It is easy to be prejudiced by names, people's backgrounds or the looks. Things can turn miraculously even when the odds are against you.
What kind of adjectives would you associate with a place of iron ore mines?
A rough landscape with barren lands, dreary surroundings and uninhabitable as a whole? Donimalai is one such place with National Mineral Development Corporation mines except that it qualifies for more venerable descriptions. Situated around 100 km from Bellary and near Toranagal (where Jindal Vijayanagar Steel Plant is located), Donimalai (malai is hill in Kannada) is pure pleasure for the sight!
A serene lake winds up almost the entire distance, playing hide and seek among a pile of mountains that were alternated by green clad tops and metallic brown peaks – a setting that arrests your thought even if the leading red-sand road is uneven. Recent rains and a fertile soil brought with them thick vegetation and a pleasant feel of peace, a wonderful getaway!
Donimalai is where my family and I, along with a couple, were headed for taking part in the rare culmination of a Pooja. It was happening at a relative’s place in the NMDC Township. Traveling from Hyderabad, we had to change trains at Guntakal to reach Toranagal.
As my journeys on train would have it, this one also was jinxed! Call it carelessness or quirks of fate or mindless attribution of abstract cause to random events, this journey also resulted in my losing something of material value. Three phones and a wallet seemed heights, not to mention the accompanying pain of losing contacts, cards, cash and cool time.
Around 3.30 am we got down at Guntakal for catching the connecting train. Having to break one’s sleep is bad enough, but to carry two kids and their tantrums along at such an hour was like saying ‘give me more’! We waited on the seats at the platform and there was mercy! The next train was to arrive on the adjoining platform, so at least no foot-bridge business.
And when the train arrived, we found that the coach S1 was not on the engine side as informed by a porter but on the tail side! Pulling, puffing we ran the stretch and could make it in time. The further journey was uneventful, but the destination undoubtedly was. As the train reached Toranagal, it dawned outside; and in our minds too, when we realized that my wife’s hand-bag was left behind on the seat at Guntakal platform!
There was hope as the phones left inside that bag were ringing! Rushing to Toranagal Station Master seeking help, weighing options of one of us going back to Guntakal, frantic calls to reach Guntakal RPF happened in the next half-an-hour while my phones continued to ring!
When the RPF search party ultimately returned, I was told that there is no such bag available on the platform and that all vendors have been questioned; other passengers seemed to carry their own bags and some advice received on how to take care of valuables!
Just after the final call with RPF was over, my phones stopped ringing! Along with the rings, any remaining hope also faded. Suspicion took the place of hope – was the RPF guy in the hold of the bag and lying?
Mindless attribution of abstract causes to random events!
Prayers and Calls
Mind was no longer absorbed by the scenic beauty of nature, but cursed into making calls to the banks to block the cards. While I got ready to participate in the Pooja, my friends were busy trying continuously to call the lost phones. Message was now loud and clear – switched off.
While I had given up any hope whatsoever, my friend continued calling. After a while, suddenly one of the phones rang!! Has the ‘hope-against-hope’ started working at last? He immediately followed by texting a message to that phone – ‘we are in bad need of the phones. Kindly respond and return the bag with contents. We will take care of you’.
Meanwhile Pooja was entering the final stage where one says the prayers and offers flowers for God to accept and bless. I suggested that we pray to God once and try calling after that. My friends complied and persisted the calls soon after.
Wouldn’t you call it Divine Intervention when the phone was answered 7 hours after it was lost and when it was switched off for nearly 4 hours of that period!
But come on, haven’t we heard of people who found lost phones but pestered the owners on call without really returning the phone? So does this man want a price in return for the valuables? We were of course prepared for it. The man identified himself as ‘Saidulu’ and spoke in Hindi. He said he had waited at the platform until 7 am, but having not found anyone carried the bag with himself to Dharmavaram. We took his phone no. and agreed with him that we will visit in person to collect the bag.
There were too many questions –
Why didn’t he answer the calls before?
Why didn’t he handover the bag to RPF or Station Master?
Why did he switch off the phone for some time?
Did he change his mind?
Was he unable to find a buyer?
Why did he ask for us to come in person to collect, when we suggested that we will send someone trustworthy?
We thought of plausible answers that will explain, but somehow my mind was not convinced that we will get the bag back. May be not with entire contents; may be at a very high price; maybe he will change his mind again and just switch his phone off. But one thing was sure; it was indeed some cosmic force that answered our prayers.
We cut the Donimalai visit short to hurry for the Dharmavaram journey. One more call to Saidulu to confirm the journey, agree on the place to meet and approximate time. An improper lunch, a heavy downpour, bad roads, a young-kid for a taxi driver and a journey to recoup lost items – ominous signs, my mind was still ill at ease, why couldn’t I trust God completely? Whether things go well or not, we were to catch a 7.45 pm train at Dharmavaram for Hyderabad.
Ominous signs & a rare astronomical event!
As the September penultimate-full moon started rising in the sky, we saw a very bright star near the moon, in fact the only one that appeared at that time! It was actually the planet Jupiter which is believed to have come very close to Earth on the dates leading to the full moon – a once in our lifetimes occurrence!! Where was all this leading us to?
Made one last call at 6.30 pm to Saidulu after crossing Anantapur to say that we were heading in his direction to meet at the place he suggested, called ‘Kadiri Gate’. It was actually a railway crossing en route Dharmavaram.
As the headlights shone upon the railway crossing sign board, we almost simultaneously spotted our most-anticipated date – a young short chap in ordinary jeans and shirt with a lady’s hand-bag on his shoulder. We stopped and almost ran to him.
Saidulu was so unassuming, shy and sincere that I felt ashamed for having cast aspersions on his character. He just gave away the bag with such modesty that my own prided humility had to take a bow. The bag was intact to the point of being untouched, undisturbed – just cared for!
He had seen people eyeing the bag with no lady anywhere in sight. To ensure that it didn’t fall into wrong hands he had taken it with himself. In his presence, all my questions had lost meaning. A small token to express my gratitude was met with such a blush that he almost refused. It took some push to make him accept it.
There can be any number of explanations for the way Saidulu acted – he may have himself come under suspicion for carrying a lady’s hand bag, so perhaps he had to hide it until he reached his town. Or perhaps he had to silence the phones until he could properly explain. But there is not a remotest reason to doubt his character or original intentions. Replace Saidulu with any light-fingered gentry and it would have been a much shorter ‘don’t-be-careless’ story.
But here was an act of goodness, even if rare, that ensured that the trust in fellow humans is not shaken for a change; a demonstration of goodness that re-assured faith in faith itself! What would you call that goodness which drives humans to act selflessly in the universally most-acceptable manner keeping the well-being of fellow humans in mind? I would call it God… isn’t He after all human?
© 2020 Seek Inwards Yogi