Living By The Skin Of One’s Teeth

Here is the latest addition to the rich Akbar-Birbal lore!

It was one of those days when Emperor Akbar was in a playful mood.

He had a question for his court: ‘Who lives most dangerously in his life, under constant threat of physical, social or financial kind?’

‘It is the soldier in the army, my Lord – he doesn’t know when and from where an arrow would pierce his heart.’

‘But we’re not always at war. He enjoys long periods of peace and leisure.’

‘Jahampana, it is a thief. He is under constant threat of being caught.’

‘Certainly he is. We could generally cover all scamsters, criminals in this category. Let’s see if there’re other answers.’

‘A lion tamer, Majesty. Things can go wrong at anytime, one never knows. ’

‘True and that stands for all stuntmen too. Well, what else? Birbal, you’re quiet. What do you think?’

‘I was waiting for others to speak, my Lord. The guy I propose works alongside a dozen+ grinding mills and cutting knives. His job is to feed the stock, hot or cold, to these menaces and he does it deftly with bare hands. Rarely gets hurt. Never goes out in the sun and no holidays for him. During slack times, he busies himself in making enemies with his words – arguing, complaining and hurting.

‘He certainly seems to qualify. But how is he different from a soldier, a thief or a stuntman? And who would that be? ’

‘Well, quite unlike others, Majesty, he goes in completely unguarded.’

‘That’s something. You haven’t told us yet who is it.’

‘Jahampana, we carry him in our mouth.’

There was uproar: ‘That’s not right, it’s not a person.’

The commotion instantly died down as Akbar broke into a smile.



One Response to Living By The Skin Of One’s Teeth

  1. S Basu says:

    smart one raghu. very bright description of our tongue.


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