Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The man who wanted to dry up the pond

Here’s a story that my father narrates often. It was his mother’s favourite, he says. I don’t know if any of you have heard it before. But it’s fun, and has a moral too. Here goes the story.

Many years ago, there lived a blacksmith in a village. He was a talented craftsman, but was proud and conceited. He constantly preened of his skills. He boasted that he had the skill to bend iron and do with it what he liked. The nice villagers did not mind his bragging. They were happy as long as he did the work for them.

As days passed by, the blacksmith’s ego became so bloated that he thought without him nothing would work in the village. He demanded preferential treatment at functions and expected people to show him respect.

One day at the marketplace, he picked up a quarrel with a villager. A wordy duel followed. The issue was petty, but the blacksmith was agitated in his mind. He was so upset that the villager had dared to talk back to him.

He was angry that none of the villagers had supported him. So, he decided to teach the villagers a lesson. A lesson the rustics would never forget for the rest of their life, he thought. He sat up in the night and began to scheme. Then, he hit upon a plan.

He thought of the red-hot hammer in his workshop. With it he had forged the strongest iron at his workshop. He played back the scene in his mind. All of a sudden a brainwave hit him. He froze the picture in his mind. What he saw was the red-hot hammer dipped in the bowl of water. And, the scalding tool licking the water with a hissing sound.

He did not wait for long. In the middle of the night he set out to his workshop. There was no time to lose. He hurriedly built a fire and heated the hammer till it shined red in the dark. He picked up the flaming tool and ran towards the village pond. The pond was the only source of water to the villagers. The people would die if there were no water in it.

Perched on the bank of the pond, he took one last look around the place. Satisfied nobody was watching him, he threw the hammer into the pond. “Sorry folks!” he thought. “This is the price you have to pay for what you did to me. From tomorrow, you sons of the devil, will have no water to drink. Die, all of you!” he cursed, and ran all the way to his house.

Back home, he packed up his things. Under the cover of darkness he fled the village. The story goes that many months later, the now impoverished blacksmith returned to the village to check the plight of the villagers.

Of course, the pond was brimming and the villagers were happy and there was a new blacksmith in the village.

Moral of the story: Nobody is indispensable in this world. Those who think they are, invariably learn the hard way they are not.

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