Chatur Mohan

Long ago, there lived a poor farmer named Mohan who had three sons. While the father worked hard in his fields, his sons spent their time playing cards with their friends. That of course, made them all very poor. They all lived off the old man’s earnings until he became too frail and old to work. After that the cruel sons kept their father locked in his room and served him little or no food. However, Mohan was a clever man. He devised a plan to take care of himself in his last years.

Every night after the sons had gone to bed, Mohan would take out the only coin that he had and drop it repeatedly into a tin bowl that he had in his room. The loud clanging sound caught the attention of his sons. “Did you hear that?” one would ask of the other two. The three would look at each other in a meaningful way and shake their heads in wonder. Could it be true that their father had a lot of money hidden in his room? The doubt and their greed made them excessively kind to their father – they fed him well and thus made his last days comfortable and peaceful. One day, the old man died; no sooner the funeral got over, the three sons rushed into their father’s room to look for the hidden treasure.

Sadly though, all they found was a single coin and a note saying – Plough the field well for somewhere in it lies the treasure you are seeking. With alacrity, the three lazy men set to work. They worked relentlessly for two days but alas, there was no treasure to be found. The three felt foolish and hugely disappointed. Their father had tricked them; and all that he had ever had was a rupee coin! The more they brooded over the absurd situation they were in, the less angry they grew.

“We have to admit that our father was a very clever man. He made us believe that he really had a lot of money!” said the eldest son.

“He even got us to till the land – something we would never have done willingly,” added the second son.

The third remained lost in thought for a while before he spoke.

“You know what I think? I think our father has left us a great wealth. He has also showed us a way to make more money!”

While the other two gazed at him perplexed, he continued, “Now that we have tilled the land, let us sow seeds for the next crop. That should bring a lot of money after harvesting.”

The three laughed in amazement. Their father wasn’t called Chatur Mohan for nothing!


Published as part of a series titled ‘Folktales of the World (Retold) ’ in Deccan Herald, Student Edition, dt. July 18, 2013


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