“Wow Shrey look!! The view from top here is sooo beautiful! I’ll capture it for you on camera to admire it later. You please concentrate on the uphill road for now“, said Malini while appreciating the beautiful tall trees and small lakes from 3500 feet above sea level. Malini and Shreyas were on their way to a hill station for a short stay.
“Yes Malu, I’m trying to concentrate on the roads here, but please try not to alarm me with every turn we take. Plus, I’m starting to have a slight headache now“, said Shreyas as he tried to focus on the curvy roads amongst his wife’s cheerful squeals. They were still a 3-hour drive away from their hotel and the sun had start to set. The cold weather and fog only added to his distress.
“Ouch! What happened??”, bawled Malini while their car came to an abrupt stop and her head almost hit the windshield.
“I don’t know. The car just stopped!“, said Shreyas while rolling down the window and inspecting the surroundings with his eyes. He pushed the “Start” button but the engine just wouldn’t kick off. After badgering the ignition switch multiple times, Shreyas and Malini realized they would need a mechanic for the car to get going again.
Shreyas called up a distant relative (his uncle) who lived at a distance and was familiar with the area and whom they had decided to visit on their way back home. Shreyas was very fond of his uncle as a child but hadn’t seen him in a decade. His uncle, a very old man now, advised them to look around for a mechanic or a local resident as there wasn’t much he could do to help them. “But son, you might have to walk upwards a little, as perhaps that area isn’t well inhabited yet.“, said a worried uncle from the other side of the phone.
The fog was getting denser and Shreyas decided to move their car away from the main road and as advised by his uncle, look for local residents around. However, the two of them couldn’t move the car an inch ahead and Shreyas was starting to feel his headaches intensify. Malini suddenly saw an old man come out of the fog and rushed towards him for help. They explained their situation, and he readily offered to help. The old man and Shreyas pushed the car to get it down the main road while Malini took the steering for direction. They were surprised to see that even at this age, how fit their Samaritan was.
Once they successfully got the car off the main road, the old man guided Shreyas and Malini to a hotel which was just 10 feet away from where their car had broken down. They were shocked to have not noticed something this big that stood there the whole time! The fog was to be blamed after all. Their Good Samaritan who owned a tea stall nearby, asked them to spend the night at the hotel and assured them to get their car fixed in the night or by early in the morning. They instantly trusted him and checked into the hotel.
Tired from the 6-hour drive from home and the troubled last hour, they decided to go to bed after they wolfed down a plate of kadi-khichdi. Shreyas quickly slipped into a deep sleep with loud snores that could be heard next door. Thank God Malini was a deep sleeper and couldn’t be woken up easily, or their 5 years of marriage would have definitely been affected by Shreyas’s thundering snores.
It was around mid-night when Malini felt a hand grab her nape firmly, forcing her to sit up. Before she could realize whether it was all a dream or reality, she opened her sleepy eyes and found herself sitting in the bed. Scared and confused she looked around but found no one to be there. Her eyes then fell upon Shreyas and saw him shiver profusely.
Concerned, Malini asked, “Are you ok Shrey? Why are you shivering so much?” She saw his lips move but couldn’t hear any words coming out. Worried, she moved her ear closer to his lips to listen clearer.
“I…I am cold.“, came a feeble whisper from Shreyas. Malini hurriedly pulled her blanket off to cover Shreyas and then stood up to get the extra blankets from the hotel’s rusted cupboard. Half n hour and 4 blankets later, Shreyas’s shivering had only intensified. His forehead was getting hotter and Malini regretted forgetting their medicine kit home.
“Honey, I’ll get somebody for help. You stay here“, Malini had finally decided to get help from the hotel staff leaving Shreyas in the hotel room. However, the lone receptionist informed Malini that they were short on staff that night but there was a small hospital at a distance of approximately 2 KM. Upon asking for a transport, she was disappointed to know that the hotel didn’t have any transportation facilities. She had no other option but to try her luck on their car which had broken down 4 hours ago.
With difficulty, she managed to get Shreyas down and into the car. She got into the driver’s seat and after a moment’s prayer, pushed the ignition button. The engine made that starting sound she was hoping for. “Thank god! God bless our Good Samaritan. He must have fixed the car as promised.“, Malini heaved a sigh of relief. Battling the fog, they reached the hospital in the next 20 minutes. Shreyas was admitted for a high fever but his recovery rate was pretty impressive. He was advised to rest as the fever had brought along a lot of weakness. They agreed upon cancelling their trip further as Shreyas had no energy left to battle the cold, plus there were no more hospitals up in the mountains. They however decided to visit Shreyas’s old uncle on their way back home.
As they reached the hotel the next morning to collect their luggage, they looked around for the old Samaritan and his tea stall to thank and pay him for fixing their car. Strangely enough, they couldn’t spot the tea stall. They inquired about him at the hotel reception but the hotel staff had no idea about which old man were Malini and Shreyas talking about. As they wanted to get home soon enough, they didn’t think of it much, and left an envelope with some cash and a thank you note for their Good Samaritan and asked the receptionist to give it to him, in case he came around asking for them.
“Welcome home children! Oh it’s been so long since I saw you beta!“, said Shreyas’s uncle while opening the door for them. One could easily tell how overjoyed he was upon seeing Shreyas and his wife at his door step. They hugged and exchanged greetings while entering uncle’s house.
“Shreyas!!!“, said Malini in an alarmed tone, while pointing towards a picture that hung on the wall opposite to the main door. With a clouded mind and a weak voice, Shreyas asked his uncle who the man in the picture was?
“Oh him. He’s my guru. He has been our guru since the past 7 generations now.“, explained his uncle.
“G…Guru??“, that’s all Shreyas could manage to mumble.
“Yes yes. Well honestly, he’s all I’ve got now. I keep talking to his picture about everything; and his books and teachings are getting me through life. In fact, I even prayed to him to help you guys when you were stuck in between no where yesterday. Like I said, that area hasn’t been well inhabited yet, so I was very surprised when you informed me that you found a hotel there. I am well aware of the mountains and had never heard about any such residence there. But well, it’s good you guys returned safely. Come, sit sit.”, uncle gleamed while talking about his master as he sat down in his rocking chair.
Malini and Shreyas froze for a while. They stood there baffled, staring at each other, trying to grasp in the reality. It was their Good Old Samaritan who was smiling at them, across the hall through a framed picture.
Their minds were fogged with various thoughts –
“Was it uncle’s Guru who helped us push the car aside?”
“Was it him who woke Malini, a deep sleeper up in a blink?”
“Did he fix our car so Shreyas could reach hospital in time?”
“Did the hotel and the hospital actually exist in the mountains??”
“Was it a foggy night or a foggy mind???”
Whenever Malini talks about that day, she always starts with: “Magic, I have seen it happen!“