Buried Treasure

Gaurana of Gannavaram was a rich Gaura peasant. He and his wife, Gauri, led a happy and contented life. They were both very thrifty and saved as much money as they could. Gaurana hid all his cash in a large iron safe with his name painted white.

Now Gaurana had two friends, Venkat and Sobban. They were the only ones who knew that Gaurana possessed so much money. They longed to lay their hands on Gaurana’s hard-earned cash but could not get hold of it.

One day Venkat and Sobban, being desperately in need of some money, decided to talk Gaurana into parting with his money. That very same evening, the two friends, having planned how to cheat Gaurana, went to Gaurana’s house to visit him.

“Did either of you go to the meeting held at the Village Panchayat Union this afternoon?” Sobban asked, knowing that Gaurana had not been at the meeting.

“No,” replied Gaurana, “I could not go, though I would have liked to have been there to hear what the minister had to say.”

“I was there,” said Venkat, “and apart from referring to the new branch of the canal to be dug alongside our village, the minister did nothing but praise that man Ganapathy for all the good he is doing. He said that Ganapathy gave away money in charities like one gives away water.”

“But everyone knows that Ganapathy was almost a pauper when he first came to live in our village,” insisted Sobban.

“And now he is worth lakhs.”

And what is more,” added Venkat, “his lakhs don’t remain lakhs but keep on multiplying all the time.”

“Your money will increase in this Gaurana,” said Sobban, “how can it when all you do is keep it safely locked up in your iron safe?”

“It is far better, to be honest, and live within one’s means than to be a rogue and become wealthy by hoodwinking others,” insisted Gaurana.

The three friends continued arguing in this manner until very late that night. Sobban and Venkat tried their best to convince Gaurana that it would be much better for him to invest his money in some business and have it increase in value than to keep it locked up in his safe. And Gaurana put forward all his reasons for not investing his money in anything, thus making himself vulnerable to others.

However, just before midnight Sobban and Venkat managed to talk Gaurana into entrusting his money to them to wisely invest in a project, which they assured him would make him a wealthy man within a brief period.

Guarana, persuaded at last but still shy, handed over his precious twenty thousand rupees to Sobban and Venkat.

When almost a year had passed, Gaurana decided to go and see his friends and ask them how business was and by how many thousands his money had increased.

He found Sobban and Venkat busy playing a game of dice at Venkat’s house. Gaurana sat in the chair offered to him and waited until they finished their game. Then he asked his friends how the business was getting on and why they hadn’t been to see him for so long. Venkat turned pale and put his hand to his head whilst Sobban began to wring his hands and looked most depressed. In broken sentences, Venkat then told Gaurana -their tale of woe-how the whole twenty thousand rupees had been lost.

What, my whole hand-earned twenty thousand gone down the drain?” exclaimed Gaurana, hardly able to believe his ears.

“At first, we were so desperate that we considered taking some rat poison and putting an end to ourselves,” said Venkat, “then we thought the better of it and decided to keep out of your sight for as long as possible.”

“Whatever you did would not have given me back my twenty thousand rupees,” said Gaurana miserably. Saying this, he left Venkat’s house and walked home as if in a dream.

In the meantime, Gauri began to get worried because it was long past Gaurana’s dinner time, and he still had not returned home. As a rule, Gaurana was always a very punctual man.

Gauri knew without Gaurana telling her that he had finally discovered how his so-called friends, Venkat and Sobban, had cheated him out of most of his life’s savings.

“Those two rascals have cheated me out of all the twenty thousand I so trustingly handed over to them,” Gaurana told her. “But I vow that I will teach those scoundrels a lesson they will never forget,” he added.

A week later, Gaurana pulled himself together and did his business as usual. Now and then, he overheard rumours that it was common knowledge that Venkat and Sobban had taken twenty thousand rupees from him under a false pretext and that they had divided the amount between them.

One morning, a few years later, a messenger was sent to Sobban, asking him to go to Gaurana’s house immediately, as Gaurana had suddenly been taken very ill, and it was feared that he was dying. When Sobban arrived at Gaurana’s bedside, Gaurana bid him bend low and, in a feeble voice, said, “I know that I won’t last long, Sobban. My only worry is that I am leaving Gauri behind, all alone. Will you please look after her?”

“Of course, I will look after Gauri,” replied Sobban, “it is my duty as your good friend to see that Gauri is well-taken care of after you have gone.”

“Ah, you have set my mind at rest,” said Gaurana slowly. “All I have left in the way of money is twenty-five thousand rupees. I have put this money into twenty-five pots, each containing a thousand rupees. The banks are buried at regular intervals, five feet apart, along the other walls of my house. The first pot is buried just beneath my bedroom window.

“I understand,” said Sobban, unable to hide the look of greed in his eyes.

“After I die,” continued. Guarana, “when my wife needs money, I have asked her to come to you.

“You can trust me,” assured Sobban, “but I must implore you not to tell Venkat what you have just told me. I do not think that he will honour your dying wish.”

‘As you wish,” Gaurana said and closed his eyes.

That same afternoon Gaurana had Venkat called hastily to his bedside. He repeated all that he had said to Sobban, and Venkat promised to look after Gauri and see that she only had the money when needed.

A week later, poor Gaurana died. But before he died, he told Gauri his secret so she would see that she had security for as long as she lived.

A few months after Gaurana’s death, Gauri decided that she needed some money. She asked Sobban, who made it a habit of visiting her daily for some cash. She told him that Gaurana had told her to approach him whenever she needed money for her expenses.

Sobban shook his head and said he was very sorry but had no money whatsoever, even for his daily requirements. He then suggested that Gauri should sell her house.

“That is the only solution left,” said Gauri. “Yes, I will sell the house if I can get a good price.”

Sobban immediately said he would buy the house for two thousand rupees, which he could easily borrow from a friend. Gauri said that she would have to consider his proposal.

Sobban and Venkat fearing that Gauri would sell the house to someone else, decided to buy the house jointly for twenty-five thousand rupees.

After collecting the twenty- five thousand rupees from her husband’s friends, Gauri left the village and went to stay for a spell with her brother.

Soon after Gauri left, strange sounds came from her house every night. The villagers thought that Gaurana’s ghost had started to visit the place and stayed as far away from it as possible.

Not long afterwards, one by one, all the walls and, finally, the roof of Gaurana’s house caved in. Everyone thought that it was all the work of Gaurana’s restless ghost.

As for Sobban and Venkat, they realized that the dead Gaurana had the last word finally.

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