Tenali Ramalingam And the Two Thieves
It was the practice of King Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu to visit the jails once a while and review the living standards of the convicted. During one of his visits, two of the jail inmates pleaded for cutting down their punishment period.
They explained that theft was one of the 64 arts in the epics and Vedas and started defining the art of stealing. However, they argued that they would shed the lifestyle and shift for one or the other profession to eke out their living. Rayalu thought for a moment brushing his moustache royally.
“It’s alright thieves. First let me know about your expertise in the art and then decide. You both have to burgle at Ramalinga’s house and return. If you emerge successful, then you will be set free immediately” Rayalu ordered them. “Hey you both listen. You should not deliver any physical blows to the households, take care” he added one condition.
The same night they were ‘officially’ let out for robbing Ramalinga’s residence. Ramalinga was nurturing a beautiful backyard garden fondly. The thieves’ duo crossed over the backyard compound wall and took shelter in the bean bushes to watch the surroundings first.
Ramalinga was not just another ordinary man in the crowd. He spotted the duo hiding in the bushes. He called his wife loudly, “My dear wife! Come here fast. The whole town is on fire with the news about some convicts jumping jail and are said to be at large well within the town. We should immediately protect all our jewellery and other valuables…” watching carefully around the bushes, increasing the pitch “…bring that bundle with all our gold and jewellery.”
A minute later, Ramalinga and his wife with great effort brought a heavy bundle into the backyard and dropped it into the well. Dhhhhhhhhhhhabbbb….spppppplsh sounds of a heavy weight dropping into the water in the well echoed for few seconds. The thieves looked at each other with sparkles in their eyes.
They never thought it would be so easy to rob Ramalinga. Meanwhile, the couple went inside the house and closed the door. After sometime, snores were heard from the bedroom of the house. Slowly the thieves drew themselves out of the bushes, taking care they do not make any noise and went close to the well. While one of them stood guard, the other one slipped into the well. In a minute, the thief came out of the well and discussed with the other that there is much water in the well. The jewellery bundle cannot be taken out as it is. It would be better if some water was drawn out to snatch away the bundle, they decided.
Immediately they started drawing water from the well one after the other bucket. Water started flowing continuously in the backyard spreading all the ways. In the shade of trees and darkness, Ramalinga covering his head with a shawl took one farm tool and started guiding the water to the plants and trees in the yard. As it was too dark and the thieves were concentrating on drawing the water alone, they did not notice Ramalinga doing this.
After drawing water from the well for three to four hours continuously, the thieves were tired. One of them again went into the well and came back, “You, come I need help to bring the bundle out, it is too heavy.” Both of them slipped into the well together again. With great effort both of them brought the bundle out and fell on the ground like logs of woods after opening it.
To their dismay, it was not a bundle of jewellery but a bundle of small boulders and rocks. They never understood until then that Ramalinga hid his precious items somewhere in the house and dropped this into the well.
Ramalinga called them, “Hey dear thieves! Please draw few more buckets of water from the well. Only two of the plants are to be watered. Please hurry up it is close to dawn. Kindly help me quick and little more” like sprinkling chilies on the wounds of burglars.
Both of them were stunned on hearing Ramalinga’s voice. They told each other, “Run! It is Ramalinga!” and sped away crossing the wall with all the tired bodies.
The so-called argument of the thieves about the art of stealing and their expertise did not work on Ramalinga at least.