Once upon a time there lived a rich man in a village in Kerala. His house was full of vessels of all sizes – some as small as a bird, others big enough to seat a child. Whenever there was a ceremony in any household, the villagers would borrow his utensils. After the function, they would return the whole lot of vessels to the rich man.

Then one day, a strange thing happened. A villager who had borrowed some utensils, returned a couple more than he had borrowed. The rich man was perplexed. He scratched his head.

“How have the number of utensils increased,” he asked the villager.

“Well, some of the vessels you gave me were pregnant,” answered the villager. “They gave birth to little vessels in my house. I am merely sending them with their parents, to you,” he said.

The rich man knew it was not possible, but the thought of getting some extra vessels made him keep quiet. So he accepted the villager’s explanation and kept the vessels.

The same villager came to his house after some time. The rich man gladly gave his utensils to him. He tried to guess how many more vessels the villager would return to him. He even dreamt that the villagers had honored him with the title of ‘Lord of the Vessels’.

A week passed but the villager did not return the utensils. The rich man kept silent, for in his mind he was counting the number of vessels he would get back. Two or three weeks later he still did not open his mouth.

The Rich Man's Vessels [Illustrations: Kusum Chamoli]
The Rich Man’s Vessels [Illustrations: Kusum Chamoli]

When a month passed by, the greedy man could stand it no longer.

“Why have you not returned my vessels?” he asked the villager. There was a note of anger in his voice.

“What can I do,” replied the villager. “The vessels are dead,” he said shrugging his shoulders in a helpless manner.

“Dead? What do you mean dead?” shouted the rich man. “How can vessels die?”

“Why not,” replied the smart villager. “If vessels can give birth, they can die too!”

The rich man fell silent. There was nothing he could say.

365 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 5 (10-11 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales