How Far Velan's Brother was Responsible for Raju's Fasting

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      In the period of drought and famine, a fight took place between Velan and the shopkeeper of Mangala town. The news of this fight was brought to Raju by Velan’s brother, a half-witted young man. He told Raju that Velan had been seriously hurt, along with a large number of people. However, Raju did not want the fight to be prolonged for fear of his own exposure because of the police intervention. It might bring the police on the scene, and he might be recognized. So the danger must be averted. So he told the idiot boy, “Go and tell Velan and others that I don’t want them to fight like this, I will tell them what to do later.” But Velan’s brother was afraid of communicating all the facts about his meeting with Raju. He was afraid of his brother Velan who would not like his meeting and informing the Swami that way. He did not want the people of his locality to know that he had informed the Swami about the fight, because he knew it wood make them angry. So he cooked lies. Velan’s brother said that while he was passing by the Swami, the Swami told him that the Swami would go on a fast as there were no rains, and therefore the villagers need not take food for him.

      And so it all began. The irony is that the cause of Raju’s ultimate martyrdom was the folly of an idiot. The story of the Swami and the fast he was undertaking for their sake spread like wild fire. He was compared to the Mahatma. They said, “This Mangala is a blessed country to have a man like the Swami in our midst. No bad thing will come to us as long as he is with us like Mahatma. When Mahatma Gandhi went without food, now many things happened in India. This is a man like that. If he fasts there will be rain. Out of his love for us he is undertaking it. This will surely bring rain and help us.”

      Upon this Velan and the Headman decided to go to the Mahatma. Velan gave a very clear account of what the saviour was expected to do—stand in knee-deep water, look to the skies, and utter the prayers for two weeks, completely fasting during the period and the rains would come down, provided the man who performed it was a pure soul. The whole countryside was in a happy ferment, because a great soul had agreed to go through the trial. It was as Raju himself who had given them these ideas, and now he was caught in his own trap. “He now saw the enormity of his own creation. He has created a giant with his puny self, a throne of authority with that slab of stone. He left his seat abruptly, as if he had been stung by a wasp and approached Velan. His tone hushed with real humility and fear; his manner was earnest. Velan sat still as if he were a petrified sentry.”

      He pondered over various ways of escaping martyrdom. For a moment he thought of running away from the whole thing. He would go to the city, and there none would pay too much of attention. Someone may recognize him on the way. Then he should stay there and so arrange matters that he would be left alone in the night, so that he might eat something. In this way, he might be able to face the ordeal, and the rains might come in the natural course, sooner or later. He decided to take Velan into confidence, so that he may provide him with eatables and also keep the villagers off.

      So when Velan arrived alone the next night, he took him to the river steps, and began pouring his story into his ears. He began, I am not a saint, pay attention to what I am going to say. I am not a saint, Velan, I’m just an ordinary human being like anyone else. Listen to my story. You will know it yourself.” The river trickling away made no noise. The dry leaves of the peepul tree rustled. Somewhere a jackal howled. And Raju’s voice filled the night. Velan listened to him without uttering a word of surprise.

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