A Hollow Triumph

Many years ago, in the old town of Bhadrapore, a wealthy older man known as Raja decided to sell his townhouse. to Seth Gulab Chand, a widower with one son named Kumar.

It was agreed that Gulab Chand would retain the servants, all of whom had worked for Raja for many years in purchasing the house.

One of the servants was Anand, the gardener, but Anand soon discovered that the change in masters was a change for the worse. Although the garden, with its beds of colourful flowers, was a joy to behold, not a day passed without poor Anand receiving abuse and criticism from Gulab Chand and his son. Within a month, Gulab Chand ordered Anand to dig up the flower beds and grow vegetables which could be sold in the bazaar for a profit. The gardener was filled with grief, but there was little he could do about it, as other employment was hard to get.

Then one morning, when Anand was busy watering his beloved flowers, a well-dressed man came into the compound and called Anand to him.

“Are you Anand, who worked for Raja for more than fifteen years?” asked the man.

“Yes, Sir, that is true,’ replied Anand. “Then I am sorry to tell you that Raja died last month, and in his will, he left you the sum of two thousand rupees because you were a good and faithful servant.”

“I am the lawyer for Raja’s estate,” continued the man, and here is a bag containing two thousand silver rupees, which I want you to count and give a receipt for.”

Anand was sorrowful to hear of his late master’s death, and he found it difficult to express his thoughts and gratitude to the lawyer.

When the lawyer had departed, poor Anand sat on the ground and burst into tears of grief that the excellent master was dead and tears of joy because he had remembered a humble gardener in his will.

But Anand had the excellent sense to dry his tears and decide what he should do with his money. Firstly, he would immediately leave the service of Gulab Chand and go to his native village. There he could buy a cottage with land to grow all the flowers he loved so much. But before he went to see Gulab Chand, he would hide his money in the hollow of the banyan tree, which stood at the end of the garden.

Grasping his money bag tightly, Anand hurried down the garden to the banyan tree, where he hid the bag in the hollow, thinking it would be safe there. But un- fortunately for Anand, Kumar had overheard the conversation with the lawyer and, from behind some bushes, had watched Anand hide the money in the banyan tree.

As soon as Anand was out of sight, Kumar hurried to the banyan tree, picked out the bag, and ran to tell his father of their ill-gotten fortune.

In the meantime, Anand went to Gulab Chand and thought it wise not to tell him of Raja’s kind gift to him but said that he had to return to his village immediately because his relatives wanted him there. At first, Gulab Chand was reluctant to let him go, but after a good deal of grumbling, he paid Anand his wages up to that day and said he could go early the following morning.

As soon as Anand had left the house, Kumar ran to his father with the money and told him about the stranger giving Anand a bag of money and how he had stolen it from under Anand’s nose. But in his excitement, he forgot to tell his father about the banyan tree, and Gulab Chand was too excited to ask for any details.

Embracing his son lovingly, Gulab Chand exclaimed, Baba, you will go a long way in business. Now be off with you whilst I see that the money is safely hidden. Anand is going early tomorrow morning, and the money will be ours, all ours!”

The next day at breakfast, Kumar, impatient, asked his father for the key to the safe so they could enjoy feasting their eyes on the money.

“You are a fool,” shouted Gulab Chand. “If I had put the money in my safe and Anand had complained of theft to the police, the money would have been soon discovered, and you and I would have been taken to prison.” “I am a wise man,” continued Gulab Chand, “So I hid the money in the old banyan tree at the end of the garden.”

“But father,” cried Kumar, “That is where Anand had hidden the money and from where I had stolen it.

They rushed down the garden. The banyan tree was there, the hollow was there, but the bag of money had departed, like Anand.

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