This time I am bringing you a folk tale from Rajasthan.
In a village in Rajasthan, there lived a farmer by name Bhola Ram. True to his name he was a very naive person (Bhola). He believed everyone easily and never suspected anyone. He neither spoke nor understood language with double meaning or hidden meaning. Many times people took advantage of the innocent nature of Bhola and cheated him outright.
Bhola’s son Chatura, who had seen his father being cheated by others, grew up to be a wary young man. Experience had taught him how to be street-smart.
After the harvest of grains was over every year, Bhola Ram used to sell the dried plants as cattle fodder to owners of cattle, to earn some money.
There was one cattle owner in the village who was a very mean fellow. His name was Dushtabuddhi.
One day, when Bhola Ram had loaded his bullock cart full of fodder and was about to reach the market, Dushtabuddhi accosted him.
“What is the price of the cart?”, he asked Bhola.
“Ten rupees Sir” said Bhola knowing that he was asking the price of the cartload of fodder.
“Too costly” said Dushtabuddhi and turned to go away.
Bhola did not bother as he knew he would get his price in the market. As Bhola also started moving, Dushtabuddhi turned around and said, “It is okay, I will pay what you have asked. Come with me to my house”
An unsuspecting Bhola went along with Dushtabuddhi with his cart.
On reaching the house, Bhola unloaded the fodder from the cart at the designated place. Dushtabuddhi paid him ten rupees. As Bhola was preparing to leave with the cart and bullocks Dushtabuddhi stopped him.
“O friend, where are you leaving with my cart and bullocks?” said he.
“Your cart and bullocks?” asked the confused Bhola.
“Yes, of course. I have bought it from you” said Dushtabuddhi. “Remember, I asked you the price of the cart? You said ten rupees was the price of the cart. Do you not know that cart means cart and bullocks and the goods? I asked you in very simple language and thought you had understood what I asked. Did you not understand? Ha ha ha!” Dushtabuddhi laughed mockingly.
Bhola hurriedly tried to argue but it was of no use. Dushtabuddhi forcefully insisted that the price he had asked was of the cart and bullocks and the fodder. Poor Bhola, a naiveté and soft-spoken fellow as he was, could not assert himself. He left the bullocks and cart with Dushtabuddhi and came home with a heavy heart. Dushtabuddhi was grinning from ear to ear. What a smart fellow he had proven himself to be!
When Bhola returned home and narrated what had happened, Chatura was extremely angry. He wanted to teach Dushtabuddhi a lesson.
The next day, Chatura offered to go to the market. He took another cart loaded with fodder. Fortunately, that day also Dushtabuddhi was around and as Chatura expected, came and asked him the same question he had asked Bhola. Dushtabuddhi was not aware that Chatura was Bhola Ram’s son.
Chatura looked at Dushtabuddhi and said, “Well, this season I have fodder in excess and so I can give it for a very good price. By the way do you have a child at home?”
“Yes” said Dushtabuddhi. “I have my two-year old granddaughter. Why do you ask?”
“Well” said Chatura, “I will be satisfied with a handful of coins from her as the price of the cart”
Dushtabuddhi was pleasantly surprised.
“Is it? Do you really mean it?” he asked unbelievingly.
“Yeah” said Chatura. “The price of the cart is a child’s handful of coins”
“Well, then come to my house” said Dushtabuddhi and led him to his palatial house.
On entering the house, Chatura saw his father’s empty cart in a corner and the bullocks tied up to a tree.
Dushtabuddhi was chuckling to himself. He would give his two-year old granddaughter coins of the smallest denominations enough to fill her little palm and get this whole cartful of fodder. What stroke of luck!!
After the fodder was unloaded, Dushtabuddhi went inside and came out carrying his little granddaughter who was holding few coins in her tiny hand.
“Here, take this” he said to Chatura.
“Just give me a minute” said Chatura, as he took out a sharp knife from a bag he was carrying.
Dushtabuddhi was not comfortable. “Er… er… what is this knife fo…r?” he asked in a faltering voice.
“For my coins of course” said Chatura, flashing a wicked smile, “the handful of coins. Heh heh heh!”.
Saying so he advanced and caught the hand of the child.
Dushtabuddhi was petrified. He tried moving back but Chatura had already caught the hand of the child.
“Wait, wait! Uh… huh… What are you doing?” cried Dushtabuddhi trembling with fear.
“Taking my price. I told you it was a handful of coins which means the hand and the coins. Simple language, can’t you understand? Hahaha…” said Chatura laughing aloud like a mad man. The child was frightened and started crying loudly, squirming in her grandfather’s arms trying to release her hand from Chatura’s iron grip. Hearing the commotion, people started gathering at the gate.
The words “simple language” hit Dushtabuddhi and he remembered the incident which had happened the day before.
He looked at Chatura closely and realised that he was Bhola Ram’s son.
“I am sorry, I am so sorry. Please take your father’s cart and bullocks. Please leave my granddaughter’s hand, please, please do not harm her. I beg you” pleaded Dushtabuddhi only short of crying.
After letting Dushtabuddhi plead for a few minutes, Chatura gave one harsh push and released the hand of the child. “Never ever do this to anyone again. If you try doing this again, you had it” he said in a stern voice glaring at him, which was enough to terrify Dushtabuddhi.
Then Chatura went and untied his father’s cattle and yoked them to the cart. He led the cart out of the gate and came and took his cart too. With the help of a rope he tied the carts like a convoy and rode back home with a triumphant smile on his face.