"To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect." - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Two Sons


I love old folk tales. Simple tales. Tales from childhood, that warm your heart. 
There is this one tale, I've never forgotten, one my mother used to narrate.
I don't know if this is the original tale or there is another version, there well may be. Maybe you've heard it before, still hear it again. I'll share it just the way my mum did years ago.


Folk Tale


The Two Sons

Once upon a time, there lived a farmer in a small village. He had worked hard all his life to build up a good fortune with a large farmhouse, lots of cattle and acres of land.
His wife had passed away a few years ago and now he was sure his old frail body wouldn't be around much longer.
The farmer had two sons, Ajay and Vijay. He loved them both dearly and they in turn revered him. The father wanted to ensure all his property was equally divided between the two sons. 
The farmer came up with a plan. Early one morning he called Ajay and Vijay. Looking at their curious faces he explained, "Ajay and Vijay, you know I am getting very old, I don't think I'll be around much longer. Before I leave to join your mother, I have divided the cattle, the land and the money. Only this house remains. I'll be giving you two a little test. Based on the result, the winner will get the house, it it alright with you two?" 
The obedient sons nodded respectfully with downcast faces. They really loved their father.

The father continued, "You know we have the two identical, tiny, empty rooms on the upper floor? Here, take this," he said, giving them each a hundred rupees and continued,"Now I want you both to listen carefully to what I say. With the money I gave you, I want you each to buy whatever you can think of and fill up the room. That is all. I will decide the winner based on what I see. Now go on both of you, you have till today evening." The sons were puzzled with this strange test, but nevertheless set out to fulfill the task.

Ajay was sure he would win the task. He knew exactly what to buy, his father would be proud of him for having filled the tiny room the best.
Vijay was thoughtful on his way to the market. He thought hard. A hundred rupees to fill a room...yes he needed to think harder.
It was evening. Both the sons and the father went up to the first floor. The two rooms were on opposite sides of the staircase with a long corridor in between. Ajay and Vijay were both eager to show their rooms to their father. 
"Ajay since you are the elder, we'll see your room first," said the farmer.
Ajay was beaming with pride as he led them to the room. He was sure his father would applaud his efforts.
With some difficulty, Ajay opened the door to the room. It was dark and filthy. A cascade of dry hay fell on them. Ajay had spent his money on buying bundles of cheap hay and stuffed every inch of the room, from top to bottom with it.
The father looked stunned. No doubt, his elder offspring had passed the test, the room was certainly filled to the brim.
Next the three headed to the door on the opposite side of the corridor, Vijay's room.
Vijay unlocked the door and invited his father and Ajay to come in.
The room was neatly swept and was filled with the divine fragrance of incense and jasmine flowers. Placed against the wall opposite the door, there was a beautiful framed image of the smiling Lord Krishna adorned with a jasmine garland. The room had a warm glow from a small lamp lit in front of the frame and incense sticks were wafting the soothing fragrance. Vijay handed his father a bill of all the things he had purchased with the hundred rupees.
The old farmer's eyes filled with happiness. He hugged Vijay. 
The winner of the test was obvious, wasn't it? 

The elder son's untidy, unthinking, hasty choice of hay to fill up the room reflect his inherent nature. 
The younger son's thoughtful, neat, pleasing to the senses and careful choice of the God's picture frame along with the lamp, incense and fragrant flowers to fill up the room reflect his inherent nature. 





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