The thief followed my instructions. "Do I have to play a flute? I can play a flute but I don't have one with me right now," he said.
I gathered all the things necessary for offering worship from aunt's private shrine - lamps, incense sticks, rice grains. The thief was thrilled when I washed his feet with water from a small pot. "Will you drink that water?" he asked me.
"I have to. Before that however I have to complete the circumambulation. It is a custom with us to go around the deity 108 times while wrapping the deity with string. But where can I find so much string?"
"String? Can't you complete the worship without string?" This new string of events depressed him. "You have put me in a piquant situation. Where will you find string at this hour?"
"Let me see," I said and my search led me to the ball of "zari" thread. "This will do. In fact, this is better. This golden thread will look better on my guardian angel."
"Hold this end of the thread - hold it tight while I go around you 108 times chanting 'mantras'," I told him. "You keep a count - count till 108."
"Can't you count yourself?" he was not willing to exhibit his arithmetic skills.
"How can I count? I will be chanting the 'mantras'," I reminded him.
"Okay, then I will count. Commence your worship."
He held the open end of the thread and I went around him with the ball of "zari", binding him to the column in the process. I chanted my "mantra", "Masmekong narang jati, dou massau mrigshukrau .... pashya singha madonmat shashken nipatita ..... namastasya namastasya namastasya namo namah ....!"
The thief began counting as if in a trance, "One, two .... twenty-seven, twenty-eight ....fifty-two, fifty-three .... seventy-five, seventy-six .... one hundred seven, one hundred eight."
At the count of 108, I dropped myself at his feet and said, "Lord, my worship is over. Please come with me now and tell me what you want. Select the best things, everything is yours."
The thief came out of his spell - his trance was broken when I stopped chanting my "mantras". He tried to come with me but received a shock. The pillar forced him to stand like a pillar and he could not move. He found himself bound to the pillar by the golden thread.
As it is, "zari" thread is quite fragile, just like glass. But the thread, that had gone around 108 times, attached itself to the thief like pure gold jewellery. It is easy to break a single straw, but try breaking a bundle!
The thief remained standing, bound to the pillar, as if in a daze. The embrace of the "zari" thread had rendered him immobile. The poor fellow presented a sorry picture, and he appeared very foolish.
He yelled at me, "What is this? Release me now that your worship is over. Can't you see it is almost dawn? Haven't I told you I have to visit my other devotees also?"
"Please Lord, wait a little longer. Let me look at you to my heart's content - this golden thread looks so marvelous on you."
But the thief did not agree. He kept yelling. He did not wish to remain in the zari's embrace for a minute longer. The embrace had become a nightmare for him.
"You have put me in a very difficult situation. Is it the time for you to gape at me? It is already dawn; the crows have started cawing, can't you hear them?"
I could hear the crows cawing; I could see the first light of dawn peeking through the gap of the door; I could, then, hear uncle calling; aunt called thereafter; the hollering of my cousins could also be heard - all of them had returned after watching the play!