Once God sent one of his angels to earth with a special divine camera, to click a picture of the prettiest and most fragrant hands.
The angel spread his celestial wings and descended upon the earth, in the midnight hour. The angel reckoned that was the hour when the denizens of earth would be in a state of restful slumber which would facilitate his task of observing and clicking the prettiest hands, at leisure.
The angel made a beeline for the palace. For who else but the queen, could have the prettiest hands? All queens as is well known are pampered daily by the ministrations of numerous handmaidens who attend to the intricate science of the Queens’ toiletry and beauty care.
So in flew the angel into the Queen’s opulent chamber. He approached the bed where she lay in royal repose, and sure enough he noted that her hands were milky white, shapely and pretty, and ornamented too, with many gem studded rings on slender fingers. He quickly opened the shutter but before he could click a bad odour started emanating from the spot where the royal hands lay. Startled, he retreated remembering that the divine order required the hands to be both fragrant and pretty. Disappointed he clicked his camera shut. He understood now why the ‘fragrant’ condition had been added! The Queen’s hands looked mighty pretty but the bad odour was the residue of bad, unkind actions…
He then tried the King. But even approaching the King became a near impossibility because from afar itself a noxious odour started assailing him.
Oh he thought ruefully I’ve got the wrong number here. I better look out for intellectual, scholarly souls who are bound to have executed good deeds by virtue of their wisdom and intelligence.
He went to numerous scholars, intellectuals and self proclaimed wise men but everywhere he was dogged by the foul odour. He understood it to be the odour of ego.
The angel felt disheartened. He roamed the world but could not find the right pair of hands to click. How would he face God? A simple task and he was not being able to accomplish it. His angelic face looked crestfallen.
With a heavy heart, he finally came to an open field and sat under a leafy green tree. What a soothing feeling it was! Just the perfect sylvan spot, he thought, to take stock of the situation. And then, just as this thought crossed his mind, suddenly an exquisite fragrance wafted to him giving his nostrils the much needed reprieve from the overdose of bad odours he had been subjected to!
He looked up at the tree to see if it had summer blossoms that were exuding the fragrance. No. It had only an abundance of leaves. He looked left and right but could see no flowering bushes anywhere.
Where was this beautiful fragrance coming from? He searched all over and then, following the direction from where it came, saw a farmer, sleeping on the ground on his mat in the open fields.
The angel bent near him and the fragrance increased. Excited, he looked at the hands of the farmer. But, they didn’t fit the bill as they didn’t look pretty at all. On the contrary, they were rough and brown, with coarse skin. And yet, the sweetest fragrance was coming directly from them! The farmer was fast asleep, and from his hands wafted this divine fragrance!
The angel, a tad confused, nevertheless hurriedly opened the shutter of his camera and clicked a picture of the farmer’s hands. He was a bit perturbed about the hands not looking the prettiest but the fragrance prompted him to click the farmer’s hands.
He flew back to the celestial abodes and showed his picture to God.
And waited hopefully, a wee unsure..
And wondrously, God patted him lovingly in hearty appreciation! The angel had done a fine job. Handsome is he who handsome does, said God. And this farmer exemplifies that perfectly. He is a simple straightforward hardworking soul, who tills the land daily, feeds his family and others, and is honest and charitable. From the produce of his land he marks out a portion to be given to the temple priest for feeding mendicants and other needy who come there. Much good flows from his coarse hands, which are worthy instruments for helping himself and others in a spirit of selfless service.
Yes, all helping hands which serve fellow beings, are the prettiest hands in the world, said God.
The angel beamed.
PS: This post is a paean to all the Covid workforce, frontline workers and helpers who are using their beautiful hands tirelessly in serving in various capacities and healing and providing relief and succor across our beleaguered globe.