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Mrityunjoy arrived at a village called Dharagol. He sat at a grocer's, smoking a hookah and lost in his own thoughts, when he saw a sannyasi walking across a barren stretch some distance away. At first, Mrityunjoy did not pay attention but suddenly a thought struck him that the sannyasi was the same hermit whom he was searching. He immediately went after the sannyasi. But it was too late; the hermit had disappeared.

By then dusk had fallen, and Mrityunjoy did not know where he could find the hermit in this unfamiliar place. He returned to the shop and asked the grocer, "What lies in the forest over there?"

"Once upon a time, a city stood where you see the forest now. But the king earned the displeasure of Agastya Muni who cursed the kingdom to fall to ruins. People say immense treasure is buried in the forest but no one dares to enter the forest. Whoever dared to enter has not returned," the grocer told him.

Mrityunjoy felt very restless. He spent the night in the grocer's shop, lying on a rug and slapping away at the mosquitoes. He kept thinking of the forest, the hermit, and the rhyme. He had read the verse so many times that he could now almost recite it without thinking; now, in his sleepless state, the words came back to him again and again:

Paaye dhore sadha

Ra nahi dey Radha

Sheshe dilo ra

Pagol chaaro pa

The onslaught of these thoughts caused his head to throb, and yet the words would not go away. Towards the break of dawn when sleep at last came to him, the meaning of the rhyme became clear in a dream. Radha does not wish to forego the "ra" but it could be attached at the end - Radha without "ra" is "dha", and "ra" attached at the end would give "dhara". If pagol(mad man) lets go of the pa(feet) then what remains would be "gol". "Dhara" and "gol", when strung together, would read "dharagol"; and, he was in a village by the name "Dharagol"! Mrityunjoy woke up in a flash.

Having spent the whole day roaming in the forest, Mrityunjoy returned to the village in the evening after finding his way with much difficulty. He was tired and hungry. Next day, he again ventured into the forest but this time carried a frugal meal with him. Towards noon he reached a pool with clear water. Mrityunjoy partook of his meal by the pool and later went round it to observe the surroundings. When he came to the western part of the pool, he stopped abruptly because before him was a huge banyan tree that stood encircling a tamarind tree. The words of the rhyme came back to him immediately:

Tetul-boter kole

Dokkhine jao chole

As directed by the rhyme, he began walking towards the south that led him deeper into the forest. The trees grew so dense here that it was impossible to progress ahead. Mrityunjoy decided that he should not lose sight of the banyan tree and, so, he returned to it. While returning he sighted the top of a temple at a distance. Mrityunjoy walked in that direction and reached the temple; it was in ruins. He saw a mud stove, burnt wood, and ashes lying around. Exercising caution, Mrityunjoy peeked inside the temple. There was no one inside, there was no idol. There was a blanket, a water pot, and a saffron robe on the floor.

By then, the evening had given way to the night; the village was far away and Mritunjoy was not sure whether he would be able to find his way back to the village through the forest and in the darkness. He was, therefore, overjoyed to see signs of human presence here. A big stone had come apart from the temple and fallen near the entrance. Mrityunjoy sat on the stone with his head bowed down in thoughts when he noticed some inscription on the stone. He examined the inscription closely and saw that it was a circle with various symbolic figures, some still visible and others faded beyond recognition. But Mrityunjoy recognized the inscription at once - it was an inscription which he had seen innumerable times earlier because the same was drawn above the rhyme in the paper. His whole body quivered in excitement and anxious thoughts flooded his mind - a small mistake now could destroy all his efforts; the boat having almost reached the shore could yet capsize; the hermit may have found the treasure already and taken it away. These thoughts so overwhelmed him that he could not decide what steps he should take next. He felt that he might be very close to the treasure and yet he could see no signs of it. So he sat at the same place and chanted the name of the Goddess while the night grew darker.

After some time, deeper in the forest, the flame of a fire became clearly visible. Mrityunjoy rose and began walking in the direction of the flame. He reached the spot with much difficulty and, peeking from behind a tree, saw the same sannyasi drawing some figures on the ground with a stick; he had a paper spread before him. It was the same paper with directions to the hidden treasure which Mrityunjoy had lost. Thief! It is for this reason he had told Mrityunjoy not to grieve over the lost paper!

The sannyasi was busy doing some mathematical calculations; he took a measuring stick from time to time, and measured the distance. After measuring to some distance he would shake his head in disappointment and return back to his calculations. He continued to do this almost till the break of dawn, and then rolled the paper and went away.

Mrityunjoy realized that without the hermit's help he would not be able to decipher the meaning of the cryptic rhyme. That the sannyasi will not help him was also very certain. Therefore, the only way for him was to keep an eye on the hermit secretly. But he had to have food and, so, it was imperative for him to go back to the village.

When the darkness lifted enough for him to see, Mrityunjoy left the shelter of the tree and approached the spot where the hermit had made his marks; but he could not make anything of them. He checked the site; this part of the forest was no different from the other parts. When it became light enough for him to find his way out of the forest, Mrityunjoy started back for the village, moving cautiously though because he was afraid that the hermit might spot him.

In the neighbourhood of the grocer's shop, where Mriyunjoy had taken shelter, a family had organized a religious function, and invited Mrityunjoy for the feast. After a good meal, Mrityunjoy lay down on a rug with the intention of taking a little rest, and then setting out for the forest once again in the daytime. But, exactly the opposite happened. After a sleepless night, he was so overcome by sleep that when he woke up the sun had already set. But this did not deter Mrityunjoy and he entered the forest in the dark. It was so dark that he could not see where he was going. In the morning, Mrityunjoy discovered he had gone around in circles the whole night and was in the same place from where he had started. A number of crows took flight, flying towards the village while cawing noisily as if to mock Mrityunjoy.

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  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
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  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu