Vara and Prasad were typical urbanites – born and brought up in the bustling metropolis of Chennai. Vara and Prasad – twins with Vara being a few minutes older – always had each other for company. They grew up in their family home with parents and paternal grandparents. Vara was working in the manufacturing industry and Prasad was managing accounts in a multinational organization.
They had heard stories in their youth of how their great grandfather was a money-lender and zamindar in the village. He was not like the landlords shown in the Tamil movies – all arrogance and cruelty but was a person genuinely concerned about his people. The villagers respected and admired him greatly. It was no surprise that he agreed to let his son go to Chennai to study law, even though he knew that there was no way he would stay back in the village after the education. Sure enough, that was what happened. The young lawyer moved to Chennai and came back to the village twice a year. After the zamindar passed away, even those visits ceased as the lawyer became busy first as a defense counsel, progressing to magistrate and then a judge. He had brought his mother with him to Chennai. Most of the lands were given to the poor farmers and the remaining few acres were managed by an old accountant. The first few years saw some rice and pulses come in, but after the accountant died, the farmers didn’t bother to send any share over.
The judge’s mother kept telling him about the treasure that she had buried in their kitchen garden, when her husband was sick. She had been scared with the new people coming into the village and so, she had emptied the safe and stashed it all away in an iron box and buried it with the help of the trusted accountant. When she left the house soon after her husband’s death, she forgot the iron box in her grief. Later on, she never had the opportunity to get back. She kept telling the judge to take her to their old home. so that she could retrieve this but he never found the time and she died without ever going back to the village.
When the judge suffered a mild heart-attack, Vara and Prasad decided that it was time to visit their village and search for the treasure so that their grandfather could get closure. It was tough – taking a 6 week break from work, coming down to the village which still seemed stuck in the 1960’s, cleaning the huge, dilapidated house andso, here they were, digging the earth. They were on their 5th week and on their last 50 sq.m when Prasad heard the clang on his pickaxe. All their tiredness melted away – they brought up the iron box which was about 2 feet square and 1 foot deep.
Containing their curiosity and impatience, they carried it safely back to Chennai to show their grandfather and allow him to open it. When they reached home, they broke open the lock and their grandfather carefully lifted the lid to find something wrapped in cloth. The cloth was peeled away to reveal some soggy, pulpy mess. It took them a few moments to realize that the pulp was actually bundles of old banknotes that had degenerated over time. They all burst out laughing at the utter simplicity of the poor lady in packing money and the judge was quite happy that his mother had not seen the state of her treasure. They had always assumed that the buried treasure would be rich jewels or at least precious stones.
Oh ! But, what was this? At the fag end of the soggy mess, there were about 50-60 coins as well which definitely must have been thrown in as an afterthought. They all knew that these antique coins would be worth a fortune in today’s age. So, it had really all been worth it, after all and they had indeed found, buried treasure.