A very, very rich man Sri Takore was. Yet, very miserly he lived. He had a disgustingly old, torn, oily, dirty topi and he would not change it. He become almost famous due to his insulting appearance with his ugly old topi. The people in the bazar even planned to raise a subscription among themselves, make a topi-fund, and present him with a new topi, and "the rest of the fund so collected must be given as a purse to be used by Takoreji for purchasing new topis' suggested a young man. Though the youngsters thus planned and laughed at Takore behind his back, nobody dared directly to say anything to him, because he was so very rich then.
He would purchase that which nobody would ever think of purchasing. yet, his luck was such that he could make a profit even out of that rubbish. For example, some beautiful bottles were on sale. Nobody would purchase them. But Takore bought them all for a song. Then he bought the entire contents of a Castle's cellar. It contained nothing of value. But among its old bottles, casks and half-decayed, bottom-less wooden troughs and other rubbish, he found one big jar unopened and neglected in one corner. When it was opened, to his great luck, it was found to contain a special kind of perfume which becomes all the more precious with age. And nobody knew its age! Now Takore decided to fill up the small bottles with the costly attar and sell them together at an unbelievably huge profit.
This great profit called for a bit of celebration. Therefore he went to the club, and there, decided to swim and take a leisurely, luxurious bath. At the porch,, he met an old friend of his, and as they were undressing, the friend said, "Takoreji, why don't you change your topi3 It has become insulting and the talk of the town. Throw this away. Get another one. If you don't mind, I would even get one for you." Takore smiled and simply said, 'This is not so very old as to throw it away just yet. By the time of next Deepawali, perhaps." And they both entered the water.
All people had gotten out of the water. Takore was still enjoying the cool embrace of the clean water. He rolled and ducked, slipped and splashed, again and again, in the tank. At that time the Judicial OfTrcer also arrived, for a bath, along with his friends and other officials. It became noisy and the swimming pool agitated and uncomfortable. Takore got up and quickly dried himself and ran to the dressing room.
When he had dressed again, he could not find his old topi. "It has disappeared! Shocking!" Could it be that my friend, in his overanxiety had thrown it away? Yes. Yes, and was he not telling of his plan to purchase a new topi for me? That must be this solitary topi on the dressing stand. Good. Thank you all, good men—but I still db not admit that my old topi was so very old and ugly as that it had to be really thrown away." Taking off the rack the only topi that was there on the wall of the dressing room, Takore walked out—his head buzzing on with the thoughts of how he would fill up the small* bottles with the windfall attar and, within a few weeks, make the biggest profit in his business ever.
The Judge-saheb got out of the swimming pool and went in to dress. When he discovered that his new topi was missing, he made very noisy complaints, and his companions, the Club Secretary and other office bearers, in deference to the high office of the Judge, started searching the place and making confused enquiries—when, lo! a companion of the Judge discovered an old topi lying in one corner of the room, almost indistinguishable from the dull, dirty carpet.
The moment people saw the topi in the light, all assembled there cried out, "Surely, this is Takoreji's topi. At last he has left his topi and taken a new one!!" All seemed to be quite happy. But the Judge thundered! "His millions are not going to save him now. If he has taken my topi, the law shall deal with him." He ordered his orderlies to rush to the house of Sri Takore and make a search for the lost topi.
Takoreji was in his room. He had just finished arranging the cleaned bottles all in rows, ready to receive a few drops of the attar. A knock at his door. The servant came in and announced that some officers from the Judge's court were in the drawing-room. Cursing the disturbance, he put on his new topi and walked into his spacious drawing room. Smiling, he said, "Sit down, gentle men, what can I do for you? There is very little help I can give to anyone, as the money is so tight these days ..”
Takoreji suddenly stopped. He felt that the officers were looking stunned. They had angry looks. They saw Takoreji actually wearing the new topi of the Judge-saheb!
Inspite of the protest of Takoreji, he was hauled to the court, and in view of the fact that the accused was such a rich. but miserly, member of the community, the court gave him the highest penalty of a thousand rupees-fine, and ordered confiscation of the new topi. The court, however, ordered that he must be given back his old topi. Takoreji, under boisterous protests, paid the fine and returned home.
He was boiling inside with sorrow at the loss of money, and in sheer disgust he threw his old topi through the window into the Sabarmati River flowing behind his house. "Go, you wretch! People talk of you, and now you have cost me a thousand hard earned rupees. Now you get drowned and disappear!"
The man of profit turned his attention to his work. He consoled himself that he would make up the loss by diluting the attar a little, and filling up all the bottles. Thus he started filling each small bottle with five drops less and adding water to make the bottles full.
In the meantime, the river was full. The old topi sank to the oozy bottom and rolled down with the current. Some fishermen had dropped their net, and the topi got caught up there. In their last haul for the evening, when the fishermen pulled up their net, there was nothing in it except a strange looking fish. They pulled it out and in their disappointment saw that it was a piece of rag, dripping with mud. They carried it home with them, and as they were going, the young fisherman who had it in his hand suddenly thought, "Why not?" and so he threw it into the window of the building he was passing by.
In the gathering gloom of the darkening dusk, the black, dirty old bundle flew in through the window, and landed on the table, upsetting all the altar bottles, smashing them all to the floor!
Takoreji was aghast. He could not understand. He went and picked up the rag that was the filthy cause for his stupendous loss, All the attar was spilt—all bottles smashed to smithereens!
And lo! What was it? His own old topi— thrown up by the river. Why?.........
Disappointment filled his heart. Weeping about his loss, Takoreji made adecision. He went down to the courtyard and, with a spade, he himself started digging, in his own court-yard! The neighbours became very curious. Why should Takore, when he had such a team of servants in his house, himself dig in his court-yard? The neighbours watched—in the dusk they could not see, what it was, but something was being buried there.
"What Takoreji buries must be money— or maybe he has got a treasure there—that is it—that explains why he is so rich," thought the neighbours. As conscientious citizens, anxious to satisfy their curiosity, they phoned up the police. The police consulted the judge. The officer immediately ordered a posse of police to go to the spot to investigate, to open up the spot and present to the court what the rich man had concealed.
His heart, loaded with sorrow, Takoreji
had just finished his early dinner and was sitting down, brooding over his tragedies of the day, when the police again came to his house. Takoreji received them, and he became pale when the police started courteously enquiring whether he had dug out any treasure from under the tree! He was shy to confess—he replied, "It is my own land. There is no law to stop me from digging anywhere I like, at any time, so long as it is on my land. There is nothing you can do about it." Takore sent them away confused.
They put a man on duty to guard the treasure and left. Next day, Takoreji was hauled to the court. The court found that the Saits explanations were unsatisfactory. The circumstantial evidence 'was overwhelming. So the court ordered the digging qp of the place. All that could be presented to the court was a dirty bundle. It was opened in the court and was found to be nothing but an old topi, full of river silt! It was returned to Takoreji. Holding the filthy parcel in his lap, Takoreji returned to his house.
He went to bed. But sleep would not come to him. And so he got up and harnessed his cart and drove away. He drove seven miles out of the town and, looking around, he found a quiet place and a huge tank. He said, "Now you go, never to return. You have brought enough trouble to me." And he threw away the bundle he had in his hand and flung it into the water.
The Sait returned home and, leaving the cart and the horse near his stable, he went to bed and slept well. After all, he had finally managed to get rid of his old topi.
Next morning everything seemed to be going smoothly. But as the day grew, the volume of phone calls to the water-works department increased. From every part of the town there were screams of complaints. There was no water in the town! The department sent its workers to spot out where the trouble was. They could not find any reason. Yet, no water was reaching the town.
At last divers were sent out to the main tank. There they dived and found that the main exit of water to the town supply was choked by something—they removed it, brought it up, and lo! it was immediately recognized as Takorej’s old topi.
Again Takoreji was brought to court. He confessed, and as an exceptional punishment for disturbing the entire population, Takoreji was fined Rs.25,000. With grumblings and wild protests Takoreji paid the fine and returned home. Within a few hours a court peon brought and delivered to the servants in Takore's house a parcel. When Takoreji opened it, it was found to be nothing other than his old topi.
"Why don't you leave me' cried Takoreji, holding the topi between his fingers at eye level. "You have brought enough harm to me—you have destroyed me. You have brought great financial losses. You never leave me—you won't drown! You won't lie quietly in your grave I threw you seven miles away; before noon next day you were back! It seems you have returned to destroy me completely!! What have I done to you that you should be so revengeful towards me?
"I will now burn you—right here, I dare not go down. People may stop me." So saying he fetched a match-box. The wet, mud-plastered topi would not catch fire easily. The Sait, in despair, took a bundle of old newspapers, made it into a pyre, and burned the topi in the room. As he was sit ting down and enjoying the sight of the final funeral of his topi, he suddenly noticed that a huge crowd had gathered under his windows on the river banks; bells?— sirens?—uproars?....!!
"You deserve all these and more," said Takoreji under his breath to the dying flames of the topi which was now reduced almost to ashes—when, lo!
Through all the three windows of his sitting-room and bed-room huge columns of water started streaming in, flooding the rooms, wetting everything. The dumbfounded Takoreji could not even reach the windows!
People in the neighbourhood, seeing smoke coming through his windows, had phoned up the fire-department to hurry to the spot. When they arrived, they saw the smoke coming out of the bedroom of the palatial building. They started to do their duty in right earnest.
When everything was calmed, Takore was really ashamed to explain what had caused the smoke in his room. The police were very suspicious. Was he burning off bundles of counterfeit currency notes? !!
They took away the ashes of topi for chemical analysis. They are expecting the report. it has not yet come.
However, Takoreji has left the town. They have not so far located him. The search is going on. His disappearance has lent a larger probability to the police theory that Takoreji possibly had a private press for printing false currency notes. On the basis of this suspicion all his bank deposits were confiscated by the court and his house sealed by the police.
Poor Takore is now in Rishikesh as Swami Pakatidhar-ananda. He always wears a turban now. Whenever we ask him, "Who was your Guru?" he smiles, and with reverence and devotion announces, "My teacher was a Grihastha, a "householder", and his revered name was Sri Topiwallah."
Moral Of The Tale:
"Everyone of us has an old topi, and like Takoreji we suffer endlessly when we try to get rid of it. This false ego, when we use it too long, we get terribly attached to it, and when it starts bringing us sorrows we try to reject and disown it, renounce and throw it away. Butlik~ a stretched rubber band, it always rebound back on to us. Burn it down in the fire o Divine Knowledge, and live in Peace and Be warned! You have Takorej old topi or your head! Get rid of it, right now!!