Anyway, when I went to the paan-shop after three or four days, the paan-seller did not show much enthusiasm in serving me. She engaged herself in sorting the betel leaves for quite a long time, and then went inside to fetch the stuffing. I thought she was being extra careful in rolling the betel leaves and I was impressed. But, still my "paan" was not ready! The paan-seller kept a keen eye on the road as though waiting for customers; it was as if I was not a customer at all! Her inattention irked me, more so because I had been a faithful patron who made rounds of her shop twenty times in a day! I could not take it any longer and told her crossly, "Are you aware I have been waiting for a long time?"
"Yes sir, you have had to wait for a long time. But, please wait for a little while more," the paan-seller said apologetically. "Forgive my bluntness, but on the days when you have been the first client at my shop, I have not had much business. Yesterday, you were the first customer and I could make sales worth only six annas; you were the first customer day before yesterday too, and on that day I earned only eight annas. Panditji was my first customer four days ago and on that day I had already made sales worth 2.5 rupees by afternoon! Everyone has his own share of luck and the share is not always equal!"
The words hit me like bullets. I had never considered myself to be lucky; there might be only a few men more unfortunate than me in this world. I may not be the king but at least I was an official; it was intolerable to be branded as ill-fated. It was slanderous if people, believing me to be ill-fated, refused to serve me as the first customer or refused to see my face in the morning.
Well, I finally got my "paan" but resolved to erase the stigma that had become attached to me. I was sitting in my room when a friend arrived. He was on his way to the market to buy vegetables, and had decided to drop in. While conversing with him, I spoke highly of the woman who sold me "paan". The friend was an admirer of beauty, and had a high sense of humour. He looked at me mischievously and said, "Brother neither do I have any extra money now, nor do I have the urge to chew paan."
"I will lend you the money," I told him.
"It is alright then. But don't ever ask me to return the money."
"That's a tough deal."
"Do you expect to raise yourself in high esteem in someone's eyes for free?"
I was helpless; I gave him the money to buy himself a "paan". Thereafter, I extolled the paan-rolling skills of my paan-seller to every one who came to meet me. My friends laughed at me and called me names. I was described as a "dark horse", "ardent devotee", and what not. But I suffered the taunts smilingly; I had to wipe off the stigma at any cost!
Next day when I went to the "paan" shop, the woman immediately rolled a "paan" for me. "Sir, you have brought me good luck. Yesterday, when you were my first customer, I made three-and-half rupees. Henceforth, please be the first customer to buy from my shop," she said.