Both woke up at 5 and while Maan got ready for the challenge, Geet went to the Pooja room. She knew she wouldn’t be able to watch Maan suffer and decided to pray till the time he pulled the rath after which she too would serve at the Gurudwara. As Maan was about to leave for the challenge Geet came out of the Pooja room with the aarti thal, giving him aarti and putting tilak on him.
Rano and papaji had planned to follow Maan for the entire rath yatra of pulling the rath in case he needed their support. Maan was wearing a dhoti and was bare-chested and bare foot (It was the dress the people wore to pull the rath). The rath had thick rugged ropes attached to it which were used for pulling it. He crossed the ropes over his chest, so it was basically two diagonal ropes crisscrossing his chest using which he would be pulling the rath. Dot at 6 he started pulling the rath. He didn’t even want to lose one second as the rath was quite heavy and it was a very tedious job to pull it alone. He knew it would be a difficult task to complete the round within 4 hours and hence he soon found the right rhythm to move it, not too fast as it would tire him before the round completed, not too slow as it would take more time and he would fail the task.
Crowd started collecting and the word spread like jungle fire that this year a shahari babu was alone pulling the rath. People flocked in great number wanting to see, who was the person, who was pulling Vishnu ji’s rath alone and had pledged to complete the round within 4 hours.
The road was highly uneven and full of small pebbles hurting his feet sole and they soon started bleeding. But Maan didn’t even realize, he was just pulling the rath forward in full flow. Due to the continuous pulling of the heavy rath the rough ropes were rubbing against his bare chest causing it to become red with friction and as time passed by they started peeling off the outer layer of his skin where the ropes were in constant contact.
By the time Maan completed half round it was 7:30 and his feet were full of blisters and were bleeding badly, almost making blood foot prints in sand. His chest was also bleeding where the rope was in contact and he was feeling very tired and sweating profusely since he was still not completely recovered. His just healed leg wounds started hurting causing him great difficulty in moving forward. But all he remembered was Geet and her faith on him that he will never fail their love and he kept pushing himself further for the sake of his love.
Maan (as he fell): Ahhh…
Rano and Papaji rushed forward to help him, so did the villagers but he raised his hand stopping them
Maan (getting up): Mein theek hoon (I am alright).
Rano: But beta.
Maan (looked at her in the eye): I am fine ma. Please don’t worry.
His hands were also wounded and cut from the place he was holding the rope to aid him pull the rath forward. He re-arranged the rope so that it didn’t touch the chest wounds and he resumed the task, one-fourth of the distance was left now. But the rope didn’t stay and got stuck in the wounds again making him flinch with pain, but the pain didn’t deter him from his mission and he gathered all his strength and continued pulling on.
Seeing his plight, all the villagers started encouraging him on, “Om Vishnuvay Namah” chanting the Lord Vishnu mantra to egg him on to fulfill the challenge.
One person: Isne koi bahut bari mannat mangi hogi jiske liya yeh itna bara jokhim utta raha hai aur itna khathin kaam kar raha hai. (He must have wished for something massive that is why he is taking such a big risk and doing such a difficult task)
Other person: Hats off to him. It is next to impossible to pull Lord Vishnu’s rath along but see he is almost there.
Here Maan not caring one bit about himself, just kept pulling the rath with all his might. He felt as if Geet was standing over the crossing line calling him to come to her, encouraging him to go on and on and he finally finished the task whole 10 minutes before10.
Here Geet was continuously praying for his safety when the servant came rushing in to tell her that Maan had finished the challenge successfully. Geet thanked God and rushed out of the prayer room when she almost banged into Beeji.
Beeji: Arey, kahan bagi ja rahi hai. I am watching you since morning why haven’t you had breakfast and what are you praying for. Come sit and eat something.(Arey, where are you running to).
Geet: No, I am also not going to eat anything until Maan does. Also what all you are making him do is not required. He loves me and I know it and he doesn’t need to prove anything. I am quiet just because of his promise but if he needs to fulfill the challenge, then I will also do as much as I can. I am going to serve at the Gurudwara along with him.
Saying so Geet left from there leaving a furious Beeji behind.
Maan: Ma, can you please give me the kurta
Maan had requested Rano to carry his kurta along with her because he knew he would get hurt with the ropes and Geet would be upset seeing his wounds and urge him to go to the hospital, but he wouldn’t have time since he needed to serve at the Gurudwara to complete the challenge.
He quickly wore his kurta and went to the Gurudwara where Geet had also reached by now. Geet’s eyes filled up seeing his state, he was sweating profusely and his hands had cuts and also his feet were bleeding. Though Maan had tried to hide his chest wounds but the blood strains on his kurta gave away his wounds to Geet.
Maan shook his head as if telling her don’t cry princess. He assured her with his eyes that he was fine and that they need to start the service. They started by sweeping in the prayer room, Maan was having great difficulty in bending down as his back had become very stiff due to pulling of the heavy rath, he almost had to support his back while bending down. Even his hand was shaking while holding the broom but he just smiled at Geet who was watching him from the other end, her eyes trying to make sure he was alright. He assured her with his eyes as if telling her not to worry and started to broom. But Geet knew he was in pain and was smiling just for her sake, she felt so helpless that she couldn’t do anything, not until 4 and her anger at Beeji just kept mounting up.
Once the cleaning was done they went to help in the kitchen for preparing food. Geet was helping in making Pooris while Maan went to aid in chopping and making of vegetables. He started chopping the vegetables but his hand wounds were making it extremely painful for him to continue. He simply looked at Geet and with one glimpse of his beautiful angel all his pain vanished and he continued with new zeal.
While stirring the vegetables in the big utensils for langer his hands were so shaky that he had to hold the spatula with both his hands in order to steady them. By the time they prepared the food it was 1 pm and Maan was feeling exhausted but how could he stop when his love was at stake. Till he had even one ounce of life/ energy left in him he would keep going on for his love, how could he let her faith on him down and hence he kept pushing himself.
They started serving the food, by now his whole body had give up and was developing cramps but still he somehow managed to bend down and server the people despite his every muscle quivering so badly. He kept on serving and re-serving food to the people non-stop. It was as if the pure and divine love flowing in his veins was pushing him on, not letting his body crumple under the physical pain and fatigue. Each part of his body was screaming in pain, dying for water but still their limitless love somehow managed to pull him through and finally the clock stuck 4.
It was as if his body was just waiting for the clock to strike 4 and the challenge to finish that he simply collapsed. Geet rushed to him.
An appeal of all my readers, please don’t remain silent.