It was 6 pm The Street was heavily crowded. Cars, buses, auto rickshaws, scooters and bikes jostled for space in the busy junction. Some people were walking on the street. Some of them were busy buying vegetables and fruits. Some people were buying flowers. Others were shopping for garments. Yes, there was “Sukhdev Toys Centre” and children were thronging the shop for buying toys and “Bey Blades”.
On the far-end of the road, the Hanuman Temple was located. It was a famous temple. Devotees thronged the temple on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The place adjoining the temple wore a festive look as Hanuman Jayanthi [the birthday of Lord Hanuman] was around the corner. A few yards away stood Karuna and her mother.
Karuna’s mother worked in households during the day. In the evenings, she and Karuna parked themselves close to the temple and sold handmade toys for children. Of late, the business for Karuna and her mother was dull. Karuna’s mother had planned to sell the masks of Lord Hanuman on Hanuman Jayanthi.
Karuna was studying in class VI. She had a younger brother Gautama who was in the same school – Government High School. He was in Class III. Karuna was a bright student. She loved her mother and brother and helped them in different ways. They lived in a tiny house a few kilometres away from the busy market street. Karuna’s father was a heavy drunkard. The only thing that he had left for them was the small house with a leaky roof. But Karuna loved their home. She loved to play with her brother and neighbourhood children under the lone mango tree in the backyard of their home.
The family had a meagre income every month. It was difficult to make both ends meet. Karuna felt sorry for her mother who had to toil day and night to meet the monthly expenses. Karuna’s mother worked as a part time cook, as a maid servant and also prepared toys for children in the spare time. Karuna felt responsible towards her mother. Since the last 1 year, Karuna has been accompanying her mother to the market in the evenings to sell toys. Karuna would return home from school along with Gautama, finish her homework quickly and get ready to help her mother. Her mother was thankful for Karuna’s gesture.
Since the last 1 month, Karuna had been eyeing the new ice cream parlour that was located diagonally opposite to the temple. “Baskin Robbins” ice cream parlour read the hoarding outside the shop. Karuna would longingly look at the cone ice creams that other children were having in the parlour. The ice creams appeared to be in different colours and different flavours – white, green, pink, brown. Karuna’s mouth would water on seeing those children relishing the ice creams. However, she was uncomfortable asking her mother for buying her an ice cream.
Karuna knew about the difficulties her mother was facing every month for meeting the household requirements. Karuna did not want to burden her mother. Yet, one day she asked her mother, “Amma, will you buy one ice cream for me? Karuna’s mother patted her daughter, embraced her and told her with moistened eyes, “I will, my child. Let us sell Hanuman face masks during Hanuman Jayanthi. From the money that we collect, I will surely buy you an ice cream.”
So, Karuna began waiting for the D-day. The Hanuman facemasks were delivered to them two days before the festival. Unfortunately, Karuna’s mother took ill on the fateful day. But Karuna insisted that she would go and sell these masks near the temple all by herself. With great reluctance, Karuna’s mother agreed. She also told her daughter, “Karuna, you have worked so hard in the last few weeks. From the collection that you receive, help yourself to an ice cream. You deserve it.”
Karuna was delighted. She was going to have an ice cream today. She literally jumped with joy but while leaving for the temple in the evening, Karuna did not miss seeing her mother’s barren hands without any bangles. Her heart sank to see her mother in that state.
The crowd in the temple was modest. May be, most devotees had visited the temple in the morning itself thought Karuna. To her dismay, till 7 pm, Karuna was able to sell only 2 or 3 masks from the lot of 60 masks that she had. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “Oh, Lord Hanuman. Here I am a little girl trying to support my mother. Will you not help me, Lord Hanuman? Why is the crowd so thin? Lord, please help me.” The little girl muttered to herself.
When you pray with faith, even God is moved. Correct? So, the benevolent Lord Hanuman seemed to have listened to the little girl’s prayers. Within a matter of 15 minutes, two tourist buses landed near the temple and within no time, all the face masks were sold out! Karuna was overjoyed.
After placing the money carefully in her purse, Karuna stepped into the ice cream parlour. Suddenly, she remembered Gautama? How could she have an ice cream alone? She could not afford to buy two either. Then she remembered her mother’s barren hands. How could she be so selfish? Karuna felt apologetic. She stepped out of the ice cream parlour.
“Stop, stop,” yelled the salesman at the ice cream parlour.
Karuna turned back. She was frightened. Why was he calling her?
“Stop, you little girl”, signalled the salesman and called her in. Karuna hesitated a bit, then re-entered the shop.
An elderly gentleman was standing there.
“Welcome, young lady. My name is Arvind Kumar. I am the owner of this ice cream parlour. What is your name?”
“My name is Karuna,” said Karuna shyly.
“Well, young lady. Congratulations. You are the 100th visitor to this shop and you get a free gift of a family pack of ice creams. Congratulations.”
“But Sir, I do not have enough money”...muttered Karuna.
“No my child. This is a gift from me. You don’t have to pay. Now, come on, collect this pack and run home and enjoy”.
Karuna kept staring at him. Her eyes sparkled. She accepted the pack and ran out eager to reach home and share the good news with her mother.
“Bangles, bangles, green colour bangles, blue colour bangles” cried the bangle seller near the temple.
Karuna stopped for a while, purchased bangles for her mother. She was excited.
“Thank you Lord Hanuman, thank you so much” she waved her hands at the Lord.
Lord Hanuman seems to acknowledge her thanks....
Thus, Lord Hanuman has helped the little girl fulfil her desire.
Karuna is extremely happy. What about you, my friends?