Venkanna and Ramulamma lived in a small village. The village deity Golden Malchamma’s temple was situated at one end of the village. There was a big garden around the temple. There were varieties of trees and plants which made the garden look like a dense forest. In the middle of the garden, there was a big pond.
The pond had a lot of big fish. The garden had varieties of trees such as tamarind, mango and jambulanum trees. Nobody plucked fruits from the trees or caught fish available in the pond. The villagers believed that plucking fruits or catching fish would anger the Goddess. Stories were spread that if they did that, they would die coughing out blood or some other problem would befall them. But Venkanna did not believe in this.
Soon it was summer and Venkanna longed to eat tamarind soup and fish curry. One day he got up early in the morning and reached the temple.
He plucked the tender tamarind pods and put them in his bag. He also caught a fish and put it in his bag. He reached home before anyone could see him. He gave his bag to his wife and went away to work in the fields.
Ramulamma knew where the tamarind pods and fish had come from.
She ground the spices and started cooking. The aroma of the soup was really mouth- watering.
Ramulamma popped a piece of fish in her mouth. After some time she again popped in another piece of fish. This way she ate half of the fish even before the cooking was completed. Then she removed the pot from the fire and sat waiting for her husband.
Every day Venkanna came home at a certain time. That day Venkanna was late for lunch. Feeling hungry and unable to wait any longer, Ramullama sat down to eat her lunch. The fish curry was delicious.
Ramullamma ate up the entire fish curry! Then she realized her mistake and trembled in fear. As it is her husband had stolen it from the forbidden garden and now she had eaten up all the curry. He would shout at her if he came to know that there was no food left for him! Ramullamma quickly washed the pot and again put it on the fire and covered it with a lid. Soon she heard Venkanna’s footsteps.
The aroma of the curry still lingered in the house making Venkanna’s mouth water. He asked his wife to serve the food and went out to the well to have a wash. ‘I have started serving. Come quickly,’ yelled Ramullamma. She tightly secured the lid on the pot, opened her hair and re-arranged her clothes.
She lunged at Venkanna as he entered the room screaming, ‘Hey…you stole from my garden. You think you are brave. But you don’t know my power.’ She started hitting and slapping him. Venkenna was stunned. He too started shouting loudly in fear.
‘Hey you….I’m Malchamma. I’m your village goddess and I have possessed your wife. You plucked tamarind pods from my garden. You caught fish from my pond. I will take your life. Hey….’ Ramullamma cried out and again pounced on Venkanna.
Venkanna was scared to death. His mouth dried up. He started shivering.
He folded his hands and fell at Ramullamma’s feet and cried, ‘Oh! Mother, please forgive me. Tell me what can I do?’
Ramullamma screamed angrily, “Say that you will not do it ever again.’
Venkanna bent down to her feet and said, ‘Mother, I promise I will never do this again. I will do whatever you say.’
Handing over the covered pot to Venkanna, his wife said. ‘Take this and go to the temple. Drop this pot into the pond. The fish that you killed will come to life again. The tamarind pods will again get stuck to the tree. I will then forgive you.’
Without another word, Venkanna took the pot and threw it in the water.
As he threw, the lid got separated from the pot but he could not see the tamarind pod or the fish. He thought that it was a miracle of the Goddess. He went inside the temple and slapped his cheeks and asked the goddess for forgiveness saying that he would never do such a thing again. Then he returned home.
He saw that his wife was picking stones from the rice and looked normal. She looked and behaved as though nothing had happened and no one had possessed her.
After this incident, Venkanna never stole again. He frequently asked the goddess for forgiveness by slapping his cheeks. He told stories to the villagers and urged them never to steal from the garden.

It is difficult to inculcate scientific awareness among people and make them realize the importance of conserving natural resources. Apparently, that’s the reason why elders have made several rules and regulations by quoting that there are some forces which are out of the ordinary. This has been done to make people follow the assigned path. Ultimately, the background reality of the rules and regulations may slowly disappear. But the customs and traditions may remain. This story sounds as if beliefs and customs hold no basis for some people.