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Story time: The greedy merchant

Updated August 31, 2013
Greedy Merchant 
Illustration by Ghazala
Greedy Merchant Illustration by Ghazala

ONCE upon a time, long, long ago, there were two friends Jamil and Qasim. They were famous carpet merchants and used to sell exquisite carpets and rugs. They were known far and wide for their high quality merchandise and were very well respected.

Once there was a fair in another city and the two friends took cartloads of carpets to be sold there. They earned a very fat profit and were extremely happy. On their return journey, they sent their caravan and servants back by a longer and safer route and decided to take a shortcut so that they could reach their homes quickly and be with their families again.

As they were passing through a forest, dark clouds covered the sky and it started raining heavily. The two friends took refuge in a woodcutter’s cottage that they came across. The cottage was deserted and in a quite derelict condition but at least it was dry and they were out of the rain. The two friends made themselves as comfortable as they could and shared a meal. Then they took out the heavy leather bags containing their money. The pile of gold coins glittered on the floor as they counted the money again and again.

The two friends talked for a while, making plans for new ventures till Jamil fell asleep. Qasim looked at the piles of gold coins and soon greed and evil thoughts entered his mind.

“Why should I keep sharing my wealth with him?” he asked himself. “Everyone knows I am a better craftsman than him and a shrewder businessman. I don’t need him. But if we split, he might set up his own business and compete with me. It will be better if he is no longer alive.”

Overcome by greed and avarice, he quietly took out his dagger and stabbed Jamil as he lay asleep.

Thinking quickly, Qasim buried the leather pouches in a corner. He rubbed mud all over his clothes and face and ran out in the rain. He reached the town and raised quite a hue and cry.

“Robbed! We were robbed by bandits in the forest,” he cried. “They took away our money and killed Jamil. I saved myself with great difficulty.”

All the people gathered around him, shaking their heads in sympathy.

The elders of the town took a few guards with them and brought back Jamil’s dead body and their horses. Everybody believed Qasim’s story and no one suspected him of any foul deeds.

Meanwhile, Qasim continued his business alone and flourished. After a few months, he considered it safe to return to the cottage to retrieve his buried wealth. One evening, he quietly went away on his horse towards the forest.

Strangely enough, it began to rain again. Qasim found the cottage with great difficulty. Once he reached there, he dismounted from his horse and carefully began to make his way towards the old hut. Suddenly, he heard a great screeching sound and looked back. He was horrified to see an old weather-beaten tree being uprooted and toppled by strong gusts of wind. He tried to run away but the mud made him slow. The great tree fell on him and that was the end of the greedy carpet-seller.

A few days later, a great hunt was launched for the missing merchant. He was finally found and everyone was amazed that the two friends had died at the same spot. Qasim was buried near Jamil but their money still lies buried in a corner of the old woodcutter’s cottage. No one has ever found it and no one probably would!

A wise person once said that there is sufficient in the world for man’s every need but not for man’s greed and I agree with him. What about you?