A Fruitful Quest

vam.ac.uk  Sir Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar Bahadur of Mysore

Bhoopal, the Raja of Kumbh, was a benevolent ruler, at times given to whims.

One day, he called minister Buddhiwant to court.

‘Buddhiwant, I have a desire.’

‘What is it, my lord?’

‘I want to eat a fruit from our land that I have never tasted before.’

The minister was worried fearing what it could be. He was relieved now: ‘I should be able to arrange for it in short time, my lord. ‘

Buddhiwant made haste to announce the Raja’s desire all over the kingdom asking people to bring such fruits from their farms to his residence. He expected to wrap it up in a day or two.

He didn’t know how wrong he was!

Over the next couple of days fruits of all kinds were brought in baskets from far and near: different kinds of bananas, mangoes, pomegranates, guavas, berries, custard-apples, dates, palm-fruit, grapes, pineapples, tamarind, oranges, lemons, lime, musk-melons, water-melons, chikoos, papayas, jack fruits, etc.

Buddhiwant had to reject many of them as he personally knew Raja had consumed them at least once earlier. And the rest he sent up were all turned down by the Raja.

Very soon there was nothing new left to be offered to the Raja.

Days rolled by and the supplies dried up producing no new specimens.

The minister was sad he could not satisfy his Raja on what seemed to be a trivial wish. How could he face the Raja?

He appeared distraught during the days and lost his sleep in the nights. He stayed away from the court feigning sickness, knowing very well this couldn’t go on for long. Sooner than later he would have to face the music.

Buddhiwant’s daughter observed from close her father’s discomfort, gently made inquiries and skillfully drew out of him the cause for his woes.

‘Appa, take me with you to the court today. I think I’ll be able to meet the Raja’s expectations.’

‘Beti, this is not a matter for kids to get involved where with all the resources on hand I’ve not been able to provide a solution. Stay away from it. Our Raja could lose his cool at any kind of juvenile flippancy in his court. Anyways, what do you plan to come up with?’

‘Don’t ask, please and don’t worry, Appa. I say this with all the seriousness. Do take me with you. If the Raja is unhappy at the end of it, it won’t be with you.’

‘Ok, you may come along, he gave in quite reluctantly.’

With a lot of trepidation, he stood before the Raja: My lord, this is my daughter. She says she would be able to produce a fruit you have never tasted, if she has your permission.’

‘You may proceed, my dear,’ the Raja said to the girl.

The girl put her hands into a pouch hanging from her waist and pulled it out.

‘What is this, my dear girl?’

‘It is what you see, my lord.’

‘Well, I see you holding a bitter-gourd.’

‘Yes, my lord, I’m sure you must never have taken a ripe bitter-gourd.’

‘You’re both right and wrong, my girl. I’ve never eaten it – you’re right about it. I don’t like bitter-gourd at all. And eating a ripe one at that? No ways. But the point is it isn’t a fruit. There you’re wrong.’

‘My lord, when the bitter-gourd is a vegetable, it is raw, cooked and eaten. This one…is different. It is ripe. No one cooks and eats it. On both counts, it’s a fruit…a fruit, my lord, you have never tasted.’

The Raja thought for a moment before gracefully conceding the point.

The girl returned home with her proud father carrying the presents generously given away by the Raja.

End

Source: Adapted from Dina Thanthi, image of Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar Bahadur of Mysore from vam.ac.uk.

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