In the tribal belt of Southern India, there once lived a prosperous tribe called the Drivides who ruled over all the forests in South India. The Drivides were governed by local chieftains amongst whom the Manigol family was the most famed and popular. The Manigol family was headed by two brothers. However when the younger brother died leaving no issue, his wife became powerful and she ruled the tribal habitation with an iron hand. This irked the elder Manigol brother who felt he was left out in the cold. The elder Manigol was a cunning and wily fox who kept disturbing the peace of his younger brother’s wife. Therefore the sister- in-law of the Manigol chieftain had her brother-in-law arrested and put behind bars for treason to God, Queen and Country.
The Manigol daughter-in-law was a hard woman. Harder then nails so that nails appeared as soft as sponge in her presence. While she had a wise council of tribal leaders to advice her on matters of state, she also had a small clutch of magicians, evil sorcerers and tantriks who could do her bidding.
The story that I am now going to narrate happened around that time. The purpose of this story is mere narration without any bias against any character in the story. While the narrative may appear judgmental while describing the nature or qualities of one of the characters in this story, the intention is to remain as neutral as possible and let the story lead you to your own conclusions.
The Manigol clan ruled a tract of the Drivide tribal settlement, which was flanked by mountains on three sides while the fourth was the coastline of the vast seas. On the shore of the seas, the Drivide chiefs had built their temples and statues for deities. The shore was also dotted with tombs of earlier Drivide leaders. On this coastline comprising tombs and temples, there stood a statue of great beauty, which portrayed the Goddess of Virtue, who happened to smile with her eyes; her right hand outstretched in a demand for honour. The statue was made of copper with exquisite taste. The tribals who visited the seashore always paused before the statue to admire its beauty and pay homage to the Goddess. The statue had been erected during an ascendant period of the elder Manigol brother and was therefore not held in high esteem by the younger daughter-in-law of the Manigol household.
There had been a drought in the tribal land for the past fifteen years since the Goddess had been hoisted on her pedestal and the people whispered that virtue had fled the land. It was at this juncture that the Iron Manigol lady began to dominate the scene and control matters of state. Within a year of her ascending and about the time when our story begins the sky opened up and a heavy deluge poured out on the tribal land. The tribals rejoiced as their lands became green again. The people whispered that the Iron Manigol lady had restored virtue in governance and the rain Gods were therefore pouring down their blessings upon the land.
The rain never ceased for nine days and on the ninth night lightning flashed and thunder struck in a wild tango. The statue of the Goddess of Virtue shone in the rain as if emitting light from within. A sudden whiplash and flash of lightning struck the outstretched arm of the Goddess of Virtue and the whole statue appeared to ignite and glow in the dark. A couple of stray tribals who had no home of their own and slept on the rain drenched beach were the only witnesses to the entire episode. The iridescence of the statue was so bright that it seemed to beckon the two strays. The two tribal strays had attempted to go touch the statue and a huge electric shock had coursed through their bodies when they were about ten feet away from the statue. Their bodies were thrown as if they were struck by the hand of a wild brute. The two strays felt fortunate to be still alive and rushed as far away as they could from the beach and the statue of the Goddess of virtue.
The morning dawned quiet and bright. The rain had subsided after nine days and nine nights but the iridescent sheen of light on the statue of the Goddess of virtue remained. Soon word spread of the new look sported by the statue and people tried to go near it but were only thrown away by a huge magnetic field that seemed to envelope the statue.
Only two people were able to make it through the magnetic field. One went through with a pure intention, while the other went through the magnetic field thinking of ways and means to utilize the magnetic field and make money. While the one who wanted to make money lost his mind and flipped his lid, the other who had neared the deity with pure intention was further ennobled to become a saint.
Word of the happenings at the statue soon spread and reached the ears of the Manigol lady on the same day. The Iron Manigol lady did not believe the news at first. However, as more word came about of the shattering power of the statue of the Goddess of virtue, she could not but help believe it. She was curious enough to want to go and have a look but was warned by her courtiers that it was not advisable to do so.
Not being a woman of science and not being able to comprehend the electro magnetic field that had been created around the statue, she called for her council of witch doctors and evil magicians to meet her. The spokesperson of the council came to the core of the subject instantly. He said, “Oh, Great one! It is but the power of the Gods that has descended on this statue. Its power must be tapped at once for whosoever taps into this power will become God himself”.
The Iron Manigol lady could not believe what he was saying. She scorned and scoffed the magicians and said, “Oh! You idiots how can you believe such crap. Power of God! Power of the divine! What greater power can be there than the power of you my most powerful magicians and me who controls and commands all of you? And even if there were such a power, how could one tap it for anyone who goes near it is thrown aside” she asked.
The magicians assured her that it was indeed a supreme power, which was far greater than their power. They also informed her that this power was indeed tappable for they could use their magical skills to transport the statue on a carpet of air which they could weave and they could take it to a private place where they could cast their spells to draw out this power. The magicians felt that the power could be used by their mistress, the Iron lady or could be sold by the lady to any rich country or individual that had the power to pay huge sums of money. The Iron lady was not too impressed by the thought of obtaining divine power but the thought of obtaining a huge sum of money excited the lady very much.
The lady then agreed to do the biding of her council of sorcerers and the council continued their deliberations and planning strategies for the take over of the statue and the power within the statue. It was decided that the Iron lady must immediately pass out orders for cordoning a radius of three stones around the statue including the seas behind the statue for in those days distance was measured in a system called stones. The orders were so given and immediately the local guards cordoned off the vicinity with yellow coir ropes and huge billboards asking public to keep away.
Once this had been done the Iron lady and her council of sorcerers set about the second phase of planning for the capture and relocation of the statue. However, they needed the cover of darkness to implement their plan of weaving air carpets that would gently lift up the statue from its pedestal and transport it afloat to the main sacrificial altar of the sorcerers.
As the sun disappeared and dusk crept in, the Iron lady’s sorcerers collected around 20 hands (one hand was the length of an average human hand from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow joint) away from the statue. They sat around the circumference of this range and lit their traditional fires and started chanting incantations. As the surroundings darkened a whitish cloud of air began to collect around the pedestal of the Goddess. By midnight the cloud of air was woven now into a thick whitish carpet of air. Once the magicians were certain that the carpet was thick enough to hold the statue they began attempts to lift the statue with the carpet.
The next day dawned and the bright sunlight hit upon the empty pedestal of the Goddess of virtue. Very soon, the people broke through the cordon of yellow coir ropes to come and gape at the empty pedestal. As news spread of the missing statue, various rumors started circulating within the kingdom about the cause of the missing statue. The most common rumor was that the sorcerers had advised the iron lady that the statue was not good for her health and well-being. It was therefore rumored that the lady had in a fit of rage demolished and destroyed the statue. Another rumor that was doing the rounds amongst those who had witnessed the power of the statue on the day after the lighting struck it was that the powerful statue had just miraculously vanished and virtue had fled the land. The elder Manigol brother on hearing the rumor that the statue was not good for the Iron lady’s well being, desperately wanted to find the statue and reinstate the statue on it’s original pedestal.
The search for the statue continued for days, which turned into weeks, and the attention of the masses turned to other matters of current interest to them. Meanwhile, the Iron lady did not make any public appearance and began to withdraw from the active role in state governance that she had played till now. Seizing upon the opportunity the elder Manigol brother gradually began to assert himself in matters of state and grew in power. As the Iron lady gradually turned invisible the people began calling her the invisible lady.
The elder Manigol brother used all the forces at his command to bring back the statue of the Goddess of virtue from wherever it had been hidden. Finally a search party located the statue in the backyard of an obscure temple in the hinterland. The elder Manigol brother reinstated the statue of the Goddess of virtue with great pomp and splendor on the original pedestal. It was an occasion for great celebration and the Divides responded in one voice by building many more temples to the Goddess of virtue in all their habitations; thereby infuriating the Iron lady.
As always society thrives on rumors and the people rumored that the Iron lady had sold the power of the statue for multi-millions and had now turned invisible so that she could sit and enjoy the multi-millions that she had made. Another version of a rumor was that the Iron lady had at the last minute decided not to sell the power but keep it for herself. However, the power was a Godly one and the moment it seated itself within the heart of the Iron lady it made her withdraw from active life and seek a life of penance and purity.
Whatever it may be the general rumor was that the Goddess of virtue was back in town……
(All characters in this story are fictitious and bear no resemblance to any personae living or dead. Any such resemblance if there maybe is unintended. The author holds the copyright for this piece of imagination)