The Ernakulam Express from Ahmedabad was filled with Sabarimala pilgrims headed for the annual December darshan. Shanta and Balasubramanian, a devout middle aged couple, were also on board.
Around midnight the train slowed. Shanta, a light sleeper, woke up to a faint noise only to notice a dark shuffling shape leaving their compartment. Even as she began to call out to the stranger, the latter vanished into the night. Sensing danger, she woke her husband and switched on the light, certain they had been robbed. Sure enough, she found her bag sliced open and her purse missing.
The stolen amount, Rs 3,922, although not irreplaceable since both earned comfortable salaries, had been given them by friends back home as offerings to the Lord. “Is God displeased with me?” wondered Shanta.
Bala was unwilling to attribute motives to every occurrence and urged her to forget all about it. “We will return home and donate the same amount via the shrine's website," he suggested.
After an arduous climb through the jungle, the pilgrims waited in the serpentine queue at the Sannidhanam, or Holy Abode. The 18 steps that led to the Lord's shrine were now in view.
Shanta prayed, "The money was Yours, I was only the courier.” Just then her husband came up, puzzled: " A man tapped me on the shoulder and asked whether I was Balasubramanian from Ahmedabad. When I nodded, he thrust this package into my hands and said in Tamil, “Give it to Shanta Mami. She will need it as she approaches the donation box”. It was a milk packet held by rubber bands, wrapped around exactly Rs 3,922. Husband and wife had a satisfying darshan after which they deposited the money in the hundi.
But Shanta was deeply affected by the 'miracle', as she called it. Was it the thief himself ? Was he God? How did he know their names? Why did it all happen? Ever since, Shanta is convinced it was God who intervened that December afternoon. As her daughter, I cannot agree more.