His death was as tragic as it was unexpected; he had fallen down the stairs and broken his neck.
Amaan, who was his man Friday for over thirty years, muttered to no one in particular, ‘This had to happen; they will keep chasing him, even after his death. And now it must be my turn. Even God can’t help me.’
He was the richest man of his village and owned almost all cultivable land. Every inch of this land was let out to the landless farmers; the dealings were conducted ruthlessly and anyone daring to default was dealt with appropriately.
His elder son was a fun loving person who liked to read and write poetry and hated the business matters of his father. His father treated him with utter contempt. The younger son was clever; he had convinced the father to allow him to go abroad for studies. He never came back.
Once funeral rites and the seemingly unending ceremonies that followed were over, the sons decided to dispose of all the assets.
‘What of all the wealth that he had amassed; cash, gold, other valuables?’ the younger son asked Amaan.
‘I don’t know where he had kept it. He never told anyone. But I am sure it is hidden in this house.’
‘But where do we look for it? It’s such a big house.’
‘I just don’t know. You may have to dig at some places, perhaps everywhere.’
‘It may be a wild goose chase.’ But they did dig up the house at many places.
While searching in an isolated store house the younger son observed that the walls of that building were unusually thick.
‘There is something odd about these walls, don’t you think so?’
‘I don’t know; perhaps your father was worried about the security,’ Amaan said reluctantly with a trace of tremor in his voice.
‘Now I know where he hid his wealth,’ the younger son was excited with his idea. ‘It is hidden in these walls; there could be hidden cavities. Yes, there must be some secret safes built in these walls.’
‘No, there’s nothing hidden in these walls. Let’s not waste our time; let’s go and search at other places,’ Amaan had suddenly become jittery and desperate. His behaviour surprised the young men.
‘You can’t be sure; father did not tell anyone where he had hidden his wealth, did he?’
The younger son was becoming suspicious of Amaan and decided to dig into the walls of that store house. Amaan turned pale and weak.
The very first hole that was dug in the wall shocked them beyond their belief; it opened into a cavity and inside the cavity they saw a human skeleton.
‘What’s this?’ the younger son screamed, almost hysterically.
Amaan stood tongue-tied. The younger son threatened him. He wanted the truth.
‘These are……..remains of……..a tenant.’
Both the young men failed to comprehend the import of his reply.
‘Your father was very harsh on his tenants. If any tenant defaulted in payment of rent for two years then your father would punish him; he would……he would…..he would seal him alive in a wall.’
The sons could not believe that their father was capable of such inhuman cruelty.
‘It’s a lie, it can’t be true.’
‘At least ten people are lying sealed in the walls of this store room. And….and this is not the only store room that your father had built……’
The young men were too stunned to say anything.
‘But the dead have had their revenge…….and they will not even spare me.’ Later in the evening Amaan fell into a well; a well that had dried years ago and was now nothing but a snake pit.
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