. Gold coins, probably, he thought. He felt an involuntary shiver course through him as he realised how close he was to vast wealth, for the first time in his life.
Then, with trepidation, he threw the lid open. At that moment, two cries of shock were heard in the house.
The first was from Seema, who’d just realised that the old man was no more with them—his eyes had closed, his breathing ceased, and his pulse vanished.
The second cry came from Prakash, who now sat in front of the casket, staring at the lone object inside it with uncomprehending shock.
Seema ran over to the room, saying, “Your father just passed away.”
As soon as she saw the open casket, she tensed. When she saw the object in the casket, her brows furrowed in shock. Whatever they had expected, it hadn’t been this. But, she realised, it perfectly explained everything.
She started, “What is—“
Suddenly Prakash thundered, “What the hell!” and held up the small clay figurine of Lord Ganesha, which was the only thing in the casket.
Despite being shocked, Seema started to protest, not wanting Prakash to manhandle the figure of a deity. Prakash stormed out of the room, pushing her roughly to one side, and headed straight for the main door.
Opening the door, he hurled the figurine as far away as he could. It crashed into a tree fifty metres away, and fell to the ground. Prakash cursed his luck and then hurried back inside.
Kamal, the neighbour’s seven-year old son, stood quietly at the entrance to their house and observed what was going on. It was five in the morning, and he had woken up early. He was surprised when he heard the hubbub in the house, after which Prakash threw something out with great fury. He could hear Prakash shouting to his wife, “I can’t believe he kept that useless statue in that box all this time! If he was alive, I would kill him with my own hands right this moment! Can you imagine...”
Kamal had heard enough to know what was going on. Everybody in the village knew about the mysterious casket, despite Prakash’s desperate efforts to keep it a secret. Having heard what he did, he was in no doubt that Santlal had died, and Prakash had opened the casket, only to be disappointed.
He wondered whether he should go in, wake up his mother, and tell her about it. But then, feeling curious as to what the “useless statue” was, he quietly walked towards the tree against which it had crashed. Reaching it, he looked around but saw no trace of the statue.
Suddenly, something glinted to his right. He turned and walked that way. Reaching that object that had caught his attention, he bent down to examine it. It seemed to be a Ganesha figurine. It was made of clay, but the clay had broken off in some places, and in those places he could see a shiny glass-like surface which had glinted in the early light.
He picked it up and looked at it closely. He had never seen anything like it before. It seemed to be composed of a million small shards of glass, each of which reflected the light in a different direction. It was utterly beautiful.
He scraped off the remaining bits of clay with a small stone and began walking towards his house. By the time he reached his house, he had scraped off every last bit of clay, and now he held in his hand a Ganesha statue made of an incredible substance.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of an approaching bicycle and turned around. It was Moolchand, the village jeweller. Wanting to show him his magnificent find, he walked towards the approaching man.
As Moolchand came closer, his eyes widened in shock. Just before stopping in front of Kamal, he lost his balance and fell off his cycle. He quickly got up, and walked towards the boy.
Kamal was laughing, having seen the plump man fall.
“W-w-where did y-you find that?” Moolchand stammered.
Kamal looked at him curiously and said, “Why do you care?”
Moolchand stared at the figurine, his eyes wide.
Kamal felt uneasy. He asked, “Why are you staring at it?”
“It’s d-diamond,” the jeweller replied, beginning to shake.
“What’s that?” Kamal asked, now very frightened. He was afraid he’d picked up something dangerous.
After a long while, Moolchand composed himself and announced solemnly, “You’ll be rich, son. You’ll be a king.”