It took quite some time for me to get back my father in a mood to continue the story. But I was not the one to give up so easily on such an interesting topic. In fact my brothers and my mother used to make fun of me for trying to get the story from our elusive father. They were even afraid that he may revert to the never-ending story of Ganapathi Kalaiah! But I had my agenda! I was quite aware that our father was not in a position to bequeath much property, divisible among his six sons! So I had my plans to become the sole owner of his intellectual properties! I pursued the matter vigorously. One fine day I got him online again!
Devaraiah grew up as a young man. Being the only son of his parents, he had adequate resources at his command. He was an enterprising person and with the blessings of Lord Chandramouleswara, he soon became a very rich man. But somehow he was not interested in getting married. He remained a bachelor much to the disappointment of his parents.
Devaraiah’s wealth grew very fast. Most of the wealth was in the form of cash and gold. Soon he reached a stage where he found the storage of his liquid wealth a major risky proposition! Keeping the money in a bank as deposit was unheard of in those days. In any case there were no bank branches in the vicinity. So Devaraiah had to resort to the age-old tradition of storing the money in pots hidden inside the mother earth. That is exactly when the trouble started for him.
Devaraiah converted all his wealth into gold and silver coins to enable him to store them in a copper vessel. After closing the mouth of the vessel with a plate, he dug up the earth behind his house and inserted the vessel there and closed the trench with loose soil. He conducted the entire operation during the late night so that nobody else noticed the same. He felt relieved that he had found a proper place to hide his wealth.
But the relief was only short-lived. He soon started getting dreams in the night that somebody was digging up his hidden treasure! There was another problem also. Like all the rich men of those days, Devaraiah was also very particular about the physical verification of his wealth at frequent intervals. That made him dig up his treasure frequently to find out whether all the pieces were intact. That had to be done only in the late night. This added to his misery and tensions. He knew that he was exposing his treasure to risk by his frequent digging actions.
One day Devaraiah overheard some people discussing about the hidden treasures. They were discussing how thieves were able to locate the hidden treasures of rich men by watching their actions. They were also mentioning that the rich men were able to dupe them by hiding some empty pots in certain locations near their houses! The plan was to create some ‘dummy treasures’ to deceive the ‘genuine’ thieves! Devaraiah was quite impressed with this ‘risk management technology’ (RMT)!
The very next day Devaraiah purchased a good number of copper vessels. He filled all of them with pebbles and sealed their mouths. He dug up a number of trenches at different places near his house and buried all the vessels in them. He conducted the whole operation during late nights so that nobody noticed his actions. He felt fully relieved thinking that no thief could lay hands on his ‘original treasure’. He also felt grateful to the inventor of this risk management tool called the ‘dummy technique’!
Things appeared to be quite rosy to Devaraiah for some time. Having sorted out the problem of storage of his wealth, he became a very confident man. The changes in him were quite noticeable. He even thought of finding a suitable life-partner. But that was only till he felt the urge of making a physical verification of his wealth again.
One particular night Devaraiah could not stop his urge to make a physical verification of his original treasure. Ultimately he got up and started digging up the place where he thought he had hidden his real wealth. He took out the vessel and removed the lid to count the silver and gold coins. But Lo! To his utter shock and dismay he found only pebbles there! He simply could not believe his eyes! Something appeared to have gone wrong somewhere definitely.
Devaraiah tried to re-gather his wits by thinking coolly over the matter. He was quite sure that he had not gone wrong in identifying the place where he had hidden his original wealth. But there was every possibility that he might have dug up one of the ‘dummy treasures’ created by himself! He started digging up the other trenches. But to his shock, each one of them was found to be a ‘dummy’ with nothing but pebbles inside! Devaraiah’s lifetime savings had simply disappeared in the mother earth!
Devaraiah went mad within a short time. People could often see him digging up trenches endlessly near his house. His incoherent talk about the loss of the hidden treasure became the talk of the village. Each person in the village gave his own version of Devarayyana Gantu! The elusive hunt for the hidden original treasure came to an end only on the death of Devaraiah.
My father ended the story here. He had heard the story in his childhood days from his elders. But he said he was sure of one thing. That the original treasure was lying somewhere near the house and Devaraiah had been shortchanged by his own ‘dummy technique’!
My father passed away in the year 1980. Our neighbouring house, where Devaraiah had lived once upon a time, had been occupied by different families at different times. Ultimately the house came into the possession of the family of my father’s niece. None of the earlier families had undertaken any major repairs to the house. The original house had remained intact.
More than ten years after the death of my father, the family of his niece decided to build a new house after dismantling the original house. Accordingly the whole house was dismantled on one particular day. The dismantling team was also made to excavate the entire plot where the house was situated.
All of a sudden a kind of sensational news started spreading across our entire village. It was said that the family had found a hidden treasure during the dismantling exercise. A sealed pot with unknown contents had been found and handed over to the family by the dismantling team. The news spread fast and the contents of the pot were estimated by each individual according to his own imagination. It appeared that the legendary Devarayyana Gantu had ultimately seen the light of the day!
The news reached the police department at the taluk headquarters within no time. A team headed by a police Sub-Inspector arrived at the village soon after. The team raided the house and arrested the family members and took them away to the station. The family members were released after sometime. The police case was closed a few days thereafter. Nobody ever came to know whether the Devarayyana Gantu had ultimately been traced.
----- Concluded -----
A V Krishnamurthy
17th April 2011