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The Old Woman and Two Wishes

Once upon a time in the town of Roshanpur lived two women, Lalitha and Anamika.  The two women had lived there for many years. 

However, they were very different in terms of character.  Lalitha was  kind and gentle in nature.  She cared about everyone and helped anyone in need.  Anamika on the other hand was a greedy and a spiteful woman.  She was also extremely wicked.    She lived in a big palatial mansion in the centre of the town.

Lalitha was a kind and generous woman.  She was also very poor.  Lalitha had a small field on which she grew some vegetables. She sold the small produce from the field every week at the weekly bazaar.

She did not earn much but the income as enough for her simple needs.  In keeping with her helpful disposition, she gave away to the needy whatever she managed to save.  Anamika  was a rich woman.  She was also very miserly.  She never helped anyone in need.  All she bothered was about how to make more  money.

Her husband was a rich merchant who traded in food grains.  Anamika looked down upon Lalitha.  She was proud of her wealth and her rich upbringing.  Anamika would sometimes lend money to the poor villagers.  She would charge the ignorant villagers high rates of interest. 

One day, a weak and frail old women came to the village.  She could barely walk.  She had apparently not eaten in days.  She walked through the main street past Anamika’s house.  Anamika glanced at the woman from her window in the upper floor of her house. 

The woman paused in front of Anamika’s house.  She was in deep distress.  Anamika ordered her servant to drive the woman away.  The servant drove the poor woman away and closed the gate.  With a deep sigh, the poor woman moved on.  She walked a few feet away and came to Lalitha’s poor home.  Lalitha was tending to the cows in her backyard.  She looked over and saw the weary figure in front of her. 

She was overwhelmed with pity at the poor creature.  She ran out of the home and brought the poor creature in.  She set food and water before her.  The woman ate the food eagerly.  By now, it was late in the evening. The kind Lalitha asked the woman to stay with her for the night.  The woman agreed. 

The next morning, the woman thanked Lalitha for her hospitality.  “Thanks for your help towards a poor woman”, she said, “As a token of my gratitude, I give you my blessing.”  Lalitha was puzzled.  The woman said, “Whatever you do first today, you will continue the whole day”.  It as indeed a strange blessing.  Lalitha did not think much of it.  She had helped the woman selflessly. 

After the woman left, Lalitha set about her daily activities.  She need to buy some things for the kitchen.  She opened the money box and started counting the few coins she had.  The wish kicked in as counting coins was the first thing she did.  As she kept counting, the coins just kept coming.  She had never had so many coins with her.  She counted and counted.  Soon she lost count.  The coins, though, kept coming.  Soon, it was afternoon and then it was evening.  The coins just kept coming.  It was late in the evening when the coins finally stopped.  Lalitha could hardly believe what was happening before her.  She was now a rich woman.

News of Lalitha’s good fortune soon spread throughout the village.  When Anamika’s heard of Lalitha’s good fortune, her envy knew no bounds.  She cursed herself for not welcoming the poor woman. 

The next day, to Anamika’s surprise, the old woman came again.  Anamika saw her from a distance.  She went out herself and welcomed the old woman.  She would be a very rich woman now.

She brought the old woman into her home.  She laid out a sumptuous feast for the woman.  But the woman saw through the shallow gestures of Anamika.  She stayed at Anamika’s home for the night.  The next day the woman left Anamika’s home.  Anamika’s was eagerly waiting for her blessing.

The woman gave the same wish to Anamika -  “Whatever you do first today, you will be doing it for the whole day”.    The old woman went on her way.

Anamika quickly went into her home and into the room where she kept her money and her jewels.  She took her money box.  She had plenty of coins inside.  As she took it out, she saw a layer of dust on the cover of the box.  Without thinking, she blew on it.  The dust flew on her face and she coughed.  Alas! as she coughed, the wish took hold.  She coughed and coughed and could not stop.  She kept coughing and coughing.  She drank water but the cough did not stop.  She coughed and coughed through the whole day till evening.  This was the effect of the woman’s wish on Anamika.

Children,  this story tells us the value of helping others in need.  Our love needs to be sincere and genuine.  Many people pretend to care for others.  Such shallow love will be exposed as we saw in the story.  Our genuine love and affection for others will always be rewarded.

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