The Goddess that Failed
It was then that Goddess Kali made her appearance there with her entourage of the fearful ghosts. The time was fast approaching midnight and no humans roamed outside their houses, especially near cremation grounds, at that time. The goddess wanted to enjoy a dance with her friends around the funeral pyre as was her habit.
Goddess Kali was shocked to find our Narayana, a human, at that time there. She expected him, at least, to run away in panic at her sight. Nothing happened of that sort. Narayana ignored the sudden appearance of the unearthly beings and continued with the preparation for his simple dinner.
Kali had no other choice than to confront him. The easiest weapon at her disposal was her frightening features.
But, the Goddess was disappointed that she could not find even any hint of fear in the stooping figure near the fire. How to handle a strange case case like that? The presence of a human was the least welcome when divinities choose to enjoy themselves. So, Kali decided to talk sense to the human. “You may know that I am Goddess Kali and these are my companion ghosts. It is my habit to dance around funeral pyre in the middle of night. Human beings are not allowed in our presence, let alone witness our dance. So, you better leave this place immediately.”
But, Narayana did not care for such protocols. He replied. “Well, if that is your practice, then that is your problem. It is my habit that I cook my dinner wherever I get some water and fire . Today I found this convenient place and I am going to enjoy my meal here. It is up to you whether you dance here or leave this place.”
How impertinent of the human being to talk to the divinity in such a fearless and disrespectful tone. Kali thought of using her powerful and unfailing weapon, of creating terror in her human opponent. She said. “If you do not go, then I shall make you run “
Narayana replied. “Try your luck!”
Then, Kali and the ghosts took their most terrible forms with dishevelled hair and large blood shot eyes protruding out, and roaring in fearful sound that filled the air like thunder. Yet, Narayana did not even bat his eye lids once, but, broke into a gentle and mocking smile instead. That was the most humiliating defeat that the Goddess Kali had ever met. She changed into a benign smile and approached Narayana. “We, divinities avoid humans except in rare circumstances. If it happens, it is a rule for us that we either put a curse or give them a boon. I take you to be man of extraordinary faculties and I do not want to curse you. So, please tell me what boon I may grant you."
But, Narayana was not impressed even then. He said. “Sorry, I am not interested in any boon from you or from any one else.” That put Kali in a fix. She pleaded. “Please do not say so. Even as a favour, please accept a boon from me.”
The mad Narayana thought for a while and asked: “Well, can you please tell me how long I am going to live?”. The goddess did not have to think a lot to arrive at the remaining life of the human. She said: “You have thirty six years, six months, six days and a few hours left in your life.”. “If so, please grant me one additional day’s life ”. “Oh, no! That is something that I cannot promise. Nobody can do that.” “In that case, have mercy and end my life a day earlier!” The Goddess was in trouble even then. She admitted. “Sorry, even that is beyond me.” “That is why I refused to ask for any boons from you. If you cannot change my life even by a day, then what power do you have?”
But, Kali insisted that Narayana should ask for some other boon, something within her powers to bestow. Our man, with an amused smile asked. “You see my swollen left foot. Please have mercy on me and change that to my right .” He was being considerate to the divinity. It mattered little to him either way. But, Kali was pleased. She blessed him accordingly and left the place with her entourage leaving Narayana all to himself.