Putting Kids To Sleep
Copyright 2016 Hiranya Borah
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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I have three children; the first two have only two years gap whereas the third one is nine and a half years younger than the second one. When the first two were in schools, I was posted in Guwahati and then I had to move to Delhi. So entire schooling of my third child, second daughter, Anwesha was at New Delhi. She has one major complain amongst others, is that I have not told her enough bed time stories which I used tell my two elder children. Am I biased against her? Am I becoming older to tell sufficient bed time stories to her? No, the actual culprit is un-interrupted electricity supply in Delhi, particularly, New Delhi area where I use to stay now. Guwahati was infamous for load-shedding of electricity, particularly in summer season when I used to live in Guwahati. I am not sure whether the situation has improved or not in last thirteen years or so. During those load shedding time, I used to tell bed time stories to my two children. Some of those stories were retold and some of them are out of my cheer imagination. Telling every day a new is itself a real challenge. I told them Aesop’s stories, stories from Panchatantra, stories from Mahabharata and Ramayana, folklores of Assam, compilation of Rasaraj Laxminath Bezbarua. Whenever I had to repeat any story, I had to use lot of spices on the original versions. Sometimes they like those and sometimes they dump those.
Due to her persistent demand I attempt to jot down some stories in my own rustic ways in this book. These stories are bed time stories and therefore, I am not claiming any originality nor I am claiming any authenticity of the original stories. In other words, the origins of the stories are from some famous books but now I am presenting those in my own language and along with my own interpretation, with few twist and turn.
I am thankful to all the authors who originally wrote these stories and my elders who used to tell me these stories for the first time.
I place my sincere gratitude to all the readers, my family members for encouraging me to write this compilation by putting old wine in new bottles. I am always thankful to Shakespir for giving me a platform to share my writings with the readers.
Finally, I dedicate this book to my younger daughter, Anwesha for her persistent demand for writing this book.
Chapter I: Horse and donkey
As a part of moral study, in Assamese language, this story was read by me when I was a student of class three in my village school. I am not sure the origin of the story. Therefore, acknowledging the contribution of the original writer of the story in shaping my character, I am trying to reproduce the story in my own language.
One fine morning, a donkey singing a song in the praise of the king, was walking by the side of a highway. He was very happy as his master had given a one day off from his tough duty of carrying household goods from one place to another place on his back. But his happiness was short lived. A horse was coming from the opposite side. The horse was also on a holiday mood as his master also gave him a holiday to break his monotony of carrying his master on his back. But seeing the donkey sharing the highway with him, he lost his cool. On the other hand the donkey seeing the horse coming towards him, knowing the social status of the horse, he bowed to him and said, ‘Good morning sir. Have a nice day.’
Instead of wishing him a good morning, the horse shouted to the donkey at the top of his voice, ‘You rascal, how dare you to share the same road where I am walking! Lay off from the road.’
‘Why you are so angry on me, sir? The road is wide enough for both of us. I shall stand at the edge of the road so that even my shadow does not obstruct your free movement.’ The donkey politely replied.
But, the horse was in no mood to see any reason, at least from a lower ranked donkey. The horse became so angry that he kicked the poor donkey so hard that the donkey was off balanced and fell to the pit running through the highway.
In the mean time, the horse was also running out of his luck. The arrogant horse was hit by a motor car, which could have also crossed the horse comfortably without hitting him. The horse also off balanced and fell beside the donkey.
Once he had fallen at the same place, he tried to get some sympathy from the donkey and commented, ‘How arrogant the car driver is! The road was so wide, he could have gone without even touching me!’
The donkey with same politeness said, ‘Yes sir, he could have!’
The horse immediately realized his own fault and tendered his apology to the donkey for his own behaviour, ‘Yes, I also should not have kicked you! Road was wide enough for all of us but due to our arrogance, our hearts become so small that we could not see the width of the road properly and therefore, we thought it was too small to accommodate all of us.’
Both of them helped each other to come out of the muddy pit and became friends till their death.
Chapter II: Two brothers
I read this story in my Hindi school book of class four or five.
In a remote village of Assam, after death of the father, two brothers divided their father’s property equally. However, after ten years, the elder brother became a pauper and the younger brother became the richest person of the entire locality. One day, the elder brother visited his younger brother’s house to ask for some monetary help. The younger brother looking at his brother’s condition, felt very bad. The younger brother took him to his house with all respect and gave him best of the food.
After taking food etc., the elder brother, with lot of hesitation told his younger brother that he wanted some financial help from his younger brother. The humble younger brother was ready to help him to recover from his bad patch of life.
After taking the required money, the elder one asked his brother, ‘May I ask you a question?’
‘Yes my brother. You are always welcome for any question, no matter that is sweet or sour.’ The younger one replied.
‘We have divided our father’s property equally. But within ten years you have earned so much money that you become the wealthiest man of our locality. Contrary to that, I became a pauper within the same period. What is the secret of your rise and my fall? What is the business model you are following? ’The elder one asked his younger brother.
‘My business model is very simple. I always tell my workers, come and let us work for our progress. I share my profit with them. I never allow them to think that they are my servants, but my own children who work for their own destiny. I always tell them, come and let us work and that is why money comes to me. Unfortunately, you told your servants, go and work. In the process, both your money and workers vanished into thin air. This time, please try to follow my business strategy.’ The younger brother told his elder brother with all respect.
The elder brother, this time followed his younger brother’s strategy and he managed to recover his fortune.
Chapter III: Counting (From Pancha Tantra katha Mukham)
A king had four sons and all his sons were extremely intelligent but did not want to study any conventional literature nor wanted to study mathematics. The King appointed many learned scholars to teach his sons. But all failed. The King became very unhappy with his sons. Finally, he appointed a learned person, named Bishnu Sharma, who deviating from conventional method of teachings; he told many stories carrying moral teachings, was able to make the princes wiser and learned. The compilation of those stories is one of the most important pillars of moral studies of humankind. But I am going to narrate the story regarding a failed attempt of another teacher who wanted to teach these princes.
The new teacher took the princes to the garden adjacent to the royal palace at the onset of dusk. The star started visible to the naked eyes after sometime. He teacher told, ‘I see one star.’
To outdo his teacher, the eldest prince said, ‘I see two stars’
Then the next prince said, ‘I see three’
When the third one was about to tell something, the youngest and the most intelligent among the princes told his brothers, ‘Brothers do not fall into the trap of the teacher. He is actually trying to teach us counting.’
The teacher left the place in a huff.
Moral of the story, if your students are smart, you must be smarter than them. Same thing applies to the officers. Senior must be smarter enough to take work from a smart subordinate and do not underestimate the intelligence of the subordinate at anytime. Always respect intelligence of others, no matter he/ she is junior or senior to you.
Chapter IV: Two elephants
In a wild, two elephant cubs were born within a gap of two months to two sisters of a herd of elephants. The cub of the younger sister was two months younger than the cub of older sister. Both of them grew together. The cub to the younger sister was modest though he was very strong and extremely intelligent whereas the cub from the elder sister was equally strong and intelligent but was extremely arrogant. In due course of time they became adult and looked alike. Due to modest behaviour of the younger he can assimilate with other elephants whereas his older brother was becoming a rogue elephant.
The king of heaven, Indra was looking for a strong and intelligent elephant to replace his earlier elephant. The God of architecture and mechanics, Vishwakarma was also looking for an elephant. When both of them talked about their requirement, they sent an army of experts to catch two young and strong elephants. After thorough search, finding the two brothers strongest and most intelligent among all the elephants in the world, they captured the two brothers, one for the king of God, Indra and another for God, Vishwakarma.
As a show of respect, the older elephant was given to the King. But before induction to the royalty, the King wanted to test the quality of both the elephants. He found both the elephants are equally strong and intelligent. But he knew that Almighty always make one is superior to another on at least one account.
Next morning, he made a running competition for both the elephants and declared the winner would be inducted into the royalty.
Both the elephants were running neck to neck up to the last leg. But then a mishap happened; two spectators fell at the track from the gallery of the spectators. One of them fell on the way of the younger elephant and the other one on the way of the older one. The younger one stopped immediately to save the life of the spectator ignoring his chance of winning the race. But the older elephant did not stop his running and trampled the spectator to death and eventually won the race.
As soon as the race was over, the King of God, Indra selected his elephant who was declared as the winner of the race by all the gods present there. With a magic wand, the colour of the selected elephant was made white and named him as ‘Eyravrat’. The other elephant was given to God, Vishwakarma for his rough and tough travel to visit construction sites.
So you must be thinking that the older brother elephant, who was able to cross the finish line had been selected by the King Indra. Sorry, you are wrong; he selected the young one who was found to be more compassionate than the other one.
Chapter V: Who should lead the family?
For every joint family in India, the oldest male leads the family. But, an old man who was the head of the family found difficulty in passing the baton to his eldest son. He had three sons, the eldest one was honest but dumb, the middle one was dishonest and little bit intelligent and third one has all the qualities to lead the family. But passing the leadership to the youngest one might invite a revolt and disintegration of the family. The old wise man wanted the transition should be smooth and lasting. To do that, he called all the family members and asked each one confidentially who should lead the family in his absence. Everyone except two persons, one himself and the middle son opposed the leadership of the youngest son. Then he asked the same question openly.
This time nobody except the youngest one kept mum. Then the youngest one started, ‘In my opinion my eldest brother should lead the family. It will be not only prudent decision but also it will be as per tradition. It also will be an effective one. The leader must not be the most intelligent or the strongest one; but he should be compassionate to all the family members. A widow can lead the family in absence of any able male family member, because she is the unifying member of the family. In Mahabharat, all of us know that Yudusthir was not the strongest among the brothers. Even Duryodhan was much stronger than him. But team Yudhisthir defeated team Duryudhan with the help of his brothers and intelligence of Lord Krishna. You may be worried thinking that, my eldest brother is neither strongest nor most intelligent among us. But everyone knows that he is honest. Therefore, he can lead us with help from my strong and intelligent middle brother. I hope my middle brother will also support my argument.’
The middle brother knew with the support of his younger brother, the elder brother became much stronger and more intelligent than him. Having no option, he said, ‘I fully support proposal of my younger brother.’
The old wise man understood how his youngest son foiled the attempt of his middle son’s attempt to capture the leadership of the family for fulfilling his own interest.
Chapter VI: Sycophancy above all
It is an unauthenticated story of Ramayana where sycophancy of a group of common people had been described. The story goes like this.
When Ram was sent to his famous exile, after death of King Dasarath, Bharat was ruling the kingdom in the name of Ram, in absentia. Bharat lived like a common man and therefore, he wanted to abolish royal tax on agriculture. But his ministers objected to the proposal as it would be against the law of the land. Then, Bharat decided to take a part of the husk and the paddy without rice which are not edible even for the animals as royal tax.
After fourteen years, when Ram took over the reign of the kingdom, he saw seven hillocks came up around the outskirts of his capital city Ayodhya. Being God, he knew what had actually happened. But he wanted to know how people had reacted to his decision to re-impose the original taxation system. But instead of asking their comments on the taxation system, he asked the village headman of a group of people of the locality about the emergence these new hillocks around the capital city.
The village headman replied, ‘Now we are happy to have the original king as he knows what is to be taxed and what is not be taxed. Though, Prince Bharat was managing the kingdom quite efficiently, he was not a good financial manager. See those hillocks, these are made of paddy wastes which were also taken as tax along with regular taxes (he avoided to tell that Bharat was more benevolent than his elder brother Ram, the regular and original king, so far taxation was concerned). By taking a part of waste, he made an unnecessary burden for the subjects and spoil the beauty of the capital city.’
Ram was unhappy to see the height of sycophancy among his subjects but did not say anything and returned to the palace. After meeting Bharat, he praised his brother for his benevolence but told him that taxation is necessary for the benefit of the common people as without tax no welfare measure in the country is possible.
Chapter VII: Monkey becomes the judge
On a festive day two cat sisters planned to steal a Butter Naan from the kitchen of a rich person residing in a locality of suburb of Delhi. As per the plan, one cat openly tried to pick up one Naan from the kitchen. The cook seeing the cat, he picked up a stick and drove away the cat. During the commotion, as per the plan, the other cat picked up a Naan and ran away.
After reaching a safe place, she thought before her sister appear, she should start eating. But other cat appeared in the mean time and demanded equal share of the Naan. That ensued a typical cat fight.
A monkey who was sitting on a branch of a tree came down and looking at the cats told, ‘Dear sisters, you should not sour your relation for a mere piece of Naan. Try to solve your problem amicably. I have seen in the human court, if there is a dispute they approach the court of law where a neutral person, they call him a judge solve the dispute with the satisfaction of both parties. So, being neutral to your dispute, you may appoint me as your judge to solve your dispute.’
The convincing voice of the monkey and reasons for an appointment of neutral judge convinced both the cats and monkey was made the judge for the dispute immediately.
Then the monkey told the cats to hand over the Naan which the cats obeyed without any resistance. The monkey tore the Naan into two pieces. But all three observed that the pieces were not equal. To make equal, a portion of the large piece had been eaten up by the monkey to make both the pieces equal. But this time, the other piece became larger. To make it little smaller, the monkey ate a portion of the other piece of Naan and the process continued till entire Naan had been eaten up the monkey. Immediately, the monkey leaped to the branch where he was sitting and told the cats, ‘I have solved your dispute to the satisfaction of both of you and therefore, you can come to me again if you face any dispute in future also.’
The cats learnt a lesson not to entangle a third unknown person in any dispute pertaining to two friends or relatives.
Chapter VIII: Astrologer
Astrology is a science, but mostly used as an art in our country. This is a story of an astrologer, who did not have an iota of knowledge on the subject. But his intelligence and destiny made him a royal astrologer ruled by a foolish king.
A lazy middle aged person lived in a nondescript village of Assam in eighteen century. His wife was also equally lazy and the couple did not have any issue. One day, the wife desired that they should also eat some pitha (cake of rice prepared in Assam) in a festive season, So her husband went to his neighbour to ask for some special rice which is essential to prepare pitha. The neighbour reluctantly gave half kg of rice to the lazy person.
The wife made flour of that rice and made pitha at night. But before going to bed they have decided that the person who would get up late would eat two pitha more than the other. The husband went to bed early and his wife prepared twenty pithas out of the flour. Before frying those pithas, she kept those on a paper. After frying the pithas, she could not control herself from taking a few of them.
In the morning no one wanted to get up from the bed as the person who would get up early would get two pitha less. Finally, husband felt extremely hungry and got up from the bed, and then his wife also got up and reminded that he would get two pitha less. The wife counted the pitha and found there were fourteen pithas. So as per the agreement, she ate eight pithas and the husband had to be satisfied with six pithas. But then he saw the paper where marks of uncooked pithas were visible. He counted the number which came out neat twenty. Instead of confronting his wife he commented loudly, ‘Someone cooked twenty pithas, but she told the whole world that she cooked only fourteen.’
The wife thought her husband became an astrologer and she confided with her friends.
After few days, while this gentleman went to the jungle to collect firewood, he saw a black cow entangled with some creepers. But due to his laziness he did not free the cow and came back.
The owner of the cow approached the gentleman on his wife’s advice to know where about of the missing cow. The gentle man (I shall refer him as astrologer now onwards) pretended to do some calculation and told where the cow might be available.
From that day onwards he became famous as an astrologer of high precision. In the mean time, a necklace of the queen was stolen by an insider. The king invited the astrologer to help in finding the necklace.
The astrologer thought the king would order him to be hanged once his actual calibre would be exposed. Therefore, while taking snacks he commented to himself, ‘Today enjoy Mithadoi (sweet curd), tomorrow your hanging to death is sure!’
The necklace was stolen by one of the maid who was fondly named by the queen as ‘Mithadoi’. She was all along observing the movements of the astrologer. When she heard her name, she was sure that she would be caught and hanged for stealing. Therefore, she approached the astrologer and requested not to name her. The astrologer thanked his luck and pretending that he knew everything, advised the maid to keep the necklace at the water pot which is always kept near the bed of the queen.
So next day, after doing some calculation, the astrologer declared, the necklace was actually not stolen; but it fell in the water pot while pouring water for the king by the queen. The earthen pot was broken and the necklace was recovered in front of everyone!
Our astrologer was given lot of gifts by the King. While seeing him off a grasshopper disturbed the king. The king caught the grasshopper and asked our astrologer, ‘What is in my hand? For correct answer, I shall double the gifts, for wrong answer, you will lose your head.’
Our astrologer thought this time he would lose his head and commented, ‘Once by counting, once by seeing and once by commenting, but this time nobody can save you Mr. Pharing (Grasshopper in Assamese is called Pharing and name of our Astrologer is also Pharing which no one present there knew).’
The king was surprised to see the capacity of our fake astrologer and he was conferred the title of Royal Astrologer by the king!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chapter IX: Own destiny
A rich merchant of a village of Assam had three daughters. Among the three daughters, the youngest one was extremely intelligent, polite, obedient, honest, hardworking and above all truthful. For the merchant, she was the heart and soul.
When the daughters were eligible for marriage, he was able to arrange two suitable boys for the two elder daughters. During the hustling and bustling, the proud merchant asked his three daughters one by one the same question, ‘Whom they love most and who may be credited for their good fortunes in their lives?’
The first and the second daughter replied without any thinking, ‘I love you most and all credit for my good fortune goes to you.’
The youngest daughter of the merchant, Sewali, thought for a while and then replied, ‘As on today, I love Mom and you most. But, after my marriage, I shall love my husband most. Once I am blessed with children, I shall love them and my husband most. So far my fortune is concerned, today it may be your efforts, but tomorrow it will depend on my own efforts, intelligence, politeness, obedience, honesty, hard works and above all truthfulness. Those virtues will decide my destiny or my fortune.’
The merchant by heart agreed what his youngest daughter had said, but his ego was somewhat hurt and asked her daughter, ‘Are you sure what you have said? If you are sure, I shall bring a poor ugly fellow as your groom tomorrow. You can change your mind and give another answer to avoid a disaster in your life.’
When the youngest daughter did not change her stance, she was married to the ugliest and poorest bachelor of the entire locality, a wood cutter, Dharma. The wood cutter, an orphan, was known for his ugly belly. As he was not taught how to cook properly, he used to boil rice and eat the entire amount what he could earn for the day after selling the wood he gathered from the forest.
Next morning when the wood cutter was ready to go to the forest, Sewali handed over a list of items to be purchased from the market after selling his wood. Dharma became angry but controlled his anger and left for the forest.
In the evening he forgot to buy anything except rice which he used to buy for so many years. As he approached his house, he saw light in his house for the first time after death of his mother long time ago. Then he remembered that he was married and he was given a list of articles to be bought. He felt bad for not buying any of the articles.
Sewali welcomed him and instead of complaining she said with a smile, ‘I was sure, you will forget to purchase the articles. Probably you have forgot that you are a married person as well.’ Then she giggled. Dharma realized life with a wife is not that bad!
But when he entered the house, even in the dim light he realized the house was cleaned. Sewali requested him to take a bath before taking his dinner, which he never did. He reluctantly took a bath and sat for dinner. Dharma became little bit upset when he saw rice on his plate was much less compared to earlier days. But he did not say anything.
Next morning he felt more energetic and fresh compared to other days. He went to the forest as usual and was able to cut more wood in less time. He was able to reach home before dusk and he did not forget to buy some of the articles listed by his wife. He saw his house looked complete different what he used to see earlier.
Within one month of their marriage, Dharma became leaner and stronger. He was no more the ugliest man of the locality. He used to get right price of his wood and he also started bringing some medicinal plants from the forest for sale.
Within next one year, they saved enough money to migrate to the nearby town to establish a small shop. The shop started becoming larger and in the meantime they were blessed with a son and a daughter. With the intelligence of Sewali, Dharma was able to diversify their business and within a short time he was able make a business empire for himself.
Sewali decided to open one fertilizer factory in her locality. Through a messenger she negotiated a large plot of land by giving more than the market price to the farmers and assured job who were providing land. It had never been like that in earlier occasion when large plots were purchased. Sewali and Dharma became demi gods for the people of that locality, oblivious of their original identity.
When, finally factory was opened, all the people were invited for the opening ceremony. The old merchant, father of Sewali was specially invited to cut the ribbon of the factory. Sewali’s father was elated for giving such an honour by the factory owner; but he was somewhat surprised also.
On the day when Sewali’s father reached the venue for inauguration, a young boy and a young girl welcomed him. They introduced themselves as the children of the owner of the factory and told that their parents would join the crowd after cutting the ribbon. After a brief introduction of the management, both the children escorted the old man to cut the ribbon. After formal opening of the factory, the children took the old man to the room for the manager. The old man then introduced with the factory owners. When the old man tried to welcome the couple with his folded hands, the lady clasped his hands and with moist eyes introduced herself, ‘Papa cannot you recognize me, I am Sewali!’
The old man could not control his emotion and started weeping. He said after few minutes, ‘Forgive me my child! I put you in so much difficulty. I did not give you anything on your marriage; not even the customary gifts that parents are supposed to give!’
‘No Papa, that is not true. I am able to overcome all the obstacles because you had taught me business skill; ways and means how to tackle problems when one is in trouble. I am successful because of your teaching, blessing of God and finally due to my own destiny.’
The old man understood his youngest daughter was not only extremely intelligent, honest, hardworking, skilled but also modest in her success and truthful.
Chapter X: If you fight someone else will be benefited
Tiger is a solitary animal so is a leopard. Both are very strong and good hunters. Normally tiger is much larger and stronger than a leopard. Therefore, they normally never face each other in a battle field.
One day, when a leopard killed a deer, an injured tiger wanted snatch away the kill. In normal situation, the leopard would have run away leaving the kill. But realizing that the tiger was already injured, he fancied driving away the bigger opponent. Though the tiger was injured he was not a push over for the leopard. That ensued to a big fight.
Both the big cats tried to kill each other by their brute forces and made each other fatally injured. After one hour of fierce fight, the tiger was killed. But the leopard was also grievously injured.
At this point of time, a group of foxes appeared in the scene and at first took away the dead body of the deer and then cut the dead body of the tiger into pieces. After taking away the pieces of dead the tiger to their den, they attacked the injured leopard.
The leopard was not in a position to resist the onslaught of the foxes and realized that he made a mistake by fighting with the tiger. He could have left his kill for the tiger and live for another day. The vicious fight did not help the big cats but it helped the clever weak foxes. But the realization of the leopard came very late to correct for his benefit.
Chapter XI: God helps who believes
A Sanyasi who used to deliver lectures in believing God, one day he said to a poor old lady that, ‘if a person is completely devoted to God and believes in Him, He will help the person at any point of time.’
The old lady was from the adjacent village where the Sanyasi used to deliver lectures in the evening for the villagers of all the nearby villages. The residence of the old lady was situated at the river bank across the place where the Sanyasi used to deliver lecture. The lady did not have any problem in attending the congregation in the winter as the river was almost dry during that season. Therefore, she told the Sanyasi at the onset of Monsoon that she might not be able to attend his religious lectures as she did not have a boat to cross the river.
At this, the Sanyasi told, ‘If you believe the Almighty, you can cross the river even without a boat.’
As the lady gave a perplexed look, he explained, ‘You take the name of God from your heart and then you will be able to walk on water.’
After few days the rainy season started and the river swelled to its vast area with strong current. The Sanyasi noticed that even on those days the old lady used to come regularly every day to hear his lecture. So one day he asked her whether she could manage a boat to cross the river. To his utter surprise she told, ‘No sir, I am still not able to arrange any boat. But as you advised, I take the name of God by heart and then walk over the river.’
The Sanyasi could not believe this and told the old lady that he would accompany her to her house on that evening after the lecture.
After the congregation, the Sanyasi accompanied the old lady to the river. To his disbelief the lady took the name of God and started walking on the swelling river. Then he also tried to follow her, but he drowned in the deep river. The old lady did not see the Sanyasi drowning due to darkness.
Next day when she could not find the Sanyasi she commented, ‘He is also next to God, he taught me how to believe in God. Otherwise, I would have been a foolish woman all along!’
Chapter XII: All works are dignified
An old couple used to live in a remote village of Assam, India. Having no children, they used to fight on trivial issues.
One day, the husband ridiculed the house chores those the wife had performed from the day he had married her. That infuriated the old lady and she also ridiculed his outdoor works that he was performing for last three to four decades. After a bitter argument on the issue whose works were superior, they had decided to interchange their duties for the next twenty four hours starting from the next sunrise to the sunrise after that.
The wife on the next day, early in the morning went for ploughing in the field wearing her husband’s dress. She realized from the very first moment of ploughing, it was real tough to plough in the field keeping the plough down. But she refused to surrender.
The husband started his wife’s duty by preparing breakfast for him and his wife. He also found preparing breakfast for them was a tough proposition. However, he was not ready to give up. Finally, he prepared some half cooked breakfast. After taking his breakfast with much difficulty, he went to the field to provide breakfast to his wife.
From a long distance when he saw his wife toiling in the field he felt very bad for torturing his wife. After reaching the field he offered his half cooked breakfast to his wife and said, ‘If you are tired, leave the job.’
The wife liked the offer but her ego prevented her from leaving the job of her husband in the mid way. She retorted, ‘If you think you cannot do my work, I can leave your work.’
This time his ego prevented him from surrendering.
The old lady started the repairing the bund with a spade which she found real tough. Similarly preparation of lunch and cleaning of utensils, washing dirty linen etc. almost broke the backbone of the old fellow.
After sunset both were exhausted and both wanted to close the chapter of interchanging of work forever. But again ego prevented them to surrender before the other.
But when the old man stood up for preparation of dinner, the old lady could not control her emotion and started crying. At this, the old fellow also cried and tendered his apology for demeaning her works. The old lady also tendered her apology for demeaning his work. Then both started laughing like two teen ager and buried the hatchet forever, at least on that issue!!!!!
Chapter XIII: Dead Mouse: Good Omen
In India weekly market is big activity for the people of adjoining villages. In one of those markets, one Sanyasi (a saintly person who denounces all earthly comfort and properties) saw a dead mouse. He observed the mouse minutely and then at the top of his voice announced, ‘Anyone who takes the dead mouse will be a millionaire within five years!’ Then he moved away.
Though in the bustling market there were hundreds of people, nobody, except a boy of sixteen, cared what the Sanyasi had announced. The boy, an orphan, thought otherwise and decided to take a chance. He took the dead mouse and left the market. He did not have any idea what to do with the dead mouse. Finally, he thought to throw away the mouse to the road side. As soon as he threw the mouse, a kite picked the dead mouse before it hit the ground. To the surprise of the boy, before picking up the mouse, the kite dropped a diamond studded golden necklace just in front of him. The boy thought, probably she picked up the necklace as a food item from some rich family.
The boy was a very honest and thought whoever might be the owner of the necklace, she must be unhappy to lose the necklace. He went to the police station to hand over the necklace. Surprise was waiting for him there also. As he was telling about the necklace to the policemen, the richest man of the locality entered to lodge a complaint about loss of a necklace. When he saw the necklace he recognized immediately not only the necklace but also the honesty of the boy.
The rich man enquired about the boy and knowing that he was an orphan he offered a job to the young boy.
The boy was not highly educated so he was given a duty to see the fencing stretching sixteen km covering a mine of coal. Despite of the fence some villagers used to steal coal causing loss to the owner. But due to hard working attitude combined with courage, the boy was able to control the menace of stealing of coal up to a large extent. After one year, the owner was able to make a handsome profit from the coal mine after a gap of five-six years. The owner was so happy with the boy, he offered 10% share of the coal field.
The good works were continued by the boy and within a period of five years, as predicted by the Sanyasi, the boy became a millionaire.
The boy after a frantic search was able to locate the Sanyasi in a cave hill covered with dense snow. He boy with folded hands asked, ‘ Oh, holy man, can I offer something to you, as whatever I am having today is because of your advice exactly five years ago on a weekly market day?’
The Sanyasi smiled and in a blessing tone told, ‘God bless you my son. Continue your good works in future also. Always be honest to your deeds and society, God will always help you. So far my advice is concerned, it was an open advice for all; but only you took it. After that, when you got the necklace, you could have sold it and try to become rich through unholy means. But for your progress you had followed the road of hard and honest works. That is why God blessed you, not because of my advice. God chooses persons to bless. You are one of the chosen ones by God.’ After saying those words the Sanyasi vanished to the thin air of the dark cave.
Chapter XIV: Lion and mouse
This is small story about arrogance of powerful persons versus power of ordinary people. Here, powerful persons are represented by a lion and ordinary people are represented by a mouse.
One day a lion was in a very bad mood for not able to catch a deer for his lunch. A mouse was also in search of its meal and bumped to the angry lion who caught him in no time. When lion was about to kill him, with folded hands mouse appealed to the lion, ‘ Oh, the king of jungle, spare my life. I shall not be a meal for you. If you eat me, it will not defuse your hunger, contrary it will increase your hunger further. If you need my service, you call me I shall be at your service, oh almighty.’
Hearing the plea of the mouse and his assurance to help him amused the lion and he had a hearty laugh and let the mouse go without expecting any service from the mouse in future.
After few days, the lion was caught in a net cleverly placed by a hunter. The more the lion used his brute power, the more he was entangled in the net. He was roaring at his best pleading for help. The mouse heard his roar and appeared before the king of the jungle. He said with all humbleness, ‘Oh King, my saviour, do not worry, the net is made of nylon, not made of steel. I can tear the net in no time. Be calm and believe in my ability.’
As promised, the mouse made the lion free much before the arrival of the hunter. The lion’s ego was busted. He realized, in this world, everybody has own ability and one has to take or seek help who apparently look very weak compared to ownself!!!!
Chapter XV: Lion and Rabbit
This is a story of a fight between un-equals where mightier had been vanquished by a weaker opponent through its proper planning and proper execution of the plan.
In a jungle, the lion king was approached by the animals with an unparallel but unique proposal. As per the proposal, everyday an animal voluntarily would come to the den of the lion king for his lunch. In the process everyone except the animal who had to die on a particular day could live peacefully.
The agreement benefited both the parties, one party could live in peace another party did not need to run after animals for his lunch. The peaceful settlement went off coolly for few months.
A day came on which duty for presenting himself for lion’s lunch was thrust upon the smartest rabbit in the jungle. He made a plan to get rid of the menacing lion from the jungle forever.
Normally, the lunch time of the lion was at about 12 noon. But the rabbit did not appear at his den till 5 PM. The hungry lion was very angry to see the small animal for lunch at 5 PM. He was to pounce upon him but before that he wanted to know the reason for late coming. The rabbit with folded hands explained the reasons for his delay, ‘Oh the mighty king! I was on time to appear before you for your lunch, had I not been obstructed by another lion. He was about to eat me. But I prayed before him for my life so that I can appear before you on time. But convincing a hungry lion is not a matter of joke. Somehow, I was able to convince him that I shall come with my king to settle who is entitled to eat me.’
The lion was foolish enough to believe the rabbit and immediately agree to accompany him to settle the score with the intruding lion. When both of them approached a deep well near to a human settlement, the rabbit told the lion, ‘Oh mighty king, on seeing you the intruding lion is trying to hide in the well.’
When the lion peeped into the well he saw his own image in the water of the well. He challenged the imaginary lion by a huge roar. The roar came back to him as an echo which the lion thought it was roar of other lion. He could not control his anger and jumped to the well. The well was so deep he could not come out of the well till he was rescued by a circus team. The king lion was made their slave lion by the circus party till his death.
Chapter XVI: Tortoise and Rabbit
Please read the story till the end.
The rivalry of these two species started in 1921 when my grandfather was newly appointed a teacher in a local school. A tortoise challenged a rabbit for a 5 KM race. My grandfather was to declare the rabbit as winner but to give the tortoise a fare chance to win, the race was allowed to place with lot of fanfare. But all of you know what happened on that day; that foolish rabbit slept in between and lost the race.
Rabbit has a short life compared with a tortoise. The son of that rabbit challenged the tortoise again when my father became a school teacher. This time the rabbit did not do the same mistake of sleeping in the mid way and the young dashing rabbit was able to beat the experienced tortoise decisively.
But tortoise was not ready to leave the competition so easily. When I joined the service, the same tortoise sent a message for another duel to the grandson of the original rabbit and this time, field for the duel was selected a plain which was full of muddy water. The experienced tortoise comprehensively defeated the rabbit.
But this time, the tortoise became a benevolent winner and advised the rabbit not to waste energy competing with each other. ‘Better we move together, when field is dry I shall be on your back and when field is muddy I shall carry you on my back and enjoy the world with love and tranquillity.’ The rabbit agreed to the proposal and they are now progressing well.
This is the success story of Indian economy. New and modern industry should not try to compete with the old time tested industries, rather they should take their help and extend their modern technologies to these industries and progress together with hand in hand.
Chapter XVII: Crow and fox
When I was in school, a crow had stolen a piece of mutton when I was washing the meat on a bowl as per my mother’s advice.
The crow flew to the nearest jungle of my village and sat on a branch. Lakua, the fox was also in search of food and he saw the crow on the branch keeping a piece of meat in her beak. The fox knew the crow would not share her meat with him. He made a plan to hoodwink the crow. He started talking to himself, ‘I have never seen such a beautiful bird in my life. How silky black colour she is having! Her eyes are also so beautiful. But sometimes God is not kind to beautiful creatures and that is why she was made dumb. ‘
By the time, this crow was fluttered so much that she could keep mum and tried to sing a song. The fox was waiting for this moment and got the prize in the form of a piece of meat.
Time passed quickly and same thing happened to my son when he was washing meat in a bowl in the open space in front of our home. A crow picked up a piece of meat and flew to the jungle and sat on a branch. This time also a fox named Gadhua was in search of some food. When he saw the crow with a piece of meat in its beak, he praised the crow in a similar fashion like his father, Lakua. The crow instead of opening her mouth, she put the meat on the branch and pressing the meat with her claw said to the fox, ‘You had cheated my grandma few years back with those words. You cannot cheat me like that.’
Moral of the story; you cannot cheat a community or a group people with false promise or false praise for all the time!!!!!
Chapter XVIII: Thanks of a Housefly to an Ox
We are always miser in thanking others for their good works. Here is a story when a housefly thanked an ox for allowing him for taking much needed rest.
A housefly lost his father when he was very young. The priest of the housefly advised him if he could immerse the ashes of his father in the nearest river, his father’s soul would be able to secure a place in the heaven. The nearest river was about a km or two from the residence of the housefly. So in the next morning, he started his journey and in the midway he felt very tired and saw an ox grazing in the field. The housefly sat for a while and regained strength and after thanking the ox, he flew to the destination. The ox did not acknowledge his (housefly) thanks as he was not aware when the housefly sat on him and when he left.
On return back also housefly took rest on the ox and thanked him for his help. This time the ox told the housefly, ‘My dear friend, you are so light, whether you sit on me or not, it hardly matters for me. Why you are embarrassing me by saying thank you.’
The housefly answered, ‘I know, it hardly matters for you whether I thank you or not. But it matters for me a lot. Without your help I could not have reached my destination.’
The ox smiled back to the housefly and bid farewell to him.
Have you ever felt that we should be thankful to our country and mother earth for providing everything to us without expecting any ‘thank you’ from us?
Chapter XIX: Who is fit to be a King?
A king has two princes who were equally brilliant in warfare, administration and diplomacy. The whole kingdom was confused who would be the king after the erstwhile king as the princes were twin brother so age would also play no role in decision making.
One day, king was not feeling well and he was invited to grace a religious function of a community whose population was much less compared to any other communities of the kingdom. If the king would skip the occasion, there would be no political consequences as number of that community is barely represented in military and other services. But the king knew that, not attending by him would hurt the sentiment of the community which as a king did not want to do. Finally, he called both the princes and told them to attend the function and told to tender an apology for not able to attend the function personally by the king. The king also sent two of his most trusted ministers along with them.
Before attending the full function one prince returned to the palace and reported back to the king, informing the king that he found the function very funny and he did not like the expression of the elders when they had been informed that king was not coming. The king did not comment anything and told his son to take rest.
After few hours the other prince arrived and met the king with a highly satisfied mood. The king enquired why he was so happy to attend the function and asked him what happened in the function in details. The prince told the king, ‘The elders were unhappy to hear that you are not well and thanked you for sending both of us along with two trusted ministers representing you. They praised your broad mindedness for sending us instead of sending a senior official to represent. They also expressed their gratitude for showing your love for their community and promised to lay their lives for you and your descendants all time to come. They sent a special apology for my brother, if they failed to satisfy him by their acts, as he left the function mid way and promised to take special care for him on his next visit.’ The King did not say anything.
The king found the next king in the prince who had empathy for all the communities which is essential qualification for a good and able king.
The prince who became the king was known in the history Assam as the able son of Gadadhar Singha and Sati Jaymati as, Swargadeo Rudra Singha, most famous king of Ahom Kingdom of Assam who ruled Assam for six hundred years from AD1228 to AD1826.
Chapter XX : Country always comes first
He was made Barphukan, the chief of the Army by the Ahom king, Swargadeo Chakradwaj Singha, bypassing many experienced and older generals to defend Assam from invading imperial Mughal army under the leadership of Ram Singh in 1672-73. His name was Lachit Barphukan. He was the only general of India who was able to defeat Mughal decisively in the battle of Saraighat and could push out Mughal from the territory of Assam permanently. But here I am going to share, how and when he infused the patriotism among his soldiers leading from the front and creating history for himself.
The Mughal army outnumbered the Assamese army and Assamese army was in need of few Garhs (defensive walls made of earth similar to dyke for water reservoir). Time was limited to construct those Garhs and therefore the work was entrusted to his own maternal uncle by Lachit. When in the evening Lachit went to see the progress of work, he found the progress was not at all satisfactory and the workers were taking rest. When he summoned his uncle he gave the excuse that the workers were exhausted and therefore he advised them to take some rest. His answer infuriated Lachit and he chopped off his maternal uncle’s head uttering his famous historical quote, ‘Deshatkoi momai dangar nahay’ which means Maternal uncle’s stature is no match for the security of the country or nothing is more important than country’s interest/ security.
On seeing the patriotism of Lachit, all the workers were so inspired that the Garh was completed before the dawn. No doubt, on the next day, Ahom army was able to defeat the Mughal army taking advantage of the Garh.
Before finishing my story I want to add few lines about the father of this historical figure of Assam. His father was the Barbarua (Cabinet Secretary or Chief Secretary or top bureaucrat) of the kingdom who started his career as a personal servant of a Brahmin family of the countryside of Assam. While the King was on a visit through the countryside, he noticed an orchard, exceptionally neat and clean; but full of fruits. The king enquired who was maintaining the orchard and found it was maintained by a teen ager. The king brought the boy to the capital and through his indomitable intelligence and character he gained the top bureaucratic post of the kingdom. So, Lachit was a worthy son of a worthy father. Names of them are still taken by the people of Assam with respect and pride. Even now the young generation of Assam are inspired by them.
Chapter XXI: Ego should be heavy enough to pull down
One day God, Shri Krishna took his follower, Arjun for a tour to the countryside in the disguise of two poor travellers. In the evening, Shri Krishna told Arjun, ‘Tonight we stay in this village and find out the person having the largest house in the village so that we can stay comfortably.’
It was not difficult to find the richest person with the largest house in the village. When they meet the rich person and told their intention to stay in his house for the night, the rich man saying that it was not a hotel or destitute house to accommodate poor travellers. When Arjun tried to say something, he was abused. Arjun got very angry but Shri Krshna gestured him to keep mum and left the place. At the gate of the rich man, Shri Krishna uttered, ‘Whatever you have today, within a year it would be twice!’
Arjun was surprised to hear those words from God and he was little bit disappointed.
Then both of them went to the house of the poorest person of the village who happened to be an old widow having no property except a milching cow. She welcomed both of them and offered dinner which was nothing but boiled rice without any curry. However, she was able to give a glass of milk to each one of them.
In the morning after crossing he gate of the widow, Shri Krishna told, ‘The cow of the widow should die today itself!
This time Arjun could not control his disappointment. He asked Shri Krishna, being God how he could be so ruthless!
Shri Krishna with his usual divine smile said, ‘Let me first explain, why I told that the cow should die. The pious lady has only one obstruction to meet the Almighty. So long cow is alive, she cannot go to the seventh heaven from where nobody has to take a rebirth in the land of death. I am not cursing her, I actually giving a boon to her because of her good work. On the other hand I cursed the rich person to become richer and more egoists. The more ego, a person’s soul will be with more burden. Once the burden of ego and property become too heavy to carry, the person is going to be doomed. So, is it clear why apparently I gave a boon to unworthy person and curse to a pious lady?’
Arjun touched the feet of God for forgiveness for questioning the wisdom of God.
Chapter XXII: Donkey and Thief
A rich farmer had few cows, few bullocks, a dog and a donkey. One night a thief sneaked into the premises of the farmer and he dolled a piece of fried meat to the dog to keep him mum. Seeing this, the donkey tried to impress upon the dog to bark as he should be faithful to the farmer, not to the thief who for his immediate gain tried to bribe the dog. But dog was happy to relish the meat and did not bark. At this the donkey took a right initiative and started baying. The farmer got up from the bed to see what happened to the donkey. The thief immediate hid himself sensing that the farmer was awake. The farmer looking at the donkey, he could not see anything abnormal and went to bed. The thief again appeared and this time also the donkey started baying just to anger the farmer. The farmer this time beat the donkey and he went to sleep. At the late night the thief barged into the farmer’s house and able to steal all the valuables.
The farmer felt sorry for the donkey as well as for himself, but did not blame the dog, but showed sympathy for him for not able to control temptation for the piece of meat.
After ten years, same thing happened again. This time initially the donkey was reluctant to bay. But his moral did not allow him to keep mum and he started baying. The farmer got up from the bed and this time also he did not see anything abnormal. As soon as he went to his room, the thief appeared. The donkey started baying again. This time also finding nothing abnormal he became angry and was about to beat the donkey. At this, son of the farmer stopped his father from beating the donkey. He immediately put on all the lights and called all the servants and ordered them to search the entire premises and thief was caught. He thanked the donkey and kicked out the dog from their house.
In our society/ country, there are some persons/ departments who are made watchdog (in the story, the dog) for controlling crime. When they failed, someone else (in this case donkey) has to come forward to raise the alarm as majority of the population (in this case the cows and bullocks) are mute spectators only. If we ignore the alarms made by these whistle blowers of our society/ country will be looted by the thieves!!!!!
Chapter XXIII: Father, Son and a Donkey
A farmer bought a donkey from a weekly market and returned home. At first the father told his son to ride on the donkey. As they were going some passerby commented to his son, ‘What a ruthless son! The father is on foot and young son is riding on the donkey.’ The son did not like the comment and requested his father to ride on the donkey. At this another group of people commented, ‘What a ruthless father! The young son is on foot and energetic and able father is riding on the donkey.’
To avoid such type of criticism, both father and son rode on the donkey. This time another set of onlookers commented, ‘What a ruthless father and son duo! Both of them are riding on the poor donkey.’
They felt very bad and got down from the donkey and decided to carry the donkey by them. While doing so they had to cross a bridge. The funny scene attracted few young girls taking bath in the river and they started laughing. The commotion made the donkey scared and he started a violent movement. His movement was so strong that all of them fell on the river. Luckily for them none was injured seriously.
But the fall made them wiser and stopped to react to the comments made by others. They decided that for some distance son would be riding on the donkey, for some distance father would be riding and for some distance none would ride on the donkey to give some rest to the animal.
After taking that decision all of them reached their destination safely.
Moral of the story, one should not be swayed away by the criticism of others who do not have any stake in the matter!
Chapter XXIV: Even one good person makes the difference
In a remote place, a saintly person lived with his family. Unfortunately all the villagers living in the village were thugs and dishonest. He used to advise to villagers to be honest and leave behind all the bad habits behind and start a good life. No one including his own family members in the village heeded to his advice. One day, he called all the villagers and appealed to change their life style and try to lead an honest life. He told them otherwise the whole village might be going to be a lake. Nobody took his appeal seriously as usual. Finally, the saintly person decided to leave the village and told his fellow villagers that they should forgive him as he failed to teach them to be good people. He also warned them, after his departure, the whole village would become a lake. All the villagers ignored his warning.
The village did not become a lake even after the departure of the saintly man. The saintly man returned to the village after two days. On seeing him all the villagers mocked him and everyone asked him whether he had also realized that there is no real value for good works and good thinking.
The saintly man smiled and answered, ‘Do not be elated so much. What I have told you, I stand by that. What I have told you, I told you as per the guidance from the Almighty. The village will be a lake unless you change yourself for a better life. God has given you a chance to correct your life style and that is why I have to come here again! I forgot to take my father’s book on moral teachings. I shall leave the village after taking the book. But again I am advising you to be good to avoid the impending disaster.’
All laughed at him except a little boy and his sister. Next morning the saintly person left the village along with that little boy and his sister who believed him. As soon as they crossed the village boundary, the whole village went down and became a lake.
All the villagers did not die instantly. They tried to come out of the lake; but in vain. All died one by one but not before realizing their fault.
But villagers of other villages believe that those dirty people living in the village have not died and became fish. Therefore, they do not eat fish from that lake till today.
Moral of the story is, even a single good person can make a difference for the society and therefore one should always try to make others also to be good, even if he fails to convince all of them. At least someone, like the two kids, will one day heed to his advice.
Chapter XXV: Return Gift
A benevolent king was on a voyage to the countryside; but his cruise was capsized by the strong current of the river. Thanks to five youths, the king and his en-troupe were rescued. The king invited the youths to the capital to felicitate them.
After felicitation, everyone was promised a return gift to the youths. The king asked one by one what the youths want. The first one asked for a job, second one asked for a house, third one asked for a plot of land in a town and fourth one asked for marrying the lady he loves. The king had no problem in granting their wishes. The fifth one politely refused to ask for anything as a return gift. But king was adamant to give something to the youth.
Finally the fifth one, the most intelligent one told the king, ‘If you want to give something to me, you kindly visit my home, stay one night at my home and give me whatever you want to give me in front of my people in the village. Kindly remember, you can take as many men as you want but you cannot carry any food stuff or bedding for the guests. Otherwise, it may hurt self respect of mine and I am pained to say, in that case I shall refuse to take any gift from you.’
Hearing his absurd wish, the king thought the youth was either a fool or an extremely intelligent young man. But king granted the wish of the youth. All the youths went to their respective villages on the next morning. The king asked the fifth youth to give his home address for the king’s visit. Before leaving the palace the young man gave a map to the king to reach his home.
As soon as he opened the map, the king could understand, the boy was not only intelligent but also having the quality of a leader who was able to think about the people who matter to him.
The village where the youth lived was one of the most backward part of the country. Practically, there was no road to the village. So the king had to sanction a highway to the village. The youth was the son of the village headman, having a small house not fit to live by a king for a day even. He sanctioned few millions to the youth to construct a palace in the village. The king finally ended up declaring the youth a subordinate king to rule a vast area under his kingdom.
The King was finally able to visit the village and stayed in the village of the youth, which was by the time became a new bustling town. A meeting was organized to give a return gift to the youth on the next day.
The king offered his daughter’s hand to the youth who gladly accepted the offer.
Now, you may ask me whether the king was foolish to accept the invitation of the youth in the first instance. No, actually he took a calculated risk. If the king would find the boy a foolish one, he could have dumped him anytime. But once he saw the map drawn by the youth, the king was very clear that he had met a genius who had every potential to be a king. The king feared if the boy was not made his son in law, there would always be threat to his throne. By the way, the king did not have any other child other than the daughter whom he married to the young boy!
About the Author
The author is a Government servant and a man of vivid experiences derived from his official postings across the country, travels across India and numerous visits outside India. He is presently placed at New Delhi. The book is based on some bed time stories which he either heard from others or read as a small kid.
His earlier publications are:
1. Random Thoughts through a Coloured Prism
2. Dilemma of a Young Mind
3. Funny Statistics and Serious Statisticians
4. Melody of Fragrance
6. Few Cities through the Lens of Hiranya Borah
7. Guilt: Gift of Winter Spring
8. Beautiful Ghosts
9. Great Fighters: Grace of God
The book is based on some bed time stories which I heard from others or read as a student of a school. To make it suitable for present generation, I have changed the stories up to an extent. Every story is carrying some moral teachings and expected to inspire the young generation to do something good for the society.These stories are bed time stories and therefore, I am not claiming any originality nor I am claiming any authenticity of the original stories. In other words, the origins of the stories are from some famous books but now I am presenting those in my own language and along with my own interpretation, with few twist and turn.