The Street Juggler by Tara Bose
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The Street Juggler
by Tara Bose
One day as Mohammed Chhel was walking down a busy street he saw a juggler at work. A crowd had gathered around him. He boasted of having traveled all over the world and learnt magic which no one could have seen, leave alone perform. He shouted to the crowd and said, "See I will change this man into a deer."

He got one of his followers to sit down and tied a string around his neck. He covered him with a basket and went round it three times whispering something which no one could hear. He played the flute and beat the drums. Then he threw a handful of dust on the basket and picked it up and lo ! there stood a deer ! The crowd clapped and cheered and asked for more. Then from the crowd one of the relatives of the juggler went up to him and said, "That was nothing. I can change you into a rabbit."

The juggler laughed loudly and turned to the crowd and said, "He can change me into a rabbit, he says. Let him try !" So the other man tried. He played the flute and beat the drums. But nothing happened. Naturally it wouldn't. For he was no magician ! All this had been planned just to convince the crowd that there was no other like the juggler. So the juggler began cursing and abusing the other man. Mohammed Chhel had been watching all this and came through the throng of people and said, "Why are you trying to dupe these simple people ? This is your own man. Why don't you try and change me into something. I will then be convinced that you are a true magician. Come on. I challenge you to change me into a rabbit.

The juggler laughed aloud and began his tricks. He began curling some strands of his own hair and whispering softly to himself. Then picked up a handful of dust from the ground and flung it in anger at Mohammed Chhel, but nothing happened.

"Is your performance over ? Are you tired ?", asked Mohammed Chhel.
The juggler was losing his confidence. He was worried. He knew that if he did not succeed in turning Chhel Into a rabbit he would never again be able to show his face to anyone. He became desperate. He tried all his magic, frantically playing his flute and beating his drum. Suddenly he found himself whirling round and round like a top and falling, unconscious, at the feet of the crowd. Everyone began to jeer at him.
 
Mohammed Chhel took out a cheroot and took two or three long puffs. He rubbed his hands together and told the juggler to look at the palm of his right hand. Within a few moments the juggler's face began to change colour and he began to run, shouting, "Wait for me, wait for me, I am coming." He ran and ran till he was out of sight. And was never heard of again.

Mohammed Chhel, meanwhile picked up the deer and threw it into the air and it turned into a man again. The man too, ran after the juggler shouting, "Where are you going, Uncle ? Wait for me." And he too disappeared.

The open-mouthed crowd looked on wondering at the day's performance. Mohammed Chhel walked away smoking his cheroot.
15-Aug-2010
 
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