Swami Achoo was an up-and-coming godman. The red strip of powder ran down his forehead till the tip of his nose. It divided his uneven face into two perfect halves. The swami had a drooping eye and a cauliflower ear, a deviated septum made his nose swerve to the left.
But his powers were his defining asset. They made up for his unpleasant looks and people waited for hours to capture a glimpse of the holy man. He wrapped himself in a sheet, not white but purple. It did nothing for his murky complexion but the gold chains on his neck stood out on the aubergine color.
He carried a rock in his hand. It was white with rounded edges. No one knew what it was for, but it too possessed rumored powers. Such was the aura of Swami Achoo and all objects close to him.
His assistant chalked out his day in morning and evening sessions. The lines began forming three hours before the scheduled timings. People came with hope and offerings, a godman could not be appeased with merely smiles and tall compliments.
Whatever they laid at the swami’s feet was whisked away swiftly, and it depended on the man’s mood whether he bestowed a curse or blessing. That was the risk so many took while standing in the sweltering heat, licking their lips for some salty hydration.
And then came the moment each devotee had been waiting for. The swami opened his arms and lifted his head. The pretty, young girl stationed next to him removed the feather from her cleavage and tickled the holy man’s nose.
The act could go one of two ways.
Either the swami remained unaffected, restoring his gaze upon the unworthy one, who was then slapped and thrown out of the ashram.
Or the swami’s face scrunched up and he let it rip.
The devotee would get a nice spray of spit and maybe if he was lucky some strands of snot. He was then pushed to the gates but mind you allowed to walk out.
And for days he doesn’t wash his face, and the spit and mucus dries, and that is a blessed sign. His problems disappear, lost money reappears, and his wife now addresses him as – my loving dear.
He begins sneezing day and night. It might be a nasty bug.
Or an added perk of Swami Achoo’s blessing.
She insists on being called Cyn. A professional caregiver, her grim situation makes her Simply Guilty of Small Sins.