Janardan was a prankster from childhood but he was a good lad and took care not to hurt anyone by his actions. His peers liked his pranks, adults were not always amused, teachers were sometimes annoyed but knowing that he had a good heart did not punish him.
He grew up, finished college, got a job with a bank and married his wife Lakshmi. She was an excellent homemaker, but did not produce any children. They had a cat, owned the apartment in which they lived, but did not own much else of value.
Janardan suddenly fell ill and went on getting worse till his life was in danger. He prayed for help, “God, please spare my life. I will give everything I have for some good work if you heal me.” The prayer was heard and he began to feel better. Both husband and wife were happy.
Then the thought of his big pledge began to bother Janardan. He realized that he had made a mistake and would probably have to sell the house. This dilemma fully occupied him day and night. Then his prankster mind woke up and flashed a clever solution. He put up a sign announcing that his house was on sale.
On the appointed day and time many prospective buyers gathered outside his door. Janardan made a short speech: “Gentlemen and ladies, welcome. A house and a cat are being offered. The price of the house is One Rupee, and cat goes for Rupees 100,000. You have to buy both. Do not try to bargain or ask any questions. The offer is non-negotiable.”
People were puzzled. They could not think why the house was so cheap and the cat so expensive. After a few long moments of quiet a man spoke to declare that he would buy the house and the cat at the quoted price. Janardan agreed and the business was over. In a few days money was paid and the house occupied. The new owner had no use for the cat so he shewed her out.
Janardan went to the temple, bowed low before Lord Venkateshwa and put a single one-rupee coin in the puja tray. With folded hands he said, “Lord I promised the sale proceeds of he house. Here it is, sir.” The Lord appeared benevolently to smile; or that is what Janardan thought.
In a few days all was forgotten. Janaran bought a new house, Lakshmi set it up nicely and the couple began their new life in it. One day a strong earthquake toppled the house together with many others. Lakshmi was out of town but Janardan was buried in the rubble.
He was alive but badly injured and unable to move. For two days no one came to rescue him. He thought he would be forgotten and soon die. A few hours passed and he heard a meow and some fur rubbing against his arm. The old cat had found him. She eventually led the rescuers to Janardan and saved his life.
Janardan folded his hands to God and said, “Lord, your justice is infallible. I cheated you of the house and it has gone to you. Since I degraded it by putting low value on it, I cannot even complain. On the cat I put high value and by saving my life she has upped it far above what I got for her. Everything is back in place and thank you for your understanding and indulgence.”
May 12, 2007