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As for my condition, I realized it when I was rudely awakened by a noise. When I opened my eyes I found a giant of a man bending over me with a raised knife.

I had not only forgotten to latch the door, but I had also forgotten to extinguish the lantern and therefore could clearly see my enemy. His shadow traversed through the length of the room and blended with the darkness outside.

I broke out in cold sweat!

But my surname is Chakraborty, and thieves cannot match the wits of the Chakrabortys.

I rose at once and sat on the bed. Then I joined my palms in salutation and said, "Come my lord, please come."

"None of your trickery now. Hand over the keys to the cupboard," he thundered, "else ... you can see what I have in my hand. It will not remain in my hand, and you will see it in your belly." So saying he brought the knife a little closer to my abdomen.

I, involuntarily, caressed my belly and said, "Lord, please sit down first. Since you have taken the trouble to visit me, please sit down on that easy-chair first and take a little rest."

The thief was annoyed beyond reason. "Don't play games with me," he roared.

But I persisted and said in my sweetest voice, "Lord now that you have made your appearance, I cannot allow you to go away without first taking a pinch of dust from your feet. Please bring your feet nearer to my hands."

"So that you can pull my feet and topple me? I can see through your plans; I am not such a fool as you think."

"Lord, why are you torturing your devotee in this manner?" I said. "You appeared in my dreams just now and said you are my guardian angel. You said you will come before me as a thief and that I should give away to you whatever I have. You appeared in my dreams only a few minutes ago - the same face; the same features. How can I make a mistake? How can the Lord's words ever be wrong?"

"You saw this face; these very features?" the thief was astonished.

"Of course, I saw you in my dreams and you promised to show yourself to me again. That is why you are here."

The thief was so astounded that he could not speak for a while. After a brief silence, the only word that escaped his lips was, "Amazing!"

"Lord, tell me what you want. I will give away whatever I have; all my belongings are yours. They were given to me by you and it is you who will be taking them back. Nothing belongs to me; everything is yours. Tell me what do you wish to have?"

"Give me all the money and jewellery you have."

"Of course I will give; I will give away everything to you. But, first, I must offer my worship. You are my Lord - first I will offer my worship to you and, then, I will hand over all my possessions, including this fountain pen. You have shown yourself to me; my life is blessed!"

"You want to worship me?" the thief asked me in disbelief.

"Of course! Now that my guardian angel has appeared before me, I must offer worship."

"Okay, okay. Finish your worship fast; don't you see it is almost daybreak!"

"Yes I can see that," I told him, "but please don't disappear before my worship is complete; give me your word".

"All right, but be quick about it; and don't ring a bell while reciting the mantras, I dislike musical sound of any kind."

"Very good, but even if I don't ring a bell I must blow a conch shell."

"Conch shell! That does it! I warn you that if you blow conch shells, I will not receive your worship. Conch shells produce a very harsh sound that travels very far. Besides, if you blow conch shells at this hour what will the neighbours ...."

"All right, then I will complete my worship by only chanting mantras."

"Whatever you do, hurry up. There is very little of the night left, and I have to visit several other devotees; I have to visit their homes also. Do you think you are my only devotee?"

"Sure, you have a large number of devotees," I agreed. "I will complete my worship within a short time."

There was an ornate wooden plank which I placed near a pillar. "Please stand on this plank my Lord; stand in the tribhanga pose."

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