A Tale From A Mango Tree (A Drabble)

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As the sun dipped out of sight below the horizon, the feathered folks were finding their way back home..

The Wise One saw a forlorn Kaga and knew at once not everything was right with the latter.

‘Kaga, you don’t look your usual self.’

‘Yes, my friend, you guessed right. These days when I go out, I’m not sure if I would be back in the evening with hair and hide in place.’

‘Why so?’

‘Well, you know I love those berries on the lone tall tree behind the mirasdar’s house.’

‘Yes, I’ve seen you stuffing yourself nonstop with those little things I don’t particularly care for. Am not surprised you’ve problems taking off after your fill.’

‘You with your evil eyes – it isn’t going to happen anymore.’

‘Why? Has the tree stopped producing berries? Has some one hacked it down?’

‘Mercifully, no.’

‘Then?’

‘All this time, no one paid any attention to those trees in and around – they were on no-man’s land. Suddenly the mirasdar is now claiming the trees are his.’

‘Still there’s no way he can fence them off to keep you away from the berries high up on the tree. Can he?’

‘An evil mind is devil’s workshop. He has a dog and a man to keep watch. Whenever I alight on the tree and take the first bite – mind you, I do it absolutely noiselessly that would not awaken an insomniac – the blessed dog somehow catches sight of me and starts howling his head off. This gets the man to the spot from wherever he is and whatever he is doing to launch a fusillade of stones and pebbles with his slingshot. He’s quite good with it – he almost brought me down earlier today… frightened the blazing daylights out of me. So, my friend, my favorite feeding ground is now out of bounds for me. Don’t know where the next meal is coming from.’

The Wise One commiserated: ‘So sorry to hear. It’s cruel to snatch the food off someone’s mouth.’

There was silence with either having little to say.

‘I’ve a suggestion to make, if you care to listen and do as I say,’ spoke the Mango Tree so far passively listening in on Kaga’s sad story.

‘Anything for those juicy berries, dear sir, as long as I live to see the sun set.’

‘Tomorrow, when you alight on the tree, don’t be sneaky. Make a show.’

‘Eh?’

‘Yes, no cawing – that’s not what I meant. As soon the dog begins to announce your arrival, tell him you’re not amused, display your temper by vigorously shaking the (tree) limb you’re perched…jump up and down on it like you were on a hot brick, push with your beak like you’re fighting off a vulture…whatever to show your annoyance. Keep at it for a minute and you’ll have a peaceful meal. After a while your friend on the ground may open his loud mouth once again. At which instant you repeat your act. If it ever gets hot at anytime like today with pebbles and stones beginning to fly around you, make an immediate exit without losing a moment. Go back if you must not before allowing an hour or two for matters to cool down.’

‘Well, sounds quite doable…no harm in trying it out. Anyway things can’t get any worse from here.’

Once Kaga moved away for the night, the Wise One threw a quizzical glance at the Tree saying ‘Man, have you gone senile?‘ and received a signal in response to wait and watch.

The following day was like any other day – the birds lodged in the leafy Mango Tree headed out early in the morning seeking food and adventure, and returned in the evening flapping their tired wings looking to a night of repose.

And there was Kaga gliding in gracefully. The glow on his face said it all. He thanked the Tree profusely: ’You know, after a few rounds, strangely the dog appeared to be amused by my act more than anything else. I almost got a feeling he opened his mouth now on purpose to get me going and entertain himself.  In the afternoon he even went so far as to wag his tail a few times! Thanks very much, sir, for restoring my lifeline.’

‘Just as I expected. Keep the show on and note all that jumping and pushing helps your digestion too.’

After Kagha took leave on this happy note the Wise One turned to the Mango Tree:

‘Just as you expected? All this song and dance – mind telling me what’s all this hooey?’

‘Nothing out of the ordinary…it always good to share…’

‘Eh?’

‘Soon Kaga will figure out for himself why it works for him. They are a team now –  the dog is hooked on the berries that Kaga shakes down!’

 

End

The Strange Case Of A Problem On Four Legs

Part 1

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One day, a distraught man turned up at the court of Rayar (Krishna Deva Raya) seeking justice.

His story came out haltingly amidst a lot of sniveling:

‘We are four sons to our father. On his death, we divided his property, cash, jewels…everything into four equal parts, one for each of us.’

Rayar sought: ‘Excellent. That’s how families need to be. So, what is the problem?’

‘You know it is this blessed cat that was dear to my father.’

‘Don’t tell me you divided…I don’t see the cat.’

‘No, no, we didn’t harm the poor thing. And it isn’t here. We claimed one leg of the cat for each of us.I got the right foreleg. So it was all settled…’

More sniveling.

‘Young man, get hold of yourself. No one goes away from the court of Vijayanagaram Empire without getting due justice. Proceed.’

‘Everything was fine, my Lord, until the day this creature had a fall and  broke my leg.’

‘Broke your leg…a cat did that?’

‘No, my Lord, I mean it broke its leg that was mine.’

‘Man, come to senses – its leg is your leg?’

‘Yes, my Lord, if you recall its right foreleg belonged to me.’

‘Oh, yes, you did mention…the strange arrangement.’

‘My brothers said since it was the right foreleg, it was on me to attend to it. So I had the leg swathed in an oil-soaked cloth as prescribed by a vaidya.’

‘You did the right thing by the poor animal.’

‘Yesterday evening there was a bit of chill in the air. The dumb cat laid itself near a lamp for warmth.’

‘Can’t blame – it was a bit nippy even here for us, I remember.’

‘Unfortunately a spark flew from the fire and landed on the oil cloth setting it ablaze.’

There was a collective gasp in the court.

‘The cat panicked, ran helter-skelter before jumping into a water tub.’

Rayar saw it for what it was: ‘Under the circumstances, most sensible thing to do, I say.’

‘But, my Lord, that’s when my troubles began.’

‘Don’t see how…’

‘The mutt got into the tub not before running wild through a couple of neighbors’ houses setting them on fire.’

Rayar saw the underdog’s point of view: ‘Well you would do more if it was your leg on fire.’

Ignoring Rayar’s levity, the woebegone man carried on: ‘Now the neighbors are holding the cat responsible for the damages. And my brothers are laying it squarely outside my door since the houses were torched by the cat’s right foreleg.’

‘Well, looks reasonable to…’

‘My Lord, you’ve got to help me out of this mess.’

‘It’s certainly an improbable sequence of events. But I can’t see how…’

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Tenali Raman stood up: ‘My Lord, I’ve a thought. If we can call his brothers and the neighbors to the court…’

Beleaguered Rayar glanced at Raman with gratitude; he knew enough to take Raman’s suggestion seriously. Instructions were issued to round them up and produce them in the court.

Part 2

When the court reassembled after a while with all the stakeholders present, Raman summed up the matter based on what the man had told the court earlier. Everyone agreed those were the facts. The neighbors stood their ground demanding compensation; and the brothers holding the injured right foreleg and hence the complainant responsible.

Raman addressed the King and the court: ‘My Lord, unfortunate but undeniable is the damage wrought by the hapless creature.  The claims of the affected neighbors cannot be disputed a whit. But to hold this man responsible…that’s a different matter. In fact the shoe is on the other leg. Let me explain – pause for a moment and think who carried the cat to its incendiary activities?’

Frowns on faces. The man had not said anything about anyone making a torch of a cat on fire.

Raman dispelled the fog that had momentarily enveloped the court: ‘It’s those three healthy legs that set the cat on the binge.’

A mild flutter at what was hinted.

‘It’s my submission the owners of those legs be called to account instead.’

The ensuing commotion took a while to die out.

End

 

 

Source: Seeded from shortstoriesshort.com and images from daily motion.com and topyaps.com

Nasiruddin, The Outliar

Mulla Nasiruddin’s tales like Akbar-Birbal’s and Tenali Raman’s are short and witty and some  downright outrageous, all the same enjoyable. Here’s one such:

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On a particularly cold night, Nasiruddin was stretching his legs in front of a dying fire,

He was joined by a villager given to gross exaggeration and sometimes outright lies. Much as he would have liked, Nasiruddin could do little to avoid him. It wasn’t long before the villager launched himself in full flow.

‘You know, these don’t bother me,’ he said punching the hard mattress Nasiruddin was sitting on.

‘Don’t understand why should my mattress bother anyone save me.’

‘This kind of dried grass is quite beneath me.’

‘But that’s where a mattress belongs – beneath you?’

Nasiruddin’s levity or naivety, whatever, was roundly ignored.

The villager rolled on: ‘Under the circumstances, I sleep over the air.’

‘Eh?’

’Yes, I simply levitate.’

‘Oh!’

Obviously it called for an explanation that was supplied without any encouragement: ‘I learnt it a few months ago from an itinerant Baba!’

‘Very interesting! And what a coincidence it would be if he was the same guy who taught me to see in the dark. Was he one eyed, toothless and in white robes?’

It was villager’s turn to be nonplussed: ‘Seeing in the dark? Really? Then…why would you do that?’

‘Do what?’

‘But I’ve seen you go out in the night always carrying a lighted lamp in hand – never without it.’

‘Oh, at my age collisions could be nasty, you’ll agree – a fall can break a bone or two. So the lamp – it’s for others to stay clear off me.’

The villager suddenly remembered at that instant he had to be elsewhere.

End

 

 

Source: Adapted from speakingtree.in and image from  nasrudinsblog.wordpress.com

The Interview (100 Words)

When the grueling physical finished, two candidates made it to the face-to-face.

Hiring

The first guy went in.

Family background and social affiliation checked out; and, now on health and habits.

‘When do you go to sleep and when do you…?’

‘Oh, all of seven hours. Luckily, no kids’

‘What I wanted to hear.’

‘Yes…can’t say about him,’ throwing his hand back to the guy waiting outside.

‘Eh?’

‘He’ll probably tell you – has disturbed sleep and wakes up groggy. Advised him to see a doc’

‘You know him?’

‘Oh, neighbors, sort of.’

 

The other guy joined as a night watchman.

 

End

 

 

 

Source: Adapted from net and slide from slideshare.net/quintonstoneking/disney-interactive-proposal-team-beta-group

A Tale From A Mango Tree – A Short Story For Children

It was beyond the end of season.

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Their chattering was hushed by the Wise One who spoke up:

‘The man is nearly passed out from hunger, I can see…struggling to keep himself up. We must get some food to him without delay.’

‘Aye, Aye,’ they chorused.

‘But we’re small, our beaks smaller to carry chunks of food for him,’ one from them bemoaned.

‘I’ve thought about it. Here’s what we could do. Each of you, go for a kitchen in the village. Bring back cooked rice as much your mouth holds. Make many trips until we’ve collected enough. All this in double haste.’

They liked the plan and knew what must be done now, taking off from their perch right away for the village. All but one.

‘Why aren’t you gone like your friends? Don’t you want to do your bit?’

‘It won’t work…the plan.’

‘Pray, tell me, wise guy, why would it not?’

‘At this hour, the kitchens would be closed with pots and pans washed and stowed away.’

‘You, silly bird, that’s exactly right for us.’

‘All the left-overs would have been collected in lidded pots beyond our reach. And cooked rice…’

‘We’ll see about it soon…okay, brilliant guy, you doing anything besides nay-saying?’

‘mmm…I smell somewhere here…’  

‘Going after a teeny rat, you twit?’

Safe to assume the words were lost as the bird had long disappeared into the thick of leaves and branches.

Soon it was peck, peck…peck and a soft thud waking the man up from his stupor.

Gathering his last ounce of energy, he reached for the mangoes, semi-ripe, landed on a bed of dried leaves at arm’s length.

A while later the distant chatter of the birds drew closer, growing louder by instant, signalling their return. How could they…with their mouths full? Ah, it must be they were returning to the Wise One for his Plan B?  

Now they knew cooked rice in villages is always saved overnight with lots of water standing over.’

End

How Fate Was Overcome (A Children’s Story)

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A rishi had come to the village en-route Kashi. No one in the village paid any attention to him.Their disregard enraged the rishi; he cursed the village would not have rains for ten years.

Aghast villagers fell at the rishi’s feet seeking forgiveness. They made an earnest request to the rishi to revoke his harsh punishment.

The rishi was not assuaged. He went away saying no living being on earth planet could undo the curse.

The villagers were sadly resigned to their fate.

The Lord in his heavens heard the rishi’s curse and reluctantly put away his conch – it would not be used for years now. It was always the sound of the conch that brought rains down on the parched planet.

It was then they noticed a farmer taking his bullocks and plow every morning to his paddy field. He would till the land for an hour and return home.

One day, an elder in the village accosted him: ‘Don’t you know the rishi’s curse? Or, you think the curse would be ineffectual?’

The farmer said: ‘No, I am aware of the curse and I also believe a rishi’s curse can never be false.’

‘Then, why are you doing this? If there are going to be no rains for ten years, what’s the point in tilling the land everyday?’

‘Well, it keeps the animals and me physically fit. It’s not just that – the real danger is: if we don’t, we might, through disuse, just forget how to till when the rain returns.’

The Lord in his heavens heard these words and was startled out of his repose. It could happen to him too. He too might forget how to use his conch. That would be nothing less than an anartham (disaster). So he took out his conch and blew his lungs out in a long blast.

And thus ended the dry spell, sending everyone into a dizzy.

No one knew it was all the industrious farmer’s doing, him included.

End

 

 
Source: Adapted from a ‘forward’ from Nithya and image from hotstar com

 

The Call Of The Dead

The house was abuzz with the preparations for the grihapravesam (formal occupation of a new house) due to begin in a couple of hours. There was a steady flow of vendors of goods and services calling.

‘Amma, here’s 50 liters of milk you had ordered…’

‘Yemmao, take these flowers…the garlands are in this basket – there are two in them like you had wanted and this has the loose stuff…’

‘Sami, the temple poojari (priest) sent me here. He said you wanted coconuts to be picked. If you show me where the trees are…’

images  Thumba Agro Technologies, Palani

The Brihaspathi (family guru) arrived and the ceremony commenced on time.

Before long a child signaled to her mother to take him to the toilet. The houses in the village had toilets far back past the rear door, the backyard with trees and plants on one side and the dung-smelling cowshed on the other, the huge haystack well-removed from everything else for the fear of catching fire and the ubiquitous water-well. Business finished, the mother irritated at the distraction dragged the child back to the house even before he could pull his pants up.  Once near the trees in the backyard, the pants slipped down the child’s legs.

They were startled to hear loud and clear like a ringing bell a small girl giggling at the scene – the child standing there with pants around his ankles. The lady was not amused – she looked around and could find no one.  She checked going behind the trees in the backyard. No luck. And then the giggling ceased as suddenly as it had begun, all within a couple of minutes. Puzzling as it was she hurried back thinking no more about it.

The ceremony was conducted to its ritual conclusion as planned. In the time taken to set up for lunch thereafter, the guests relaxed stretching their limbs and circulated to connect up with friends and relations. In the ensuing banter two more guests mentioned about their strange experience of hearing a child’s laughter when they had gone out to the back of the house and couldn’t locate the source.

Within minutes everyone in the assembly had heard of it.  The more venturesome among the lot made a beeline for the backyard. The elders shrugged it off – they had seen and heard much worse in their days. Evil spirits were known to play cruel pranks. And this was only a harmless child having fun.

Presently, the team that had gone to check out returned. One batch confirmed hearing the sounds though somewhat muted while the second reported there was no sound, no girl and no cause to worry. A young man from this batch brought them to speed on phenomenon of mass psychosis quoting instances from world over.

The old man, a neighbor residing across the street and quiet until now, was not in agreement. Shaking his head slowly from side to side and waving his walking stick at no body in particular, he spoke up: ‘Tch, tch, it’s not simple as that…she isn’t going away.’

All heads turned to him. Who was this ‘she’?

He continued: ‘I remember – an incident that happened years ago when I was a young boy

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Shorn of drama and details, it was about a hapless girl visiting the house from the city accidentally falling into the well and was drowned. And for some reason not known she’s back here after a long break.

At this point disrupting the story session, the host emerged from the interior of the house to get the guests settled for lunch. But this was matter on hand was more pressing than lunch.  After all houses generally did not come with disembodied girls giggling at the back – a bit disconcerting, admittedly. The poor man at once drew everyone’s sympathy for his unfortunate lot. He was duly apprised of the developments starting at the beginning – the eventful return from the toilet of the mother and the child – and finishing with the old man’s story of the girl who had returned from the past. This was too serious to be settled in a hurry. Also it wasn’t the best to take decisions on empty stomach. They decided to deal with the girl post-sumptuous-lunch.

They still had to contend with the proverbial slip between the lunch and the lip. A compassionate lady intervened to point out the poor girl in the backyard must be hungry. She must be fed first. The thoughtful suggestion was accepted without any demur. Did the old man know what she liked? No? Never mind. So a small plate was brought out and the food fit for her age – more of the sweet – was laid out. Now popped up a question: Where should they keep the plate for her? The old man was helpful – he remembered the little girl liked playing around the coconut trees.That must be it. Even the sound had seemed to come from those coconut trees.  So the plate was placed under a coconut tree with a glass of water.

They had lunch with a relieved conscience.

Luckily the Brihaspati was still around for consultation. He assured the host it was not inauspicious that the girl had appeared precisely on the day of grihapravesam.  It was more likely she would protect the residents from all evil influences like kaaval daivam (guardian angel). Nevertheless a shanthi homam (an appeasement ritual) would help.  So it was agreed a homam would be performed – the date and the arrangements to be firmed up later.

Just as the venerable Brihaspathi was taking leave, the coconut picker appeared at the gate.

‘Didn’t we pay your charges in the morning itself?’ inquired the host.

‘Yes, Sami, you have already settled my accounts. I came for a different reason.’

‘You’ve come at a very inopportune time. The guests are still around. Tell me.’

‘Did you hear a girl giggling, Sami?’

The host gasped. How did it get to him so soon?

‘Yes, what about it?’

Why was he here? Did he practice exorcism on the side?

‘Ah, I thought so – it must be here. I was so worried. So careless of me to leave it here.’

What was he blabbering about? Did he practice exorcism in the reverse, planting spirits wherever he went? And then offering his services to take them away?

’Kindly allow me to find it and I’ll be gone within minutes. It must be in the coconut trees, the ones I climbed up.’

The host took a hard look at him. Was he staggering? Were his eyes alert? Hands steady?

‘I called out several times to see if I could find. ‘I’m sorry if it disturbed you.  My daughter loves it. Now of course the blessed thing is dead. 3-year old Nokia na, Sami, have to charge it up again now and then.’

It was now the host’s turn to stagger.

End

 

 

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Source: Based on a report in Times Of India.

Images: Thumba Agro Technologies, Palani, the hindu.com