How To Make Gold

Madhav was a wealthy citizen of the city of Kapisa. He had enough money to enable him to live in luxury. But he had a bee in his bonnet. His sole aim in life was to make gold out of baser metals. No cost, he considered, was too much for his experiments. He wasted his money trying to make gold out of copper and iron.

Madhav’s wife was a very sensible woman. She could manage the home by making a little money and go a long way. But she pleaded in vain with her husband not to waste his money.

Madhav spent money like water doing his experiments, and when his wife admonished him, he would reply, “Dear wife, don’t be impatient; success is just around the corner!” Finally, the time came when they could not make both ends meet.

Madhav’s wife found it im- possible to run the house without any money. She went to her father and said, “My husband has spent all his wealth trying to make gold; now we have nothing to live on. What shall I do, father?”

“Don’t worry, my child,” consoled her father. “all will be well again. I will talk to Madhav,”

Her father then sent for Madhav and, at lunch, asked him how his experiments were progressing. Madhav told his father-in-law, in detail, about his work and his hope that success would soon come.

“How is it, my son? You have never told me of your experiments”, demanded his father-in-law. “I was a master alchemist and knew of a secret formula which would help you make gold out of the dust under your feet.”

Madhav shed tears of gratitude and cried, “Sir, I am your humble servant. Command me to do whatever you wish. What is the formula? Please tell me.”

“Son,” replied Madhav’s father-in-law, “It requires a great deal of patience, courage and persistence”.

“I will work night and day, so please, I beg of you to give me the formula”, pleaded Madhav.

“That is simple, son,” his father-in-law said. “You will have to collect five kilograms of the down found on plantain leaves. First, you must plant and water the trees with your own two hands, reciting a magic verse I will teach you.”

“Will I have to plant and water many plantain trees, Sir?” asked Madhav.

“Certainly,” replied the father-in-law, “You will have to have nothing less than five acres of plantain garden.”

Madhav’s father-in-law had to advance him the money to buy the land, levelling it, ploughing it and buying the little trees. The watering of the plants was the sole job of Madhav. From early morning till late night, he watered and cared for the plants reciting the magic verse that his father-in-law had taught him. The plants increased and were a feast for the eyes of onlookers.

Madhav’s only concern was to collect the down from the plantain leaves. He was not bothered about the delicate fruits which his plantain trees bore. After three days of ordering as much down as he could from the trees, he realised that obtaining five kilograms would not be a matter of a week or a fortnight but a task of many months or even years.

While Madhav’s attention was wholly taken up with the gathering of the down, his wife was more sensibly interested in the garden. Every day, she sold the plantains and the plantain leaves in the city market at a reasonable price. Money started flowing continuously in her till, and Madhav was anxiously waiting for the distant day when the plantain he was collecting would add up to five kilograms.

Three years passed, and Madhav’s down still did not even amount to three kilograms. But bravely, he went on gathering the down whilst his wife was sending cart loads of plantain leaves and plantains to the market every day and the money she made in selling them was ever-increasing

Another two years passed, and Madhav finally collected his five kilograms of plantain. He took the down to his father-in-law and placed it at his feet, saying. Father, here is the down. Now show me how to make it into gold.”

“It has already been made, son,” cried his father-in-law, laughing very happily, and turning to his daughter, he asked, “Child, what is the amount of money you have made from the plantain garden during the last five years?”

She went into her room and returned with several bags filled with gold pieces and placed them at her father’s feet.

Madhav did not understand what was going on between the father and daughter. His sole concern with the plantain garden had been gathering down on the plantain leaves. It had never crossed his mind that the park may have had other uses.

His father-in-law emptied all the gold pieces from the bags on the ground. They made a thick carpet of gold. After hours and hours of counting by the older man, his daughter and Madhav, the amount totalled fifty thousand pieces of gold.

His father-in-law turned to Madhava and said, “Son, here is a fortune in gold. For all these years, your wife has made it from the plantain garden you planted and watered with your hands.”

Madhav admired the commonsense his father-in-law possessed in such abundance and wondered at his lack of it.

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