The lucky watermelon seed

There was a moneylender who was very, very rich, and at the same time, very, very bad. He was an old man, but he was unbearably bad. One day a poor man came to him to ask for a loan. He said to the moneylender, “I do not know whether I shall ever be able to return the money to you. I shall have to wait for a windfall. I will be grateful if you can give me a loan. I do hope that my circumstances will change and one day I will have money.”

The moneylender said, “Do not worry, do not worry. God is with you. One day God will give you money, and then you will be able to repay me.” Then the moneylender gave him the money that he had requested. The poor man was so grateful that the moneylender had agreed to the loan even though he was not expecting any money in the near future. He took the money and used it for his family needs.

After two months the moneylender came to the poor man’s house and said, “Now, do you need more money?”

The poor man said, “I am so embarrassed. I do not know when I will be able to give you the money that I have already taken. How can I accept more from you?”

The moneylender said, “No, no, you need money, so take it. Pay me back whenever you can. Forget about interest, we will come to some other arrangement. The point is that you need money badly. You have a son, you have a daughter, you have a wife, so I feel sorry for you. I have been very undivine in money matters all my life. Now, in the evening of my life, I want to be kind and generous to people, so please take the money.”

The poor man took more money, and he and his family were so grateful to the moneylender.

One night the moneylender came and started banging on the door of the poor man’s house. He was screaming, “You rogue! I have loaned you so much money and you have not repaid even one rupee. Now all the money you have to give me back. Otherwise, I shall sue you.”

The poor man said, “The first time I went to your place of business to take money from you, but the second time you came here on your own to give the money to me. You said you wanted to be so kind. All your life you have been so unkind to people, charging them very high interest. Now you have loaned us the money interest-free, and we are so grateful to you.”

The moneylender said, “No, I do not want to be exploited by you. You have to return all the money immediately. Here is a bill stating on which day I gave you how much money.”

The poor man looked at the huge bill and said, “What am I going to do? I am totally lost.”

The moneylender said, “There is one way you can avoid paying me if you do not have the money. I want to marry your daughter.”

The poor man was horrified. He said, “You are an old man!”

The rich man said, “What is wrong with that? I will treat your daughter like a princess, like a queen.”

The poor man’s wife started crying. The son became furious. He shouted, “This is why you loaned us the money! All along you were planning to have my sister as your wife!”

The moneylender said, “I do not want to enter into a discussion. Either give me the money or give me your daughter.”

The daughter started weeping bitterly. Then the old moneylender said, “All right. I have a solution. Let us cut open a watermelon and take out two seeds: one white seed and one black seed. We will place those two seeds inside a bag. Then your daughter will place her hand in the bag and take out one seed. If she draws the black one, she has to marry me, and you do not have to pay me anything. If she draws the white one, then she does not have to marry me, and you do not have to pay anything. I want to be generous. Do you agree?”

The mother was crying. If her daughter selected the black seed, then what would happen? She would have to marry this old man who was such a shrewd rogue. The daughter said, “I am ready to accept these conditions. Now my father is suffering so much. I know that no matter which seed I choose, my father will not have to repay the money. So the best thing is for me to sacrifice myself.”

The old man said, “You know, I will die soon. Then you will get all my money and property.”

The young girl was ready to pick out a seed from the bag. Quite a few people had gathered to watch. In front of everyone, the poor man put one black seed and one white seed into the bag. Then, all of a sudden, the moneylender said, “No, we need fresh air.” He picked up the bag and went towards the door. On the way he cleverly removed the white seed and replaced it with another black seed. Now there were two black seeds inside the bag. When everyone had assembled outside in the street, the moneylender said, “Let us pray that whatever God wants to happen will happen.”

The young girl said, “Yes, let us pray. I am ready to marry you if I get the black seed, because I do not want my father to suffer any more. You will only torture him and sue him.”

The old moneylender said, “Yes, you choose. Let others stand aside.”

The old moneylender was looking this side and that side because he was so confident that the young girl would draw out a black seed. He was so proud that he would soon have this beautiful girl as his wife.

Now, while they were cutting the watermelon, the young girl had secretly picked up a white seed and hidden it inside the palm of her hand. When she saw that she had drawn a black seed, she quickly threw it away and produced the white one. She held up the white seed and showed it to everybody. “Look, it is white,” she declared with greatest joy. Everybody was so thrilled at her good luck. Now she did not have to marry the old moneylender, and her father did not have to repay the money.

The old moneylender became furious. He said, “How could it be? How could it be?”

He went home cursing himself: “This proves I am an old man. What have I done? I thought that I put two black seeds inside the bag. Instead of that, I put one white and one black. This is my insanity. I should have checked more carefully that I was putting in two black seeds. Now I have lost not only the young girl, but so much money as well!”

Meanwhile, the poor man and his wife were overjoyed that their daughter was so lucky. When she told them what she had done, they were so proud of her intelligence-cleverness.