The Gang Of Thieves : Tenali Raman Tales
The kotwal (chief of police) of Vijayanagara was a worried man. A gang of thieves had entered the city, and a string of robberies had already taken place. The kotwal’s men could not lay their hands on the culprits. King Krishnadeva Raya was upset with the kotwal for failing to nab the thieves.
The kotwal sought Raman’s help, who readily agreed to help him.
Raman asked his wife to spread stories about the money they had. Soon the whole town was talking about Raman’s riches. The robbers heard this too. “Let us keep a watch on this man Raman,” said their Chief.
One of them took up a job at the Raman as a house help so that he could spy on them. Raman at once knew that this man was a crook. But he pretended not to know.
That night, he spoke to his wife about the riches they had collected. “We have to keep it safe from these robbers,” said his wife. “We will drop the box of money into our well. It’ll be safe there under the water,” said Raman.
Raman and his wife dragged a big wooden box with a huge lock. Making sure that they were being watched by the house help, Raman and his wife lifted the box and dropped it into the well.
That robber who was spying on the Raman’s ran to his friends and announced, “I know where Raman has hidden his riches.”
What he did not know was that Raman had filled the box with bricks and stones!
The following night, the robbers went to Raman’s house. Their accomplice led them to the backyard where the Raman had grown many trees. The well was at the corner. “That’s where Raman hid the box,” said the accomplice, pointing the well.
“How do we lift the box?” asked the leader.
“It’s a heavy box,” said the accomplice.
“We just have to take out the water. Then it will be easy to lift the box,” suggested one of the thieves. Everyone agreed.
Two thieves, in turn, started drawing water from the well and poured it out. The water started flowing down the slope. They were so engrossed in drawing the water out that they did not notice Raman busy making a path for the water to flow towards the plants.
Working for hours drawing water, the robbers got exhausted. Just then, they heard someone shout, “Enough. All the plants have enough water. Don’t waste it.”
The thieves were stunned when they saw Raman. They tried to run away. But their escape route was cut off by the kotwal and his guards. The robbers were overpowered and taken to prison. The next day the whole town was talking about how Raman had put the robbers to work in his garden!
Story: Subba Rao | Illustration: Goutam P Sen