He sat with his small straw basket in front of the temple. It was an ancient temple in the middle of nowhere. The story went that the village deity granted wishes to the pure of heart. The nearest human establishment was a hamlet of some twenty huts five miles away and the highway was nearly a hundred kilometers away. A small single lane road led to the temple. The road was clean, smooth and unused for the most part.
He sat there with flowers in his basket calling out to the villagers who had come to pay their respects to the deity. He smiled at little kids and folded his hands to greet the weary strangers. The afternoon was not too hot but the villagers had come mostly on foot. Not many had the means to travel. They were tired faces and arthritic legs, walking slowly toward the temple in the middle of nowhere. He watched them with an impassive face and sprinkled water on his basket of marigolds and roses. He had no stall or shop. He sat right next to the temple gates on the ground. A man stopped near his basket and asked him the price of a garland. He told him. The man asked the price for the whole basket. He told him. The man dropped a note of five hundred and asked him for the whole bucket. It was almost double the amount he had quoted and he had no change to return. The man who wore sunglasses and a hat asked him to keep the change. His whole basket of flowers was loose change for this man.
He lifted up his basket and dusted himself off. The business for the day was done. The man had taken the basket and left. He saw a few pilgrims coming from afar. There were other flower sellers for them, he ensured by looking around. He walked away toward a bush and disappeared. A faint light surrounded the idol inside and then faded. The rich man entered the temple and sounded the bells. He then offered the basket to the deity. Prayers were offered and prasad was distributed. The man, as he reached his car, saw the same basket sitting on his car bonnet. “One is enough,” said the note by its side.
The pujari inside was smiling as he distributed the prasad to the devotees. His face bore an uncanny resemblance to the flower vendor.