Radha's parents had a daughter too many and left her to grow up in a less crowded environment of her maternal grandmother, as little girls often do when not quite wanted by her parents Radha too quickly tried to accept herself in the new place and most of all tried to be loved and accepted by all around her, in this effort of her's she was always at the beck and call of anyone who needed any errand to run or any trivial thing to be looked into no matter how irksome it was. In this way she ended up spending more time running errands for the numerous uncles aunts and all other older sisters and brothers and had very little time to complete her studies and for her own self. Right from the morning she drew water from the well, ground spices, fed the hens, tied the goats dried the clothes, poured sawdust on the puddle at the threshold of the house and with it drew numberless remarks at how inept she was at doing things as people often do when they do not belong to the family or aren't desired by them. "Why she is no good at all!" was the common refrain. Despite this she tried to be happy with her busy little self. Most of all she loved to be of service to her grandmother, a frail old lady who always lay her kind hand on her tired head every night and told her tales of Lord Shiva, the owner of the universe of how He tested only a chosen few and required them to be tried by fire to pass the test of endurance and how the Good Lord drew those who passed this test so very close to him. She wished in her little thirsty heart that she would pass this very hard test someday and someone even it be Lord Shiva would love her and draw her close.
Now, Radha's grandmother held a very innocuous job in the village, she had responsibly put together the articles and ingredients and condiments required for the evening prayers at the lone Shiva temple situated at the ragged hilltop and herself carried the plate for worship without fail come rain or shine for the past half a century to the temple. She had never failed even for a day. Time as we know weakens the toughest of all and came a day when the old lady was rendered incapable. It was a stormy day, the skies lashed out at the land with utmost fury and whips of thunderbolt flailed at the mortals driving all to the safety and security of dry homes. The plate for the evening worship was to be reached, and who else but Radha was the only one disposable willing to run the errand. Her grandmother put together the things and gave her an umbrella to protect the plate and herself.
The umbrella was little protection against nature's fury. The storm tore it away at the first gust and the lonely little girl struggled find her way to the temple. The wind pulled at her hair and scattered flowers and petals of her plate, twigs torn from trees whipped against her and upset the little bowls of ingredients, rain water collected into the bowls of sandalwood paste diluting it. Even keeping her eyes open was a struggle, however she carried on, after all , Lord Shiva, the owner of the universe tested only a chosen few and required them to be tried by fire to pass the test of endurance and the Good lord drew those who passed this test so very close to him.
Little Radha, wet, bruised and frightened reached the temple. There was no one there, yes even the priest for once found his safety more precious than his duty to the lord. She sat there and looked at the huge statue, bare and tall could it love someone? Could it protect? Would it draw someone close as a father does? Would he walk her back home? After all she was just a little girl and little girls were supposed to be scared of such storms. She wished he would at least answer her. She laid down whatever offerings were left on the plate on the feet of the idol, and as she bowed down a golden crescent moon from the head of the idol broke loose and gently deposited itself on the on the unkempt head of hair of the ignorant girl. Unaware, she turned to go home.
The next morning brought bright sunshine and with it the usual sounds of rural life back. The priest was back at his show of piety and the whole village gathered to thank Lord Shiva for saving and protecting them from the fury of the storm last night and suddenly to every one's despair found the golden moon on the Lord's head missing. The remnants of Radha's last offerings were still at the feet of the idol, proof enough to incriminate and indicate who the thief may be. A big crowd of people turned up at the door of Radha's grandma asking for an explanation. She was at a loss, the poor girl was down with fever, in delirium, but no one was in a mood to listen to it. Her uncles disowned her immediately, declaring that she was an undesired burden; her aunts declared similarly, the old woman took the villagers to her bed, just beside her pillow was the golden moon! That was the last straw. The villagers could burn the house down. Where did you get it child? Asked the grandma, Radha had no coherent replies.
This news spread like wild fire, and the crowd swelled. The priest took a good look at the poor girl, witnessed the abuses being heaped on her, and sat himself down on the sawdust filled entrance of the house. Everyone surmised that he was too shocked to stand among these sinners and asked him to go back to the temple.
The priest, the most honored man of the village slowly walked back to the temple. Yes this had to be the judgment day. Soon he stared to ring the temple bell vigorously, this made nearly all of the village to rush to the temple and draw around him, "come" he cried, "come and see, there is still sawdust on the feet of the Lord".
Now it was difficult to refute the claim of a priest, so the villagers gradually agreed that the Protector of the village had come alive on as stormy night and walked a lone girl home. As a proof to non believers he left his moon with her. All was set right, The Lord had left his mark to show that Radha had passed her test of fire, and she started to get accepted by her own. Everyone was satisfied, but satisfaction lay most, with the one man who on a stormy night was taught a lesson of duty by a little girl. Yes, he played God, even though for once.