Today afternoon I bumped into an old schoolmate of mine. He was from my own village but was a dimwit. But we go back a long time and so I invited him for lunch. To my disappointment he agreed to that immediately. Cursing myself, I took him to a quiet corner of a near by restaurant. He asked me what I was doing now.
I started about my successful career as a Chartered Accountant and how I had built a successful career. After giving me a patient hearing he asked me what I was doing in my free hours. I then went into how I was reading into various scams, doing my own research and then added, the latest I am reading about is the National Herald Scam*. Obviously he had not heard about it. I then explained to him the nuances of the case partly to show him, how much more knowledgeable I was.
After some time he conceded defeat and said he could not understand a word of what I was saying. Pleased, I was magnanimous in my victory and told him “Enough about me. Tell me what is happening in our village?” He then asked me “Have you heard what happened to the Diamond Studded Crown of our village temple?”
I told him I had not had any news about the village. Our Village has a famous and ancient temple. The temple was nearly dilapidated and I always wondered why it had already not collapsed. But the Lord had some wonderful Jewels, main among them was a golden crown studded with large diamonds. 75 years back, the then Village Head (Great Grand father of our current headman) had donated a large diamond to the temple. Other villagers chipped in with their meager earnings and the District Collectorate had also given substantial funds from their discretionary funds. A beautiful Crown was made out of this and as the village head had made the initial contribution, we always used to say it was his contribution. So i asked my friend what happened to it.
He then told me the story – The Crown was stored in a room with a sealed lock. The room was opened only one day in a year and that day the Lord wore the crown. Every day people took turns to see that the seal was intact and assured others that the crown was safe. This year when they opened the lock and went in, they found a large hole in the wall. They rushed to where they had kept the crown, only to find it missing. The police couldn’t find anything. But the village guard and his dog relentlessly followed the scent till they traced it to the house of the current village head man. After inquiry the headman said “The Crown is a costly one donated by my grandfather. I was worried that it would be stolen. So to safe guard it I have kept it under my custody. It is now very safe.” I told my friend that I agree with the Headman.
I had never seen my friend so angry. He just got up and washed his hands. I pacified him and apologised to him and asked him why he did not agree. He then told me, “If the Headman was honest, he could have called all of us, told us about his misgivings and kept the jewels in his custody. But why should he have entered the jewel room like a common thief and hid the jewels till we found it out. And to add insult to injury he calls us thief?”
I don’t know why. I seem to have a better understanding of the National Herald case now.