Undeclared wealth

Hidden under blankets and an assortment of linen, it had lain there for decades.

“Those who did not declare unaccounted money under the compliance window have done it at their own peril and will be caught...”

The newspaper crumpled in my hand. Visions of detectives raiding my house blurred my senses and the room began to spin. I dare not look at the couch in front of me. Inside its cavernous recesses lay the guilty secret.

Hidden under blankets and an assortment of linen, it had lain there for decades. I had taken it out often, held it in my hands for a few moments and deposited it back in its well camouflaged hideaway.  Nobody could have guessed its contents. But, it was heavy and only I knew each and every item it contained.

What would they do if they found it?  Confiscate the loot? Send me to prison? Or, worse, track down the culprits in far off lands? I could not even feign ignorance because I knew the worth of that box and its contents.

I had safely hidden them all these years. Their value over this period of time should have escalated. Their very antiquity would have made them priceless. However, had I declared my prized possession, they would have set the sleuths on me to explain how I came by this treasure. 

The only solution in sight now was to get rid of it. But, how? Should I steal out at night and throw it away on the garbage heap in front of my gate? Or, should I take it to a temple and deposit the contents safely in the hundi? Thank god for temples, I thought. The friendliest places for unaccounted wealth. I prayed then that my country should never change. 

But, here lay the crux of the problem.  How would I break into this foolproof container? It was made out of a thick, unbreakable, plastic material with no mechanism to open or close. I took it out and examined it again as I had done several times earlier. It had a narrow opening for depositing money only and nothing more. Once deposited, the contents lay there, unaccounted and safe.

Perhaps, I could smash it to bits before they came, and removed the contents. I remembered them so well. A brand new ten rupee currency note given to a little girl in school for being the best library user. It had been carefully folded and pushed inside.

A crumpled five rupee note earned by her brother for a small task he had performed during a relative’s wedding was stored along with coins of various denominations. I looked at the little snout and beady eyes of the piggy bank, and put it away carefully in its hiding place before they could come.

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