Sampatti Samarpan : by Rabindranath Tagore Short Story

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      Sampatti Samarpan - Bequeathing the Property : Sampatti-samarpan is a starker story. In ancient India, there was the bizarre custom of appointing a yaksha, a spirit, as the trustee or guardian of wealth being left to absent or untraceable descendants. The wealth or treasure was buried underground and some youth was buried along with it. The youth would starve or suffocate to death, and people would imagine him to have become a yaksha. Here a miserly grandfather unknowingly kills his own heir - his own grandson.


The wealth or treasure was buried underground and some youth was buried along with it. The youth would starve or suffocate to death, and people would imagine him to have become a yaksha.
Bequeathed the Wealth

Short Story :-


"I am leaving!" A furious Vrindavan Kundu said to his father Yajnanath Kundu.

"Look at the fellow's ingratitude!" said the father. "Instead of repaying me for feeding and clothing him all this time, he is showing me his temper!"

Yajnanath Kundu could not have incurred much expense in feeding and clothing his son because he was a big miser. He hardly spent any money, even on essentials. The son had borne it quietly while he was unmarried. But after his marriage, he began to have ideas other than those of frugality that his father cherished. His wife fell ill and the physician recommended a very expensive medicine. Yajnanath called him inexperienced and made him leave. Vrindavan's wife died. Vrindavan blamed his father for her death. He felt that he would not have lost his wife if his father had paid for the medicine recommended.

I am leaving!" he told his father after a fight.

His father instantly declared in public that he would never give Vrindavan a penny.

Father and son parted ways.

He did not miss his son much. In fact, he had always been a little scared that his son might poison him one day. With his daughter-in-law dying and his son leaving home, he felt relieved on this score. Also, there was a reduction in expenditure.

Only, he was hurt at losing his grandson, four-year-old Gokul. He cost very little to be fed and clothed and so his grandfather's affection for him was less encumbered. When Vrindavan had taken Gokul away with him, Yajnanath had felt genuine sorrow, but it had also struck him that he would now be relieved of the expenses of bringing Gokul up.

He missed his grandson a lot. No one now pestered him while he was doing his daily rituals, no one ran away with his pen and paper just when he was about to do his calculation of household expenses. The sight of Gokul's torn blanket and ink-marked mat tugged at his heart. Within two years that kid had torn his clothes to tatters. Yajnanath had scolded him severely then. Now those tatters brought tears to his eyes. Instead of using them to roll wicks for lamps and so save money, Yajnanath now locked them up in the safe. He resolved not to reproach Gokul even if he ruined his clothes again and again, provided he came back.

But Gokul never came back. Yajnanath seemed to grow old faster than before, when Gokul had been around. Every day when the village took its mid-day nap, he roamed restlessly around. The village lads teased him for his miserliness and called him names, so that he could hear.

One afternoon, while taking his usual walk in the shade of the mango grove, Yajnanath saw that a new boy - not of this village - had somehow assumed leadership of the village kids. He was teaching them new pranks and showing them new ways of mischief-making and they were accepting him as the head of their gang.

On other days, the kids ran away on seeing Yajnanath approach. Today they came up to him and once close enough, shook a shawl almost upon his body. Out jumped a chameleon which quickly ran up his body before jumping off into the bushes. Yajnanath shivered and cowered back; the boys shouted in delight. Yajnanath walked on, but suddenly found the towel upon his shoulder vanish and adorn the head of the new boy.

For a long time Yajnanath had not tasted such unabashed intimacy with a kid.

He called the boy up. After a lot of invitations and assurances, the boy answered his questions.

"What is your name?

"Nitai Pal."

"Where is your home?"

"Won't tell."

"What is your father's name?"

"Won't tell."

"Why?"

"Because I have run away from home.",

"Why?"

"Because my father wants to send me to school"

The father is certainly a fool to be sending such a son to school, thought Yajnanath. He offered the boy his own home to stay in. The boy took up the offer without a trace of hesitation. In fact, as days went by, he stayed on as though it was his own. In matters of food and clothing he expressed his preferences with such flourish that Yajnanath had to admit defeat and fulfill all his demands. He called Yajnanath Dada', that is, Grand-pa. Neighbours grew envious of the boy's luck in finding such a patron because Yajnanath was reputed to be very rich. They felt that Yajnanath's end was near and before dying, he would bequeath all his wealth upon Nitai.

There were times when Nitai threatened to go away, Yainanath would then tell him, "Child, when I pass away, I shall leave all my property to you."

Young as he was, Nitai appreciated the worth of this assurance. The villagers, jealous of Nita's prospects, began to inquire after his father. "How worried his parents must be!" they said. "The kid too is a rogue."

One day Yajnanath came to hear from a passer by that someone named Damodar Pal was coming this way, looking for his son. Nitai got most upset at hearing this. He got ready to run off, leaving all the property he had been promised.

Yainanath assured him: "I'll hide you in such a place that nobody will be able to find you out. Not even the villagers."

Curious, Nitai asked to be shown the place. Yjnanath answered that if he took him there now, others would get to know about it. He would take Nitai there at night. Nitai cheered up at the thought of this new mystery. What fun, he thought that his father would come to this very village but be unable to find him! Also, what a good hiding place he would have for his games of hide-and-seek with the village kids!

At mid-day, Yajnanath locked Nitai up in the house and went away somewhere. As soon as he came back, Nitai began to pester him with his questions. Evening fell; Nitai grew was impatient to be taken to his hiding-place

"It is not yet dark", Yajnanath stalled.

"It is dark, Dada", persisted Nitai. "Let's go."

The neighbours are not yet asleep", Yajnanath stalled again.

Nitai grew tired and sleepy as the night grew deeper and darker. Finally, at midnight, Yajnanath took him by the hand and led him out through the sleeping village, with the stray dogs barking after them. Crossing over many fields, they arrived at a jungle with a ruined temple in its midst.

"Here?" said Nitai, a little disappointed. He had come across several such ruins in the course of his wanderings. It was a good place for playing hide-and-seek, but nothing great.

Then Yajnanath lifted up a block of stone from the floor of the ruined temple. Nitai caught sight of a small room below, lit by a lamp. He was most surprised and also a little scared. Using a ladder, Yajnanath climbed down and Nitai fearfully followed him.

Once below, he saw that all around the small room there were metal pots. In the middle of the room there was a mat, and before it were materials for the worship of a deity, such as sandalwood paste, vermilion, and flower garlands. To satisfy his curiosity, Nitai looked into a pot. It was full of coins of gold and silver.

"Nitai, I had told you that I would leave all my property to you. This is all that I have and I am going to bequeath it upon you."

Nitai jumped up and asked, "All of it? You don't want a single coin for yourself?"

"No", said Yajnanath. "But there is something I have to say. If my lost grandson Gokul ever comes back, or his son, or his grandson or any descendant, you have to make all this over to him, every single coin of it."

The boy thought that Yajnanath had gone mad. He easily answered, "Alright".

"Then come and sit on the mat", said Yajnanath. "You have to be worshipped".

"Why?"

"That is the procedure".

The boy took his seat upon the mat. Yajnanath anointed his forehead with sandalwood paste and put a dot of vermilion on it. He hung a garland round his neck, sat down in front of him and began to mutter some mantra in a low voice.

Getting worshipped like a deity and listening to that incantation, Nitai grew scared. "Dada," he called.

Yajnanath did not reply but went on with his incantation.

At last, with difficulty and one by one, he began to draw the heavy metal pots close and place them before Nitai. He dedicated each of them to Nitai, but every time he made him say:

I will hand over in exact number all these coins to the son, grandson or any further descendant of Gokul Chandra Kundu, son of Vrindavan Kundu, son of Yajnanath Kundu, son of Paramanand Kundu, son of Prankrishna Kundu, son of Gadadhar Kundu, son of Yudhisthira Kundu..

Reciting this list again and again, Nitai grew baffled and confused. His tongue gradually grew stiff, his voice indistinct. By the time the ceremony was over, the small room was full of vapour from the lamp and the breath of both of them. The boy's mouth grew dry, his hands and feet began to tingle and he felt choked.

The lamp grew dim and went out. In the dark, the boy could feel Yajnanath going up the ladder.

"Where are you going, Dada?" he cried out in anguish.

"I am going", Yajnanath called down. "You stay here nobody will be able to find you But remember, Gokul Chandra Kundu, son of Vrindavan Kundu, son of Yajnanath Kundu."

With this, he reached the top and immediately pulled the ladder up. His breath coming to a halt, the boy uttered with great difficulty: "Dada, I want to go to Baba."

Yajnanath placed the block of stone on the hole and strained his ears to hear Nitai call out once more in a choking voice "Bab-". There was the sound of a fall and no other sound after that. (Thus Yajnanath bequeathed his property to a yaksha. In Indian mythology, the yaksihas are guards of Kubera, the treasurer of the gods).Yajnanath began to cover up the block of stone with earth, and cover it up further with bricks and sand from the crumbling temple. He then planted creepers on it and even though the night was almost over, did not seem to be able to move from the spot. Every now and then he put his ear to the ground. He seemed to hear a cry rising from the depth of the earth. As if to choke off that cry, he restlessly piled more and more earth upon the temple floor. But wasn't there someone still crying out Baba'?"

Stamping on the ground Yajnanath said, "Stop it! Everyone will hear you."

But still there was a cry of "Baba".

Yajnanath looked around and found it was broad daylight. Scared, he came away from that jungle into the open fields.

There too he could hear someone crying 'Baba'. Startled. Yajnanath turned round to find his own son Vrindavan there. "Baba", he said, "I got the information that my son is hiding in your house. Hand him over."

"Your son?" Puckering up his face and eyes, Yajnanath bent over upon Vrindavan.

"Yes, Gokul", replied Vrindavan. "Now he is called Nitai Pal. Everywhere around this place, people know of you as a miser and avoid pronouncing your name. So out of shame we had changed our names.

With his ten fingers Yajnanath clutched at the air and fell down. When he regained his consciousness, he dragged Vrindavan to the temple. "Can you hear anyone crying? he asked.

"No", said Vrindavan. The old man seemed to be very relieved.

Since then, he went round asking everybody if they could hear anybody crying. People considered him mad and laughed at him. Within four years, he approached his end. It grew dark around him and he found it difficult to breathe. At the last moment, he suddenly sat up, groped in the air, and cried out: "Nitai, who took away my ladder?

Then, with a thud, he fell down dead on the bed, going to the hiding place from which no one ever could be found out.

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