In Siripuram village it did not rain for three years. Men, women and children looked at the sky anxiously for signs of clouds. The pond was now a wide stretch of caked earth. Thirsty animals crow ded around puddles of dirty water. Women went very far in search of water. They returned withpots of water balanced over their heads and some fodder of the cattle tucked under their arms.
The people of Siripuram village tied up their belongings and with heavy hearts they loaded their carts and began moving reluctantly from the land of their forefathers. The elderly and children sat in the carts alongside pots, pans, bundles of clothes and some furniture.
After a long journey of several days, the villagers reached a small town in a green valley. They smiled weakly. They hoped to find some work and shelter there. ‘This seems a prosperous town,’ they thought. ‘The rivers are full, and the lush green fields are so inviting.’
They reached Shanthi Nagar. Their tired legs refused to carry them any more, so they sat in the town square. Rajanna and others brought some cool water from a well. The tired people gulped it down thirstily. But water did not keep the hunger away for long. They looked longingly towards the houses, hoping to be offered some work and some food as payment. But the doors remained shut.
Did the town people welcome them?
What did the villagers do then?
Gopanna thought, ‘My people are hungry and tired to go any further. If the other towns too are unfriendly, we will wander endlessly. I have to do something,’ he said to himself and went to the village head. Later Rajanna came to Gopanna and asked, ‘What do we do now? As we have water here, I can prepare Ganji with a magic spell.
Gopanna quickly collected four small rocks and placed them near one another in the middle of the town square. The town people peeped out of their windows to see whether the villagers were leaving. Instead, they found Gopanna working busily.
Gopanna fetched some firewood and threw it into the rocks and lit it. He picked a large pot from the villagers’ belongings and filled it with two quarters of water. He placed it on the fire. The town people looked curiously. The water boiled. Gopanna stood in front of the pot and said, ‘ Deja doja ikla ekla magia Ganji misto esto listo. We will have some delicious magic Ganji.’
‘Ah! It smells so delicious!’ Gopanna said loudly. ‘If only I had a little rice, it would taste heavenly!’ A door creaked open. An old woman walked slowly towards the square with some rice. ‘Thank you,’ he accepted the rice and added it to the boiling water. After a few minutes, ‘Actually it is just missing a little jeera powder,’ he said. Soon one more door opened and a little boy ran down with jeera powder. Gopanna accepted it and added it to the Ganji. ‘The Ganji does smell good,’ said the little boy.
‘Thank you, generous ones. Please stay and share our magic Ganji,’ Gopanna said.
‘It is ready to serve. A dash of salt and pepper is all it needs,” he said. The local grocer rushed to his shop and brought them right away.
Some women fetched bowls from their homes and other brought some onions and green chillies to go with the Ganji. All the town people and the villagers shared the hot, delicious Ganji together. They smiled at each other.
The town head said, ‘ Our friends from Siripuram can stay here as long as they want.’ ‘We are very grateful to you, honourable Sir,’ said the village head. ‘We want work. God willing, we will return to our village soon.’