Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Stupid Tiger

Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a fox with red fur. He used to live near the King’s palace, on the outer side of the fort-wall. On the other side, the King’s goats would rest at night. They were fat and yummy. 

Whenever the fox looked at them his mouth drooled. But, he had never had a chance to pounce on one. The goats were always under tight protection, by the herdsmen, day and night. 

One night, too hungry, he could not keep his patience anymore,  and started digging a tunnel to the other side . At the end of the tunnel he reached the barn. But, no hope was in sight.

All the herdsmen, unfortunately, were there at that time. They caught him, and tied him up, to a pole. They did not have time to beat the pulp out of him. So, they left him in that condition, whispering to one another, “Now it’s already too late. Tomorrow let’s have some fun with this vermin, and after that kill it.”

So, they left and the fox sat there, tied up, stooping his head. At that time, a tiger was passing through,  and through the peep-hole on the wall he saw the fox sitting like that. The tiger got very surprised and asked the fox, “Hey nephew! What’re ya doing here like this?”

The fox said, “ Oh uncle! I'm getting married!”

The tiger got even more surprised, and asked, “Getting married? This way? Where’s the bride? Where’re the guests?”

The fox replied, “The Princess is the bride! People have gone inside to bring her here.”

The tiger asked again, “But why’re you tied up to the pole?”

The fox said, “You see, I was not eager to marry. They have tied me up like this, so that I can't run away.”

Hearing this, the tiger got even more surprised, “Really?! You don’t wanna marry?”

The fox said, “Seriously, uncle! I don’t wanna marry at all.”

Now, the tiger became restless. After a pause, he said, “I have a plan. Why don't you tie me up in your place and run away?”

The fox joyously said, “Sure! Untie me. Then, we'll swap.”

The tiger was really happy at the prospect of marrying the Princess. He jumped over the wall, and immediately untied the fox. The fox, in turn, tied the tiger tight to the pole, and said, “Remember uncle! Your brothers-in-law will come and make fun of you. Don’t get irritated.”

The tiger said, “Oh! Don’t worry! I won’t get irritated. Do you think I’ve no sense of humour?” The fox laughed out loud, and ran away. And the tiger sat there dreaming about the bride.

Next day, early morning, the herdsmen returned. The tiger saw them and thought, “Aha! Here are my brothers-in-law. Now they’ll poke me ‘n have fun. I must enjoy and laugh out with them too.”

Those herdsmen were prepared for the fox. Now they found the tiger instead. There was a big hue and cry for a few minutes. Some of them wanted to run away, others stopped them saying the tiger was tied. Finally, they brought rods, bamboo sticks, spades and spears.

First, a herdsman threw a big brick at the tiger.

Being hit, the tiger said, “Heeh! Heeh! Hihi! Hihi!”

Then another poked him with a spear.

And the tiger responded, “Hoho! Hawhaw!”

Then another beat him with a bamboo rod.

And the tiger said, “Oooooooooooooooohoho! Hehe! Hahahaha! I’ve got it! You’re my brothers-in-law.”

Then, again they poked him with the spears.

Now the tiger got angry. He tore the ropes apart and said, “Duuh! I don’t want to get married like this.” And he strode off to the forest.

Inside the forest, there was a place where woodcutters frequented most. That day, some of them left a huge tree trunk partially split, with a wedge in the cleft. The tiger came there and saw the fox taking rest on that tree trunk.

As the fox saw the tiger, he was alarmed. But, he calmly asked “Hey uncle! How did your marriage go?”

The tiger replied, “Ney nephew! They joked too much. So, I left that place.”

The fox said, “That’s fine. Let’s sit here and chat for awhile.”

As the fox spoke, the tiger jumped on the trunk and sat exactly where the cleft is kept apart by the wedge. His tail hung through the cleft.

The fox noticed that, and he thought it would be a funny thing to take the wedge out. So, he kept the tiger busy with nonsense ramblings and slowly moved the wedge out. After few minutes, the wedge came to such a position that it would come out of the gap if it moved anymore, and the cleft would join and grip the tiger’s tail. At this moment, the fox suddenly cried out, “Oooo uncle! I’m dead! And flicked the wedge out, and started rolling on the ground.

And the tiger? You can imagine what happened to him. As soon as the gap joined and smashed his tail, he let out a high-pitch shriek and bounced upwards. And his tail, like a rope, tore up into two. The tiger too began rolling on the ground, in pain.

He growled, “Nephew! I’m done for. My tail is torn.”

The fox replied, “Uncle! I’m dead. My hip is broken.”

They kept rolling on, for sometime, until they reached a poisonous berry bush. The tiger could not move anymore. But, the fox had nothing damaged, he was just lying from the beginning.

Inside that bush, there were lots of frogs. The fox caught and ate them up, lying there. The tiger was so numb in pain that he could not see that. After one day he was so hungry that he felt almost dead. He saw the fox eating. But, he could not make out,the details, from the distance. He asked the fox, “Nephew! What are you eating?”

The fox said, “Only berries, and now I have stomach pain.”

Seeing no other option, the tiger started chewing those poisonous berries. In a few minutes, his throat and face got infected, and inflated like a baloon.

The fox noticed everything. Now, he asked, “Uncle! Have you eaten anything?”

The tiger said, “I have. But my throat has got infected. You had stomach pain. Then why do I have my throat affected?”

The fox replied on that, “That’s because I’m a fox and you’re a tiger.”

The tiger had so much ache all over his body, throat and tail that he could not get over it in less than sixteen days. He became thin like a rope by starving for these sixteen days.

On the seventeenth day, when he saw the fox sprucing up his fur-coat and going away, the tiger got surprised. He asked the fox, “Hey nephew! How did you get well so soon?”

The fox turned back and said, “Uncle! I forgot to tell you. I discovered a very good way of recovering health. I chewed my hands and feet out, and immediately I got relieved from all pains. In a moment I got new hands and feet too.”

Hearing this, the tiger said, “Really?! Why didn’t you tell me so long?”

The fox said, “Can you chew your hands and feet out like me? I don’t think so. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”

The tiger became angry now. He said, “You can do that being a fox and you think I, a tiger, can’t?”

The fox said again, “You gave up such a grand marriage for few jokes! How could I know you’re able to chew your hands and feet out?”

The tiger angrily said, “See if I can!”

 He chewed  his limbs out. And after three days, he died of gangrene.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Keu Katha Rakheni

Nobody Kept Promise PAinting Anirban Lahiri

Nobody kept promise for thirty-three summers… nobody

I was in school when
A chantress stopped her Passover song…
She promised me the rest before
The fullmoon day…
Scores of scores of moonless nights
Came and passed by.
The chantress did not come.
Twenty-five years.
I sit in wait for her.

My uncle’s rowman Nader Ali said,
Grow up little master,
I’ll take you to the three-phase water canal
Where hornets and snakes play
Together on lotus.

Nader Ali, how bigger must I grow?
Will you show me the three phase canal
When my head breaks through the roof
And touches the sky?

I could never buy a single Royal marble
Kids from the Pawn brokers’ house always
Bought and licked the flavored icecream.
I had to stand at the village Lord’s palace-gate
For an experience of the Easter blasts inside
In fountains of champagne n colors,
All the white ladies’ golden hands.
They were not for me!

Papa once touched my shoulder, and whispered in my little ears,
“Look up my sonny! One day, we’ll too…

Papa is blind now, we never looked up
Those Royal marbles, the icecream stick, those Easter days
No one will return them anymore!

She kept her scented scarf on my chest,
Varuna! She said,

“The day you’ll really really love me
My breasts will pour out scent like this!"

What didn’t I do after that? I staked life for love
Tied red band over the wild bull’s eyes
Ransacked the whole world to get
One hundred and eight blue lotuses for her…

She kept not her promise.
Only the smell of flesh in her breasts now
Still she is any woman, carnal, vulgar…

Nobody kept promise… thirty-three summers passed, nobody keeps promise.


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Strange Dog from London

Most of you love dogs. Maybe more than your human friends. And a few among you fear them -- always keep a distance from our furry neighbors. I used to be scared by them too... well until mid-youth. I would always try to avoid visiting friends who kept dogs. Then, in London, everything changed. A dog really got me surprised by her behavior. Since then I do not avoid a dog in a friend's house. I call her (or him), make friends, scratch her neck.

I toured a lot all over the isles, in my student days. I made a lot of friends from all over the world, saw a lot of marvels here and there. Today, when I try to remember, I find I have forgotten most of them.

Even those friends, with whom I played, studied, made fun, hitchhiked on the weekends. I need to make an effort to remember their names. Those faces have become hazy with time.

Only one face still comes bright. I can see her when I try to, closing my eyes. I can not forget her. She is Nip. Not a human girl, she was a dog.

So many years have passed. But, when I rest in my armchair at the end of the day, memories spark in my mind. Suddenly I see her -- the bright eyed, long-eared, snouty-nosed Nip. I see her waving her black tail and smiling at me. Even in the evening chorus of city noises, I hear her welcome bhou-wou. Again I ask myself, what really was Nip? A dog or a human girl?

And when I see Nip, closing my eyes, I see Paul too. Paul was her little Master. When I saw him first, he just turned nine. It was Paul who told me, Nip was not a dog, but a human girl. Paul, the mentally retarded child. I laughed at his words that day.

Well... let me start from the beginning...

It was a perennial problem for us, newcomers, to get a good accommodation in London. After trying for weeks, finally I got a new place to stay, in the beginning of April. Few kilometers from the city proper, Finsbury Park station. From there, an hour by bus. Wavy roads, like a hilly incline, arcaded by trees on the sides. All the houses in my new neighborhood looked alike. Same pattern, same color, with similar garden in front. A lot many times, I mistook someone's house for my own.

I saw the advertisement in India House, and immediately fixed my stay there for the next two years. The locality was ideal for my study, away from the madding London crowd. A typical British household, the landlord's name was William Hall, and his wife's, Anne. A young couple, they were very hospitable. They loved India and her people too. Often they asked me about India -- myths, culture, people.

Within few days only, I got accepted in their family. We started dining together, planning weekends together... I gave them new names .. William the Conqueror and Queen Anne. Both of them were very pleased with the names.

Besides Anne and William, two more members were in the family. Paul, Anne's nine year old son. And the other one was... Apple of Paul's eyes -- Nip.

But, Nip was not a human being. She was a dog, although Paul did not believe that. He thought Nip was a human girl only.

On my first day there, Paul told me that. When I first met them, to please Paul, I said, "Aha! That's a lovely dog you have!"

On that, Nip firmly stared at me and grrrred. And Paul? His face saddened. A few seconds later he tried to correct me. "Nip is not a dog. Nip is a girl. She is my daughter. You don't call her dog. I'll cry then --- waaaaaaaaaa"

Really Paul started crying. And I got dumb by such behavior. I could not see what heppened, and what to do. Paul kept crying, and maybe to teach me a lesson, Nip kept on barking aloud, "Bhouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu grrrrrrrr bhouuuuuuuu wouuuuuu."

I was sitting stiff, fear-struck. I had no idea what I had done on my first day in that household. However, Anne did not take long to run to the spot.

As she came, I stood up and apologized, "I'm so sorry Mrs Hall! I don't know what I've done."

Anne smiled at me and then asked Paul, "What happened? Why are you crying?"

Paul kept crying and barely managed to tell his mom what happened. "He called Nip a dog. See! She's crying too."

I did not at all like such foolishly nonsense behaviour from a nine-year old kid. I wanted to give him a good slap. But, that was out of question. So, I looked at his mom's face and silently soliloquied, "Spoilt brat!"

Anne told Paul, "Uncle is new here you know? That's why he couldn't recognize Nip."

Then she turned to me and winked. "You really don't know. Nip is a girl -- Paul's daughter."

I did not take a moment to say, "Yes! Of course I know. She's a girl indeed. A very lovely girl."

Hearing me, Paul stopped crying and laughed in a strange way. "Heeheehee..."

Then he turned to Nip. "Uncle is really sorry. He is new here.. and made a mistake. OK Nip? Now you tell him thank you."

Nip came to me and obeying Paul raised face and said "Wouu."

Then they both ran out to play. I was about to go out too, but Anne asked me to stay. It seemed she wanted to say something.

She looked sad. In a disturbed voice Anne said, "You must be thinking all sorts of things! Please forgive Paul..." She stopped for a moment. I looked out of the window. The light outside had dulled a bit, sky had cast a shadow over the field -- soon it was going to rain. My room was on the first floor. Through the windows, I could see the garden behind. It was summertime in the isles. Lots of colours bloomed in the flowers all around. And among those, I could see Paul and Nip running around and playing.

Anne was also watching them, outside. Now she looked at me and lowered her voice. "You've come to stay with us. We mustn't embarrass you. But.. I think.. I should tell you something..."

I had no idea what she was to say. But, I tried to ease it out. "You needn't be so formal Anne. Please say what you want to."

Anne said, "You please don't mind Paul's behavior. He's not normal. He only grew up from outside. Please forgive him. Sometimes, when I think about him, our only son, I feel so silent."

I heard the British had a heart of stone. Tears don't come to their eyes. But, in one moment, Anne changed my ideas. I realized all mothers are the same -- British or  Indian.

To console her, I said, "Don't think so much Anne. New discoveries are made everyday. Someday Paul will be normal like you or me."

"Pray to God for that."

I slightly stressed on the words. "It'll happen. You see."

Anne took a pause to control herself. "Paul is now much better than before. All because of Nip..." Anne faintly smiled, "Paul's daughter. He's so happy to have her. Before she came, Paul was always in himself, sometimes spoke not a single word for days. Strange he can't mix with people at all, not even wuth boys n girls of his age."

I asked, "Doesn't he go to school?"

"There're special schools for boys like him. We admitted him there. but he doesn't want to go. Next year, we'll try again."

I assured Anne, "He'll be normal. Nip will help him, you see. Please don't lose hope."

Anne agreed. She told me that Nip had already made Paul far more normal than ever before. Now he could cross the road alone, and go to the shop to buy things.

"But", Anne said, "Nip never let him go alone. You'll see how intelligent she is. She knows Paul's condition very well. So, she always protects him. If he goes out to the street, she always pushes him to the side, and always cries aloud if a car comes." Anne heaved out. "Really, I see Nip as a human girl too. I feel so secured now that she takes care of him."

Within a week, I came to realize how dumb Paul was, and how intelligently Nip protected him. Anne did not exaggerate a bit. Let me narrate few such incidents to you.

On the way to the first floor, there was a wide wooden railing on the staircase. Paul always wanted to horse ride and slip down on that. But, Nip never let him. Whenever Paul tried to sit on the railing, Nip stood with her two legs on the railing, and pushed Paul away from that, and barked loudly. So, Paul's plan got foiled. Nip very well knew that such activities might injure Paul. So, she kept at her duty.

Another day, in the winter, Paul burned his hand in the fireplace. It happened before my eyes only. You all know, in winter, every house in England is kept warm by heating. In those days, they used coal or gas fires. Under the mantelpiece, the fire blazed all night. By its side, a heap of coal was kept. Whenever the fire got low, new servings of coal was fed to it.

It was a chilly winter that year. I was sitting in the sofa, reading a book, in the evening. For the previous four - five days, it had been continuously snowing outside. And off and on there was chilly wind that cut through the flesh and bones, and made my teeth rattle. On such an evening, we all were inside, drinking coffee and doing our chores. Anne was knitting a sweater for Paul. William was reading a novel. Nip trying to take a nap on the carpet, and sometimes raising her head and watching Paul.

That dreary winter apparently took no effect on Paul. He was running here and there, jumping and sitting on Nip sometimes, and then came to me and said, "Will you go outside? Sshhh. Snow queen is waiting outside. If it was summer we could go out and catch her.."

Anne stopped knitting, and rebuked him, "Uncle is studying Paul. Don't disturb him."

"Uncle! what're you reading? I can also read." Paul started near my ear...

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the King's horses and all the King's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again."

-- and he laughed out and dropped dead on the carpet like Humpty Dumpty. Seeing him fall Nip ran to him, and saw that he was only acting. So, she showed Paul that she realized the joke, and took out her long tongue and waved her tail.

William smiled a little and said, "Paul you go and play with Nip on the corner. Don't disturb uncle."

I also smiled. "No no. He's not disturbing me at all."

We returned to what we were doing. And then it happened. Probably looking at the mantelpiece, Paul thought the fire was going to die down. So he came near the mantelpiece to give more coal to it, and tipped down over something on the burning coal. And then he gave a loud shriek. The room filled with his crying noise.

Anne threw her wools, William jumped up. We all ran to the mantelpiece. Nip had pulled Paul out of the coal, and was making a muffled sound.

Paul also stood up crying. William took him in his arms. The burn was not anything serious. But, for protection, Anne smeared medicinal cream to Paul's hands-- where he burnt himself.

No one else noticed the only non-human member of the house. No one, except me. And I don't know, somehow I could understand her feelings that evening. Upstairs, Anne and Williams were busy with Paul. He stopped crying by then. I quietly came down to the lounge.

The lounge was silent now. Only Nip was running across the room like mad. She was trying to enter the fire under the mantelpiece. Why? Did she burn herself too?

I went to her and kneeled down. I caressed her and patted her head, and called her name. "Nip?"

She looked at my eyes. I could see her grief, her guilt, in one glance. It was as if her eyes were talking to me. I saw she was burning inside, and could not stay steady. I saw she was deeply ashamed.

It was very clear to me that Nip took herself responsible for this accident. She could not forgive herself. She was telling me that she fell in a nap and that is how Paul had burnt his hands. That she failed to do her duty.

I felt a deep sympathy for Nip. I called her again. And she raised her head and looked into my eyes. You would not believe me, but do you know what I saw? I saw tears in her eyes. I am not ashamed to admit to you, that evening I forgot Nip was a dog.

After this, there was no more escapade for Paul. At least none to the fire. Whenever the fire was on, Nip sat there guarding Paul. If Paul took a step to the mantelpiece, she cried aloud "Beware! Beware!", and push Paul away from that.

Paul was dumb, but he did not make a mistake to call Nip human. You can also see that if I tell you another story. I was taken aback that day by Nip's behaviour. Police from Scotland Yard could have landed up that day to our Finsbury Park house.

Just after reaching London, I started smoking because of the severe cold weather there. New habit. So, sometimes I crossed limit. Twenty-five to thirty cigarettes per day. Anne and William did not like my smoking so much. They used to regularly advice me on this. "You don't know our climate. This is a different cold. You will get chronic cough by bad habits. You're from so far away... don't smoke so much. Some bad disease will take you..."

I liked the advice from them. That was as if from my own elder brother and sister-in-law. But, who cared. They got tired only advising me. I kept on buying cigarette packets, and smoking in a chain.

Then, one day, a strange thing started. I kept losing my cigarette packets. In the beginning, I could not see what was going on. then, it became clear that someone was misplacing the packets -- obviously Anne or William. I laughed inside. They thought I could not see their tricks. I also did not ask them anything about this.

So, one night, after supper, I came to my room and saw the cigarette packet was gone. It was a weekend dinner. A little heavy. In such happy moments, cigarette was a must, especially for a new addict. So, I felt a little annoyed by this sudden vanishing act of the cigarette packets. But what to do? After moving around in the room for awhile, I decided to go out and to buy a new pack. Although it was quite late, I might get some retail at a restaurant, at the turn of the road.

As I was to open the door, Paul saw me and asked, "Uncle, uncle! going out?" Nip was also there.

I replied in an annoyed tone, "To catch a thief."


"Everyday someone steals my cigarette packs..."

Without letting me utter a single word more, Paul ran to the phone, and dialed. "Calling Scotland Yard. Hello, hello! Scotland Yard?"

I was stunned at first, then tried to stop Paul. Nip started barking very loudly and jumped on Paul. Seeing all this, Paul had to hang up, and slapped Nip. "What happened? Why are you shouting?"

Nip drew me to the back of the sofa, by the corner of my coat. Paul followed too. From the back, she brought all the lost packs, one by one, in her mouth. That day, I was really taken aback.

Why she stole my cigarette packs? Did she follow what we kept arguing about? On my smoking habit? Did she also know I could have got some disease by excessive smoking?

You are also taken aback like me. No?

Nip always protected Paul like her son... but things came to a halt one day. A sinister cloud accumulated over the house at Finsbury Park. Nip stopped barking any more in this house. Some days she was not seen at all. In which corner of the house she hid herself, I could not know. Anne kept sitting in the sofa, expressionless, tears running on her cheeks. William became so pale and old suddenly that I could not look at him.

What happened in this family? You must be thinking about that. Well... listen then.

Since I moved in to this house, I heard Nip waking up Paul every morning. Very early morning, in fact. Then, they both would run out to the road and greet the joggers, the old morning-walkers. Sometime later, would come the milkman's coach rattling the loose stone chips on the concrete road. They delivered our milk everyday, and picked up the empty bottles from the doormat. Those days the milk-coaches were pulled by stallions. I never saw such big stallions before.

That morning, it was a dense fog all around. Very few people were out on the road. Slowly the sky was growing color. I heard the gigantic stallions coming from far away, in half-sleep.

Nip woke up Paul like everyday. And He ran out in the mist. Nip followd behind. But... maybe she was a bit late, may be Paul slipped... we could not know what really happened... When we knew it was too late.

Paul was run over by the milkman's coach. His little body was crumpled, smashed and severed under those big heavy hoofs. That morning, before sunrise, Anne and William lost their only child for ever.

Anne took to bed. William stopped working. But, the British don't cry aloud. It was Nip who cried. I have never heard someone cry like that.

I had seen many deaths. But, this one shook me so much that I thought to move somewhere else. But, finally I stayed back at the Finsbury Park house.

You know, man gets over the heaviest grief with time. They say, time is the biggest healer.  Gradually Anne came back to normal life, I saw smile in William's face. But, Nip?

She kept normal. She ate, came to us, roamed around. Sometimes she barked too. But... from time to time, she went mad. She searched for someone... something... from corner to corner. She ran out to the street... and then came back and started crying for hours. Hearing her cry, Anne started crying too. Nip came to her feet and dropped herself there twitching in some unknown pain.

Days passed. Study pressure increased too. I saw Anne and William become busy with the daily chores. It seemed Nip also became steady with time. I hoped the family would now get back to some normalcy at last.

Slowly, the next winter knocked the door. Mercury dropped every night. Trees had shed their leaves. Morning started in dense mist. Sometimes, when I woke up in the early morning, I heard those hoofs rattling on the road. Milk coaches coming. No Paul now to attend them. But, Nip did not forget her job. She started barking every morning, waking Anne or me up, and drawing us out to the road. There, she kept shouting at passers by --- Beware! Beware! Milkcoaches are coming!

So early morning, we never needed picking up the milk bottles. But, Anne went out everyday with Nip. Until she opened the door, and went out with her, Nip would not stop barking.

It was such a morning, not  so misty that day. But, winter had come. Anne stood on the doorsteps. Nip was in front of her, glancing at her from time to time. Today she was too silent, as if she forgot to beware the passers by.

As the milkman's coach turned the road, Nip ran out to the road like mad. A few seconds later we heard her scream... and then silence again.

The milkcoach had stopped. We all ran out. Nip was lying under the wheels. Exactly like Paul. Her tongue was hanging out. Blood oozing out from her neck. She was not alive.

The milkman told Anne in a grieved voice, "Please believe me. We couldn't stop. We see her everyday. She's so careful, so intelligent..." The man stopped for a moment. "She directly ran into my wheels..."

Anne's lips were trembling. She even forgot to cry. She was looking at Nip's dead body in a peculiar, fixed gaze. Then she looked at me and I saw in her eyes... as if she wanted to tell me, "Can't you see? Paul is here! Paul and Nip are playing in the garden!"

Police came and took Nip away. People from the neighborhood came and sympathized. After everyone was gone, William took me to the side. Before he said anything, she looked around to make it sure that Anne was not near.

William said in a very wet voice. "Do you think Nip's death is an accident?"

I said, "Yes... why?"

William faintly smiled, "Do you know today's date? November 10."

I nodded, "Yes, I know."

"Last year on this date Paul passed away."

Everything suddenly turned around me. I could not believe it.  Nip ran to the wheels very consciously? Exactly one year later? How could she remember the exact date?

I still think about it. Even after this fifty years. It is still a mystery to me. What do you think? Do you know the answer?

Kazi's Judgment (Kazi = Civil judge in ancient Islamic kingdoms)

Ramkanai was a good man like you or me -- simple in thought and deed. Jhootharam was a bad man, on the other hand. One day the two met on the road. Jhutharam told Ramkanai, "Brother, why do we carry our luggage like stupids? Let's have them on one shoulder. You carry my sack now. On return journey, I'll carry yours. So that we both can relax on one side of the journey."

 Ramkanai agreed to that like a good man.

Near the village, they both felt very hungry. Ramkanai told Jhootharam, "Let's eat. What do you say?"

Jhootharam said, "Ya. But, let's do one thing. Let's not open both our lunch-boxes. We can't eat so much now. It'll only rot that way. Now, let's both eat from yours. On the return journey, we'll share mine."

So, Ramkanai opened his box, and they both shared from that.

As they were eating, Jhootharam asked Ramkanai, "Bhai! Who are all there in your family?"

Ramkanai began talking about his family, his father, mother, sister, wife, son, daughter -- about everyone. How tall his daughter has grown, how intelligent his son has become etc etc.

As Ramkanai kept chattering on his family, Jhootharam asked him more details and took the food in gulps. Ramkanai was too happy talking talking about his family. When he finally noticed, there was only two-three grains of rice left in his box.

Jhootharam washed his hands and then very sombrely came to Ramkanai and said, "Bhai! I must tell you something. The food you gave me was so rotten and bad, I've no words to say. I never imagined you're such a bad guy. After this, I don't want to talk to you. I'm going."

Saying this, he lifted his lunch-box and sack. And quickly left for the village.

Poor Ramkanai was so hungry and tired that his head was turning. Now that Jhootharam took the other lunch-box with him, there was no hope that Ramkanai could eat something. He had no energy to move any more. So, he sat there and started crying.

Meanwhile, the Kazisahib was passing through there with his entourage. Seeing Ramkanai in such a pathetic state, he asked his people to stop and enquire what happened.

As Kazisahib's people came to him, Ramkanai told them everything. So, they took him to Kazisahib.

Ramkanai told the Kazisahib everything again. Hearing that, Kazisahib started laughing, "Hahahahahahahohohohohohawhawhaw.... never heard such a funny story before! He used you as a donkey, then ate your food and all and then left you! Where was your brain? Hahahahahahahohohohohoho... Oye who's there? Call Jhootharam!"

The sentry ran to catch him, other people ran along with him too. Within five minutes, they presented Jhootharam before the Kazisahib.

Kazisahib said, "Aha! Wait wait! Call the village headman, the village baniyas, call the head-police, doctor, village priest, head-master. Call everyone. Let them see the fun." So, within minutes everyone whoever was in and around the village, came there. It became a crowd indeed.

Then Kazisahib asked Jhootharam, "So, Jhootharam! Now you tell me what happened."

Jhootharam was already trembling in fear. He somehow mumbled, "Sir! That paaji, bad fellow knows all. I really don't know anything. He tried to poison me by giving bad food. Even now I'm feeling sick."

As he finished, Kaji got very angry and shouted, "Badmash! You spoiled my funny story! Ate food and felt sick? Is it a funny thing? Hey sentry! See what he is carrying. Seize it all. Salaa totally humorless insipid fellow! Give all his things to that Ramkanai. Whatever he said, true or false, is funny like anything. Arre.. hahahahahohohohohawhaw."