THE GRATITUDE7 mins 150 7 mins 150
The city of Bodamayuta located near the Ganges river in the Centre of Western Uttar Pradesh. The city was named Bedamooth in an ancient inscription based on stone scripts kept in Lucknow museum. Later the region was called Panchal. According to the lines on stone scripts there was a village Bhadaunlak near the city. It was renamed as Badayun later on. Approximately fourteen Kms. Away from Badayun, there was a village called Ahirvara which still exists.
It was a small village having around 180 houses. The houses were small and were not cemented. The villagers were leading simple life. They were poor and almost all were small land farmers. There lived the family of Heera, the little girl. As the name suggest, Heera had a heart of diamond. She was just ten days old when she lost her mother. All the villagers started calling her by bad names and considered her unlucky. Everyone blamed her for her mother’s death. She didn’t remember her mother’s face as she was too small. The villagers were illiterate, rigid and superstitious. They suggested Heera’s father to remarry a young girl of the same village so that she could help him in looking after Heera. Heera was just fifteen days old when her step mother entered in her life and her bad luck started. After getting married, Heera’s father didn’t take care of her and was spending all his time with his new wife. The step mother left her crying for milk instead of taking care of her. Actually, she wanted to get rid of her so that her own child should be the owner of the property.
Time passed, Heera started walking and talking. Even at this tender age she was forced to do small household works by her step mother. After three years her step brother was born. She was happy to have him but the cruel mother considered her unlucky and didn’t allow her to come near him. She was never welcomed even by the villagers in any festivities. She always met with bad treatment but she never complained as she considered her step mother as her own. She used to fetch water from the nearby well, do cleaning of the house. Now she was grown up enough to understand the things happening around her. She started noticing that her step mother kept on fulfilling all the demands of her step brother called Sohan. He was given a full glass of milk to drink but Heera got only one fourth of it. It was the month of June and was hot. At night the whole family used to sleep on the roof but she slept on floor in the room. One full moon night, when she was sleeping, she heard the hissing sound of a snake. She got afraid and raised the light of oil lamp to search for the snake. She got freezed with fear when she saw a big black cobra snake coming out of a hole of the wall where she was sleeping. She quietly watched the movements of the snake. She was stunned to see that the snake was throwing out a red shining ball like thing and then swallowing the same after playing. It kept on doing this till ten minutes and then vanished out in the same hole. She could not believe her eyes to what she saw. Next morning after doing all the work she was asked to finish; she requested her mother to give some milk to drink. After her repeated requests, the mother gave her half cup of milk and went out. But her spoilt little step brother started fighting with her and tried his level best to spill the milk. But Heera was able to save the same. As soon as the brother went out to play, Heera kept the cup of milk near the hole for the snake to drink it. She started doing this religiously. And the strange thing was that the snake drank it every day. Cobra never hurt her and now she was also not afraid of it. She even named it as Dev and treated it like her own brother. A strange bonding between the two could be seen.
Every month on the full moon lit night the snake used to play with his red shining ball called Nagmani. Heera liked the light of Nagmani and the game played by Dev, the snake. On one occasion, her step brother Sohan fought with Heera and cooked up a story against her. On hearing this the step mother along with the father gave her good piece of mind and beat her badly. That night she was not given her supper also. She was hungry but her body was paining a lot due to beatings. She kept on sobbing while trying to sleep at night. At that time cobra came in front of her and started playing with the Nagmani. On seeing this, Heera forgot her pain and started taking interest in its game. After that she slept.
Next morning, the cruel mother told her father to get her married as soon as possible for she wanted to get rid of her. She invited a middle aged widower to her place and fixed Heera’s marriage with that drunken man for the next month. Heera’s father was against this marriage as Heeara was just fourteen years old and the man was of her father’s age. But he could not do anything. That night Heera cried a lot and wanted to get bitten by the snake as she had decided to commit suicide. As soon as the snake came out, she held the snake without any fear so that it should bite her. But there was something else written in her faith. When she held the snake, she heard the whispering sound of a human voice as if the snake was telling her not to worry but to have faith in it. The snake took out the Nagmani from its mouth and said in human voice,” Heera, my sister, you have been offering me milk e selflessly every day. You called me as your brother. Then have faith in me. Keep this Nagmani tied in a black cloth and wear it in your neck with the help of a black string without getting it noticed by anyone. Now it’s my turn to repay and show my gratitude towards all you did for me.” With that he vanished in the darkness.
The marriage day had come and Heera was forcibly married to that drunken man. After the ceremony the groom’s family left for their native home just sixty Kms away in the evening by bus. Everyone was tired and was feeling sleepy in the bus except Heera. She was sobbing and only remembered Dev, the snake by touching the Nagmani she hid under her clothes. It was getting dark and were passing by a dense jungle where dacoits stopped their bus forcibly. As soos as the bus stopped, the dacoits held Heeara and asked everyone to give away their jewellery and asked all the male members including the groom to get down the bus and stand in a line. They shot down the groom and injured the others very badly. When they tried to drag away Heera, she held the Nagmani tightly in her hand and pleaded them to let her go. But they did not pay any head to it. Heera held the Nagmani tightly as it started shining in the darkness. The dacoits and others got stunned on seeing the light of it. They tried hard to snatch it but Heera held it tightly and started shouting,” Dev”. Exactly at that time a cobra appeared and attacked all the four dacoits and killed them. Then it turned towards Heera and said in human voice,” Don’t worry Heera, my sister. Nothing would happen to you. You go back home and everything will change there also.” With that it slithered in the darkness. On seeing this the members of the family along with the bus driver got terrorized and the bus driver started the bus. On reaching back in the village everyone narrated the incident to the step mother and father. The step mother got terrorized by the sight of the snake in her house and started behaving nicely with Heera. Now Heera was leading a new life with Dev, the snake. Dev paid its gratitude by changing her life,