KHASIM saw the folded hands of the old man and heard his last words. He was struck with wonder and he remembered the great saint Mastan of Guntur. He looked at Anasuya Devi and thought thus:
Did the same Mastan come in this form? It is said that when Mustan threw a looking glass, it formed a kind of telescope. Simi larly, her footsteps are our guides now”. Then Khasim thought:
“Give me courage, mother what shall I do with this old man and his grand son? Even though you are a girl, you are more courageous than elderly persons –
Then Khasim had a mental conflict. For a moment he had thought She was no other than Mastanaiah. Again he felt she was only a girl. As he was musing, Devi said: “What are you thinking of. Khasim? We got stuck up here. Let us finish the work on hand, whether we have courage or not.”
Thus, she just referred to the thoughts of Khasim, even before they were expressed. With another shock Khasim said: “You are speaking of ‘courage’. This is what I had in my mind, which I never expressed to 1011 —
“I didn’t say it because “you had thought of it. I said because it occured to me. But let us finish this work. I shall bury the boy and you can bury the oldman. Ofcourse I shall also put a little of dust on the old man…” so saying, she poured a handful of dust on the oldman and said:
“Let us go together to see the boy now”.
As they neared the boy, Khasim felt that the boy was in a cradle, being rocked by a housewife. Khasim was again surprised at it.
Is this boy already born, or is he going to be born at such a place, Devi?” Khasim said.
“At which place?”
“At the place which I have seen,” Khasim replied. It?”
“That is not seen by me. Even otherwise. how can I know
“I don’t know! You are doing so many things.” As though she has not heard it, Devi said:
“Bring the spade and bury him”.
“You do it, Devi,” begged Khasim.
“Can a small girl do such a thing?” Devi said with all nnocence.
“How have you done all these things? Can children do such things?”
“Now I learn that they shouldn’t be done,” replied Devi.
“Are you angry with me Devi? I just said it for fun.”
He poured a shovelful of dust there and looked back. Devi was not there. Then he found her already standing on the road. There was not enough time for her to walk that distance. He wondered how she could reach that place so quickly. Then he approached her and began to stare at her.
“Shall we go home?” said Devi innocently as though nothing had happened.
“Let me bury the old man,” said Khasim.
“What! Can you do it with courage, all alone, without me?”
“Yes. I can do it for any number……… provided, I have your grace,” Khasim replied softly.
Why do you speak of my grace? The time has come for you
to gain courage.”
“Just to instil courage in me, you deserted me in this work Devi,” Khasim said a Telugu saying about one who deserted another in the hour of need. Then Devi explained
What is the source of your courage? Courage will come of its own accord when there is no other help or support. Lack of courage itself is the source of courage. I shall sit here and you can go and finish the other thing also.” The streaks of light on the Eastern horizon announce the day.
It is already sun rise and people liegin to go about on their work. I shall finish that work so that we can go soon,” said Khasim.
There’s someone in that field. You call him and give him
some money, and ask him to bury this body completely,” suggested
I have only a rupee and a half with me. I wonder whether he would do it even for two rupees. Moreover, why should he know about this?”
“It doesn’t matter. Call him……..
As Khasim, shouted, a farmer approached them. As he was approaching, Devi cautioned Khasim-
“He is a ryot. Don’t ask him to do this work. Ask him to get this work done by somebody else.”
“Yes, Devi. You are fit to be a Karnam for the village,” Khasim said and smiled.
“I shall do it any way.”
“How can you do it? Your brother is there.”
“I won’t be called a Karnam’ but I shall do his duties,” Devi replied.
“You do it Devi and let Rangamma’s children live for a long time.”
Then the farmer came to them. He was no other that Degala Kotaiah, who was already known to Khasim.
“This girl had no food even last night, and it is getting late Please help me by getting this dead body buried. It is an old now. man who passed away last night.”
Khasim was giving a rupee to that farmer when Devi asked
him to give him another half a rupee also.
The farmer refused to take that money.
Devi said: “Please take it as I have a duty to get him buried. Ofcourse I don’t have anything. The old man is just like you for me.”
“Do you mean that my fate is also the same?” asked the
“No, child, I mean I have the same affection for both. With this money get something done in his name,” Lovi suggested. Then he took the amount and patted her. After a while, the farmer ran to them and gave a four anna pie e to Khasim. He asked him to buy something for the girl on the way.
No. I shall do whatever I feel with it. I may do what you Fave done with it” said Devi.
The farmer felt some ineffable bliss and finished the work given to him. He buried that old man and at the same place. now there is the image of Garuda, the celestial bird, in Sahasralihgalayam.
As Khasim took the girl Devi through the village of Doppala pudi. they saw a seven-year-old girl with a two year girl in her hands. She was crying. Devi jumped down from Khasim’s shoulders, took the four anna piece from Khasim, and gave it to the girl. She had taken off her skirt and gave it to the girl asking her to wear it, Khasim was surprised at it. He was also uneasy as he felt that there should be a limit even for sacrifice.
“You have given away the skirt also! How can you come now without proper clothing?”
“My grandfather might not have taken all my clothes yester. day. He would keep them in a house to which he comes often. You can find out.”
“It is getting late. Let us go.”
“Suppose I gave away this piece of short also, what will you do?” hinted Devi
Let me go and bring them, Devi,” replied Khasim.
Then he went to the house of Kavuri Venkaiah and learnt that her grand father left a bundle of her clothes in that house. Khasim took out a skirt for Devi. Then he felt that she might have given away her short also. Hence he picked up her short and came to Levi. He found her standing there with no clothes on her body. She smiled at him.
You have done as I expected,” Khasim said wondering.
“No, I did what I said. You thought what I have already said. You can say or think of something only when I think of it……’ said Devi clearly.
Khasim could not follow the hidden sublime truth of her statement and said: “Whatever it is, ……
Then she were her clothes and they proceeded to Mannava. As they reached their village, people gathered round them and fondled the girl. All her relatives invited her to their homes and many villagers pitied Rangamma. Nagamma was immensely happy and invited the girl to hor house. For a while she was transfixed with ecstasy.
“Devi. you are like the sun at midday. As we look at that sun we can’t open our eyes. And as we look at you, we can’t close our eyes,” said Nagamma with a great bliss.
As Nagamma was proceeding to her house with Devi on her shoulders, some of Devi’s relatives tried to prevent her. But Devi was firm and refused to go to any other place at the moment. Na gamma was so happy that she took nearly two hours to reach her home for she lost herself again and again in caressing and fondling a child.