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Stories By Grandpa

SHUDDHA'S DONKEY


Narrated by: Kanai L Mukherjee (Grandpa), Edited by: Arlene Hunter
Courtesy: Association of Grandparents of Indian Immigrants (AGII)



Once there was a washer-man (called dhobi in India), named Shuddha. He had a male donkey whom he loved very much but unable to provide enough food for him. One day, while Shuddha and his donkey were returning home through a forest, the donkey collapsed due to exhaustion and the heavy load he was carrying. Suddha felt awful.

"Poor fellow, I wish I could give him better food" said Shuddha.

Suddenly Suddha stopped dead in his track. Right in front of him was a tiger lying down in the middle of the road. Shuddha was scared to death and began to shout. But to his surprise he did not see the tiger move.

"Ah! Thank God, it is dead!" Suddha said with great relief.

When he was about to go around the dead tiger, an idea struck him.

"Why don't I take the tiger's skin with me?" Thought clever Suddha, "I can put the hide on the donkey to scare the farmers away. They will think he's a tiger and he can eat all he wants."

Pleased with his idea, the next evening, Suddha put the dead tiger's skin on the donkey and took him to a crop field.

"Okay, go ahead my dear donkey and eat to your heart's content. I will come back for you tomorrow morning. No one will dare bother you."

The confident donkey, looking like a big, ferocious tiger, began to graze in the field. When the farmers, who were guarding their fields, spotted a huge tiger eating their crop, they kept their distance. But they couldn't figure out why a carnivore was behaving like a vegetarian!

In the morning the dhobi came and was happy to see his beloved donkey well fed and growing plump. "What a clever trick I played on those farmers!" said Suddha with pride.

This went on for a few days. The farmers were puzzled by this tiger who was proving to be a menace to them and destroying their crops. They could not solve the mystery but saddened to see their hard labor wasted. Still no one dared to confront the dangerous animal.

Then one day Suddha's donkey, disguised in the tiger skin, heard the bray of a female donkey. "Ee-Aw, Ee-Aw."

He was charmed by her call and powerless to resist.

"Ee-Aw, Ee-Aw" he sang back to her. He was blinded by love for her and abondoned all reason and common sense.

The farmers heard it too. The mystery was solved. They ran and grabbed the donkey wearing the tiger skin and beat him to death.

In the morning Shuddha arrived, he was shocked to see his beloved pet dead on the ground. Overcome with grief, he could not figure out what had happened.

After giving the situation much thought, the reason occurred to him. He sadly shook his head and said, "I wish he had kept quiet."

 

Moral: "Silence is golden "



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