One day a husband brought home a most expensive sari for his wife. The wife said, “Ah, this is so beautiful! I have never seen this kind of sari. Where did you buy it? How could you afford to spend so much money?”
The husband said, “You know, I steal things.”
The wife said, “You steal? How can it be?”
The husband said, “I stole this particular sari from the market. I went to a shop and I stole it.”
The wife said, “Do I have to keep a stolen sari?” After a few moments, she smiled at her husband and said, “Never mind! I am so proud of you. You are such a smart thief. You know, I also steal.”
The husband said, “You steal? What have you stolen?”
The wife explained that she had stolen so many things. The husband stole only at night. The poor fellow worked the whole day and at night he stole simple things. But the wife used to steal during the day when everybody went out. She would invite some neighbourhood friends to her place and cook for them. Then she would tell them, “I am just going to the market to buy more vegetables and other supplies because I want to make a better meal. Kindly stay here.”
While her friends were at her house, first she used to go to the market and buy the supplies she had mentioned. Then she would go to the homes of her friends who were visiting her and steal their valuable things. But she did not bring the things to her house. She used to hide them in another place. Then she would bring home the vegetables and other things from the market.
On this particular occasion, the wife showed her husband some of the things that she had stolen over the years. The husband could not believe it.
Then the wife said, “You are a thief and I am a thief. It is not good for us to stay for a long time in one place. We should move.”
From then on, every three or four months they would move from one place to another. They accumulated so many things. Four or five times they moved to different places. In each place, the wife invited people to come to her house to eat. The people who were invited felt so sad that this nice lady was moving away, because she would always welcome her neighbours to come and eat. Then, when they went home, they found that their jewels and other things were missing. But they did not blame the wife because she had gone to the market, and she had brought back more vegetables. Nobody could catch her.
As soon as the husband and wife came to a new village, they would go to the neighbours and start talking to them. They said that they were so happy to come to a new place, and they wanted to establish friendship with their neighbours. So it went on.
After some time, instead of stealing during the day, the husband and wife started stealing in the evening. Of the two, the wife was the smarter. They would invite some neighbours, and both the husband and wife would entertain them. Then, all of a sudden, the wife would be missing. The guests would think that the wife had gone to attend to some urgent matter. After some time, the wife would come back.
One time the wife went to a particular house to steal things, but she was unable to break open the door. She was very smart and she tried in so many ways, but she was unsuccessful. Then she said, “Since I have taken the trouble of coming here, let me at least take some ripe mangoes.” She had carried a lantern with her, so she was able to see mangoes in a tree. She climbed up the tree and plucked quite a few nice mangoes.
One of the neighbour’s sons was very alert, and he saw what happened. He was watching everything from the window of his house. When the wife went back home, she put the mangoes in a room where nobody would see them. The guests were all eating. Then all of a sudden, the neighbour’s son came to the door. The wife said, “What are you doing here at this hour?”
The husband continued, “We have not invited you. Why did you come?”
The son said, “I do not need an invitation.”
They said, “What? How is it that you do not need an invitation?”
The son said, “I came here to give these people a message.”
All the neighbours stopped eating and asked him, “What are you doing here?”
The young man pointed at the wife and shouted, “She is a thief!”
They said, “How can it be?”
He said, “She has stolen mangoes from your garden. I saw her.”
The neighbours were extremely shocked. Then they said, “All right, let us see if she has really stolen these things.”
Then the neighbours ransacked the whole house. In one corner of a small room the couple had hidden all their stolen goods. The neighbours found so many things of theirs that had been stolen, and they also found things that they knew this couple could not afford. Why were the husband and wife hiding all these things? It could only be because they were stolen goods.
The neighbours thrashed the husband and wife mercilessly. Then these two stopped stealing. They gave up stealing altogether. They said, “We will not do it any more! It is just not worth it.” From then on, they began to lead better lives.