Friday, February 27, 2009

"As you sow, so you reap."

Ever heard of the saying "As you sow, so you reap"......? Here is a Mullah Nasruddin story which illustrates the meaning of this proverb!

Hanif was a very lazy man. He believed that society owed him a living, so he did not work. His elders and friends told him repeatedly - to work - pointing out that, "The fruits of labour are indeed sweet."

- "Who is seeking sweet fruits?" Hanif turned away such advice with a sharp snap.

- "That boy is up to no good," said the elders who kept him at a distance. "He is worse than a mule. One can use the stick with a mule, you can't even do that with him."

His friends slowly drew away from him. Hanif did not change. But he had to live and he always found someone - from whom he could extract some cash.

Badruddin was a young man. He was a woodcutter, with rippling muscles and a strong physique. He lived with his wife Shakila, in a small house close to the woods. Every day, he set out for the woods - in the morning. His wife handed him a satchel which contained his lunch and a can of water. She fetched him the axe. He patted her with love and then nudged the donkey to get going. At this, the donkey trotted off. On reaching the woods, he chose a green, grassy spot and tied the donkey to a stake, before getting ready for work. He worked, from morning till evening, cutting, chopping, and slicing the wood into small pieces. Then, he loaded the pieces on the donkey, sold the firewood in the market, and returned home, tired but happy, for his purse would jingle with coins.

One morning, Badruddin was riding his donkey, leading it to the woods, when he ran into Hanif.

Hanif greeted him and said, "To the woods, I assume??"

- "Yes. I know only one way to make money. Cut wood and sell it," replied Badruddin as he loosened the reins of the donkey, and the donkey began to trot off towards the green grass.

- "Badru, I hope you won't mind if I join you in the woods," said Hanif.

- "Why should I mind? The woods belong to us all," Badruddin cocked his head to one side.

- "I want to spend the day with you," said Hanif.

Badruddin agreed. At noon, he shared his packed lunch with Hanif. They also quenched their thirst -from Badru's can of water. Thereafter, Badruddin stretched himself out on the grass for a quick nap. Hanif, too, lay down and was soon snoring loudly.

However, Badruddin was back at work within fifteen minutes. But Hanif slept for nearly two hours. Once awake, Hanif perched himself on the stump of a tree and said to Badruddin, "You're working as hard as a bee."

- "You can teach a few lessons even to the ants," he remarked, a little later.

- "Know what the squirrel does? It collects nuts all through the day, during summer. It stocks the nuts so that during winter, when it is very cold, it has food stocked at its home," Hanif repeated whatever he had heard from an elder.

Hanif continued making such statements every now and then, but Badruddin had no time to reply. He worked till the shadows began to lengthen. Badruddin then loaded the pieces of wood on the back of the donkey. He tied up the bundles firmly, and started leading the donkey - with the load - to the town. Soon Badruddin and Hanif reached the bazaar (market place). There, Badruddin stopped in front of a firewood shop and went inside - in search of the shopkeeper. Hanif waited outside. After a little while, Badruddin returned with the shopkeeper, who examined the load and offered five shekels for it. They haggled over it until Badruddin gave up and sold the load of wood for ten shekels. He collected the cash and unloaded the firewood. The donkey shook its body, feeling happy to have the load off its back. Badruddin turned to Hanif and thanked him for his company.

- "Badru, I think you forgot something. You haven't given me my share of the money we earned today," Hanif grinned.

- "Your share??" Badruddin's jaw fell open in amazement.

- "Remember, I worked with you all day long. I kept encouraging you, from morning till evening. You produced sounds by bringing the axe down on the branch of the tree. I produced sounds by wagging my tongue and exercising my throat. Both of us made equal efforts - to turn out sounds. Give me five shekels. And I shall send you off with prayers to Allah - to keep you and your beloved wife Begum Shakila - in good health and in prosperity forever," Hanif showed how good he was with words.

- "Forget it," said Badruddin and gave a rather sharp kick to the donkey, setting the donkey on a fast trot.

- "Badru, I thought you would be reasonable," Hanif ran after him and caught hold of the bridle of the donkey.

- "Take your hand off or I shall beat you," said a furious Badruddin.

- "You're a cheat! Wait, I shall complain to the Caliph tomorrow," Hanif threatened.

Badruddin did not know what to do. He was still hesitating when he noticed Mulla Nasruddin, the Caliph, taking a leisurely walk along the bazaar. Badruddin and Hanif greeted him. Mulla Nasruddin smiled and greeted them back.

- "Ah, my friend. We have a little dispute. Won't you please settle it?" Hanif snuggled closer to Nasruddin.

- "Tell me, what is the dispute about?" Nasruddin asked.

Hanif narrated the day's happenings.

- "I kept encouraging him all day long, so that he could cut double the quantity of wood he normally collects," he concluded.

- "But he did not cut any wood. Not even a twig," Badruddin glowered.

- "Hanif, I never knew that one could double the amount of work someone else does - by merely using words. I now know. So you deserve your due share," Nasruddin received an approving nod from Hanif while Badruddin's face fell.

- "Ah, Hanif, I shall be fair and square with both of you. I shall divide the ten shekels between the two of you, according to the work you have put in, right?" Nasruddin noticed Hanif's eyes glow with joy, gave him a nod and continued, "How can I split the number 10? It can be 5 and 5; or 6 and 4; or 7 and 3; or 8 and 2; or 9 and 1; or........" He paused a little before saying, "Or it could be 10 and 0. That sounds quite reasonable, my friends. Badru, give him 0 shekels for the sounds he made."

- "Mulla Nasruddin! What sort of justice is this? Don't you know that zero stands for nothing?" said Hanif, gritting his teeth in anger.

- "You got paid for your work," Nasruddin gave him a stern look. "You produced sounds. Badruddin cut the wood. The shopkeeper paid him for the wood, not for the sounds you produced!" said Nasruddin, looking at Hanif with contempt.

Badruddin smiled, thanked Mulla Nasruddin and rode away, ignoring the shouts and abuses of the angry Hanif!

Photograph: The ever-smiling Nasruddin Hodja riding on his 'bronze' donkey in 'Bukhara' (also spelled as 'Bukhoro' and 'Bokhara', from the Soghdian βuxārak ("lucky place"), is the capital of the Bukhara Province (viloyat) of Uzbekistan) - (Wikipedia).

1 comment:

  1. There are many people like Hanif all around us. The first part reminded me of email forwards that have a message saying forward it to so many friends or else... I was also reminded of a former classmate when I was studying Japanese in India. We went to a book fair and I got hold of a Japanese dictionary which looked very useful. Unfortunately, the price tag wasn't on it so the person at the counter refused to sell it. I was reluctant to let go of the chance to get hold of the dictionary as I had none at that time. So finally the boss of the place was summoned. And he quoted an exhorbitant price. All the while, my classmate kept discouraging me about haggling for the book. But finally I got it at a reduced price. My companion immediately praised me for the deal and said that it is 'our' book and he was ready to split half the amount. Coming back to this story, there are many similar stories about humans, animals including ants that I have read. So, it was heart warming to read it in a different form. Sad that good people like Badruddin lose out so many times in society unless there are people like Naseeruddin to save him. There are many thousands of Badruddin's, a few scores of Hanif's and very few Naseeruddin's if any at all. What do you say?