Manickram worked hard to complete his order on time. Just when he thought he had finished, tragedy struck.
“Kishen, place the idols carefully on the platform,” said Manickram to his assistant, while touching up the eyes of Durga. Dussera was round the corner and Kolkata was buzzing with festive activities.
Manickram, a craftsman, was adept at making idols of Durga. This year, he had luckily managed to own premises, to be used as a workshop. Located on a busy commercial lane with lots of shops, a few of which were owned by Bikram Seth, a powerful man, who sometimes indulged in unlawful activities, but always managed to get away.
During Navratri, he forced artisans to part with the idols at a low price. Manickram was aware of this unfair practice. Manickram had huge orders to complete for the festival. Bikram Seth too wanted the beautiful idols crafted by Manickram.
Despite the continuous badgering of Bikram Seth, Manickram was firm.
He completed his orders and every idol was crafted to perfection.
A couple of days later, when Manickram arrived at his shop, he was startled to see the door unlocked. Inside, he found the idols missing. Kishen made enquiries and was told that Bikram Seth and his men had paid a visit the previous night.
A dejected Manickram wondered what he could do to salvage the situation. His income for the month depended on selling the idols.
Just then, a boy as old as his son entered the shop. “Dada, my father has not returned home since last night. His shop is locked too. My mother is down with high fever. No one around here is willing to help me. Can you please do something?” the boy pleaded. He was Bikram Seth’s son.
Kishen dissuaded his master from offering any help to the boy, as his father had caused so much trouble. But, Manickram noticed that the boy’s face exuded an air of innocence, which did not deserve a punishment for someone else’s fault. He went to a doctor and requested him to take a look at the boy’s mother.
When Manickram was leaving, the boy said, “Dada, please help me find my father. I know you are a good person.”
“Err, I’ll see what I can do, son,” said Manikram.
Manickram felt the boy should not be deprived of his father’s love and care. Kishen infomed Manickram that Bikram Seth had been arrested early in the morning while stealing the idols.
Manickram headed immediately to the police station. He explained to the officer that the idols belonged to him and he had requested Bikram Seth to keep them in his godown, where it would be safe. Hearing this, the officer decided to release Bikram Seth.
Manickram went away with out speaking to Bikram Seth.
The next morning, when Manickram went to his shop, he saw Bikram Seth and his son at the doorstep.
Pointing at Manickram, the boy said, “Baba, this is the man who helped me find you. Isn’t he a good person?” An embarrassed Bikram Seth, hesitatingly tried to offer an apology.
He realised the greatness of Manickram, who had been so forgiving and had not tried to take revenge on him.
The incident had caused a change of heart in Bikram Seth, who promised to return the idols to Manickram.
With such an auspicious beginning to Navratri, Bikram Seth had completely destroyed the demon that dwelt within him — hate, just like Durga, who had conquered the demon Mahishasura.