Continued from Part 1
Leela went to Chandraprakash and asked, ‘Who are you?’
Chandraprakash was silent. He wanted to establish his identity in the village as a spiritual person. Leela did not get any reply.
After that day, Leela visited Chandraprakash everyday. She believed that he was a powerful sadhu and started praying to him. She left him some food everyday. How else would he feed himself if he meditated all day?
Humans have the strong urge to build coincidences out of unrelated incidents. No sooner did Leela start praying the hermit, Leela came to know she was pregnant. Leela was overjoyed. She went to the village and told to everybody, ‘The Sadhu who is in the Shiva temple is very powerful. He will fulfill all your desires.’ and the rumor spread.
Slowly, the people from the village lined up to see the Sadhu and take his blessings. The Sadhu never spoke. He heard everything and nodded his head. As per his worshippers, the viboodhi which he gave made everybodys’ wishes come true. People called him Saint Homibaba.
Saint Homibaba’s fame spread to nearby villages. A few rich people from those villages got Homibaba’s blessings and rose to positions of power. Saint Homibaba’s empire spread. He got more money than he could ever dream. Everything went well, until the night of the wretched dream.
Saint Homibaba was sitting beneath a tree. That day was an unusual day. Nobody came to visit him and seek his blessings. These were void blessings, which people believed had the power to change destiny. He saw someone walking towards him. As the stranger approached, he saw a man of great valor and courage. He was bedecked in jewels and wore a tunic.
He said to Saint Homibaba, ‘I am Raja Chandrachur Singh. I built the Shiva temple which serves as your humble abode. I have waited long for someone selfless like you, to come along and relieve me of these earthly shackles. During the war with the Britishers, I hid all the jewels and thousand tonnes of gold under the temple’
Saint Homibaba’s eyes shone with excitement. The gold was the ticket for unparalleled fame and wealth. He asked Raja Chandrachur Singh,’ Where is the gold buried?’
The Raja took him inside the temple and showed him a marked spot on the ground. The Raja told him, ‘Use this gold for philanthropic activities and release me from this world.’ The Raja disappeared after saying these words.
Next morning Saint Homibaba, summoned the villagers. Everybody came and stood around him. They thought, ‘Saint Homibaba has called. It must be something important’. To the surprise of the villagers Saint Homibaba spoke. He stood on a pedestal, and his saffron robes fluttered in the soft breeze. He overlooked the villagers, as though they were his children. His loud voice silenced the murmers of the villagers. ‘I saw Raja Chandrachur Singh in my dream. He told me about the hidden gold beneath the Shiva temple. All that gold is yours. Let’s dig it up’.
The villagers were elated. They came with spears and spades to dig the spot, which had the hidden gold. The clangs of the metallic rod on the stone reverberated in and around the temple. The neighboring villages came to know about it. They also arrived by the truckload to partake the gold. It was a mad frenzy. People camped day in and day out, dug and dug until their arms were worn out and the brown earth covered their body like a layer of paint. They dug the temple and also the surrounding land. The digging continued for about two weeks, but they did not find any gold. They found a few scraps of unworthy metal. The villagers were disappointed and returned to their homes. They understood that they acted foolishly based on Saint Homibaba’s dream. They wanted to challenge him. Saint Homibaba was nowhere to be found.
Two days after the villagers started digging the Shiva temple for gold, Saint Homibaba aka Chandraprakash had another dream.
He saw Raja Chandrachur Singh. He asked Chandraprakash, ‘Did you find the gold?’
‘Not yet. We should find it soon.’
‘Where are you digging?’
Chandraprakash took him to a location inside the temple and showed it to him.
The Raja said, ‘Oh! It is’nt here.’
‘But, you told me to dig here’
‘Here or there god knows where.
I am your wife whom you left without a care
In the disguise of the king
Now hear me sing
You are a lazy young fellow
Acting graceful and mellow
Now let us hear the crowd bellow
Let the angry lot
Kick you a lot’
Raja Chandrachur Singh sang, danced, laughed and cried, all at the same time. As he did that, he transformed into Chandraprakash’s wife.
Chandraprakash woke with a start, gathered his wealth and left the village, fearing a backlash from the villagers. The past came to haunt him in inexplicable ways and ruined his present life.
The Shiva temple where the digging took place
This story is a work of fiction inspired from the gold hunt incident in Uttar Pradesh.