The Miraculous Conch

- March 15, 2021

Once there lived an old man who was poor but generous. He lived in a small hut with his cat and dog. One night, a weary traveller knocked at his door, asking for some food. The old man didn’t have much but he gave away whatever food he had, including the dry chapatis kept for the dog and the cat, to the stranger. The stranger ate every last morsel, and then asked if he could rest there for the night. The old man offered his bed to the traveller and slept on the floor with his hungry companions. Refreshed by the night’s meal and rest, the grateful traveller left the old man a parting gift – a conch. “Drop the conch into your pot the next time you cook rice,” he explained.  Though confused, the old man did not question it. The cat, on the other hand, was annoyed. “What’s the use of a conch? Now if it had been money, our master could have fed us. We haven’t eaten since yesterday!” he grumbled. That afternoon, the old man decided to test the stranger’s gift. As soon as he did, a delicious aroma rose from the pot of rice! The scent wafted far and wide, attracting many people. When they asked to have some, the old man could not deny them. However, a massive number of people had lined up. Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Luis Fernandes “I can only give each of them a few grains, or the pot will be empty before I know it!” Thinking so, the old man began serving a small morsel each. The hungry cat was irked by his master’s kindness. “Well, looks like we will be going hungry again,” he said to the dog. Even if he was hungry himself, the dog didn’t say a thing. He liked that his master was a kind man. Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Luis Fernandes When the old man had finished serving all of them, he noticed that the pot was far from empty! So he offered all of them second helpings. Still, the pot was quite full. Once his guests had had their fill, he fed his companions. “Here you go, I’m sorry you had to starve last night. Now that we have this conch, it will never happen again!” The cat’s ears perked up at that. “You hear that, dog, never again!” he rejoiced. Every day, the old man cooked his “special” rice and people flocked to his hut for a share. Soon, there were so many that he started to charge them a small price for the rice, which the people were happy to pay. The cat and dog too had become fat with all the food they were eating, without doing any work. Days and weeks passed this way. One morning, the old man’s first customers were some travellers. They bought a lot of rice from him and packed it to take it with them for the journey. Later, as he served more customers, he noticed that the rice was depleting! He ladled out more rice to see if his eyes were being deceived but the rice was indeed decreasing. Panicked, he began looking for the conch in the pot. It was nowhere to be found. “Oh no! I must have given it to the travellers!” he thought. ...

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