A cryptic message from beyond…

6 Sep

Long ago, when I was a little girl, my grandfather had told me a story that left a lasting impression on my mind forever. Though I’ve forgotten most of it now, I still vaguely remember some bits of it. However, since I very clearly remember the message that the story had delivered in the end, I’ve tried to retell the story in my own way, making changes to the original story all along, but finally arriving at the same message. A sort of ‘old wine in a new bottle’, ‘cos I claim no originality whatsoever. My grandfather wouldn’t have been too happy, had be been around, because I’m pretty sure that my new story has little or no similarities to the one that he had narrated. But since the end message was so beautiful, I felt I had to retell & share this life transforming story, so many others could benefit out of it, just as I did. Here I go-

There once was a man- Manas, who was in his mid-thirties, when he was admitted to a city’s top hospital for treatment of his broken leg & multiple deep wounds to his leg. After a month’s treatment and much to Dr. Kanha’s disappointment (the doc who was treating him), he wasn’t responding to any treatment & despite repeated attempts and getting him to walk, he simply couldn’t for he complained of excruciating pain while trying to do so. His wounds weren’t completely healed either & the doctors treating him were at loss. Manas felt, he was ailing from a mysterious disease & that he would never recover. His family was very worried about him and would do just about anything to see him doing fine again.

It all started when, one day Manas, accidentally ran over an injured cat & killed it under his speeding wheels. Soon afterwards, there were misfortunes galore for him. There prevailed a local belief that, misfortune would quickly descend the head that kills a cat, be it knowingly or unknowingly. Manas, who was aware of this tale & who was a believer in both God & demons,  was so overcome with fear and guilt that he began to look forward to his doom, that was to be bought by his careless & callous deed.

As expected by Manas, he soon lost his job with one of the top companies that he was working with. Having lost his job, he was unable to repay the loans that he had taken towards the purchase of a duplex house. His failure to repay his loan, called for an auction of his house. It was when he was immersed in these troubling thoughts on how he invited his doom, with his own hands, rather with his own steering wheel, that he failed to notice a deep pit on the road & when he did, it was too late & no amount of expert maneuvering helped in avoiding his car crash land into the ‘naturally worn & torn’ pit in the road. The speed at which he was traveling only added more impact to his accident, resulting in a broken limb & excruciatingly painful deep cuts on his legs.

His refusal to recover & respond to medications, only made him weaker, sicker & bed ridden.  This made his family increasingly unhappy & depressed. He being sole bread winner of the family, they did not know what to do. They tried every possible ways of making him get back to normal. No amount prayers by the family, seemed to work.  Nothing seemed to help Manas. Manas, on the other hand, had given up all hopes of his recovery. He had got into an abyss of depression & lay crippled. He was just clinically alive.

Then one day, when no one was around & as Manas was in his ward, gazing into distant nothing, a soothsayer came visiting him. He looked like any other normal person on the surface, with no special powers or magic. Introducing himself to Manas, as a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna & as the lord’s messenger, he told him that he understood exactly why Manas was in such a plight. It was because of some grave sin that he had committed in the recent past. He seemed very concerned when he questioned Manas about what that sin was and Manas told him everything about how he happened to kill a cat under his wheels & how that act was famously known as a harbinger of misfortune & invoked ill luck.

The ‘Guru’, which is how Manas respectfully addressed the soothsayer, frowned. He wasn’t very happy on hearing what Manas had done. He nodded in head in utter disappointment, adding more turbulence to the already disturbed mind of Manas. He told Manas that there wasn’t much that could be done about it & that he would have to face the consequences of what he had done. He got up from his seat, walked towards the open french window in the room. There, amidst many other plants, he saw a potted plant, with just two leaves to it. This plant was an unhealthy one.

Potted plant with a hidden message

He gestured to Manas, asking him to take a closer look at that plant in the window. The Guru then  touched the plant & closed his eyes in a meditative way, like as if he was receiving some strange message from the plant. Walking back up to Manas, he told him that with the miraculous power that he possessed, he could sense a strange connection between Manas and this plant. That he had come to know that the plant in the window actually symbolized Manas, in his current plight. With just two remaining leaves on the unhealthy plant , the Guru told Manas, that whatever happens to the  plant, would be what would happen to Manas. If it lives, so would Manas & should it die, the same would be his fate too. Manas now lost every hope because he knew that the plant would definitely not live, because not only did it appear unhealthy, but even its two remaining leaves were lack lustre and worse, a tiny area of rot had already set in on one of the two leaves. Having said thus, the soothsayer asked Manas to await his fate that the plant would unfold for him very soon and asked him to keep faith in the supreme lord. He then left the room without looking back at Manas. Manas, now knew for sure, that in other words, his Guru had indirectly told him that his doom was very close.

Three days passed since the soothsayer had visited Manas. Manas did not discuss this incident with any one of his family members, because he did not want to cause them more distress. Manas observed the plant by the window keenly. The major part of the leaf was now being consumed by rot.  Manas could now feel himself getting weaker & weaker. On the fifth day, the rot infested leaf fell off the plant. That same night, Manas’s  threw up & it was stained with his blood. His health was, no doubt on a down slide. Manas continued to pray & observed the plant everyday, hoping it lives.  He requested his attender to water the plant & his wife to add some manure to plant. She was taken aback, but did not show it to her ailing husband. She did as she was told.  Nothing helped the plant & in turn nothing helped Manas either.

Two days later, Manas saw what he dreaded seeing the most, the lone leaf on the plant by the window sill, was now infested by rot. This time it did not take long for the rot to spread over the entire leaf. The very next day, the rot had covered the major part of the last remaining leaf on the poor plant.  Manas’s condition worsened. His body had become so weak that he was just a bundle of bones covered by skin. That night he collapsed out of extreme ill health. He was put on interveinous drips. Manas wondered how the plant could be such a powerful & an accurate messenger of his fate. He knew that his end was now very, very near. He was certain he would be dead and before the next sun rise.

When Manas woke up the next day, to his utter shock, he found a small, fresh budding leaf in the stem of the plant that he used to watch everyday. He was elated. So overjoyed, was he that he did not know what to do or how to react. He was beginning to feel better. He was starting to feel healthy, like he was blessed with a new lease of life. God had decided to forgive him for the sin that he had unknowingly committed! In the coming days the plant had given birth to three new leaves and all of them sparkling with good health.  Manas’s joy knew no bounds. He was now responding to medicines like never before. His physiotherapist was very happy with Manas, for he showed great signs of improvement. His family was overjoyed too. A month after, he was deemed fit to be discharged and was considered good to go. Manas was a changed man now. He vowed never to speed for one and to never again take any lives in future, even in the name of food. All lives are precious, he had come to realize.

Manas was at the hospital reception, fulfilling some last minute discharge formalities. Dr. Kishan was beaming at the sight of this patient of his, for this doctor had a little secret to keep, a secret that Manas was never destined to know about. Dr. Kishan was very confident of his medical skills and despite his best treatment, when Manas failed to respond to it, he knew then, that the ailment that Manas was suffering from was not in his limb, but in his mind. Dr. Kishan knew very well to never ever underestimate the power that our minds have over our bodies or our physical well being. He understood that Manas’s mind was diseased and that he had to treat it. He succeeded and how! He sent a close friend of his in the guise of a soothsayer to meet Manas. Everything that happened thereafter was what that was perfectly scripted by Dr. Manas. Each day, when Manas was asleep, Dr. Kishan would send his trusted housekeeping staff- Garud, to go spray an oil based insecticide on the plant’s leaf, so that the area on which the insecticide was sprayed, would rot. Later, when the spraying of insecticide stopped, the plant bounced back with life.  Manas, who had genuinely started to believe that he shared his fate with this plant, only played along. Thanks to Dr. Kishan’s well executed plan, Manas was now completely recovered, both physically & mentally. Lost in these thoughts, Dr. Kishan, carelessly scribbled something on a piece of paper , forgot about it and quietly left to attend to a new patient. Before leaving however, and smiling to himself, he took one last look at Manas , who was then walking out of the hospital door with his family, cheerful & laughing at something that seemed like a family’s private joke.

A restless little girl who was waiting with her parents in the reception to see a pediatrician, picked up the note that Dr. Kishan had left behind. Her face lit up on seeing a small image of her favorite Lord Kishna printed on it & on it’s reverse, there was something scribbled illegibly.  She ran back to where her parents were seated & gave the note to her father, who read it, smiled & left it on the reading table in front of him. The illegible scribble read- ‘If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right’- a famous quote by Henry Ford.

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2 Responses to “A cryptic message from beyond…”

  1. Norm September 22, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Henry Ford WAS right. Thank you for the post and also for liking my post, Phillip the Fisherman. Interestingly, one of the greatest American short story writers of all time, O. Henry, wrote a similar story many years ago, entitled, “The Last Leaf”. It has a similar tone to it. If you wish, you may read it here: http://www.online-literature.com/donne/1303/

    • Teju September 22, 2012 at 7:19 am #

      Thanks for the kind words of appreciation. You are right Norm. This story was recollected & written from a very foggy memory of what my grandfather had told me long ago, guess I’ll add that. I always wanted to hear this story the way I had, when my grandfather had narrated it. Thanks a lot for helping me trace it, truly indebted to you. Your blog ‘Extraordinary Expectations’ is really beautiful & i thoroughly enjoyed browsing through it. While I loved ‘Kim & Shawn’s village’, ‘Grief from Afar is still grief’ broke my heart. Glad that i stumbled upon you… :)

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