Some men came running out of the house on hearing them arrive. They got Dagadu down, all worn out and hanging loosely to the reins. They undid his brocaded buttons, fanned him and laid him down on a charpai.
A girl with a pot of water appeared, and stood before his floating eyes. As he gulped down the water noisily, she disappeared, singing softly to herself.
Without too many words, and within two minutes flat, Bhanumati’s father accepted this readymade bridegroom, who had brought the horse back, as his son-in-law.
Many months later, someone brought the news to Balachandra Parab: Dagadu was giving rides to children in a beautiful tonga at Juhu Beach.
That evening, Balachandra Parab took his wife and children, travelled by train and changed two buses to reach Juhu.
What a sea of people! How many tongas, camels, children, balloons!
Balachandra wandered around till his legs ached. He brought his wife and children packets of chana and wandered off again before coming back tired. There was no sign of either Dagadu or his tonga.
Trying hard not to sound too gleeful, his wife mumbled, “What? Didn’t you find him? If you had, we could have asked him to pay back at least what we spent on the mandapa and the wedding lunch.”
“What nonsense you speak!” Balchandra burst out angrily, though his gaze was quite mournful as he stared at the sea. “What I did for my brother was the least anyone could do as an elder brother.”
Excerpted from Lukose’s Church & Other Stories Publisher: Katha