Luci Harmon was getting ready to attend the first cabinet meeting since she was appointed as the new Minister for Cultural Affairs. She was dressed in what had suddenly become the standard dress for politicians in Australia, which some of them believed was their national dress. She wore a long sleeved khaki shirt, worn over her white trousers. The origin of the dress was what had been adopted a few years ago, by Australian politicians as the national dress, though in reality it was what had been worn by European tourists when they had gone to Australia or Africa, in the old days, on safari.
She sprayed a few drops of sacred water from a bottle, which she kept locked in a drawer in the office table. Over the past five years, she has been keeping this sacred water with her, and made sure that she paid a visit to the Saadhu before she ran dry.
The Saadhu always gifted her a bottle of water with his blessings, together with a black string, which was tied on her right wrist by a young boy who always stood by the Saadhu's side. The black string would get worn out fall off in a few weeks, though she tried to keep it as long as she could. The bottle of water she would use, till she could make the next visit.
On her last visit the Saadhu had gifted her a gold watch, which had suddenly appeared on the tray held by the boy. Luci wore this watch at every important occasion, in addition to the gold chain around her neck, which was gifted to her by the Saadhu two years ago.
Luci had come a long way since the day she first visited the Saadhu. She had been summoned to the inner temple, where thousands of devotees gathered everyday to meet the Saadhu. She knew that even billionair business men, leading politicians, great scientists, and other professionals who had never got a meeting or even a look from the Saadhu.
The Saadhu, as he went around the devotees in the amphitheater, had looked at Luci and indicated that she should follow him inside. A few other devotees were also summoned. They walked in through the archway into a garden, which very few had seen.
The garden was very cool even though the outside temperature was about 400c. The trees were covered with flowers which were also scattered all over the grounds, over the dark green of well watered grass. A small stream, flowed over white pebbles, slowly, running alongside the winding pathway. Birds were singing, in tune to the slow movement of water over the pebbles.
Several girls and boys were tending the plants. They were all dressed in pale green long sleeved jackets and what appeared to be a lungi, running down to their ankles. The girls wore a yellow scarf covering their hair.
The Saadhu's residence was of wattle and daub walls and a thatched roof. Seen from the outside, it appeared that there were only two or three rooms in the building. Around the house was a stretch of white sand, swept clean, like the border of a painting.
A boy came out and invited the devotees to be seated on the benches arranged under the trees in front of the house. Luci was taken inside first, before the others. She had to bend her six foot figure to enter the low roofed building and was led into the inner room, where the Saadhu was seated, cross legged on a bench. Luci knelt before him and worshipped with her palms together. She was invited to sit on the mat spread on the earthen floor, in front of the bench.
The Saadhu spoke to her, in what she knew to be Hindi. It was translated into English by the boy.
"Why are you wasting your time as a school teacher? You should be in the parliament" was what Saadhu had told her. Luci wondered how Saadhu knew she was a teacher.
"Your whole life is an open book to me. You have a very bright future in politics. Within fifteen years you will be the head of state in your country" the Saadhu told her, through the boy.
Luci sat speechless.
The Saadhu held out his hand and on it was a small bottle and a gold chain. Luci waited, not knowing what she should do.
"Accept the gift" the boy whispered to her. Luci worshipped Saadhu once again and took the gift with both hands.
"Come with me" the boy called her away, and explained to her that she should apply a drop of water from the bottle on her forehead every morning and that she should wear the gold chain always.
Luci walked out of the temple and out onto the road, in deep thought. She did not see the devotees around her or heard their voices. She got into a taxi and went back to her hotel. She could not yet digest the words uttered by the Saadhu. Politics was something totally alien to her.
She had met a few politicians several years ago, after she left high school and was waiting to enter the university. One of her classmates was the nephew of a candidate at the general elections that year and her friend asked her to go with them to their uncles electorate for a few days canvassing. Luci had agreed. She had never been to such a remote town before and the few days she spent there, cycling for miles, calling on farmers, having their meals with them, sometimes sleeping outdoors, had all been a new experience. The candidate thanked her and told her she could come and see him anytime for anything. At the elections he won with a large majority and ended up as a deputy minister. Luci never met him after that.
She tried to think of any one else that she knew who had any connections with politics or politicians. Most of her friends were not interested in politics. The few who were interested were on the extreme left, involved with the fourth international, or the communist party, or with the nationalist movement. Luci could not understand any of their jargon.
She fell asleep, still thinking about her political career. The Saadhu came to her in the night and told her to contact a former minister and veteran politician, Robert Granger.
On her return, she found the address of Granger and left on a Sunday morning to meet him. Luci thought that the direct approach would be the best and informed Granger that she was directed there by the Saadhu and then she told him about Sadhus advice for her to enter politics.
"If the Saadhu has advised you to take to politics, you should do so immediately. I will help you any way i can" Granger told her. Luci wondered if his offer was based on his respect for the Saadhu, or because he wanted to hold Luci indebted to him, if one day she was so destined to be the head of state.
"You must fill in this application from and become a member of our party, as the first step" granger told her.
"I have no experience in doing any political work" Luci admitted.
"You don't have to worry about that. None of us had any experience to start with. You have an advantage, as a teacher. You have the respect of your community, there would be a lot of students who have left school and would be ideal for our youth wing."
Luci left the politician after agreeing for another meeting the following Sunday, when they could meet some of the party men of the area. She was invited to join a sub committee on social welfare and adult education.
The way Luci got immersed in politics could be described by the oft repeated phrase, like a fish taking to water. She learned all the tricks of the trade very soon. Luci found she could talk for hours without saying anything, she could hide the truth or twist it to suit her needs without telling a lie, she could make promises with a very sincere and serious face, without any plans what so ever of keeping them, and she could greet even her most hated with a warm smile.
She visited the Saadhu again the next year and once again she was invited into the inner compound. She received a gold pendant, together with the bottle of sacred water.
Very few people knew about Luci's visits to the Saadhu, while other politicians made it a point to get as much publicity as possible on such visits, to the temple, or to the Vatican, to Lourdes or any other religious shrine, even to the extent of trying to pose for photographs with the Saadhu, or the pope, to appear on front pages. Perhaps the others thought that when the voters knew of their visits and that they had the blessings of a supernatural being they were assured of their victory.
As she began her rise in the political world, the media began to take notice. Luci made good copy, she looked good in photographs and on film, she was always found at the right place at the right time, with the right smile. Charismatic. Was the word often used about Luci.
Luci believed that she had the Saadhu's blessings and she did not need any help from any mortals to attain her ambition. She knew that the Saadhu was arranging everything the way it was meant to be.