The Shadow of Death

Vikram purposefully walked back, undeterred by Betal’s behaviour. He pulled Betal down and set off. Betal narrated another story, as he disliked the silence.

Once, there lived a hard working, poor man. He dreamt of becoming rich one day, A sage had prophesied his future. He had said that he would never be rich in his life.

He would live and die in poverty, irrespective of how hard he worked.

Moreover, the sage said that if he ever became rich, he would die soon after

This upset the man. His enthusiasm to work hard and to become rich was completely dashed. He felt that all his hard work was useless. But old habits die hard. He continued to struggle.

One day, while he was cutting wood, he found a big wooden chest filled with silver and gold coins. He stood dumbstruck.

It had enough money to sustain him for life. He got very excited at this thought.

Just when he was about to carry the chest home, he remembered the sage’s prophecy. He was reluctant to take the chest away. But then, he reasoned that if he left the chest in the forest, it would be of no use to anyone. He thought that he could do so much with it, even if he had to die soon.

With this thought in mind, he carried the chest to his village. There, he used all the money for improving his village, which soon prospered.

Now, tell me Vikram,” said Betal, “how come the sage’s words did not come true, as the poor man lived for so long?

Remember, if you don’t speak your head will burst into pieces.”

“The answer is quite simple.” saił Vikram “You see, the poor man worked hard for his village So, the sage’s words were true The poor man made the village rich but never became rich himself.”

Hearing Vikram’s verdict, Betal once again flew away to the peepul tree.