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

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

FaitH Accompli

Faith, The Secret Sauce – A Folk Tale For The Young

Kali www.tritontv.com

Chinna and Thambi were neighbors, successful in their professions.

Besides being industrious, one could achieve astounding results through faith in God, believed Thambi.

Chinna was totally convinced one got results solely through one’s own efforts.

As it happens. before long the neighbors began having disagreements over their views that intensified over time into ugly rows in public.

The elders in the neighborhood tried to intervene and bring about reconciliation, but to no avail. When they were at their end of patience, they suggested they should take their dispute to the King who was regarded as very wise by his subjects.

That’s how one day they stood before the King.

Both of them presented powerful arguments for their stands. The wise King patiently employed all his wile and guile to resolve the matter as best as he could, without success.

His last word:‘I’m going to leave this to Ma Kali to provide an answer to you.’

So on the following day he organized a pooja for Ma Kali at the temple and instructed Chinna and Thambi proceed to the temple and to observe fast therein during the day. In the evening ladoo’s were offered to the goddess.

At night fall, Chinna and Thambi were locked inside the temple. All sources of light were shut out. They were given a simple instruction by the King: ‘Meditate and pray for as long into night as you can. Ma is bound to be pleased and would settle the dispute.’

Chinna was not seriously into meditation and prayers. Time could be spent much more productively, he believed. But it was the King’s orders. Though he did apply himself to meditation, intermittently his mind drifted to a mental review of his business and issues ahead. As the night wore on, Chinna became restless with hunger pangs tugging at his tummy. He could no longer focus his mind on anything. He got up and began feeling around in the dark. The room was barren with nothing like food to be found anywhere. After a futile search he sat down resignedly, cursing Thambi for landing them in this mess.

Meanwhile Thambi was happy to get some time off from his business to meditate and pray,no small  thanks to the King. He sat cross-legged backed against a wall and began chanting some jap on Ma Kali. As the hours rolled on, he was too engrossed to feel the hunger or to listen to Chinna’s ruckus in the dark.

And Chinna on his part had nothing but contempt for the ‘lazy’ fellow who just sat there mumbling inaudibly.

After a while Chinna got up and went about searching for something to eat. This time he was meticulous not missing an inch of the walls and the floor. Only the icon of Ma in the middle of the room remained to be checked. To his disappointment, there were no fruits, coconuts or grains left at the feet of the icon as was the normal practice by the devotees – there were only garlands of flowers.  The King had made sure of it.

Finally he moved to the back of the icon hoping against hope, all the time blaming Thambi for their fate.  Near the bottom edge he felt his hand going under a floor-tile. As he thrust his hand deep  inside upto his elbows, he found a pooja vessel stashed away. He carefully retrieved the it from the hideout. Almost immediately the aroma announced the contents of the vessel: ladoo’s. He gleefully took the vessel to his place and began devouring the small ladoo’s like a lost traveller finding water in a desert, nevermind they were cloying studded with cashewnuts and raisins. First one melted in his mouth, the second gone, the third…until he found one that defied him. Try as he might it refused to crack up under his bite.  It was hard as a stone. There was no point in fighting it – he set it aside and reached for the next…In a short while all ladoo’s were gone save a small pile of the hard one’s that couldn’t be eaten.

His hunger sated, now he thought of Thambi. He deserved to be left hungry for not lifting his little finger to solve the problem. When he slowly approached Thambi he could dimly see a coiled up form on the ground. ‘This is what happens when you dont help yourself,’ he thought to himself. In a flash he decided to play a prank. He collected all the hard one’s in the now-empty vessel and left it by Thambi’s side. He would mock at him when he woke up in the morning: ‘I saw Ma come up to you at midnight and leave this gift for your faith.’ He laughed at his own little joke, returned to his place and immediately fell into sleep, helped by the in-take of ghee-dripping raisin-studded ladoo’s.

Next day morning, the temple doors were unlocked and Chinna and Thambi were directly taken to the royal court. While Thambi looked haggard, Chinna didn’t appear too worse for the experience.

King: ‘Chinna, did Ma give you an answer?’

Chinna: ‘Yes, I think, Sir.’

King: ‘Let’s hear about it.’

Chinna: ‘Well, shortly after you had locked us in, I did meditate as instructed by you. But honestly not for long. I was insufferably hungry. As you know, Sir, we had had nothing to eat all day long. Instead of sitting with hands folded and mumbling some mantra’s, I searched the room again and again until I found this vessel full of ladoo’s you had placed under a tile behind the icon.   And here, I’m. Sir, the ladoo’s were absolutely delicious. The message I read is: It always pays to be industrious.’

King turned to Thambi: ‘And how was it for you? You look in a pretty bad shape.’

Thambi: ‘I must confess, Sir, I did not do jap all night as I had planned. Fell asleep without my volition, but only as late as the break of dawn. Exhaustion, hunger, perhaps. When I woke up this morning, I saw this vessel with ladoo’s by my side. I was absolutely delighted to receive this prasadam from Ma herself. Chinna told me he saw Ma bringing it up for me around midnight. The sinner that I’m. while Chinna was blessed with Ma’s darshan I slept like an ass missing’.

Chinna burst out laughing: ‘Pardon me, Sir. I couldn’t control myself. I was kidding and this guy swallowed it all hook, line and sinker.’ Turning to Thambi, ‘Dear Thambi, it was I who placed it by your side. There was no Ma. You well know, I’ve always been fair minded. I ate some ladoo’s and left a few for you; only you were too busy to eat.’

Thambi was not put off:’So be it, Ma for some reason has used you to send me her prasadam.

King: ‘Thambi, you must be terribly hungry. I insist you eat a few ladoo’s right here and now.

There upon Thambi took out a ladoo and tried to bite into it. It was hard as a stone. He was puzzled. He took it out of his mouth. and looked at it.

King said with a smile: ‘So, Thambi, Ma sent you unbreakable ladoo’s?’

Chinna again breaking into laughter was silenced by a stern glance from the King.

Thambi: ‘I’m sure, Sir, there’s a message in it though I’m not able to figure it out.’

The King asked an attendant for a heavy pestle to be brought.

When the ladoo was pounded, the hard ouside crumbled to reveal a core – a small ball of solid gold.

The King indulgently said, ‘Take all these ladoo’s, they’re yours, Thambi.’

He turned to a crest-fallen Chinna:’There’s no doubt efforts produce results. But the results are only commensurate with the efforts. You searched for food and you got ladoo’s as a reward. The rewards could be richer manifold, often in pleasantly unexpected ways, if you added an element of faith to your efforts. And doing jap and praying for long hours on an empty stomach is not an effort to be scoffed, Chinna, if you thought Thambi was lazy. This seems to be the message from Ma Kali.’

End

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Source: Adapted from Dinathandhi and image from tritontv.com

Birbal Does It Again!

One more of Akbar-Birbal stories never told before!

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Emperor Akbar held an open court on certain days of the month when any of his subjects with a grievance could walk in and seek help or justice from the court. On some occasions, the emperor himself would hear the matter and deliver judgment. On other days it was left to a senior minister to stand in for him.

On this day when the brothers Ram and Kishan took their matter to the court, Akbar himself was in the seat. The two brothers inherited a large tract of fertile cultivable land from their deceased father. Unfortunately there was no will, the father’s death being unexpected and sudden. Goaded by their wives the siblings decided to part ways and were at loggerheads over equitable division of the property.

It was a pretty straightforward matter to resolve. Akbar had one of his officials do some measurements and calculations on the map produced by the brothers. Very quickly an area was marked for Ram and another for Kishan.

Kishan felt let down:

‘My Lord, my brother gets 600 fully grown mango trees while there are only 400 for me. If you permit me, doesn’t seem fair to me at all.’

Akbar went into consultation with his official and found it to be true. More measurements and more calculations and the boundary was redrawn.

It was Ram’s turn now to voice his disappointment:

‘My Lord, to Kishan you’ve given away eight water-holes to draw water and there are only three for me. How does one grow crops without water?’

For the first time Akbar’s visage broke into what could be described as a frown. Back to the drawing board. This time they were more careful to propose a solution that took into consideration several considered important by the brothers.

Kishan took one look and cried in dismay:

‘My lord, my brother’s property is directly accessible from the main trunk road while mine is pushed out to the far end on a kaccha road. Is this fair?’

An exasperated Akbar concluded there was just no way of arriving at a mutually acceptable division between the two brothers. This was worse than a cat’s ball of wool. No, he knew exactly what he would do. Now he would propose a solution that is as fair as possible and the brothers would have no choice but to lump it. That was that. No one can fault him for not trying hard enough.

Just then he saw Birbal enter his court. A thought struck in his mind: ‘Why not ask Birbal to solve this one? He always tries to be clever. Let me see how he gets out of this one.’

So Birbal was summoned and briefed about the dispute. The details of Akbar’s unsuccessful attempts in solving the dispute were tactfully held back.

Birbal smiled for he had come in a little earlier and was fully in the know of what had happened.

‘My Lord, you did right by turning this irksome matter over to me. May I request you, Sir, to retire without any misgivings on the outcome. I assure you they will be quite satisfied with what I suggest.’

Beset with curiosity, Akbar let it be known he wasn’t budging and asked Birbal to proceed forthwith.

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Birbal bowed in assent and walked up to the brothers:

‘We’re going to toss a coin. Ram you’re going to call. If you call right you get to carve up the land for your brother and yourself. If you fail, Kishan divides up the land.’

No longer had Birbal finished, both the brothers were immediately up in arms. They cried:

‘Are you seriously suggesting we divide up on our luck with the toss of a coin? We came here for a fair judgment that would be satisfactory to both of us.’

Calming them down, Birbal added:

‘Well, I had not finished. While the winner draws the boundary, the loser gets to choose his piece first.’

Silence reigned for a while as the ingenuity of Birbal’s clever scheme slowly sank in.

And when it finally did, Ram and Kishan had to agree this was best for them.

Akbar shook his head in disbelief turning into admiration at the simplicity of Birbal’s solution to what seemed to him only moments ago as an intractable problem.

End
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Credits: folknet.in and shortstories.co.in for images and inspired by raykiwsp.wordpress.com

The Story Of The Zamindar, The Servant And The Crows

It was late evening. The Zamindar (a big landlord) was pacing up and down in the hall like a husband outside a maternity ward. He was concluding a deal on the following day to purchase a crucial piece of land that would bridge his current holdings into one large contiguous stretch. He feared for any eleventh hour hitches that might derail the deal. The seller, for instance, sensing his desperation could hike the prices unreasonably. His ill-wishing neighbors could snatch away the deal. Anything could happen, there was no telling.

Just then, an industrious crow foraging for the last time in the day, flew in and settled on a window sill, angled his head and peered at him. It was a spot that never denied the crow – he was sure to find some tidbits that the finicky Zamindar would chuck from his plate of snacks. The Zamindar paused for a moment and without any thought returned the courtesies staring right back at the interloper. When the sight of the crow registered, it jogged his recent memories. In a flash it all came back to him.

A week ago, a Sadhu on his way to Varanasi passed through the village. To a question from his audience, the Zamindar had heard him clearly say sighting early in the morning a pair of crows perched together was unfailingly a very good omen. Any task undertaken on that day simply had to succeed in favor of the beholder. A couple of days later an incident occurred that seemed to reinforce what the Sadhu had said. On that day when he went to the back of the house to brush his teeth in the morning, quite unexpectedly he had come across a pair of crows fighting on the ground over a dead lizard. For a moment, the Sadhu’s words flitted across his mind. And then he forgot all about it. During the day, at the collector’s office they were able to lay their hands on hitherto untraceable provenance records of the land that he was planning to buy thus greatly facilitating the transaction to be. That’s when the Zamindar – more astute than you would give to a man living by the land – began to connect the dots. Maybe there was something in what the blessed Sadhu had said.

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It was an important day ahead of him and he could do with all the luck he can get his way. He decided to further secure his position in the life of uncertainties by following the Sadgu’s advice. He summoned his servant and ordered him to get up early in the morning, stand watch at the back of the house. As soon as he saw a pair of crows together engaged in whatever he should not do anything to disturb them and quietly rush to his Master and take him to the spot without losing a moment.

That night the Zamindar tossed and turned in his bed and fell asleep – when the mosquitoes regretfully but wisely quit buzzing in the range his deep and vocal snore.

He was having a gala time in the Kingdom of Morpheus harvesting bountiful crops of rice, banana and cane and all the merry-making thereafter. At a very inopportune time, as it always happened, he was rudely brought back into the real by the knocker noisily and insistently banging against his bedroom door. Still a bit disoriented, he dragged himself to the door, set in his mind to award 50 lashes with a thorned whip to whoever was on the other side.

Who else it could be but his servant all excited at an opportunity to please the Master.

‘Why are you creating all this ruckus? Is the house on fire? Or, the cows have broken their tether and run away? You better have a good reason.’

‘Master, you told me yesterday to wake you up.’

‘Did I? Why would I?’

‘Rush, Master. This is no time to argue. The crows may have other things on their mind.’

Now he recalled what this was all about. He would curb his servant’s insolence later. First things first. He hurried behind the servant to the back of the house. As soon as they reached the clearing, the servant paused.

‘Look there, Master, ‘pointing to the low branches of the near-by jamun tree.

‘Look where, you dope?’ the Zamindar was clearly not at his best.

‘There, at the …’ the servant dropped his pointing hand.

‘Quick, tell me. Fool, crows are flighty, don’t sit forever.’

‘You’re right, Master.’

‘Eh?’

‘Yes, there’s only one, now. ‘

A long silence ensued, the Master furious, the servant fidgeting.

‘Playing with me? You’ll pay for this.’

‘No, Master, I swear by Angaalathamman, they were two when I came to fetch you.’

The Zamindar went red in his face: ‘Mutt, you should have called me sooner. Now, you’ve screwed up my day and my business. I’ll teach you to do better.’

He sent a stinging slap to the cheeks of his servant that would have sent the latter reeling had it connected.

The alert servant ducked it deftly and helped the Zamindar regain his balance all in one well-practiced move. After all any servant’s motto was never to let his Master down.

Feeling thwarted Zamindar’s face went a shade redder. He was contemplating on ways to continue with the unfinished lesson for his servant when the latter spoke up:

‘Master, I wouldn’t worry if I were you.’

‘What an extraordinary thing to say? Of course, you’ll never be me.’ The Zamindar roared – this fellow must be put in his place.

‘Sir, the Sadhu was in the wrong and your day is not ruined as you fear.’

‘Now hear this. Didn’t know you’re into bhang. Go and splash some cold water on your face. God, you’re not done sending problems my way?’

‘Master, I’m quite sober. See, one, two, three, four…, I can count.’

‘Oh, shut up.’

‘Sir, I bet my meager wages and say again, the Sadhu was wrong.’ The first part was lost in a mumble.

‘Alright, wise guy, pray tell me why?’

‘Master, look, how did the morning go for me?

‘Mmmm…not too well, I may have been a little harsh. But considering what you did…I mean what you didn’t,’ the Zamindar frowned – where was this heading?

‘Master, remember, I was the one who saw the pair of crows perched together first thing this morning.’

It took a while for the Zamindar to sort it out.

End

No One Is Alone With A Friend Like…Another Akbar-Birbal Episode

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Emperor Akbar was known to come up with whimsical questions that he would expect to be satisfactorily answered. This time he put this question to his court and asked Birbal to conduct the proceedings and find an answer:

‘Who is a man’s best friend?’

After a long silence and much encouragement from Birbal to speak up, a voice from the assembly set the ball rolling:

‘Well, I would say ‘Money’. If you’ve money, you’ll live comfortably.’

‘Is that money never leaves you or you never?’ Birbal posed.

‘Surely you have it to spend and if you spend, it goes.’

‘So…’

A young man ventured next: ‘It’s my horse. It’s always with me. I take care of her and she takes me everywhere.’

‘If you come across a river too deep for the horse and you need to get to the other side?’

‘Simple. I’ll get off my horse, secure it to a tree, dive into the waters and swim across.’

‘There you’re.’

This time it was a man of action: ‘To me, my sword is my best friend.’

‘Well, what do you do with the sword in times of peace as it mostly prevails in our Emperor’s reign? Of course, you could cut fruits. And still no help in getting to eat them – a spoon does better.’

A round of muted laughter.

Then a man of god got up, puffed out his chest as he claimed: ‘My faith is my ever-abiding friend.’

Everyone was keenly looking at Birbal to see his response.

Birbal grabbed a walking stick from an old man as he slowly walked up to the man of god.

In a not-so-sudden flourish he swung the stick bringing it down on the man’s head.

There was enough time for the man to break the blow to his head with two hands. No harm done.

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Birbal returned to his seat and with an exaggerated bow towards the man said: ’Thanks you, Sir. You alone got it right. Your friend truly stood by you in the face of danger. I apologize for the little bit of drama.’

The man of faith regained his composure once again puffing out his chest feeling vindicated.

Birbal summed up for the expectant court and a more-than-keen Emperor:

‘What stays with a man through all times, protects him from many a danger, helps him earn a living and eat his roti (bread), would you all agree that would be man’s best friend?’

The court saw no reason to disagree and chorused a loud ‘Yes’. Many already had their answer.

‘Of course it would be his hands!’

There was a flutter in the court ending in most nods than nays.

Needless to add the Emperor was mighty pleased with Birbal’s verdict.

End

Pls see here for an earlier Akbar-Birbal episode: https://ksriranga.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/an-akbar-birbal-episode-never-told-before/
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Credit: indianchild.com for the image