Putting kids to sleep, p.1
Putting Kids To Sleep
Copyright 2016 Hiranya Borah
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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.
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 dus
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,
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.
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