The Jester and the Stranger's Language
And every king had a court jester. The jester was a very important person for his ability to make people laugh and feel happy. The king had a lot of serious work to do, lots of difficult problems to solve and deal carefully with rival kings! It meant a lot of tension. So he needed someone to make his tension lighter with his jokes. And help him with unexpected advice where no one else could help.
Gopal was the maharaja's favourite jester. A barber by profession, he had a razor-sharp wit and could make the best of any situation. He was bright and clever and had a tremendous presence of mind. But what was most important, he had a kind heart as well. He was always ready to help anyone, not just the king.
Maharaja Krishna Chandra had a new visitor. He could recite all thescriptures in perfect Sanskrit. He could speak chaste Arabic and Persian. Hespoke to the people in perfect Bengali with all its varied dialects. And hecould hold forth in half a dozen other languages.
But no one knew which part of the country he came from. It was a mystery not just to the maharaja but everyone one else.
"Where are you from?" asked the maharaja times without number.
"This country, your majesty," replied the scholar, "I belong right here -with the rest of you."
"And your language?"
"The language of this land."
"Who is your father?"
"You are, Sire. The king is the father of all his subjects."
"What about your family?"
"I am a part of yours," came the prompt answer.
It was useless to question him. He always came up with vague, poetic answerswhich sounded so good that it was quite impossible to pin him down.
Gradually people got to call him pundit 'masai' (a respectful term of address in Bengali) because he seemed to know somuch. He had ready answers for everything.
"I wish I knew who he is and where he comes from," the maharaja said to Gopalone day.
"I feel really uncomfortable when I realise that I don't even know what hislanguage is. A king ought to have every detail about his subjects at hisfinger tips."
"I could find out what his language is," said Gopal.
"Then please do," said the maharaja, "Once I know that, I can easily find outthe rest about him."
Gopal followed pundit 'masai' closely for the next few days taking note of allhe did. Pundit 'masai' lived all by himself and did his own cooking andshopping.
Gopal landed up there late one evening well before pundit 'masai'arrived from the market and hid all the lamps and lanterns in the house.
By the time pundit 'masai' reached home everything was in complete darkness. Heopened the door and hunted for the lamp. It seemed to have vanished! So hadthe lanterns and the matches.
Pundit 'masai' could not imagine what hadhappened. He had left everything in place as usual before he had left forthe market. Who could have possibly taken them? He felt really annoyed!
The Jester and the Stranger's Language [Folktales for kids]
By Swapna Dutta; Illustrations by Sudheer Nath
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