Short Stories » The Tale of the Magic Box
The Tale of the Magic Box
Once upon a time, in a faraway land there lived a farmer with his two sons. He worked hard and looked after his farm, his cattle, and orchard regularly. He did not take a break and toiled with his laborers throughout the year. It was little wonder that he had fields finest in the village. His cattle and sheep were the best in the village. Choicest fruits and vegetables grew in his garden and orchard.
During the monthly fair, where all village folks met to sell their wares, his was the best of the lot. His neighbors envied and said, “There goes Manohar, his sons are fortunate to have him as a father. They are going to inherit all this when he dies”.
Manohar had two sons. The elder one was Ravi and the younger Hari. However, Manohar what could do with his farm, his land and his cattle, he could not do with his sons. They were not interested in following their father’s footsteps. Ravi was a warrior and was more interested in arms and fighting, while Hari liked music and the fiddle.
Manohar secretly wished, “I wish I had a son who loved farms more than arms and one who liked cattle better than fiddle”. He worried about what will happen to his lands, but decided he had to go with what he had, and hoped for the best.
One day, he asked his sons, “What is it that you want to do in life?”
Ravi was quick to reply, “I want to join the army. I want to serve the country and make you proud”.
Hari seemed not so sure about what he wanted to do. “Well, I like music, and I may become a musician, but think I will have to practice harder”.
Okay” the farmer said. “Ravi, you go and join the army, and fulfill your wish”.
Then he turned to Hari. “You too can work towards your dream but meantime, help me with my work as well”.
So Ravi left and Hari stayed back with his father, occasionally helping him in his daily chores but mostly dreaming about his musical future.
Life went on but one day Manohar fell ill and there was nothing that anybody could do to help him. On his deathbed, he called Hari and told him, “Take good care of everything son, remember you are looking after your brothers share too, give it back to him intact, when he return from his duty”.
Those were his last words, and Manohar died leaving everything he had in Hari’s care.
Hari kept his father’s words close to his heart, and started on his life as a farmer. Nevertheless, as time went on, he began falling back to his old, carefree ways. He thought, “The lands have given good crops till now, the cattle and sheep has grown and prospered well, and trees have never stopped giving sweetest fruits, so why worry? There are laborers to look after them who have been doing this for long so they will continue to do so”. He began enjoying his newfound status as master and followed his wishes more vigorously.
However, hoping for things to take care of themselves was too much to ask. Once left by themselves, laborers stopped giving their best, which meant crops weren’t looked after, cattle was unattended, fruits ripened and fell down from the tree, but never reached markets on time. Thieves stole his cattle while pests and small birds made merry on the unmanned farms. The guards themselves turned to stealing as they found the opportunity too tempting.
Hari was oblivious to everything, lost in his world and music. The money his father left was getting him through the days and there was no shortage of friends and well-wishers while that lasted. But all things if not growing, have to come to an end. One night, it finally dawned upon Hari, when his father came to him in a dream.
“Remember my last words, son, remember to give your brother his share, or more if possible” was all he said. Hari was relieved his father did not scold him for being careless, but once out of bed; he went to take stock of his brother’s share. That soon turned to panic, as he learned about the real situation. The farm was nowhere near what it was, when his brother left, and he had nothing, no money or accounts to show him. He thought, “What will he think? He may even send me to jail. And no one can blame him for that also”. Panic turning to fear, he approached his friends and well-wishers from the village. But they laughed him off, and said “He hasn’t come back till now, maybe he won’t ever, why worry, enjoy”.
But Hari wasn’t sure of that. He did not want his brother dead and he wanted him to come back. The thought of showing him the real situation made him panic, and he was running around in the village. His neighbours and others were having a good laugh at him, “We warned you so many times. You did not look after your farm, and you always dismissed us, so now suffer!” Nobody came forward to help him and they were all happy at his misery, and he couldn’t blame them also for his own wrong doings.
There was one shepherd boy in the crowd, who was considered a simpleton by everybody. But only he gave something which seemed like a solution to Hari. The boy said, “Master, why don’t you go to the old lady on the mountains, who can do magic. Who knows she may bring your lost fortunes back through magic”.
For once, Hari took serious notice of the shepherd boy and climbed up the mountain. The old woman lived in a cave like house, too old to even move around, but her ears seem alright, she listened to his whole story. ”Please help me, old woman, bring my fortunes back, I will ever be grateful” Hari pleaded.
The old woman took time to think, then went inside, and when she came back she had a small box in her hand, with a tiny hole on top. The box was locked and welded with brass strips. She handed the box to Hari and said, “Everyday, before sunrise, shake one grain of magic dust on all corners of your land, and watch the magic happening”.
Hari’s relief was beyond words. He took the magic box, thanked the old woman and quickly left for home. Next day he woke up, earlier than he had ever done and went with the box to the fields and started the routine as the lady said. But while doing it, he noticed the crops were half uncut in the fields. He also noticed the cut ones had not been taken inside or properly dried, and his laborers were sleeping comfortably.
Beginning to get angry, Hari woke them up and sent them off to fields, with instructions to do their job properly. He repeated the same routine in the cattle sheds and orchards, Hari had to shout them off the beds, and chase them to start on their duties. Laborers were shocked and whispered to each other, “The Master in the field? Now God saves us!”
This routine was repeated every day. Hari went on shaking his magic dust in fields, and his laborers had to keep up with him. Every day, he found items that were left unattended and made sure it was taken care of. He was waiting for the magic to happen, but unknowingly he was making it happen. Within time, his farm, orchards and cattle began to prosper and seemed well on the way to the state when his father was alive.
Unfortunately, his brother never came returned. He may have been killed in the war, but the good times came back for Hari. He got married to a good girl and had two sons. Time passed and while on his deathbed, he asked his sons to open the magic box he believed in so much which brought his good days back. The lock was opened and inside there was nothing except some sand and a note which said, “The magic is in the master’s eye and what your property needs is your attention”.