Sundar! Many women trembled at the very mention of the name. He was broad shouldered and strong and his presence was quite intimidating. But that was not the only reason why a hush fell every time he walked to a different section of the bank. Part of the reason was, of course, the authority he enjoyed by virtue of being the bank manager. The other, more pertinent, reason was that he was a known womaniser, and one who didn’t wait for a woman’s consent. His lust had to be satisfied, and his prospective partner’s wishes were immaterial. He fancied women with big, firm bosoms – the age didn’t matter so much. Judging by the number of women who cursed him, he must have got his way pretty often. Sundar’s wife had long ago run out of patience and often explained contemptuously to visitors that he couldn’t be trusted even with his own daughter.
In time, Sundar’s sons got married, but their wives soon discovered that even they were considered fair game for Sundar who was now ‘retired’ from the bank and well into his sixties. Wisely, one by one, the sons moved out with their wives, much to the chagrin of Sundar. With almost everyone in the neighbourhood aware of his propensities, and unwilling to satisfy his strong urges, Sundar had to fall back on poor women whom he trapped with the lure of a good job and outright cash payments.
A day came, however, when nature took a hand and Sundar became impotent. Doctors, hospitals, hakims, vaids – Sundar tried them all but drew a blank. It then occured to him that perhaps he could check out with someone who knew astrology whether he could ever regain his virility, and that’s how I met him.
“The desire is still as strong as ever,” he confided, “but my body doesn’t respond even though I’ve tried both internal and external stimuli. Will I ever be able to perform again?” His chart showed that a particular planet was debilitated. But Sundar wasn’t prepared to write ‘finis’ to his lecherous career.
“I’ve heard you’ve done research on remedies. Surely there must be something that I can do! I’ll keep checking out with you.”
He did keep in touch for a while, and then his visits stopped. He’s either found a remedy or he’s given up hope, I thought to myself and forgot about it.
Almost a year later, Sundar called again. He had indeed found a remedy, he told me. The remedy was enough to make anybody sit up. He had been told that he should go to a cremation ground, obtain a coal from the burnt ashes of a corpse, and write down certain figures and mantras on a piece of paper with that coal. It wasn’t easy to walk into a cremation ground and obtain coal, from pyres which were still smouldering. And he had almost given up when his elder brother died of a heart attack. Sundar used the opportunity to pick up a coal. The priest and other grieving relatives observed him doing so, and though they didn’t know the purpose, they protested. But Sundar wasn’t going to give up his only chance on obtaining that prized bit of coal which would bring back his manhood. “He was my brother,” he argued, and refused to put back the coal. But now he was in deep trouble, in danger of his life in fact, which is why he had turned to me for help.
“I brought the coal home,” he told me, “and put it reverently in a drawer. But that very night, my dead brother appeared before me, yanked me out on bed and almost thrashed me to death. He’s given me twenty four hours to dispose off that coal from his ashes in the appropriate manner, otherwise he’s going to kill me. “What should I do?” The answer was obvious: do as his brother wished, and forget about his own need. I suggested that he could take the coal to the Yamuna river, and immerse it in the water in much the same way as you immerse the ashes from a dead body. But even though the twenty four hour deadline was closing in, Sundar decided to gamble till the very end.
Ten minutes before the deadline, his dead brother arrived and tore off his clothes. But Sundar still pleaded, “What use is that coal to you now? It can be your parting gift to me and I’ll be grateful all my life.”
The moment he said this, his wife saw him cringing from what were obviously blows. Left with no choice, Sundar pulled on a fresh pair of clothes, pulled out the coal from the drawer and immmersed it in the Yamuna. He hasn’t been bothered by his brother again, but he hasn’t given up his quest for a remedy either.