Tenali Raman Shines Again – A Folk Tale For Kids

Once, Tenali Raman was permitted by his king Krishna Deva Raya ruling the renowned Vijayanagar Empire (VE) to visit the kingdom of Gajapati’s of Odisha at the request of the latter. On his way back, he broke his journey at Rampur, a small state with friendly relations with the VE.

After reaching the palace, he realized his visit was a little mistimed on learning about the recen happenings in the state.

*

The chieftain of the state was, for a month now, unfortunately down with an ailment – a painful stomach ache – that proved incurable till date. The prime minister of the state had organized experts in various different systems of medicine from all over the state and outside to come down and treat his master. With all efforts to no avail he was at his wit’s end on the next steps. It was then he heard about the arrival of a yogi from deep south on his way to Kashi. The yogi was reputed to have performed some incredible feats through his yogic powers. Where formal medicines have failed, maybe he could help. So the minister with the consent of his chief went ahead and made arrangements for the yogi to visit the palace and examine the patient.

The yogi on arrival was received with due honour and taken to the living quarters of the chieftain.  In the presence of the prime minister, the royal priest and the royal vaidya (doctor) he thoroughly examined the patient. When he was done, he turned to the vaidya and asked for some common herbs to be brought. Mixing honey, he pestled the ingredients into a gooey paste. Gesturing the two to silence, he sat down and for some good ten minutes chanted some esoteric mantra’s invoking Agni, the god of fire, keeping the paste in a shallow dish in front. Done, he handed over the dish to the vaidya for use.

And taking the prime minister aside he asked in a low voice:

‘Sir, speak truthfully, just between us when did you utter a lie, a lie of any kind, last?’

The minister was taken aback at the question so suddenly sprung on him. Recovering his poise, he said a little abashedly, ‘Yesterday, night, to my lady…before we went to sleep.’

The yogi wanted him to continue.

‘My wife has been pestering me for quite some time to get her a necklace like the one worn by our queen during last Dussehra (festival). I bought peace with a promise I’ll get one before the next Dussehra though I’ve no idea or the means on how to; and yesterday night I had to repeat myself when she brought it up.’

The yogi smiled.

Moving on to the vaidya he asked the same question. The vaidya too unprepared. He collected himself and confessed many a time he had given placebos to patients in the name of medicines though it did prove beneficial in number of cases. Would that be considered as lying?

The priest admitted to not being truthful when in his zeal he blessed devotees with aayush (longevity of life), arogyam (health) and aishwaryam (wealth) though it was in no way within his means to deliver or ensure the same, instead of praying for the same to the almighty on their behalf. Misrepresentation, right, was he lying?

Addressing them, he said: ‘this medicine is now invested with the power of agni to burn his ailment; giving three spoonful’s at one shot would cure him of the illness. Next morning he should up and about. But for now let it stand under the hot sun for a couple of hours before using it.’

In just three spoonful’s the stubborn ache gone? So potent? Incredible! They were visibly overjoyed.

The yogi continued: ‘Not so soon…there’s a condition, not easy to satisfy. It must be given to the chieftain only by someone who doesn’t speak a lie at all for any reason, good or bad. Anyone who does not qualify and yet tries to administer the medicine, would face intense heat of agni first and if he persists he would be burnt alive. So be very careful who you chose. Also remember the medicine would lose its potency in about three days from today- ah, wear this kappu (amulet) around your wrist and you’ll not come to any harm handling the medicine. Of course it won’t still let you…’

Nothing more to do, the Yogi took leave to continue his journey.

*

The inner council got down to the job immediately – they knew it was not going to be easy to find such a soul if there was one at all in mere three days. They brainstormed on how to go about. All kinds of ideas were thrown up, nothing appeared promising. Drawing a blank, they finally decided to broadcast a message right away covering all parts of the state inviting anyone who thought he qualified with a promise of a rich reward for the right man.  

So criers were dispatched expeditiously in all directions with the message however without disclosing the details of the sickness their chieftain was suffering from for the fear of demoralizing the entire populace.

In the following two days about fifty people, young and old, men and women turned up. There was no way the officials could check on their claims except lead them directly to handle the medicine set on a table a few feet away from the patient’s bed. No surprise not one of them could go near the table without getting badly singed.

Third day morning, the priest, the prime minister and the vaidya got together to contemplate their next move; and there was no next move they could think of. End of road. It was precisely at this moment of utter despondency, Raman landed at the palace.

*

Raman heard intently as they narrated to him all about the stricken chieftain, their efforts and finally the yogi’s prescription and the impossible challenge for them.

They were disappointed when all Raman said was he wanted to rest for a while and come back to join them.  His reputation had led them to expect much more.

Anyway, they sent an attendant to take Raman to his quarters, make him comfortable and stay with him to attend to his needs.

It was after lunch. They had resigned to the inevitable. The attendant came running.

‘Why, what happened?’ the minister inquired listlessly.

‘Sirs, an hour ago, sahib came out and spent time talking to the palace guards – about six or seven – one at a time in the gardens. He finally settled on our Ratna, the tall guy with a handlebar moustache, you know. When he finally parted, I overheard him tell Ratna to go home and get his son within the next hour without fail. When the latter hesitated about leaving his post without permission, sahib assured him it was alright, it was for the good of his master and the state and he would personally vouch for him. Don’t know what had transpired between them. Couldn’t talk to Ratna either as he had left for home to fetch his son.’

‘Intriguing! He has asked for Ratna’s son, and he assured him it is for the good of his master…at this time, I’m sure he’s as serious and concerned as we are and not engaged in any frivolous caper, so what’s going on here?’ the minister thought loudly.

‘I agree,’ the vaidya chimed in.

‘I think I got it,’ suddenly the priest jumped in excitement and ran to the gardens at the back.  In a few minutes he returned.

‘I have spoken to Ananta, the short stocky guy, and asked him to get his son here right away. He’ll be here anytime now.’

‘Care to tell us what’s happening? A children’s party for god sake?’ the tired minister shook his head.

Arre ram, don’t you see, we were stupid to go through all that…’

The other two were not amused by that bit of inclusive self-deprecation.

‘You know, Ananta’s son is about four years old. Would he know what lying is?’

The ‘penny’ dropped.

‘Great, simply brilliant,’ exclaimed the minister. ‘We’ve cracked it.’

The priest let go – this wasn’t the time to contest the collective ownership and credit for the solution.

Shortly Ananta came in with Veeru, his son. The child looked a little scared at all the attention he was getting suddenly.

The priest explained to the father what needed to be done and the father made it easy for the child. All the child had to do is to take the dish on the table, walk up to the bed and feed the willing man a spoonful of the paste. Just like his mom fed him over dinner. Likewise two more spoonful’s. As simple as that. Ananta made it a fun thing for the child – imagine a child feeding a grownup. Yes, it would be fun – Veeru perked up.

No sooner the child neared the patient with the dish carefully held in his hands, he shrieked and stepped back in horror. What had happened? It was like getting too close to fire, intolerably uncomfortable.

With great difficulty they coaxed the child to try once again. The second round was even shorter.

The four of them could not figure out what was happening. There was no question of a third round.

*

Just then Raman walked in with Ratna and his kid Sambu. One look at them, the unhappy Veeru almost in tears and his own crest-fallen attendant told him everything. Disregarding it for the present, he explained to Sambu what needed to be done.

With no fuss, the child did just as instructed within a couple of minutes! The chieftain took the spoonful’s and almost immediately fell into deep sleep, his snoring could be heard from where they stood.

They were nonplussed except for Raman.

The children were sent away with their father packets of candies for their efforts.

The looked at Raman.

Raman explained: ‘So this guy,’ pointing to the attendant, ‘was snooping on me, eh? Anyway, don’t you worry, no harm done. Well, it is right no child at that age knows what is truth and what is not. Whatever he sees or hears is the truth, the reality for him. There is a ‘but’ to it. If the child comes from an unhappy home, suffering at the hands of parents who are strict, impatient or even given to violence, the child begins to speak lies simply to escape from punishment. You should have checked like I did before bringing the child in.’

Next morning, Raman was seen off with generous gifts by a grateful and fit chieftain though a little sad his guest did not extend his stay despite his request.

End

Image from goodreads.com

Good Lord, Don’t Listen To Us…

…prayers excepted.

**

‘Don’t forget. Next Tuesday is Rama’s birthday by our calendar. Take Rs 500 with you and pay it at the office for a one-day upayam on that day. I wonder if you remember – hers is kettai nakshatram and gothram is vaadula, yours. They’ll need these details. Her exams are coming up and she must do well…make sure you collect the receipt.’

To let you know, we celebrate birthdays according to Srirangam panchangam (a well-known authoritative traditional calendar cast in the town of Srirangam), the date determined by the month and the star at the time of birth, with gothram specifying the lineage. Most temples have this scheme where one pays a part of that day’s expenses for conducting special prayers and rituals in the name of a person specified. In this instance, my daughter.

‘Also pray for your father. The poor man is suffering from joint pains, unable to walk like before. And, of course, for yourself so He may bless you with the promotion you’re seeking.’

You guessed right, that was my wife filling up the order-book for me.   

Forty minutes later, I was back all done, after praying for my father and myself and, for my daughter, enrolling for the one-day upayam coming up in the following week. Also included, of course, was a non-specific prayer for my lady’s well-being. Did not forget to collect the receipt. Domestic bliss assured with a 10/10 performance, I thought.

But there was something else…though not hell-raising and luckily I was not on stage.

As I let myself in, I heard her voice coming in from the kitchen.

‘Only two months ago you came asking for Rs 200 for buying medicines for your husband. I gave you without saying a thing. Last month it was another 200 for your child’s school uniform and now you want 300 for some repairs in your house. Helping out someone in need once or twice is fine. But don’t make a habit of asking, asking, asking…No one will oblige all the time. I’ll give you this once – but don’t come back with something else anytime soon.’

It must be the maid talked to.

A thought crossed my mind as I collected the kumkum and the flowers brought from the temple and the all-important receipt for handing over: It was my hope our kind Lord in the skies above didn’t listen in and get ideas, abandoning His good old ways.

End

Image from gyanyogbreath.com

Reminiscences

Part 1

This was mid to late seventies and I was a rookie engineer, still learning the ropes, going around with senior colleagues installing imported computer systems of a leading manufacturer.  Most customers were from government as import by private companies was like climbing Everest on crutches.

We had just finished installing a large system for an instrumentation based application at an Government Of India facility on an island in the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), some 100 kms away from Chennai. A tiring job over some six weeks to get it up and working given the by-no-means-unusual number of dead-on-arrival equipment/peripherals, and an irate and impatient customer breathing down our necks. Nevertheless, an interesting assignment, wherein I learnt from P, my senior, among many other things digital, analogue and real world, how to troubleshoot digital circuits with a piece of wire to short two points and a blade to cut the trace connecting two points – no DVM’s, no oscilloscopes! 

So it was finally over, the installation-completed report signed by the customer. With a great sigh of relief – it was mutual – we bade our byes, came to our rooms, picked our bags and boarded the bus that took us to the mainland by a narrow causeway, luckily not under water owing to low tide, in some 20 – 30 minutes.

P, speaking in Hindi and English, fixed up a cab to Chennai. The driver seemed a pleasantly chatty chap.

When we were ready to leave, the driver turned to me and inquired:

Ennanga (What, Sir), don’t you want to take home some rice from here?’

P was roundly ignored – coming from north, he would not be interested in buying rice, the driver guessed. He didn’t seem to mind it.

‘Believe me, your people will love Nellore rice. It’s expensive in Chennai. I know some good reliable grocery shops here, will get you quality stuff at a good price.’

After some hesitation, prodded by P, I allowed myself to be led to a shop; bought 5 kilo’s of a kind helpfully recommended by the driver and at a price he negotiated.  The rice came in two or three smaller bags for a reason I was to learn soon.

I was excited – for, this was one of those few occasions, living with parents, I was buying something for the house with money I earned; of course, laced with apprehension how it would be received.

When we returned to our cab, strangely the driver did not move the bags to the boot. Instead he spread them out on the floor where I rested my feet.  

The bulk I carried about me, not designed for squeezing into smaller spaces even in those younger days. Hard cushion, torn seat, MAYBE, but hard rice bags under one’s feet was a NO, especially in a long ride. Also, to me, it was and still is unacceptable to put one’s feet on rice, one’s food.

I looked at him.

‘Don’t worry. It is only for 15-20 minutes until we cross the border into Tamil Nadu (TN).’

Again I looked at him.

‘You see, on the way to Chennai, we cross a check-post on AP side of the border and, soon after, another on TN side of the border. ‘

So? <note: the words in italics were not vocalized>

I wasn’t giving up even if took all of Twenty Questions to get it out of him.

‘The TN guys will check our vehicle for any liquor we may be smuggling in – of course we don’t, and the AP guys for any rice we may be smuggling out.’

What…What did you say?

‘Nothing to be alarmed about. We’re not taking out sacks of rice. Only a measly 5 kilo’s. And usually they check the boot in a hurry and let us go – cars back up quickly on this busy highway, you know.’

From a rookie engineer to a rice smuggler? I stood still not moving.

‘Dear Sir, trust me, I ply this cab every day for years now. They’re after the big smugglers and not small fry like us.’

He roped in P for support. P made it sound a little better; he said I was carrying only a small quantity and that too for personal use and not for any commercial purposes, so it should be okay.

I relented.

The small talk on the way did nothing to dispel the visions I was having of me posing in a striped dress like they show it in movies.  

*

Part 2

Shortly the cab slowed down and stopped behind the barricading pole.

An officer in uniform carrying a baton in one hand and a torch in another walked up casually to our cab.

The driver asked us to look normal and not tense up. It’ll be all over in a few minutes, he assured.

In those days, returning from college, when I took the exit at Matunga railway station, on many occasions, the TC (Ticket Collector/Checker) would, like a hound on scent, pick me from a thick flowing mass and ask to show.  Something to do with the visage – looking guilty when I wasn’t one wee bit. So much so, returning from my official overseas trips, for many years I always went for the red channel though carrying nothing more than a few toys for the children. 

And here this guy was asking me to look normal…ah.

In a practiced routine the officer went to the back of the cab, inspected the open boot. And then…he came around to my side of the cab. Well, really not well, this was no part of the script as I had known it to be.

I summoned to mind all those best scenes of Om Prakash, Asit Sen, Utpal Dutt.

The glass was rolled down. He stuck his torch inside and shone it at the first draw directly on those rice bags under my feet and the few grains that had spilled.

What made it worse was he did not look at me, did not utter a word. The defence I had urgently put together was not called for. He walked up to the driver in the same casual manner, signalled him to come out and follow him to his chotu cabin.

Turning to us and making gestures of resuscitation, the driver complied.

Minutes passed…a few cars lined up behind us.

Finally, the driver came out and headed our way.

Was a police jeep with siren and flashing lights being summoned?

*

Part 3

‘Sorry, Sir. I had told you not to panic.’

Oh

P took charge: ‘Now, what?’

‘We need to pay hundred rupees. He had wanted two hundred and fifty – I negotiated…’

They’ll let us go?

The matter was resolved and we pulled away as fast as we could.

Took a while for all signals of life in me to return to their base.

The rest of the journey passed without any further ‘excitement’, engaged in some perfectly inane chat.

I was at once sore at the driver for getting me into the tangle and also thankful to him for tactfully fixing it later.

*

Part 4

The following day, in Chennai office, we finished the official business with regard to the installation.

Over lunch, when I began sharing our or my harrowing experience of the day before, the account manager who had not accompanied us interrupted:

‘Wait, wait. Let me guess – so you were taken to a shop, you bought some kilos of rice, shoved it under your feet in the cab, got caught red-handed…or rather rice-footed?’ He let out a guffaw that drew every eye in the room to us.

Wasn’t amused at all at his levity.

‘I’m so sorry, I should have warned you guys. Happens all the time like sun rises in the east.’

Eh?

I tuned out.

*

I was at an age innocent of the ways of the temporal world.

Luckily, also resilient. Most engineers are – they don’t hurt/sulk for ever.

The fact did not rankle me for too long that the rice from Nellore in the final tally was twice as expensive and easily available from the nadaar kadai at the street corner!  Or the generous tip paid to the driver at the end of the day for his ‘damage-limiting efforts.’

End

A Fisherman’s Net And Wit – A (Very) Short Story For Children

King Khusro of Persia was very fond of fish. One morning he was sitting on a terrace with his wife Shirin when a fisherman came in and presented a fish to him. It was large and of a rare kind. The king was quite pleased. He summoned his servants and ordered them to pay a hundred silver pieces to the fisherman.

Shirin was annoyed that the king was gifting away so lavishly. As soon as the man went out of sight and hearing, she said, ‘Look, a hundred silver coins for a fish? Ridiculous. You’re setting up a precedent – you’ll be expected to pay on this scale for all time to come. Now call this man and return the fish to him on some pretext and take the money back.’

‘But dear, it doesn’t become of a king to ask for the money back. Let this pass for now.’

‘This shall not pass. There’s a way to deal with it without appearing to be mean. Call him and ask if this fish is a male or a female. If he says it’s a male, ask for a female and if it’s a female, ask for a male, and cancel the payment.’

Not wanting to displease his dear lady, the king acting upon her counsel called the fisherman back and asked him the question.

The fisherman bowed before the king and said, ‘This fish, my lord, is both male and female, lays eggs all by itself.’

The king burst out laughing. And quite instinctively ordered another hundred silver coins to be given to the fisherman.

As he walked out with the bounty, the man dropped a silver coin that fell and rolled out of sight.

The man stooped down searching high and low for the missing coin. Quite a while later, he managed to find it which he put away safely with great care.

All this happened in full view of the royalty reposing on the terrace.

‘What a mean guy? See how he goes down looking for one measly coin instead of letting it go for some poor man to find it!’ Shirin observed.

The king called the fisherman back and berated him for his meanness:’…with all those coins from me, yet you were not generous enough to let some miserable chap find one…’

The man bowed before the king: ’My lord, if my king picks up from dust a fisherman like me worth nothing, is it any wonder I pick up a coin fallen to the ground? Also, the coin on one side has my king’s image engraved and his name inscribed on another.  How could I abandon the coin to be found god know when if ever. And what is to prevent someone carelessly step on it?’

Amused by his cleverness and wit, the king offered him another hundred silver coins!

The lady had no further counsel to offer in the matter.

End

Source: A story in Chandamama, August, 1955, lightly edited. Image from financialexpress.com

A Story Told Of A Story Not Told

I had timed it. The walk from Royapettah (near Anna DMK office) to the end of Radhakrishnan Salai on the Marina Beach took an hour up and down. At a pace allowed by a pair of sticky eyeballs and an asthma playing up now and again.

The morning traffic on the Salai was light. Not many pedestrians either. I took to the small strip about 2 to 3 feet wide available between the side-walk and the outermost road-lane. While it offered a level surface – the side-walks are all ups and downs – and a free stretch save an occasional parked vehicle at this hour, one had to, however, constantly look out for not-so-uncommon rogue two-wheelers speeding down from the front on the same stretch.

This day I made it to the Beach and was returning when I saw him, a rag-picker, some ten feet ahead of me carrying a not-so-heavy sack thrown over his shoulders.

Even at my pace, I was able to catch up with him in a minute or two. In fact I went a couple of steps past him and then turning around I saw him. I judged him to be in early forties, but life had messed him up to look older. He was mussed up hair, unshaven and uneven stubble, high cheek-bones, a shirt that had more grime than fabric with the top buttons open or absent showing a chest just about covering the rib-cage. No chappals (foot-wear) and a lungi doubling up at the knees and wrapped around at the waist as southerners are seen to do. A full-body bath must have been weeks or months ago. He was sure-footed in his walk, his alert eyes looking all around for paper, boards, plastics that our honourable fellow-citizens deposited on the side-walks, road, anywhere.

The neural network in my head hummed and cleared him as safe. Had to be careful for a good reason: On the same stretch an year ago one morning in my walk I saw a destitute and unsound woman sitting on the side-walk and looking lost. Thinking money meant nothing to her, bought some idli’s and vada’s from a street-vendor. When I went near and offered her,she turned squarely to me and let out a loud stream of abuses, not all intelligible. I was both scared she might turn violent and embarrassed at the attention I was drawing from passers-by. Totally unprepared for the situation, quickly withdrew myself, feeling both sorry for her and helpless.  

Presently I slowed down, waited for him to pull up alongside and tapped on his shoulder. He was startled, perhaps unaccustomed to be accosted in this manner.

Still a little unsure of how he would react, took out a tenner and said: ‘Keep this, it’s for you.’

His gritty face slowly gave way to a smile. He set his sack down, took the rupee-note from me and folded his hands.

I could feel my sugar going down with no biscuits or toffees on hand. With another fifteen minutes to reach the base, decided to move on and not engage him in a talk as is my wont. Just then, noticed something I had not seen before. My friend of the morning had a black string tied in several strands on one of his legs just above the ankle. Already on the move, asked him what it was.

I heard him tell me, it was to ward off evil eyes!! Like the raksha we wear on our wrists.

As said I did not have the energy to pause and ask. Unfortunate, but, yes, missed drawing out a story lurking there – so the mystery endures till date who did he think was envying his lot! And why did he tie the raksha around the leg and not on the wrist as customary.   

End

PS: 1. Subsequently I did find at a least couple more, not rag-pickers, wearing it on their legs. May be it’s a practice followed in certain communities 2. The image is from The Hindu. For some reason, I did not feel comfortable about taking a snap of him.

The Sparrow Knew – A Parable

Once in a village there was this farmer tilling his land from dawn to dusk.

His hard work was amply rewarded as the crops thrived and in time, laden with grains, ready for harvesting.

In the middle of the field a sparrow had built its nest. And by now with its brood of two little chicks.

One day when their mother was away, the little sparrows overheard the farmer telling his son: ‘We’ll begin the harvest from tomorrow early morning. I’ve called in our neighbours.’

When the mother returned in the evening, the alarmed chicks related the conversation and said they should move right away.

The mother becalmed the chicks: ‘Yes, we must move, but not yet, there’s time, I assure you.’

Next day morning,

Like the mother sparrow said the harvest did not begin.

During the day, once again, the little sparrows overheard the farmer telling his son: ‘Son, get ready, we’ll commence harvesting from tomorrow early morning. Our relatives have promised to help.’

In the evening when the mother heard from its chicks, she was unperturbed. ‘Not yet,’ she said.

The following morning,

There was no move to towards beginning the harvesting.

On this day, the farmer told his son: ‘Tomorrow, keep yourself free and ready. You and I – we’ll do it ourselves.’

In the evening, the mother and her chicks flew away to find a new home.

End

Source: moral stories and image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Paws)

Getting Others To Do For You

The man counted the currency note bundle given by the cashier. He felt it was short by a note.

‘M’m, could you kindly load it in the counting machine and check it out for me?’

The cashier sounded impatient, her manner less than friendly‘Why, is it less…..look I’m busy, don’t have the time. Why don’t you count it yourself carefully once, twice, eh?

‘No, M’m, I think there’s a note or two in excess.’

The bundle was hastily snatched from his hands, counted on the machine multiple times and given back.

**

It works when a service-delivery-chain is drawn into the transaction with stakes enlarged beyond the transaction!

End

Thank Your Friends For…A Never-Before Tribute

Dont recall anyone ever speaking about his friends in these terms. Thinking about it, it does seem true – I mean the first part.

Words of an embittered shaayar (a poet):

**

” It’s friends keep you young, Sir.

While,

The Offsprings inquire about the Will.

And, the Relations, about your Status (achieved in life).”

**

End

The Story Of Lost Gold, Wild-Cucumber And A Wise King – For Children

Part 1

He was a marginal farmer tilling a small piece of land, never getting enough for living off it. One day he decided enough was enough, he must try something else. So he set out on the road to the capital city of the kingdom.  

In the city he picked up the job of a helper with an old grocer. Over the years he impressed the owner with his hard work, honesty and helpful disposition. So much so, the childless grocer was happy to will the shop to him on his death.

Before long he took over as the shop, expanded his business and made more money.

With the money he had, he would buy gold. He thought it was unsafe to keep the gold at home. From time to time he would go to a near-by forest. Ensuring no one followed him or watched him, he would go to a certain spot amidst the trees, dig up a pot. He would carefully check if the contents were intact and then top it with the newly brought gold, put the pot back in its place and cover it with earth and dried leaves above so well no one would ever give the spot a second look.

He followed the practice for years without any hitch adding more pots over time.

And then

On one of his visits, the unexpected happenedhe found the ground disturbed at that spot. Frantically he dug up; and as he had feared there were no pots and no gold.

At one shot he had lost all his life’s earnings. And there was little he could do. He was absolutely positive no one ever followed him to this place or watched him dig up. It left him with no suspects to chase down.

He sank to the depths of despair. The only course now available to him, he thought, was to end his life.

He went up to the near-by river, waded to its deeper parts and then jumped head-long into its waters, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

It so happened the king of the land was also taking his bath at the same place. He observed what had happened and signalled his men to rescue the man immediately and bring him up.

The king asked him why did he want to end his life.

The man between his sobs narrated the story to the king.

The king was pensive for a while and then asked him how did he mark the place where the pots were hidden.

He said a lone wild-cucumber plant grew on the soil over the pots – he always dug out the pots taking care the plant was not harmed. He added the plant also went missing along with the gold.

A hint of a smile appeared on the king’s face. He assured the grocer he would try his utmost to recover his lost gold. If he did not succeed in his efforts, he would give him some gold from his treasury!

The king’s assurance did not do much to lift up his spirits. How in the world was the king going to find out who took the gold? There were no clues at all. Did the king have some magic mirror that revealed whereabouts of missing things? What would it amount to – the gold to be given by the king, if he did? Would it cover all that he had lost?

He returned home feeling not too sanguine about what was in store for him.

Kids, pause here before you read further. Would you believe if I tell you, all the facts are with you at this point to crack the case open! So think…what would be your tip to the king?

Part 2

Next day, the king complained to his minister about a certain vague tummy ache he felt. And asked him to get all the medical practioners (doctors) in the city to meet up with him. He would like to personally verify if they had treated anyone with symptoms like his.

The doctors were quickly rounded up and sent one by one to meet the king.

To each, the king would ask about the patients they had treated recently, what were their ailments and what were the medicines given as part of the treatment.

After several hours with numerous doctors, the king finally hit pay dirt. This doctor had a patient recently suffering from stomach related problems accompanied by general weakness, just like the king claimed to be going through. And how did he treat him? With the juice made from wild-cucumber, a vine/weed rarely seen in the land. So how did he get it? Well, his servant brought it for him from somewhere.

The servant was summoned. Upon questioning, he admitted to finding pots of gold in the forest. He defended himself – he did not think he was thieving someone else’s gold. It was not in anyone’s possession. He just found it and he took it.

He was persuaded to return the gold to its rightful owner. And was compensated adequately by the king.

Everyone was impressed with the king’s smart sleuthing.

What made the king follow this line of investigation, the minister asked him privately.

The king explained: Since the victim was very confident no one had ever seen him go to the spot or watched him dig, it was clear finder of the gold had not gone to the spot specifically in search for gold. He had no way of knowing gold being hidden there. So the only reason that brought him to the spot was the wild-cucumber plant. The plant is often used by medical practioners to treat stomach related ailments. While fetching the plant, by sheer chance the servant discovered the pots! And you know how he found the servant!

The grocer gave part of the gold to the king’s treasury and some to the servant as a gesture of appreciation.

Did you see it coming?

End

Source: Adapted from a story in Chandamama (July, 1955)

Images: Daily Mail, Toutube, Free Press Journal, facebook and eBay

A Story And A Fun Game For Children…

and for us too, I think.

Next in the series (the first one here): The scene, not very unusual, put to a group of children was:

“The lady of the house set on the table a bowl of freshly baked cookies.

And when she was not around, Chotu, all of eight years, got to it and picked one that was the largest. Bade, elder by a couple of years, instructed by his mom to keep a watch – use of any force or raising one’s voice disallowed, took his job seriously.  Trying his best (or worst?) to persuade Chotu to put it down, at the same time removing the remaining cookies to safety, he said, “Chotu

The children were given time to develop the story from here on.

At the end of the allotted time, they were called in turn to present their conclusion. Here’s a selection from the many stories presented:

**

“Chotu, you took that one from the bottom of the heap, right? That was the first one Amma was figuring out the settings for baking them right. See, she even made them smaller for them to come out alright. Am sure this oneit would be faintly smelling of the dough and taste a little raw in the mouth

**

“Chotu, you took that one from the top of the heap, right? That was the last one – Amma scraped hard all the dough sticking to the bottom and also from the sides of the mixing bowl, lumped them together and baked as one large piece. You will find it a little flaky, crumbling in your hand and tasting a little uneven in your mouthAnd who knows what else got into it from the bowl, ugh”

**

“Chotu, what are you doing? What will mom do then? That piece was specially done by mom for your teacher. I even saw her sending a pic of it to her. You know, she has invited your teacher for a cup of tea here at our place and she’s on her way.”

**

“Chotu, you shouldn’t. That was from the batch she cooked specially for Bruno. Don’t know how it got mixed up with this pile.”

**

Not known if Chotu succeeded!

End

Source: 123rf.com