Along the sea-shore, one evening. It was low tide, Pundit Tribhuvan was strolling on the sands of the beach. He stopped when he saw in front of him a skull. On it were the natural scribbling. Pundit Tribhuvan was one of those very rare ones in India now, who can read what is written on the brow of a skull! Out of curiosity he bent down and read the strange "lithography of fate" on this unfortunate skull.
He compiled its meaning and translated the message into Sanskrit: “From birth onwards extreme poverty; ten years of prison life; death in the sea; and something in store, yet to happen." Since the skull was in the waters its former owner must have died in the sea. The shape of the skull showed sufficient deformity to conclude that the man might have committed crimes in his thoughtlessness and so probably had a term of life-imprisonment. Now here was his skull—what more could happen to it? Yet, it was written there, clear for anyone knowing the script to read it: "Something more in store yet to happen." What could that be?
The scholar in the Pundit was tempted. The sense of respect for the dead commanded him to leave it alone—but the academician in him wanted to observe the destiny of the skull and thus cross-check what would happen. He looked around! There was no one else on that deserted stretch of beach. He kneeled down, picked up the skull, wrapped it in his shawl, and walked home. In the hollow of a tree on his estate he placed it, carefully. Then he returned home.
Days passed. The Pundit had to visit the neighbouring towns to address the public and to preside over conferences. When he returned home it was some three weeks later. He returned one day just before noon. It was hot. He decided to take his bath in the river, flowing along his property, before taking his midday meal.
As he was hurrying along, he remembered the skull in the hollow of the tree, and so he looked around to see if anybody was watching him, and finding none of his gardeners about, he suddenly ran off the foot-path to the river, and dashed to the tree.
Unfortunately, his wife happened to be at an upstairs window. She saw her husband looking around and secretly dashing towards a tree. There he looked around for sometime and then he went for his bath. She wondered what he was doing.
Some days passed. Again one day Pundit Tribhuvan decided to take his bath in the refreshing cool river and started to the Ghat built on his own estate.
His wife ran upstairs to watch. Tribhuvan again remembered the great "experiment" of his; and so, as before, he looked around and seeing that none of his gardeners were working at this end of the garden he ran to the tree and looked at the skull. It was just where he had left it. Satisfied, he went straight to the river and after his bath and japa, Tribhuvan returned home.
The lady could no longer contain herself. Her curiosity was roused. So in the afternoon she went and looked all around the tree. Then she saw the skull. She understood everything. She said to herself, "So that is it. My husband had some secret lover. She died. He has brought her skull here. He visits her now and then. He loves her more than he loves me. Right. I will teach him a lesson.”
She took away the skull, brought it home, and in the mortar pounded it with her pestle and collecting all the powder floated it down the river!
Days passed. Pundit Tribhuvan had to go out on his preaching tour. It was only after a month that he could return.
The day he returned he dashed to take his bath in the river. On the way he remembered his pet experiment. So he turned his steps towards the tree. He searched. He even put his hand in the hollow of the tree to see if the skull had slipped in. There was nothing there. The skull had disappeared—"Something more in store, yet to happen," he repeated to himself.
Days passed into months. The experiment was a success—something had happened.
But the deep student in Pundit Tribhuvan was anxious to know the story of its last tragedy. There was no way of finding it out.
It was a full-moon day. Satyanarayana Pooja was over. Tribhuvan was sitting on the veranda of his house looking at the regal march of the bright moon, fabulously splashing liquid silver all along the slow river.
His wife came and sat near him. Lost in his own thoughts, the Pundit sat. She could no longer contain herself and so said, "I know you are thinking of her"
"Her? Who?" asked Tribhuvan, shocked by the suddenness of the words from his wife.
"Who? She whose skull you used to go and visit daily in the hollow of the tree!" Now Tribhuvan understood. He was thrilled. Here was the story of the skull so close to him again. In a careless tone he asked, "How did you know that the skull belonged to a woman? Are there masculine and feminine skulls also? Inside the skull, no doubt, things function differently in men and women, so the Sastra says." And he laughed at the foolishness of his wife.
"I don't need any Sastra to tell me the truth. You must have had a secret mistress somewhere. She died. Your love was still strong. So you brought her skull here. Every now and then, after carefully looking around you ran to the tree where you had left it. I saw you visiting her in the tree!"
Now Tribhuvan was supremely happy. He understood that it is natural for a woman to imagine things in her jealousy. And her jealousy itself is but the ugly expression of a gross type of barbarous love.
He quietly explained his part of the story, describing the stroll on the beach, the skull he saw there, the message on it and his experiment with the skull and its fixture destiny.
"Now tell me, dear," said Tribhuvan, "what exactly did you do to the skull?"
She was silent. She was ashamed of herself. But she was happy. The story confirmed that her husband was chaste and faithful. With a captivating smile she said, "You always make me mad with your strange actions! I got mad at my own thoughts. brought the skull to our bamhouse and powdered it in the mortar and threw the powder into the river."
Tribhuvan smiled. Even the skull had to continue the play and act its part in the drama of life. "Why should I blame her?" thought the Pundit. "Why should I myself collect that skull at the sea-shore and carry it home? She is as much in the last scene of this tragic life as I myself am."
"All His Grace only. Surrendering to Him, let us act as His Instruments. That is all that we can do! And that is all that is there to be done! How simple! Yet how complicated we make our life—in our ego and selfish arrogance!!"
Singing His Name, Pundit Tribhuvan went to bed very quietly that night.