The Demon Cave

Swami Gulagulaananda reminded:
"As you sow, so shalt you reap"

Kumar turned around to look at his friend. "So what do you think? Should we do it?" Suresh, lying on his back, seemed to be completely oblivious to the question. Staring at the leaves of the peepal tree under which they rested, he seemed to be lost in thoughts. "Well?" persisted Kumar. "Let's wait till Shyam gets here" he replied. "Oh good, Shyam is here" said Kumar seeming relieved. He wanted to get done with it. He had been waiting for this for a while now, and he was glad that there was finally company.

"Fine morning today", said Shyam cheerily as he approached his friends. "What are you both up to?" Just as Kumar got ready to respond "Actually...", Suresh casually interjected "We are thinking of going to the Antarangaasura cave" Shyam looked a little scared. "Isn't that cave haunted?" he asked worried. "We are in the 21st century. Are you really scared of bally ghosts?" asked Suresh grinning. Something about the grin piqued Shyam. "Alright, alright. I was just testing if you wimps were going to be namby-pamby later" Suresh suddenly sat upright "Ok, it' settled then, let's go", he said. "What, now?" asked Shyam. "Well, it's still early in the morning. We should reach there before the sun is high in the sky", reasoned Kumar.

The trio made their way towards the cave that was supposed to be the home of the asura Antarangaasura. The three young men lived in a peaceful village nestled amidst several hills, one of which was the home of a demon who was said to kill anyone who dared enter his home. After a couple of hours, they stood at the mouth of the cave. The continuous strong wind was the only source of sound in that area. The frightened men looked at one another and gulped. Nobody had dared to venture into the cave. The asura spared nobody. But they were not those who believed in folklore. They were born in the age of space and science.

"Alright Shyam, lead the way" said Suresh. "Why me? Why not you? Don't tell me you are scared" protested Shyam. "I am only testing you" replied Suresh trying to grin bravely, but his fake grin fooled nobody. Kumar gathered courage and said "Alright, I will lead, you follow" Speaking thus, he switched on his torch. The others followed suit and slowly walked into complete darkness, only illuminated by their torches.

They had to walk only for five minutes when they came across what seemed to be large boxes and some human skeletons around. "Chests? What are these chests doing here? They seem to be old. Several centuries old. And whose skeletons are those?" Shyam went closer and asked his friends to illuminate the boxes while he tried to open. The lid wouldn't budge. He grunted and exerted all his strength and the box seemed to offer some leeway. Suddenly it opened and they couldn't believe what they saw inside the box. It was filled with gold - coins and ornaments and pearls and precious gemstones

The trio stared at the chest wide eyed, unable to believe their luck. They opened the other chests one after another and found all of them filled with gems. "Unbelievable. So much wealth. We don't have to work for the rest of our lives. Actually, I don't think anyone in the generations to come in my family will have to work" said Kumar excitedly. "Yes, let's quickly split this wealth into three parts. And let's do it before anyone else gets to know about this" said Shyam greedily. "Oh what's the hurry. Nobody has come into this cave for so many years. Nobody will dare to even come into this cave. Tell you what, I will go get lunch from the restaurant. Let's split the wealth after I get back" said Suresh on his way out. "Alright, fine, go get your stupid lunch. I am going split the wealth right now. I can't wait another minute" said Shyam.

A couple of minutes later, Shyam turned towards Kumar and said "The gold isn't going to distribute itself you know. Why don't you help me here? You look so dazed, look at you. What's the matter?" Kumar looked at Shyam, his eyes gleaming in the latter's torchlight. "I am just thinking of a way to increase our share" "Increase our share? How? Don't tell me you are going to invest it" said Shyam. "No such thing. I am just thinking of the share that has to go to Suresh. That guy is so bossy. He keeps ordering us around all the time. You remember how he gets us to do work all the time and takes credit for it, right?" Shyam recollected all the times that Suresh had stolen credit for their combined work. Suresh would talk and charm people and get credit for work that was done by Shyam and Kumar. "That's right. Even now, we are the ones stuck in this dingy dark cave while he is probably out there flirting with that restaurant owner's daughter. But how do we get him to opt out?" asked Shyam. Kumar turned around and said menacingly. "We outnumber him, two to one. Nobody knows we are here. Nobody will suspect that he would come here. Nobody else comes here anyway. I say we get rid of him here." Ordinarily mild mannered, Shyam would have never thought of murder but the sight of so much gold and the fact that it would go to that arrogant Suresh angered him. "You are right, nobody will find him. Alright, you stand over there with that rock. When he comes hit him on his head" he suggested.

A few hours later, Suresh walked back into the cave carrying lunch for his friends. Seeing Shyam from a distance he said "Oye Shyam, I can't believe you are not done splitting the wealth. I have been gone for quite some time, you know!" said Suresh loudly. "Yeah yeah, there is so much money here, it is going to take longer. My hands are aching too. Come join me" Shyam shouted back, trying to control his anger. "Work? Me? I just climbed this stupid hill again and am exhausted. Where is Kuma--" *thud* Before Suresh could understand why his skull was cracked, he had collapsed, bleeding profusely. Shyam came running towards him and hit him again on his head, to make sure he was dead. "Come on, let's drag his body deeper within the cave" suggested Shyam. "Nah, leave him there. It's not like anybody is going to come here. Well well, I am famished. Let's have some lunch" smiled Kumar. "Oops, I completely forgot" replied Shyam as he picked up the packet of food brought by Suresh.

They settled in a corner and saw that Suresh had brought delicious food. The duo wolfed down the meal quickly and got back to splitting Suresh's wealth. Less than ten minutes had passed when Shyam complained of drowsiness. And then he collapsed. Before Kumar could react, he collapsed too. Little had they known that their friend Suresh had poisoned their food to take all the wealth for himself. And thus the asura Antarangaasura had devoured all those who had dared to enter his home...

This is a story I had read as a child. Although, I did choose Antarangaasura as the asura's name because antaranga = internal, and asura = demon


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