Heart warming story - The Ideal Couple

 The Ideal Couple

In the city of Prayag there once lived a merchant who was both rich and generous. His wife was as noble as her husband. They were an ideal couple. The only blot on their happiness was their only son, Sasi. Sasi was an incorrigible fellow. Very early in his life he went under the influence of evil friends and took to evil ways. All his father's admonitions and his mother's entreaties were of no avail. He not only did not change but actually went from bad to worse. His parents were perpetually grieved and ashamed because of him. The merchant had a close friend in a priest, and the former sought the latter's advice regarding the future of his son. "I am afraid," said the merchant, "that I made a blunder in thinking that Sasi would be cured of his evil ways as he became older. Instead, he seems to become worse as he grows up. Now that hope is lost, please tell me what I can do to improve his nature. My wife is ill mostly because of worry regarding the boy. Unless he improves soon, she is sure to die!" "I must speak out the truth," said the priest gravely. "It was the goodness of the both of you that has spoiled the boy. Even now he feels the security of your goodness when he does all sorts of unmannerly things. Send him away, to a distant place, where he will not have any security, nor money to squander away.

He will be forced to fend for himself and will learn responsibility. Under such circumstances he is bound to turn a new leaf, acquire good habits and become competent." The merchant was satisfied with this suggestion. He called his son and said, "My son, I want you to go to a distant place and make good. Where would you like to go?" "Please send me to Banaras!" Sasi replied. He had learned from his friends that Banaras was a city where there was unlimited scope for adventure and perpetration of evil. The priest had a relation at Banaras. So he gave Sasi a letter of introduction with which the boy started for Banaras. The idea of sending the boy to a far-off place appeared to have borne fruit for a time. For the priest got letters from his relation at Banaras, and they spoke well of the boy. The priest read these letters to the merchant and his wife. The couple was happy that their son was at last showing signs of improvement.

And then without warning the tragedy occurred. Sasi and some drunkards were gambling, when they had a quarrel. The quarrel resulted in a scuffle and Sasi was stabbed to death. The priest received a letter from his relation explaining the details. It was now plain to the priest that Sasi never changed. He did not know how to break this news to his friend, the merchant. He decided to tell the sad news to the merchant alone since the old lady was ailing in bed. Hearing about the tragic death of his only son, the merchant was stunned. But he did not shed tears over it. "I have been anticipating some such calamity for a very long time," he said to the priest. "So this was not quite unexpected. Only, we thought that he would mend himself in a distant place, but he didn't. He was not one to change easily." Then he requested the priest to keep the news from his wife. "She is really very ill," he said. "Her heart will break if she knows of the boy's death. She is not going to live long. Let her be happy in the thought that her son is prospering somewhere. I request you to read to her letters from your relation, and assure her of the boy's progress." "Yes, of course!" the priest said. "I shall do even as you say. Let us do what we can to make the rest of her days as pleasant as possible." Once a month the priest would go to the merchant's house, and say, "Another letter from Banaras! Your son wants you to know that he is doing well. My relation assures me that your boy is sure to be engaged at Court any day now!"

Another time he would say, "It is all settled. Your boy is going to be a courtier from the next Full Moon day." Then he would say, "I am very happy to inform you that the King is personally interested in finding a suitable bride for your boy! Ah, the lucky fellow!" And then he said, one day, "Your boy is extremely anxious to see both of you. He has asked for leave and is starting as soon as the leave is granted." The priest was the most welcome person in the merchant's house. The couple listened to every word he uttered with the greatest happiness and eagerness. Though the merchant's wife was bedridden she showed some animation, hid all her pains, and talked enthusiastically, in the priest's presence." "How I am deceiving this noble lady!" the priest would say to himself. But he reasoned that what he did was correct when he noticed the pleasure with which she heard to his false reports about her son. "Considering the happiness of the poor soul, what I do is quite correct," he would tell himself. Four years elapsed. All the time the merchant's wife grew steadily worse, a victim to consumption. Now she was very near her end. The priest got information that she was going to die within a few hours, and went to see her.

The merchant was gone out at the moment. "I am departing!" she said to the priest. "please look after the old man!" "That is all nonsense!" the priest assured her. "You are going to get well yet. Why your son is even now on his way here. I have just received a letter. Some pilgrims from Banaras brought it. You are going to see your son soon." The patient smiled weakly. "That is true enough!" she said. "We shall be soon seeing each other in the other world!... Do not be surprised! I have known for a long time that my son is dead. But I want to thank your relation who is in Banaras. He is so noble! If the old man had known of Sasi's death he would not have recovered from the blow! Now promise me that you will keep the secret from him as long as he lives. I cannot die peacefully unless you make the promise. Let him never know that Sasi is dead. That is my only wish!" Then she closed her eyes forever. The priest was not sad, he felt greatly elated. What an ideal couple! In order to keep each other happy, they had concealed in their hearts a terrible fire that must have caused more pain for want of sharing. The priest went home blessing the noble merchant and his equally noble wife.    

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