Panchtantra Story: The Iron Beam that Was Eaten by a Rat

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Ramesh and Suresh were two traders in a small town. They had shops beside each other in the town market and got along quite well. Suresh and Ramesh often visited each other’s homes; everyone thought they were the best of friends. Life for both of them was quite happy; they were selling goods from their shops and making quite a lot of money. 

Just when everything seemed to be going perfectly, there was a big fire in the town market. The fire had burnt down a lot of shops, including the shop that belonged to Ramesh, and everything that was in it. His friend’s shop was untouched by the fire. With no shop and no goods to sell, he fell on bad times. But everything was going well for his friend. Finally, he decided that it would be best for him to move to another place to make his fortune. So, he packed everything he had left and made plans to leave the town. 

Before leaving the town, he visited his friend Suresh. He went to his house carrying a large iron beam. This iron beam was the only thing left of his shop after the fire. He handed it to his friend and asked him to keep it safe. His friend agreed right away, promising to keep this beam safe till Ramesh returned from his travels. So, he set off on his journey, looking for a job in every town and village that he passed through. 

Finally, in a far-off town, he was lucky to find a job in a shop much like his own. The owner of the shop was an old man who had no sons and only one daughter. Soon he was very pleased with Ramesh’s hard and smart work, the business was doing very well, and he was very happy. But he was also worried that soon his worker might find another job and leave, and there would be no one left to take care of his shop. So, he asked Ramesh to marry his daughter. Now his daughter was a beautiful, kind, and intelligent girl, and there was no way Ramesh could refuse. 

Soon they were married and not long after they had a baby boy. The shop owner got very old until he died, and he left his shop to his daughter and her husband. Now Ramesh began to miss his old town and his old friend, so he convinced his wife that they should sell the shop and move back to his old town, and start a business there. His wife agreed, and soon they were back in the old place. As soon as they had settled down, Ramesh went to meet his old friend. 

When he reached his friend’s house, he hugged him, sat and talked to him and saw that his friend’s shop was doing very well. His friend was now married and had a 15 years old son, much like his own. Finally, he asked his friend, “my friend, do you remember the iron beam I had given you; I would like it back.” “Soon I would be building a new shop, and I could use it.” Now his old friend had gotten greedy – he wasn’t willing to give away the costly iron beam, so he said, “my friend, I am very sorry, but a rat had eaten up your iron beam many years back, and there is no way I can return it.” 

Now he knew his friend was lying, so he replied anyway, “please do not be sorry, I understand that rats eat anything, it’s okay, I’ll just buy another beam.” He got up to leave his friend’s house knowing that he could not get his beam back, but before leaving, he asked his friend to send his son to his home to collect some gifts that he had got for him and his family. His friend readily agreed. 

Soon Ramesh was home, and not long after his friend’s son was at his door. He caught the boy and locked him up in a storeroom at the back of the house. By evening, when his friend saw that his son hadn’t returned, he came to find out what was wrong. Ramesh instantly replied, “your son was right outside my door when an eagle flew down from the skies and snatched him up, I ran behind the eagle, but I could not save your son. Now Suresh didn’t believe this story, after much fighting, and begging for the boy; he went straight to the town court. 

Ramesh was called to the court, and the judge asked him to return the boy that he had kidnapped, as there was no way an eagle could carry, and take away a big 15-year-old boy. For a while, he did not agree to give the boy back and kept insisting that an eagle had taken him away. His friend was angry, and afraid all at once; the judge ordered that he should be truthful about what had happened to the boy, and where he was. 

Finally, he told the entire story to the judge and everyone else in the courtroom. He started with the beam and how the rat in his friend’s house had eaten an iron beam and ended with how the eagle had lifted his friend’s son away. Everyone in the court started laughing, even the judge. Finally, a decision was made. The beam had to be given to its owner, and the boy to his father. 

Ramesh was happy with the decision. He was to get his costly iron beam back. Suresh now knew that there was no way he could cheat and lie and get away with it. The judge’s orders were carried out. He had his beam back, and his friend has his son back. Soon he opened a large shop in the town market and was well-settled once again. As for the friendship between the two, it was never the same as before. 

Moral: One can never get away with lying and cheating.

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