Brahma, the creator. His one day equals our one million years. Brahma’s one cycle- Kalpa- equals our one thousand cycles. But each Kalpa begins with a day of healing and wholeness. That one day, Dhanvantri, the first healer of creation, blesses everyone with a panacea. It is called Kalpataru day: the day when impossible can be asked for- and received.
The child got up from the bed and prayed fervently- even before he looked at the toys and his personal play station in the corner. Yes, he did it every day. He prayed with the fervor of a dying man- and the faith of a prophet. Yet, he prayed not for devotion or salvation. He just prayed for his tongue to be freed. Yes, sometimes it worked – like greased lightening- and sometime, oh.. how to explain..
Sometime it just dug its heels in like the village donkey and moved no further, try what he may. The tongue had a mind of its own and no one knew it. The child certainly had no clue- how his tongue would behave in the class on a particular day. Not knowing was even worse.
Vishnu one day, got totally fed up, with the prayers of the child. People ask for Gyan, divine love, discrimination, eternal life, even progeny, fame, riches, long life.. but this insistent prayer- Lord, fix my tongue- was not only unusual, but demeaning too.
“ Am I good for nothing else but straightening people’s crooked tongues? I mean, how do people get these ideas? Imagine, asking me to fix their tongue!” Vishnu thought with some irritation. Finally, he relented and appeared to the child. The child tried to explain his problem but was increasingly getting stuck at ‘T’ ‘D’ ‘P’ and ‘B’ sounds. The only sounds he was able to make were- Um, er, uh, well. Vishnu got hold of his wandering mind and tried to re-focus. Gradually he began to understand the struggle, the child was undergoing. He said, finally: "Okay. Don’t worry. Tomorrow is the Kalpataru Day- the first day of the next cycle. Go and see Dhanvantri!”
Dhanvantri was supremely busy. It was that one day in the entire cycle when he worked extremely hard: no intermediaries, no second opinions, no referrals and no googling. He would just take spot decisions and tell people then & there, what to do for their problems of body and mind. The crowds were unimaginable. A crowd management team was working non-stop and unobtrusively. Children, elderly and women were being given priority. A huge crowd was sprawling on the front lawns, eating popcorn and waiting for their turn. It was like famous pashu mela of Kurukshetra.
Every now and then, Dhanvantri will raise his head from his desk and shout to his volunteers: "Any sign of the child? Send him straight in". But there was no sign of the child... Where was the child?
The child started the day with a breakfast in bed- it was a beautiful day, as seen from his bedside window: auburn east sky, finches and seven sisters singing beneath his window and a lightness in the air, he had never felt earlier: something unusual is going to happen today, the child thought as he decided to go to loo and wash up. Then, he decided to finish off the story he was reading to bed last night. Just two pages were left; why not finish it off- he thought. Yes, he has to go and see Dhanvantri, but the Kalpataru day lasts the whole day- yes, till the sunset. In any case there is a huge waiting line- visible from his window. Instead of waiting out there, he might as well wait here, in his bed. Who could grudge a child enjoying a little story in his bed on day one of the Kalpa?
At the end of the story book, he discovered with some surprise- there was a free ticket to be redeemed. You just had to fill a crossword puzzle and send it off by post: you would get gift hampers worth Rs one thousand. Now, who wouldn’t want that? And if you are a child, solving puzzles comes naturally to you..
Finally when he got up to get ready, he discovered that he had to put in a new pair of shoe laces in his shoes! What a misery! Why do things have to go wrong, when you are in a hurry?
The crowd milling in front of Dhanvantri’s clinic had thinned out to a mere trickle now, late in the golden hues of afternoon. Yet, no sign of the child. Dhanvantri recalled the unexpected call from Vishnu, rather late, last night: I am sending a child tomorrow. Special case. After Dhruva & Prahlad, I have seen such fervour for the first time. Amazing...
The child was still struggling with his shoe laces, then, his other gadgets- the pocket rabbit, without which he never left home and…
At the end of the day, as the sun was about to set- the intercom in the clinic budged: Sir, the child is here. But time is up. Shall we send him in?
Dhanvantri almost shouted: Yess. For God’s sake!
The child walked in, half expecting a rousing welcome. The old man sitting across the huge table narrowed his eyes and kept looking at him and- at his watch. After full one minute, the old man spoke:
"The way Vishnu talked, I thought it was some very very serious problem."
"I-I- it is my Lord."
"Hmm. Dont think it is. If it were you would be here well in time-" Dhanvantri’s nostrils flared with impatience and repressed anger. His face was like dark sky in the month of Ashadh.
"S-sir, I tried. I was extremely busy since morning. As soon as I was free, I ran.. " The child continued bravely, even if a little inaccurately.
Dhanvantri got up and pronounced as he walked away: "Time is up. All I can grant is a kind of magic - neither the world, nor you will ever think of it as a problem. It will remain a private game of daily hope and daily surrender between you and your tongue. No one will ever understand it. It will remain like a.. like a.. puzzle, you are so fond of solving- to the end of the days on this earth. No solution – just a little magic, that is all I can offer now.."
"But I came for a cure.." Child interjected hurriedly.
"Sorry. No disease, no cure. Just a puzzle". – that was the final answer as Dhanvantri floated behind thick curtains, beyond the reach of mere mortals.
The facility could not be closed down as long as a single mortal remained inside. Angels from maintenance department hovered around uneasily. But the sobbing child was rooted to the ground, his face buried in his arms, his rabbit lying next to him... Who could ask him to leave?
Days passed. When the sun goes on the southerly journey, everything goes to sleep for six months. Even Gods go to sleep. But the clinic staff was still in quandary: how to shut down the clinic with the child still inside? Finally the Angel in charge phoned Dhanvantri: "Sir, we cant close up the clinic. That last child refuses to leave. What shall we do?"
“WHAT! That child is still there? You mean, last six months he has stayed in my clinic?” Dhanvantri rubbed his eyes in disbelief and shot up from his water bed, next to his private Jacuzzi. He knew desperate people could come up with desperate acts- but this was madness: six months in that one place? He will have to do something soon, else there will be questions. All kind of questions from ethics committee...
(End of part 1: Let TISA know, if you wish to read the second and final part and what you expect in it... )