Birbal and His Guest


Birbal and His Guest

Birbal and His Guest

Birbal and His Guest

Birbal was said to be the wisest man alive in his time. He sometimes tricked people into getting his work done.

One day, Birbal went to the market to buy some groceries his wife had asked for.

‘Women are troublesome, sometimes!’ thought Birbal as he walked on. ‘I have so many things to do, but my wife won’t listen to me!’ Suddenly, a milkman called out to Birbal, “Sire, please can you help me? I am not well. Every morning I wake up feeling drunk!” Birbal asked, “What do you drink before sleeping?”

The milkman replied, “Milk, Sir. I don’t enjoy it, but my wife insists I drink one large glassful.”

Birbal guessed, “Aha! That is causing you problems! You drink milk; then you lie in bed and toss in your sleep. The milk gets churned into butter. The butter turns into fat and soon, there is alcohol. You get drunk in your sleep! No wonder, you are miserable in the morning!”

The milkman listened with eyes wide open. “What can I do?” “Tell your wife that people look at you strangely in the morning and whisper that she does not take good care of you. Also, tell her that the doctor insists you drink milk in the morning.”

Birbal’s trick worked like magic! In return, the grateful milkman offered Birbal free milk for the rest of his life! Birbal finished his grocery shopping and was returning home from the market. He led a donkey with two baskets of grains and vegetables on its back.

People laughed and pointed, “The wise Birbal is walking with a donkey!” The donkey abruptly stopped many times. Birbal would pull its reins, and it would start walking again. Once it stopped and no amount of pulling or coaxing worked. It sat down, and the baskets toppled off its back.

Birbal threatened him with a stick. A man said, “Be kind to the poor donkey.” Another person said, “Where are your horses?” A third person remarked, “If the Emperor saw you, what would he say?”

The truth was that Birbal’s wife’s sister was coming to stay with them. His wife wanted Birbal to buy the food, as she did not trust the servants. The horses were being exercised, so he had to take the donkey to the market.

By now, a large crowd of people had gathered. Birbal was very angry. He pointed towards the crowd and said to the donkey, “I can see what a large family you have. If I had known, I would have never beaten you!”

Hearing this, the people went away, ashamed.

That evening, Emperor Akbar was in a witty mood. He wanted to scare Birbal. He decided to disguise himself as a demon. So, he wore a black mask, with long sharp teeth and horns on a big head. The mask was frightful, and anyone who saw it would get scared.

Akbar went to surprise Birbal at his mansion. Birbal was a very clever man. He did not get scared. He recognized the Emperor immediately. Instead, he welcomed him and offered some snacks and a drink. Emperor Akbar was disappointed that he could not scare Birbal. Birbal was very happy to have the Emperor as his guest. Suddenly, the Emperor noticed Birbal’s face change. He was lost in thought.

He asked Birbal, “What is the matter, Birbal? You seemed happy a little while ago. Now you look worried. Are you thinking of something?”

“Your Majesty, I was happy to have you as my guest. But now I am wondering why did you disguise yourself?” said Birbal. “Who are you scared of that you had to hide yourself in this disguise?” asked Birbal.

The Emperor was embarrassed as he could not scare Birbal. Neither could he tell Birbal his plan. Instead, Birbal thought that the Emperor was scared of someone!

Akbar and Birbal sat down to have dinner. They were served a dish of brinjal made by Birbal’s wife. The Emperor enjoyed the dish and said, “Birbal, wouldn’t you agree that there is nothing tastier than this brinjal dish?” Birbal agreed, “You are right, Your Majesty! There is no dish tastier than this one.”

Akbar called Birbal’s wife and said to her, “We have enjoyed your dish very much. Will you please bring some more for Birbal?”

But Birbal refused to have any more and said, “Your Majesty! The dish is indeed very tasty, but I don’t enjoy brinjal. Please don’t bring anymore for me.” Akbar was surprised at Birbal’s reaction. He asked Birbal, “You just said that the dish is very tasty. And now you say you don’t like brinjal!” Birbal explained, “Your Majesty, I am your servant. It is my duty to agree with whatever you say. But because I agree with whatever you say does not mean that I will change my taste. I really do not like brinjal.” Akbar was surprised at Birbal’s explanation, but he accepted it. He was also glad that Birbal had been honest with him and not flattered him. Then, they sat down together and started eating the delicious mangoes for dessert.

It was the season of mangoes in Emperor Akbar’s Kingdom. There were various varieties of mangoes in the market. Many people had brought many sacks of mangoes for Birbal as a token of love and respect. Birbal was telling Akbar stories, and they both were enjoying the evening.

After eating a mango, they would throw the kernel under the table between them.

Akbar had his fill and suddenly had an idea to tease Birbal. He playfully pushed all the mango kernels near him to Birbal’s side. He then said out loud, “Birbal! I know you like mangoes. But I did not know you were so greedy for them!”

Birbal looked under the table and saw that all the mango kernels were on his side, and there was not even a single kernel on Akbar’s side! He then understood what had happened.

He said to Akbar wittily, “Your Majesty, I like mangoes very much, but not as much as you. You have eaten all the mango kernels as well!” Emperor Akbar laughed out loud. He was impressed with Birbal’s answer and praised him for his humor and presence of mind. After dinner, Akbar was taking a walk in the garden with Birbal by his side. He saw that Birbal’s children had drawn pictures and lines on the ground with coal.

Looking at the pictures, Akbar had an idea to put Birbal to the test. As a result, he inquired of Birbal, “Can you answer a question?” Birbal stated, “Your Majesty, yes. Please feel free to ask me anything.”

“Birbal, what is the one thing that never returns in life?” Akbar asked, smiling. Birbal examined his children’s drawings on the floor. He realised right away that the answer was somehow related to those drawings.

He pondered for a while and said, “Your Majesty, it is innocence! As, once children grow up, they lose their innocence.” Akbar was so pleased with Birbal’s cleverness that he gave him a necklace. He thanked Birbal for his hospitality and left to return to his palace.

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