Musings Of An Idle Philosopher








Accounting Karma (A Story For Children)

Watch out…you may be hit with it even if you had nothing to do with the act if you’re not careful. .

An old story brought back in WhatsApp:

Sagarworld com

It was a Friday. As customary, the King was out on the palace grounds under a shamiana performing anna dhaanam, distributing with his own hands food to the poor and the needy.

Presently at the head of the food line was an old man bent with age, hunger writ on his face.

Just then an eagle flew overhead holding its meal by its claws – a serpent. In a desperate struggle to free itself from a certain death the serpent spit out its poison. No one noticed a drop of it falling down through a netted air-vent in the shamiana’s canopy into the large anda of rice porridge being served out.

The old man received a generous helping of the porridge with a kind word spoken by the King.

No sooner he stepped out, overcome by hunger, he partook some of the porridge, his unsteady hands spilling much of it on the ground. Even before the little went down from the mouth to his stomach, the old man was stricken with convulsions and he dropped dead right there for all to see.

Elsewhere in the Heavens…

The venerable Chitragupta, the eternal book-keeper was vexed. The eagle was simply returning home after the hunt, holding the prey with its claws, to feed its young.  It had not anything violating its dharma. The serpent was only trying all it could to escape a certain death. The king had no knowledge of what had happened as he went about doing his good deed. Under the circumstances, to whom should he debit the karma of causing the death of the hapless old man?

Unable to resolve it satisfactorily, Chitragupta took the matter to his master, Lord Yama, the god of all dharma and death. Yama heard him out and advised him to wait for some more time; surely, he would get his answers.

In the afternoon a small group of Brahmins, returning from a pilgrimage to Kashi, came into the city.  Informed of the King’s anna dhanam, they reached the shamiana, only to find it completely deserted with no living soul anywhere in sight. Unaware of the morning’s happening, they suspected, given the prosperity evident all around, perhaps the King ran out of people to give and hence had gone back to his quarters.  While speculating on their next move, one of them suggested they should still try to meet the King in person. He would not send them back hungry. Also they could present him with a few of the gangai-chombu’s (small copper vessels filled with water from the Ganges and sealed at the mouth) they carried with themselves for people back home who were not fortunate to make the trip. The King was sure to like receiving them, a rarity in his land.

They located a fruit vendor at a distance and asked her directions for the King’s quarters. She obliged them pointing out the way. They thanked her and set themselves about when she called one of them and said in hushed voice:

’You all appear to be innocent out-of-town folks. Sad it would be to see you landing in trouble. And, don’t ever tell anyone I cautioned you. If you must and when you do meet him – I’ve no idea why you wanted to – don’t ever touch the food the King may offer you. Think of some ruse to say no. If he doesn’t like someone’s face, without a twinge of conscience he would poison his food. And who is to say he would like your faces? Just this morning I saw with my own eyes…’

At that instant Chitragupta in the Heavens was greatly relieved. Just as his master had said, now he knew whom to debit…




Source: Image from



The Story Of A Cobbler And A Punditji in Kashi (For Children)

Part 1

Those were the times Kashi was a great seat of learning where pundit’s, vidwan’s and acharya’s flocked to learn, debate and settle arguments in theology. A living city that goes back in time farther than recorded history, shrouded in countless myths and incredible legends…

And, our story here is about a punditji, presently hurrying towards the ghats of Ganges for his daily bath when a strap on his footwear gave way. Dragging his feet through the street, he ducked into a side-lane where he knew he would find a cobbler, an old man, plying his trade close to the waters of Ganges.

The old man took the punditji’s footwear and repaired it fit for use.

cobbler er

When the punditji offered him money for his services, he politely declined:

‘Sir, I have sworn to do at least one good deed every day. What could be better than being of service to a learned man like you?  This would be my deed for the day.’

The punditji would not accept: ‘Old man, I cannot remain indebted to you for what you’ve done. With time the debt would grow many times over if I let it remain outstanding. So, here, take this money which is yours…’

‘Sir, if that be so…I ask you for a favour.’


‘I sit on the banks of ma Ganga and earn a living from attending to her devotees coming here for a bath. I’ve done very little in return for the mother. Please offer these coins to ma Ganga when you take bath. Won’t you do this for an old man?’

‘Why don’t you do it yourself? You look alright to walk.’

‘You know as well as I do, Sir, a cobbler cannot commit the sin of stepping up to ma Ganga and letting her waters touch his feet. I’ve already collected sins enough to see me through a couple of births…’

‘Okay, okay, will do.’

The learned man entered the waters waist-deep, gently offered the coins with some words of prayer and proceeded to take dips.

Turning back, as he made towards the ghat, he felt a touch on his shoulder.

He turned around. A hand – it could not have belonged to anyone on this earth – had shot out of the waters, offering him a beautiful gold kangan.

A dazed punditji took it without a thought like a man under a spell. Within the few moments he needed to gather his wits the hand had disappeared under the waters. He understood – it was ma Ganga’s blessings in return for the coins he had offered.

Truly the divine-looking kangan belonged to the old man. He went looking for him, but was not to be found at his place.

The punditji, running late for his sessions, thought of reaching it to the cobbler later.

When he returned home for lunch, he narrated the strange incident of the morning to his wife.

One look at the kangan, the lady almost swooned. Wearing it on her wrist, she stood before the mirror and saw herself in different poses like a bashful bride with the tiny bells on the kangan tinkling to divine music.

She made it clear to the husband she had no intentions of parting with it now or ever.

The learned man tried in vain to impress upon her who was the intended recipient.

He even told her wearing the gorgeous kangan would arouse the suspicions in the minds of the neighbours, aware of their modest living and meagre means. They might even bring it to the notice of the authorities.  And no one would believe his story.

The mention of the authorities was an ‘Ah’ moment for the wife. She came up with a ‘brilliant’ idea that would solve the problem for them – if they took the kangan to the royal court and presented to the Raja, he would be delighted and was sure to shower them with gifts.

The punditji did not stand up against her idea.

On the following day, the couple had none too difficult access to Raja’s durbar where things went exactly like the lady had envisioned. A connoisseur of art and craft, the Raja held the kangan in his hands like it was some rare fragile flower, admiring the fine piece of jewellery, while the queen squealed in delight. A gift, it was, verily fit for none other than the royalty.

The couple were thanked profusely and gifts heaped on them for the priceless piece they had brought.

As the happy couple made their way to exit, the Queen turned to her spouse:

‘My Lord, wouldn’t it look fabulous if I had a matching Kangan for the other hand too? I’m sure the punditji would be able to procure it for me from wherever he got this one.’

Part 2

It was not the merely gifts that weighed the punditji down as they returned home.

The wife was unfazed: ‘What are you worried about? The Raja has promised us even more if only…’

‘Don’t you understand? From where and how do I get it a second kangan? And if I don’t, be assured we won’t be seeing daylight rest of our living years.’

‘Frankly I don’t know why they call you a scholar. It’s so simple…go to the cobbler again with another strap of your footwear broken – that’s easy to arrange. And tell him, ma Ganga was mighty pleased with his offerings yesterday. He’s sure to…’

‘You’re right, I must be an idiot of first order to go along with your cocky ideas. Now I know exactly what I should be doing…’

Disregarding remonstrations of the wailing lady, he gathered all the gifts the Raja had given into a bundle and hit the street as though even a moment’s delay might cause his fickle mind to change to wicked ways. Frantically he went in search of the cobbler; found him at the same place resting after lunch under the shade of a nearby tree. The punditji grabbed his hands, sobbed out the entire story as it was and placed the bundle at his feet as though he was unburdening himself of all the guilt. And desperately sought his help; for, he still had to get the second kangan for the Raja.

The old man was moved to tears, his voice choked: ‘Is that what my ma…she did? Really, for this man? That kangan…it would’ve looked best ma wearing it herself. I would readily give my life to have a darshan of her fully decked in such ornaments…you know, If you had at that moment prayed to her, Sir, she would have, I’m sure, blessed you  with her darshan in full form…’

Composing himself in a few moments: ‘Sir, what can I say? And what can I do to help you? If anyone can, it would be only she, ma Ganga.’ Pointing to the bundle, ‘An old man like me has no use for these trinkets – I already earn my two meals a day, by ma’s mercy. If I may suggest, kindly take this bundle and offer it to ma like you did yesterday. Seek her forgiveness from your heart and, I’m sure, my ma won’t let you down.’

That day there were not many witnesses to the strange sight of a fully clothed punditji standing in the waters of Ganga early afternoon and saying prayers. And even fewer, in fact, none saw the man of meagre means making offerings to the river, way above his station.

varanasi A-man-bathing-in-Ganges-River-Varanasi-Indai

Feeling greatly relieved, literally and mentally, by acting out the cobbler’s suggestion, he returned empty handed for his evening chores. He knew the storm that awaiting him at home would spend itself harmlessly in a while, but his predicament with the Raja was something different; and here, ma Ganga was his only hope.

With that comforting thought, he slept peacefully that night, greatly aided by his wife’s silence – she was too cross to talk to him, for letting the riches slip away from their hands.

Indeed a tumultuous day it had been.

Part 3

The day began like any other day, but not for long.

Just as the punditji finished his morning pooja, there was a knock on the door.

It was the royal guards with Raja’s summons to the court.

A knot formed in the pit of his stomach and was doing somersaults.

Still he managed to retain the air of confidence about him given by cobbler’s words as he got ready to leave.

A wife being a wife she decided to go along. After all the Raja would find it a bit more inconvenient to be harsh with a man accompanied by a helplessly dependent woman.

On the way to the palace, he suppressed the tremble in his gait with difficulty; once inside the palace, without much ado, they were swiftly taken to a private audience with the Raja.

The Raja meant business, it seemed. The kangan was sitting pretty on a silk covered silver plate right before him. The Queen was not to be seen by his side.

The brave front the punditji had sported all this time fell away before the Raja like ghee on a hot tava.. Without even looking up, he began stammering out his incredible account of how he came by the kangan, expecting the Raja to blow up in disbelief any instant.

Predictably he was interrupted before long. ‘Punditjiji, spare me your tale. No need to explain,’ far from being a wrecking-ball, the Raja’s voice was inexplicably laced with sympathy. The kind Raja suspected as much and wished to save the learned man from being compelled to concoct stories to save himself: ‘It has already been hinted to me how this kangan came into your possession though I may not know the details yet…And, importantly, you need not go searching for a second one for me. I know where it is and it’s very unlikely you can’t get at it.’


‘Yes, because it’s still with its rightful owner who is not likely to part with it…Ganga ma herself told me all of it.’

What was happening here? Too much and too fast for their grasp. The punditji and his wife looked at each other all too flummoxed.

The Raja filled in: ‘Yesterday night, I had this strange dream…Ganga ma herself appeared before me and said this kangan was the one from the pair worn by her and she wanted it back for herself as wished by one of her ardent devotees whom she cannot deny. She did hint at how she let this one go from her in the first instance…So, punditji, I plan to offer the kangan back to Ganga ma this evening. I ask both of you to be present at the ghats. And you, especially, to perform the ceremonies!’

He brought the meeting to a close: ‘You may go now to get the preparations underway for the evening with the assistance of my staff. ‘Yes, I forgot to tell you this…for some reason she wanted to accept the kangan from your hands, no one else’s, not even mine. And also she said you’re forgiven; for, you’ve suffered enough – she didn’t elaborate on what the offence was or the punishment.’

For the first time ever since he had gone to the cobbler for mending his footwear a couple of days ago, the punditji was breathing easily as though a boulder sitting on his chest had been removed.

They returned home in silence. There was time yet to warm up for the evening of rituals and revelry.





Source: Based on a story from a Tamizh fb forum that I’m unable recall presently. Images from and

I Had A Bone To Be Picked


We were returning from our vacation in Jordan and Egypt, flying on the last leg: Bahrain – Mumbai.

As always, I had an aisle seat owing to my bulk and the need to go toilet often (a diabetic). And I am also prone to painful cramps in the legs if I don’t stretch them often enough. The poor wife got the middle seat. For the first time, I found her twisting and turning uncomfortably in her seat. I made a mental note to get her also an aisle seat hereon. A young man, perhaps employed in the Gulf and returning home on a break, occupied the window seat on far left, next to my wife.

It was two-hour flight, I think. Weary from a long mid-night wait at Bahrain, we were dozing almost as soon as we flopped into our seats, aided by the aircraft’s turbulence-free lulling cruise.

Sometime later, the lights were switched on. Air-hostesses emerged from the galley, ahead of the food-trolleys, hand-carrying food-trays to those who had ordered special meals.

Not very hungry, we pulled our folding-tables down ready to receive our Asian-Veg meal (acronym’ed AVEG, could be taken for average!), planning to take not more than a bite. When we did get our trays, to our dismay, it was not very diff from what was served earlier in the Cairo – Bahrain sectorpeas-rice-dhalpaneer as the main course, a bowl of semi-cooked chana, a sweet dish and the ubiquitous bun. Led me to think: ‘Bring out a recipe book for AVEG meals, these chef’s, their wits strained, will grab them like hot gulab jamuns.’

I don’t know if you have noticed: We L and XL folks can hold ourselves back very well as long as we don’t sit at the table – believe it or not, we can actually say ‘no’ to food!. Once seated or food is thrust on us, well, we are different people. So, I ended up taking a little more than a bite. Once done, tidied up both our trays and waited for them to be cleared. Very early in my employment, I had learnt our plate, at the end of our meal, should never look like a couple of hungry dogs had fought over it. A South Indian meal plate with its gravy-based dishes is apt to look like just that, given our proclivity to leave food behind under the mistaken notion a clean plate shows us up as a glutton or worse, the host did not feed us enough. .

The trolley finally reached a couple of rows ahead of us. That’s when my wife leaned onto my left and said hush-hush: ‘Now, don’t touch that one.’

Now which one was that?

Just for a moment, her eyes darted to the tray before the young man to her left.

I understood: ‘But why?’

‘You know what he ordered?’

‘Yes, some chicken stuff. I heard him ask for it.’


Ah, now it was getting clearer to me. What I normally do is to take the tray from the traveler in the window seat and give it to the hostess to save her from leaning into and bending over all the way to haul in the tray.  This time she did not want me to even touch the tray and, inadvertently, its contents that had been a chicken once or at least a part of it.

‘Come on, I’m only going to hold it at the edges.’

‘Oh, how can you ever…how can you be so sure?’

There was no time – the trolley had reached our row by now and the hostess was ready to collect – to remind her about the occasions we have unavoidably eaten at restaurants serving food of both kinds. And am sure they did not use separate kitchens, utensils, plates…Why, many of them would have even used the same oil to cook.

So, I handed over the two trays, my wife’s and mine, carefully avoiding any spillage. And withheld my customary assistance in the transport of the third, for preserving domestic bliss.

Just when the hostess was putting away the last, we hit an air-pocket. For a moment she lost her balance. With practiced ease she was quickly back in control but not before depositing a piece from the tray onto my lap. Suddenly I was a freak with 207 bones, one of which from a different species, in an exoskeleton!

She deftly cleared the extra bone restoring my normalcy – one second it was there, it was gone like magic in the next. The hostess made light of it with a short apology said with a big smile and moved away.

Well, the magic was not fast enough, good enough to escape dear dharmapatni’s (wife’s) notice.  She stiffened in her seat, her ire welling up and not finding a target.

Didn’t our man Murphy say something about a buttered toast falling? It was unwise to bring it up presently, I thought.

Just imagine, you feel hopping mad and you cant take it out on anyone or anything! Poor lady, there isn’t much one can do, firmly belted to the seat and boxed in from both sides.

Under the circumstances, never mind it wasn’t your doing, one can never be too careful. ‘Remove yourself without delay to safe distance,’ is the sage advice given by those in the know. Not very practical within the confines of an aircraft flying full. Engaging in activities like watching a movie, reading in-flight mag, solving a Sudoku or talking apps to a fellow-traveler is tempting fate according to the same sources. And never ever look into her eyes – that ‘s fatal, we’re told. Left me with little choice but to get some shut-eye, not figuring in the taboo list. Happy to report perfectly satisfactory outcomes on all fronts.







Source:  Inspired by a recent experience that came quite close. Image from

A Pebble Sinks To The Bottom

Monday morning.

All signs were it was working! Door open, fan whirling overhead, he ready on his small stool.


One of those days.

So, I made it to the lift instead of the stairs as was customary, saving me an arduous climb.

A great start for the week.

‘Looks like all the planets are aligned in a line, today.’

My jest was ignored. Quite unusual.

He pulled the door shut and silently pressed ‘3’. I was upwardly mobile with a jerk.

‘What happened? Not well?’

He shook his head.

The lift crawled to a stop on the 3rd floor – too much damping; I never forget my R-L-C circuits.

As he held the door open for me, he mumbled, shaking his head: ‘He had told me two days ago…it was a grave wrong…’

Before I could ask him anything, the bell intruded rudely – someone on the ground floor leaning on the button. He stepped back into the cage, shut the door and descended.

After a week out in the field, the pile-up tied me down at my desk until about 11-00. Got up to stretch my legs and pick up some coffee from the canteen.

That’s when I heard.

On Friday, climbing the stairs, S had collapsed on the 2nd floor landing.

Didn’t help rushing him to the hospital in seven minutes flat.

He was a senior, in his forties. Nice chap, I had heard. Never got closer than exchanging ‘hello’s’ in passing.

Why did it happen? Conjectures were many: Well, his dad also had passed away young. Must be in the genes…No, he had some ailments, but he resorted to alternate medicine instead of going to the good old (allopathic) doctor on the main street…Don’t forget the pressures at work-place…

An indescribable sadness enveloped me. Decided to pack up early.

On the way out, saw the lift ready for use at the base. Door open, fan whirling overhead, the stool however sitting dolefully out on the landing. He wasn’t around to finish what he was saying.

I waited for the bus (public transport) just outside the main gate of our Industrial Park.

Looking around idly, those imposing cloth banners splayed between poles near the gate, up there for some time now, caught my attention, crazily flapping – strong winds were trying to and nearly succeeding in blowing them off their ties.

As I boarded the bus a worrying thought occurred: What if those lengths of cloth were suddenly blown onto and tangled with the traffic on the road? Won’t they cause accidents?  Almost certainly. Quite an ironic start it would then be for the ‘Safety First’ campaign – loudly proclaimed by the banners – planned by the Park and its scheduled inauguration by a VIP. Don’t they know causing accidents through negligence is regarded as a crime by law, besides being morally guilty?

This was quickly pushed aside by the melancholy thought about a life that was wasted.


Days rolled on.

Yes, the stool went right back in to seat a new man.

Incidentally, today is one of those days.






Source: Based on a real-life incident. Image thru

A No Story

Grandad: 87 years old


Grandma: 82 years old


Grandad – the keeper of the family history


Grandad has a drawer full of albums. His albums contain all of his photos in black and white, since he was a child in 1930, until he became a man, joined to the army then got married. Open the albums, enjoy the smell of old papers, see and read notes inside, you will feel clearly a whole life of a man with beautiful and special memories.

Grandma poetry is a diary into her soul


Grandma poetry is a diary into her soul


Grandma deep in her Inner World


Grandad learns to use the computer and internet by himself in order to keep in touch with his old friends and family members


Grandad knows how to use Facebook, basic Photoshop, Movie Maker

DSC02244-5abc40436e3ab__880He said “everyone needs to know as much as possible about the technology to improve their mind and keep in touch with others”. He often makes short clips or photos to mail us, family members, as a gift in some occasions or just because sometimes he wanna share his feeling. He also is grandma’s teacher about technology.

Praying for the happiness of the whole family


Beautiful old skin. How many miles have these old feet walked?


Beautiful old skin. How many miles have these old feet walked?


Bún is her favorite food


“Once upon a time… when we were young”



Where’s the story, you ask.

You just saw one, beautiful if ever!

Our story?




Source: A fwd from

Deepak Punjabi [funonthenet]

A Horse and Two Goats (By R. K. Narayan)

One of my all-time favorites – RKN’s story of the cat – had appeared here.  If you love short stories and haven’t looked at this one before, I would urge you to read it – you won’t be disappointed, I assure you. The final twist in the tale – in fact the last line – is unimaginable!

This time, another hilarious piece from the master story teller, written in the seventies:

Horse and 2 goats

(If you wish to see the clip first, go to the end of this post)

Muni is a poor resident of Kritam, one of the smallest of India’s seven hundred thousand villages. Despite its small size, the village has a grandiose name: Kritam means “crown” or “coronet” in the Indian language of Tamil. There are only thirty houses in the village, most of them simple thatched huts. The only sophisticated residence in the village is the Big House, a brick and cement building from whose well the local villagers get their water. “His wife was old, but he was older and needed all the attention she could give him in order to be kept alive.” The two have been married since he was ten and she eight: “He had thrashed her only a few times in their marital life, and later she had the upper hand.” At onetime Muni was a relatively prosperous herdsman, with “a flock of forty sheep and goats.” He sold the sheep’s wool and sold the animals for slaughter to a town butcher, who brought him “betel leaves, tobacco, and often enough some bhang.” However, those high old times are past. Now Muni’s flock, struck by “some pestilence” (though Muni suspects a neighbor’s curse), has dwindled to two goats.

Now in the last stage of their lives and without an offspring to count on, they are forced to live with poverty and embarrassment, bearing crass jokes and insensitive remarks by fellow villagers.

Away from the prying eyes of villagers, still, Muni follows his daily routine of taking the animals to graze near the highway two miles away, where he sits all day in the shade of the statue – a horse rearing next to a fierce warrior – and watches his goats and an occasional passing vehicle. The vehicles are something to tell his wife about when he goes home at night.

Despite his poor life, Muni is a dreamer and an avid food lover. He is really fond of good food and bidi’s. Because of the couple’s poverty, Muni’s daily lunch usually consist of only millet and an onion. One day, Muni picks some “drumsticks,” or seed pods, from the tree in front of his home and asks his wife to cook them in a sauce for him to eat. Muni’s wife agrees to make the sauce if he can get all of the necessary ingredients from the village shop: dhal, chili, curry leaves, mustard, coriander, gingelly oil, and a potato. Muni has no money to pay for the items but tries to convince the shop owner to give them to him on credit by engaging in conversation and laughing at his jokes. However, the shop owner shows Muni a ledger of past debts that he owes and says he must pay them off before availing any more credit. Muni tells him that his daughter will give him some money for his fiftieth birthday, although he does not actually have a daughter. The shop owner does not believe him and says he looks at least seventy.

Muni goes home and tells his wife to sell the drumsticks, since he could not get the ingredients for the sauce. There is no other food in the house, so Muni’s wife sends him away with the goats. “Fast till the evening,” she tells him. “It’ll do you good.” He then takes his goats and goes to the highway to let them graze as usual. While he is there, he sits on a pedestal at the base of a weather-beaten clay statue depicting a majestic horse and a warrior. The statue had been there since Muni was a young child, and his grandfather had explained to him it was a reference to the mythical horse Kalki, who according to Tamil legend will come to life when the world ends and trample all bad men.

While Muni is sitting there, he sees a yellow station wagon coming towards him down the highway.

The car runs out of gas and comes to a stop on the road in front of the statue. A white foreigner gets out of the car and asks Muni in English whether there is a gas station nearby. However, Muni cannot communicate with him because he does not speak English and the foreigner does not speak Tamil. The foreigner tells Muni he is a coffee trader from New York. Inevitably his eyes catch the beautiful clay horse standing behind Muni. Impressed with the unparalleled art, he wants to buy it, planning on taking it to his country, and proudly showing it off to his relatives and friends, to garner their admiration and envy.

He offers to pay Muni for the statue, thinking it belongs to him as Muni sitting on the platform nonchalantly. Muni does not understand what the foreigner wants, and initially mistakes him for a police officer, because he is dressed in khaki. He believes the man had arrived to investigate a dead body found a few weeks ago on the border between Kritam and a neighboring village. He tells him he does not know anything about the incident and the murderer probably lives in the other village.

The foreigner does not understand. He offers Muni some cigarettes, and explains that he and his wife, Ruth, decided to travel to India on vacation after a power failure in the Empire State Building forced him to work four hours without air conditioning on a hot summer day. In an effort to draw the suspicion away from him, Muni comes up with a history of the horse and the legend of Kalki and aspects of Hinduism.  While the stranger tries to negotiate a price for the statue and says that it would look good in his living room. The conversation continues for a while – best seen on the clip – before the foreigner gives Muni a hundred-rupee note and asks him to help move the statue to his car. Muni believes at first that the foreigner is asking him for change and suggests that he go to the village money-lender. When the foreigner stoops down to pet his goats, Muni mistakenly believes that the man is giving him a hundred rupees to buy his animals. Elated, Muni accepts the man’s money and leaves the goats behind for him.

Thinking Muni had agreed to sell him the statue, the foreigner flags down a passing truck and pays the men to help him detach the statue from the pedestal and move it to his car. He also pays to siphon off some of their gas so he can restart his engine.

Muni goes home and shows his wife the hundred-rupee note, telling her that he received it from a foreign man who stopped to buy his goats. At that moment, however, the couple hears bleating outside their door and discover Muni’s goats standing there. Muni is confused, while his wife suspects him of stealing the money, and says she will go to her parents’ home because she does not want to be there when the police apprehend him.

End of story

There is hardly any similarity between the thoughts, action or words of the two protagonists, and yet both of them keep talking garrulously, sharing their dreams and aspirations, giving the reader a glimpse of their individual lives. While the horse statue carries great cultural and religious importance for Muni’s village, to the foreigner it is more a decorative item to serve as a talking piece during house parties. At last, though, money wins, as the foreigner is able to buy the horse, by giving a hundred rupee note to Muni, while Muni thinks the dumb foreigner has paid him too much for two paltry goats!

The humor and the irony of this tale lies in the total benign incomprehension that exists between the two, not only in the way neither understands the other’s language – it is only the reader who knows both sides of the story and is able to laugh at the idiosyncrasies of life – but also in the absolute contrast of their cultural, educational and economic backgrounds, emphasized by the way each values the clay horse. Much of this is conveyed through the wonderful double discourse that makes up a significant part of the story, with each of the characters happily developing his own hermetically-sealed interpretation of the other’s words and gestures. And, on the way, Narayan also touches on the issues like childlessness, crude apathy of mankind to the lesser mortals, or the irrepressible instinct of a man to show off his intelligence,

The story’s charm lies in the way Narayan refrains from passing judgement.

The clip (10.11 mins) with English subtitles is here for your viewing pleasure.





Sources: The above post is a lightly edited mash-up from a) Anupama Sarkar at b) V. Panduranga Rao, “The Craftmanship of R. K. Narayan,” in Indian Writing in English, edited by Ramesh Mohan, Orient Longman, Ltd., 1978, pp. 56-64. c) d) e) and f)