Safe Treasure – 3rd of safe trilogy

Lalaji aka Amar Nath sat on the park in deep thought.  Then he smiled, coming to a decision.   He put back his head, gave a guffaw and returned home with a spring in his steps.

Lalaji sold his compact two bedroom place, banked half and left for his village, to live out his remaining days basking in old memories in the mellow surroundings of the ancestral home.

Shalani, an childhood friend and favorite cousin saw him under the ancient banyan tree surrounded by children and came over to greet.  They had been very close as children and soon Lalaji spilled his guts and wept.  He missed his grandchildren left behind in the city. Hence he showered his love on the village kids who soon came to love him and addressed him as Grandpa.  Shalini decided to teach Lalaji’s three sons and their wives a lesson.  She had a wicked gleam in her eyes.

Shalini’s daughter Leela and her husband Ram were close neighbors of Lalaji’s sons Amit, Sumit and Ankit and she decided to call them for a party.  Her wedding anniversary was within days and would be the perfect excuse.  Once Lalaji’s family was within earshot, Leela said to a friend,” you know it is a real shame about poor Uncle Lala Amar Nath.  His sons deprived him of all his worldly goods sucking him dry and then got rid of him like yesterday’s newspaper! The shameless ingrates.  My mom Shalini told me that she was very happy that they did not come to know about uncle’s safe treasure”.   Then, she glided off leaving Lalaji’s offspring aghast!

The mercenary sons scrambled to huddle in a corner and palaver over this new information nugget.   Their wives urged the sons to seek out the old man and invite him back to the city after showing abject remorse and seeking a pardon in piteous tones.  The old man was sure to melt as he doted on his grand-kids.

Lalaji was seated at his usual perch surrounded by children when three sets of feet halted near him.  In unison they genuflected before him blubbering for forgiveness.  Shalini was standing behind the banyan having come there on an errand and became privy to this show of crocodile tears.  She snorted and laughed wickedly.  Her plan had been foolproof after all.  Now it will be smooth sailing for cousin Amar Nath she thought and left with a happy relieved frame of mind.

Lalaji resettled in his family’s bosom where all his three sons lived in the dream home he and his beloved wife Shanti had built and they’d  inherited from him.  Each son lived on a separate floor and had separate business as well.  Hence life was a smooth sail.

Lalaji was made much of each week by a different son and his shameless effusive wife who’s eye was only on the main chance of knowing more about the safe treasure.  Lalaji stayed mum after having been stung so bitterly by own flesh and blood.  He enjoyed his grand children very much.  They never tired of his folk lore and fairytales and tales from the Panchtantra and the great Hindu epics.  Thus their morals and moral fiber strengthened by gentle advise imparted with love and humor that matched his twinkling happy eyes.  He silently thanked the good fairy whoever he/she was that had wrought this miracle.  His sunset years had become full of light.

Lalaji had only hours to live.  His family gathered around his bedside.  Finally the youngest grandchild of five egged on by his mother asked grandpa about his Safe Treasure.  Grandpa smiled and all the puzzle pieces fell in place.  He remembered Shalini, his cousin called him a safe treasure- full of sound advice and a treasure trove of folktales for tender ears.  Silently he thanked his beloved benefactor.

In a firm voice he said, “Listen children, the safe treasure you seek is me.  Cousin Shalini always called me a “safe treasure” as she loved my stories that I weaved constantly and which she never tired of.  Regarding any cash and valuables, I have in the bank a nest egg of a quarter million which I leave up to you three to divide equitably amongst you.  However, if you can give me a proper sendoff in the traditional Hindu way and immerse my ashes in the holy Ganges River, your mother’s soul will be at peace.  I do not care one way or another.  Also if you my three sons, can on a regular basis visit a home for the aged and bring some cheer in the lives of the forsaken all your sins will be washed away.   Your children will benefit immensely from such trips as well.  I leave the decision up to you all.  That is all I have to say to you”.  Then he turned his face towards the wall and journeyed on.

** Pañcatantra, Sanskrit:  ‘Five Principles’) is an ancient Indian collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in  frame story format.


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