Ronak was feeling bad. The coach was nasty to him. He had given him a scolding in front of his friends, asking him not to show his face if he was not interested in the game. Ronak decided to bury his dream of becoming a footballer.

But he still felt hurt. Ronak wanted to get rid of that horrible pain. He went for a long walk. Dusk fell. Suddenly, he realized it was dark and he had reached the outskirts of the city. He turned back.

It was then that he spotted a Hanuman temple. Devotees had gathered for the evening prayer. After prayers, the devotees left. There was no one except Ronak who was looking at a stone left outside the temple. “I’m as useless as this stone, not wanted by anybody,” said Ronak to himself. People used the stone to break coconuts, which were offered to Hanumanji.

“I know how you feel. My brother and I lay here on the ground for centuries. Nobody looked at us. Nobody cared for us.”

Ronak was startled to hear the voice. Was it the stone speaking or was it his imagination?

“One day a sculptor picked me up. He broke me into two pieces. He left one half here; that’s me. I’m the lowly stone used for breaking coconuts. The other half is the stone that these people honour as Hanumanji,” said the stone.

Ronak looked at the idol of Hanuman, beautifully decorated, with lamps burning in front of it. He felt sorry for the stone outside.

“If I’m honoured today, I’ve earned it, brother,” said a soft voice. Ronak was surprised to hear the voice was coming from the temple idol.

“The sculptor worked on me with his chisel and hammer. He kept hammering over me. It was so painful. As I cried in pain, you brother, laughed at my plight. You were happy you were spared by the sculptor. I had to take all the beating. He then applied sandal paste on me. That was very soothing. Then, they gave me a bath. They dressed me up and garlanded me. They called me Hanuman and people started worshiping me.”

“You were spared all the hammering. I took all the hammering. Today, I’m here honoured by the devotees who see Hanumanji in me and you remain where you are.”

“Was it Hanumanji speaking?” Ronak wondered.

There was a soft glow of lamps burning in front of Hanumanji.

Yes. It was an ordinary stone, like any other stone. After all the hammering it received, it became an adorable idol, Hanumanji.

Ronak found himself smiling. All the scolding of the coach was nothing compared to the hammering Hanumanji received when he was a stone, thought Ronak.

He bowed to Hanumanji and left.

Next day, Ronak reported to his coach. He was ready to be hammered into shape as a footballer.

—Adapted from aA Harikatha tale

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