The Mystery of the Buried Treasure

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The Mystery of the Buried Treasure

An Urdu Story by Kausar Ali

Once upon a time, there was a very hardworking farmer called Rahim who lived in an agricultural village in a fertile province of Pakistan called Punjab.

Rahim had four sons. Their names were Akbar, Asghar, Nasir, and Baber, who was the youngest of the four.

The four brothers were very different from the other children who lived on the farms nearby because they spent most of their time playing and being naughty. When the people in the neighbourhood got tired of the brothers’ mischievous behaviour, they complained to Rahim. But the naughty brothers would simply play innocent and apologise to the neighbours without really meaning it.

There was a primary school in the village and Rahim enrolled his four sons in the hopes of instilling in them some discipline. But the brothers arrived late every day, and no matter how many times the teacher reprimanded them, they did not change their naughty ways.

Rahim was a very kind man and never spoke harshly to his sons. He would sit with them and try to reason with them. ‘Dear sons,’ said the kindly father one day, ‘you are still very young and waste all of your time in playing. But if you do not learn to work hard at this age you will not be able to do anything when you are grownup.’

The sons replied in a chorus of enthusiasm. ‘Please do not worry, father, we will soon learn to do everything, we promise!’

But as soon as their father agreed to give them another chance, the four brothers forgot their promise and soon returned to their old ways creating mischief and havoc wherever they went. If anybody ever asked them to do any work, they would always make excuses when actually the four boys were simply very lazy.

The days and months and years went by, and the four brothers soon grew into young men. They never did learn to read or write, nor did they work on the farm or help their father with the chores. They were forever blaming each other for their tardiness or misadventure, and not once did they ever take responsibility for their bad behaviour.

Rahim became an old man, but still he was forced to work in the field all by himself. This was hard work for an old man and Rahim found the days very difficult.

The yield of crops soon declined, and so too did the money Rahim would make from selling his crops at the market. Rahim and his wife were very worried about the future, but the four brothers did not seem at all bothered by these events. Occasionally they would help their father in the field, but most times they made excuses in order to escape.  They would just sit around and eat and drink and sleep for most of the day.

If anyone ever asked Akbar to go and help his father on the farm, he would say, ‘One of the other three can go, I have a headache at present.’

Each brother would make a similar excuse if asked to work, each one suggesting that the other should be the one to work that day.

The time finally came when Rahim grew too old and sick to work and realised that he would not survive for much longer. The kind father was very worried for his useless sons and a number of difficult questions haunted his mind. He did not know what would happen to them once he was gone; they had not learned any skills and so would not be able to provide for themselves. In spite of their bad behaviour, Rahim loved his sons dearly and wanted to help them. And so the old man started thinking very hard about what to do.

After a long while, Rahim came up with a plan that he thought just might work. He smiled to himself and asked his wife to call all four of his sons to come and sit by him so that he might give them a few last words of advice before he found himself in the grave.

Rahim’s wife was very worried because she loved her husband and did not want to lose him. Still, she called their sons and told them about their father’s request.

The brothers were all very shocked to hear that their father was going to die. They began crying and wailing as they sat themselves at their father’s feet to listen to his last advice.

‘Dear sons,’ said the kindly father, ‘I have loved you and cared for you all of my life. I made sure that you were comfortable and happy and I looked after you. But now I am old and sick and I know that soon I will die.’ The old man coughed and wheezed and the brothers could see that their father was truly very sick. ‘But I have saved a very big treasure for you,’ continued Rahim, ‘so that your life will continue to be comfortable long after I am gone.

‘Long ago, I dug a very large, very deep hole in the ground somewhere in my field. In that hole I buried the treasure in order to keep it safe until such a time as you would need it. But now I cannot remember where it is.’

The brothers looked at one another in disbelief, but they were also clearly excited about the idea of their father’s treasure.

‘You will have to find it and dig it out after my death,’ continued Rahim. ‘Then you must ask your uncle, the eldest in the family, to distribute the treasure equally among the four of you. Do not fight over it, please. Respect your uncle’s decision. Remember, respecting your elders is a very important part of our culture. You should regard this respect as your duty.’

The brothers seemed to be getting anxious to go and find the buried treasure hidden somewhere in the field next to the farm. Rahim pretended that he did not notice his son’s behaviour and continued with his speech.

‘The other advice I would like to give you, my sons, is that you should never fight with one another. Your enemies will try to make you plot and scheme, but no matter what happens you must stay united. United you will be stronger and nobody will be able to harm you. And do not tell anyone about the treasure until you have found it.’

When Rahim had finished his speech he closed his eyes and soon passed away.

After their father’s funeral, the brothers decided to start digging at the far corner of the huge field next to the farm. They had spent their life in comfort and laziness and so they found it very hard work digging even a small part of the field. The lazy brothers soon gave up and went home to rest.

The next day was the same, and the next, and the next. Until, slowly but surely, the brothers dug up more and more of the field. A month passed with the brothers working in this way, but they could not find the buried treasure, and they did not want to tell anybody or ask for help because they did not want to share the treasure. They were all very tired of digging but none of them was willing to give up.

Eventually the brothers found that they had dug up the whole field, but there was still no sign of the treasure. They told themselves that their father must have buried it very deep and so decided to dig further down.

Another month passed but still there was no sign of the buried treasure! The whole field was now turned and the neighbours began to feel envious of the brothers’ hard work.

Eventually the four brothers gave up on the idea of ever finding the buried treasure. But, seeing as they had prepared the field so well, they did decide to plant wheat that season.

Come harvest time, the field produced a large amount of very good quality wheat which the brothers took to market and sold for thousands of rupees.

Remembering their father’s advice, the brothers took this payment to their uncle and asked that he distribute it equally among the four of them. Their uncle was very proud of the four brothers and said: ‘Well done, nephews, you have finally proved that you are hard working sons of my brother Rahim. This farm that my brother left for you is the real treasure, and if you work hard you will always be rewarded.’

The following year all four brothers worked hard in the field and planted the wheat once more. This time the yield was even more impressive, and when they sold the wheat at the market they made even more money!

After a few years of working in this way, the brothers became quite rich and even quite content in their work. At last it seemed that Akbar, Asghar, Nasir, and Baber had solved the mystery of the treasure. The real treasure was the reward of hard work and discipline. The four brothers were very proud of their father’s cleverness and foresight for it was him who had taught them about the merits of hard work, discipline, unity, and respect for one’s elders.