Once upon a time in a village in India there was a farmer named Ramu who was a hard worker. He worked all day tending to his paddy fields and that year, due to timely monsoon, Ramu got an excellent harvest.
He sold all the grain in the market and got 300 gold coins. He brought home the coins in a bag and counted them again and again. He was so happy counting the coins when he heard somebody call out him at the entrance.
Ramu was worried that whoever was calling him would walk in and see the treasure and so hurriedly, he put all the coins into the bag except three coins which he took with him. He then stuffed the coin bag into a large empty pot and kept it on the shelf. The caller was his friend Somu who was going to the market and wanted Ramu to come with him. Ramu was in a jolly mood and immediately agreed to with Somu.
He called out to his wife “Seetha, I am going to the market with Somu. Make my favourite brinjal curry for lunch!” Seetha nodded her head. Ramu and Somu were off to the market chatting away happily.
Meanwhile, Seetha looked around and to her dismay found no water in the house for cooking. In olden days, people used to bring water from rivers or ponds nearby for their household use as piped water was not available. She took the pot in which the coin bag was kept and started out to get water. Just outside the house, she met Raakka, the butcher taking a stroll leading a goat. She called out to him, “Raakka Anna, can you please get me a pot of water?” Raakka Anna as he was called, had no urgent work and so took the pot from Seetha and started walking towards the pond.
“Jingle clink, jingle clink, jingle clink” What was that? The pot seemed to be making a noise. Raakka went under a tree’s shade and peered into the huge pot through its narrow mouth. He could not see anything and so he put his hand in and what did he pull out? A bag of gold coins! Raakka was so thrilled at seeing so many gold coins and hurriedly stuffed them back into the bag and looked around. What if someone suddenly saw him? Raakka got an idea. He opened his goat’s mouth and stuffed the bag down its throat. Now the bag had gone into the goat’s stomach with the gold coins!
He left the pot under the tree and started leading the goat home. Just then Raakka’s son Chhappa came from the opposite direction and Raakka quickly handed over the goat to Chhappa and told him to take home the goat quickly. “I bought the goat for two gold coins remember!” he said. “Be careful”.
Chhappa was a young lad of twelve and he started going home, humming his favourite song. Meanwhile Ramu and Somu were coming to the market. When Ramu saw the goat he felt it was a fine goat and he should buy it and host a feast for his neighbours as he had had a good harvest that year. “How much is the goat young man?” asked Ramu. Chhappa remembered his father’s words and said “three gold coins Sir”. He wanted to show his father that he was also smart by selling a goat at a profit of one gold coin. “Here, take this” said Ramu shoving the coins into the boy’s hand and took the goat and went home.
“Seetha, is lunch ready?” called Ramu as he entered his hut. Seetha was looking very worried. The butcher had not brought water yet and where was the question of lunch? Ramu became panicky when he heard about the pot. He chided Seetha, tied the goat to a tree and ran to find Raakka. He could find neither Raakka nor the pot.
Sadly he came back home and told Seetha about the coins. Seetha told him ” Why don’t we sacrifice this goat to the Gods? May be the Gods are angry that we did not thank them for the harvest”. Ramu thought that it might be true that the Gods were angry and therefore decided to do what Seetha said. When he cut the goat’s belly, what did he get? Yeah, his own gold coins! “Seetha, Seetha , see what I got!” he yelled at the top of his voice and rushed inside with the bag.
“From now onwards, I shall tie this bag to my waist”, thought Ramu. “That is where it will be safe”. Accordingly he tied the bag with a rope to his waist and went around with it. He was happy that nobody could steal the coins anymore. He went around like this for some time.
One day it was very hot and dusty and when Ramu was passing by the village stream, he felt like having a dip. He looked around and when he saw no one around, he thought it was safe to remove the bag and keep in on the banks of the stream. He started having a bath and it was so refreshing that he did not notice the shepherd Chokkan coming and picking up his bag of coins. Alas!! The bag was gone again.
Ramu felt very upset and headed for home sadly. Meanwhile Chokkan was walking very fast hiding the bag under his arm pit when he heard the sound of horses. “Oh, it’s the police” thought Chokkan and threw the bag into a nearby well which was open and did not have any parapet. In villages, in those days, such wells were very common. Chokkan thought to himself, “I will come tomorrow and recover the bag”. Thinking so, he went home.
Meanwhile our hero Ramu, was aimlessly walking very near the same well the next day, thinking how unfortunate he was. Suddenly a gust of wind blew from behind and blew off Ramu’s turban and Ramu yelling ran behind the turban and PLOP! fell into the well.
Luckily there was not much water and what was that in the side? Aah!! The same bag of his. He grabbed the bag and caught hold of the heavy banyan roots on the side of the well and was climbing up and who was at the top? Chokkan. Yes. Chokkan had come to collect his booty. Both Ramu and Chokkan were equally shocked to see each other and Chokkan hurriedly said, “Arre Ramu Anna, thank you so much for recovering my bag. You saved me a lot of trouble” He further went on building a false story of how he had lost his hard earned money. Ramu could not say anything at all but had to handover the bag to Chokkan.
Chokkan chuckled to himself at his having outwitted Ramu and ran away with the bag. But Chokkan got very cautious and thought that the coins will not be safe in the bag for long. He took a long bamboo staff which he used to herd the sheep and filled the coins into it. He filled the gaps with mud and sealed the ends.
Days passed by and Ramu was becoming more and more depressed that his gold coins could not be retrieved. Meanwhile, one day Chokkan was herding his sheep on the river banks and when he wanted to pull down a branch to pick some leaves for his sheep, he tried to use his bamboo staff and PLONK fell the staff in the river. “My staff my staff” cried Chokkan but the current in the river was too fast and Chokkan was a poor swimmer. So helplessly he watched as his staff vanished in a jiffy.
Now Ramu was having a bath at the downstream and suddenly he noticed a sturdy bamboo staff floating by. He caught it just in time and felt it was very heavy. “Seetha told me to get wood urgently. This Bamboo will last for two days as firewood” Ramu thought. He carried the staff home and when he cut the bamboo what was there YESSSS! His money!!! Ramu was so overjoyed as he found the staff contained the same number of coins as his and then he decided that he should celebrate and feed the poor after keeping money for his needs. He did so and learnt the lesson that hard earned money always sticks to us and therefore money is to be spent in good manner, not hoarded.
This is a story I remember having read from Amar Chitra Katha long back.