From The Archive - Panchatantra - The Mice That Ate Iron (127)

Episode 126
7m | May 27, 2023

Panchatantra stories are one of the most widely translated books in history and are known for their wisdom on practical life. The stories are delightfully narrated, with animals and birds often being the central characters. Thus they provide valuable life lessons in a light-hearted manner.

In today's story, a merchant leaves an iron chest in the care of his friend while he travels to a neighbouring village. And returning, the friend, who was very greedy, told the merchant that the mice ate up his iron chest. To find out how does the merchant get his revenge, listen to the story

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Once there was a rich merchant called Naduk. Time passed, and his business turned for the worse.

Soon it was so bad that he not only lost all his money but also got into debt. He decided to leave the city and find his fortune in a new place. He sold all his possessions to pay off his debts.

Children, what is your favourite possession, something that you would not want to let go of? 

All that he was left with what is a heavy iron chest.

Before leaving his town, Naduk went to see his good friend Bondu. He requested him to keep the chest with him till he returned.

“Of course my friend! I will keep the chest safe for you,” said Bondu.

Naduk thanked him and left.

He travelled far and wide for many years and worked very hard. He started trading in spices and soon all his hard work paid off and he became rich again.

Children, can you name a few spices?

That’s nice.

Happy, that he was rich again, Naduk returned to his town.

He bought a new house and opened a very large shop.

Bondu had also heard that Naduk was back in town and has started a new business with the money that he had earned in all these years. Bondu was getting a little jealous of Naduk. 

One day after work Naduk went to visit his friend Bondu who welcomed him warmly. They talked for long. As he was about to leave, Naduk asked Bondu to return his iron chest.

Bondu had no intention of returning it as he knew that when he sold it, it would fetch him a good price. He put on a sad face and said, “Something bad has happened. I had kept the chest safely in my storeroom, but the mice have eaten it. I am really sorry.”

Children, do you think a mouse can eat iron??

Certainly not!

Naduk understood what was going on in Bondu’s mind.

Patting Bondu’s shoulder Naduk said, “Please don't feel sorry. It's not fair. It is not your fault that the mice ate the iron chest,”

Bondu was pleased to see that Nadu had fallen for his lie.

“How stupid can one be,” thought Bondu.

Children, do you think Naduk is stupid?

Listen ahead.

Meanwhile, Naduk asked Bondu to send his son home with him so that he could hand over the gifts that he had brought for him.

Bondu immediately asked his son Pinto to go with Naduk and fetch the gifts.

Naduk took the boy home and locked him in the cellar of his house.

Children, what do you think will happen now?

When Pinto didn't return by evening, his father got worried and came to ask about the whereabouts of his son.

Naduk said, “Oh! It was so unfortunate that while we were coming to my house, a hawk swooped and carried the boy off. I followed the hawk for some time but could not keep pace. I am sorry my friend.”

On hearing this, Bondu became furious he accused Naduk of lying. He insisted that a hawk could not carry a 15-year-old boy.

A quarrel started and they both went to the court

“Your honour, I had sent my son with this man to fetch some gifts from his house. But my son has not returned since. This man has stolen my son,” cried Bondu.

The magistrate ordered Naduk to return the boy to his father.

But Naduk insisted that a hawk carried off the boy. The magistrate asked him how it was possible.

To this Naduk replied, “If mice can eat up an iron chest, surely a hawk can carry off a boy!”

The magistrate understood that there was more to it than meets the eye here. He asked Naduk to explain everything in detail.

Naduk then narrated the entire story. Everyone in the courtroom had a good laugh. The magistrate ordered Bondu to return the iron chest to Naduk and Naduk to return Bondu’s son.

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