THE THREE WISE MEN
Prince Caspar woke up in a cold sweat. What was that dream all about? A child; a star; a hill? He knew he just had to go. He remembered the blue train of his dream and a destination which had flashed across his mind - ‘Canacona’. Now where in the whole wide world would he find this place?
Professor Melchior had just finished his morning prayers when the phone rang. One of his students, he presumed. An excited voice answered his sleepy “Hello”. “Sir, I had a strange dream last night, no, in fact, it was early this morning. I saw a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a cow-shed. A huge star hung over the shed and I saw the words “king” written in the sky. Can you tell me what the meaning of this dream is?” The learned man was startled for he knew what it meant, of course. He consulted his books, and then decided to take the train. A blue train, as the boy said he had seen in his dream.
The poet Balthazar looked out of his window, marveling at the dazzling display in the firmament when he noticed a star shinning brighter than any he had ever seen before. It seemed to beckon him to follow it. Quickly donning his outdoor clothes, he slung a bag onto his shoulder and followed the star.
Entering the station, he saw a prince and a professor sitting in the waiting room. He joined them only to discover that they were on the same quest. “Canacona is an obscure village in Goa, I am told.” said Caspar. “We can take the Konkan Kanya Express from Mumbai to reach there.”
When they reached Goa the next week, the star that was leading them suddenly vanished. “Oh, heavens, what do we do now? said Melchior. “We are in a strange place and cannot even speak the language.” “Look!” pointed Balthazar to a signboard with a beaming politician’s face on it. “This looks like the person who seems to Know All.” He read, “The Alley Cat, who lives by the church over the hill.” Spying the church in the distance, the trio climbed arduously till they came to a swanky bungalow, flanked on all sides by tough security guards. “We have come to meet the Alley Cat. Tell him we have seen the star and followed it here.” After a brief exchange on the intercom, one of the guards ushered them in to meet the great cat who was sitting on a mat watching a re-run of Micky Mouse. In a booming voice, he welcomed them and gestured to the mats on the floor. “Tell me, tell me, what is your wish?” he said. “Do you want your shack license renewed or sanction to continue mining or what?” The trio explained their mission, the cat listening keenly, his moustaches quivering with each word they uttered. Then he arose, paced up and down as if in great distress and turning to the wise men, he said “I will give you a car to travel down to Canacona. But you must promise me one thing. When you find this baby, you must come back with the news so that I too may go and worship him.” Delighted, the trio agreed and soon they were off in the Fat Cat’s Chevrolet.
As they reached the village, the star re-appeared and led them to a poor broken-down house. There they saw Mary with her little “babulea” and the proud papa Joseph, surrounded by the local farmers and fishermen. They bowed reverently, placing their gifts of food, clothing and shelter at the little baby’s feet. Kissing the tiny hand of the Saviour as he smiled at them, they spoke words of gratitude that he had come at last to save his people. One of the fishermen invited them to his shack for a meal. As they slept in the storm-hit village whose inhabitants were still waiting for salvation themselves, they got a second dream, that of a cat transformed into a lion waiting to devour and destroy. Hurriedly packing their belongings, they slipped away deep in the dark of the night to return back home wiser than they had been when they left it. (709 words)