Rich Man on Death Bed

Rich Man on Death Bed

A wealthy Marwari Seth was critically ill. He was old and appeared close to death. Members of his large joint family fussed around him pretending to be sad when they actually wished that the old man would die soon, medical bills stop and life return to normal again.

The old man was only partially conscious but even so he jabbered away. At one point he appeared earnestly to want to say something important. With considerable effort he even pointed toward the neem tree and said something to his sons but it was unclear. The oldest son of the Seth came very close and tried to hear his father and he thought he heard ‘under the tree a pot of gold.’ This raised his curiosity sky high because he and his brothers had always suspected that their father had hidden some valuables. All of them wanted to know where it was.

When the doctor came they pleaded that their father be revived at whatever cost even if it was for an hour. The doctor did not think it was a good idea because the old man was very close to death and reviving him would be expensive. But the young men said they were willing to spend any amount to hear their father’s precious last words. So the doctor prescribed some very expensive medicines. The sons quickly procured them and gave them to their father.

The medicines were so effective that the old man perked up and started moving his hands and talking clearly. He talked non-stop but did not say a word about the hidden wealth. The sons were getting impatient.

When they could not bear it any longer, the oldest son asked point blank, “Father, half an hour ago you were saying something about the hidden wealth under the neem tree in the yard. What was it?”

The old man opened his eyes wide and replied, “Oh that? Well, it wasn’t anything important. I was pointing to you that outside in the yard the calf was chewing up the broom. But apparently I was not getting through to you. So I clammed up. I am afraid there is no hidden wealth anywhere if that is what you are wondering about.”

The young men were still curious, they asked, “Then why have we been hearing about it for years?”

“Well” said the old man, “I may as well let it out now for it is a valuable lesson in life. If you wish to be served well by your sons when you are old and sick it is a good idea to plant such a rumor.”

April 7, 2005