Dhanapal had to face it. He was deeply in debt, and the mere thought of all the bills he owed made his head throb with pain. It was his fault. He had seen this coming as long ago as last summer when he had foolishly borrowed money to start a cloth business, and from the very onset, it had failed.
His life, he had to admit, was a dismal failure, and the sooner it ended, the better. Taking a last look around his poor abode, he made his way through the fields to the river and, without hesitation, flung himself into the swirling waters.
A holy man happened to be walking along the river bank and saw someone drowning; he promptly jumped in and managed to drag Dhanapal to safety.
Dhanapal did not know whether he was glad or sorry to be snatched from his watery grave. As soon as he recovered, he confessed to the holy man that his life had been such a failure he had decided to commit suicide.
“My son,” said the holy man. “You should know that it is a sin to take your life. You are a young man and must face the future with confidence.”
“I only wish I had confidence,” Dhanapal stammered. The holy man merely smiled and produced an amulet, which he handed to Dhanapal. “My son always wears this on your right wrist, and I am sure you will find the confidence you lack.”
Years passed, and maybe the amulet possessed some magic power, or perhaps, the holy man’s words gave Dhanapal a new outlook, for he began to prosper, and now he was recognized as one of the wealthiest merchants in the district.
Dhanapal eventually married and had one son. His business interests flourished and became so big that he was forced to engage a manager. He appointed Suresh, a capable businessman who soon proved his efficiency in looking after Dhanapal’s many enterprises.
Then a sad blow descended. His wife died on Dhanapal. And before he recovered from the shock, Dhanapal contracted an incurable disease, and he knew that his life would soon come to a close.
Before he died, he sent for the village elders and asked them to make out his will, which he insisted should be worded thus ‘Until my son attains his majority, I appoint my business manager Suresh as his sole guardian, the keeper of all my properties. When my son reaches the age of twenty-one, Suresh will hand over to my son all that Suresh would like to possess for himself. Whatever remains of my estate, I bequeath to Suresh.’
The elders were shocked at the terms of Dhanapal’s will, which placed far too much power in the hands of Suresh. Still, it must be said that after Dhanapal died, Suresh brought the son up well and engaged the best tutors for his education.
When the son reached the age of twenty-one, he went to Suresh and asked. “Now I am of age. I presume you will hand over to me my father’s properties?”
“I am afraid not,” replied Suresh. “You must understand that a considerable sum has been spent on your upkeep and education. All left for you is the amulet your father used to wear.”
The son was astonished at such news. “Do you mean telling me I do not inherit my father’s estates?”
At this, Suresh jumped out of his chair and, going to his desk, pulled out a paper, which he thrust under the son’s nose.
“Read your father’s will,” he shouted. “It clearly says that everything is left to my discretion.”.
The son went away astounded that he was to be left destitute, and he was confident that his father never intended that Suresh should grab everything. The only answer, he thought, was to take the matter to court.
Suresh and the youth were summoned two days later to attend the magistrate’s court. Having listened to the youth’s plea, the magistrate asked to see the will, which he seemed to read with considerable interest.
Looking over the top of his glasses, the magistrate said to Suresh. “Am I to take it that you intended to carry out the wishes of your late master, as laid down in his will?”.
“Most certainly,” replied Suresh heatedly. “I have acted strictly by the will.”
“In what way?” asked the magistrate, with a twinkle in his eyes. “I offered his son the amulet that brought his father so much wealth,” Suresh replied, “and decided to keep the rest of the estate for myself.”
The magistrate beamed at Suresh. “So you decided that apart from the talisman, you would like to possess the deceased estates. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct,” replied Suresh, glad the magistrate could see his viewpoint.
“Then,” said the magistrate firmly, “According to the terms of this will, all you would like to possess must be handed over to the son. The only thing you did not want to have was the amulet. So that is all you can inherit.
At first, Suresh could not believe his ears, but then it slowly dawned on him that his late master was a shrewd judge of character.