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A Humorous Folktale on Stupidity

18 Aug

Click here to read in Gujarati
Before proceeding on for my humorous post today, I’ll pass on the credit of the marvelous theme of the story to be represented below to a local weaver of my village from whom I had heard it in form of simply a joke many years ago. At this juncture, I’ll disclose one more suspense that the same folktale in different episodes was traced out by me before I started to write this post while chatting on I-net. Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark (1805-1875) who was the son of a shoemaker had written the similar story titled as ‘The Emperor’s New Robes’ in his book “Fairy Tales”.

I wonder how and through which source the narrator of this tale to me had collected it though he was illiterate. How strange we feel that no frontiers come across the way of literature to spread globally! Literature is like migrating birds that can fly East to West and North to South with no any hindrance or prohibition. The tale below is a ‘Remix’ of the two above with omissions and additions from my end. According to Lawrence Lessig, a law Professor of Stanford University, California, USA; ‘Remix is a Cultural Right’. Here, I don’t claim any right but merely say that I have enjoyed a little freedom in my humble endeavor here. Please, go on to read the tale.

Many-many years ago, there was a king who was fond of gathering some genius personalities in his Royal Court, like Indian Mogul Emperor – Akbar, the Great who had chosen nine extraordinary talents shining brightly in their respective fields and they were honored with the titles of Akbar’s Court-Gems. But in case of our king in talk, many local Citizens, Foreigners and sometimes some strangers also visited the king’s Court with their claims that they had some unbelievable talents and they hoped to be favored with honor of Genius Personalities.

One day there came two Cheats in the king’s court introducing them being weavers as well as tailors from Far East country. They said, ”We can weave the finest fabrics beyond imagination not only in colors and patterns, but also having some uncommon specialty of its invisibility to those who are wicked, dishonest and having loose characters. If we are provided a loom, sewing machine, row material of silk and threads of gold and silver and reasonable wages; we can prepare the marvelous garments for Your Royal Majesty.”

“Really! Then they would be the splendid clothes!” said he and ordered the Treasurer to release as much fund as it is required by those Weavers cum Tailors.

The weavers withdrew a very huge amount and transferred the same to their native country. Months passed and the Treasurer, hesitatingly, requested the king to send some officials to inquire about the manufacturing of the cloth and ask them how long the weaving process will go on and how much additional funds they would require.

The king sent his eldest Prince with his two purposes of knowing him whether he is fit to be the king in his place after his death and bringing reports of the progress of the stuff being manufactured.

The Prince went and saw that the weavers were working on their empty looms. He could see nothing but dared not say so in fear of his uncovering of loose character. He pretended not to express any real feelings on his face and plainly said, “Oh, it is so nice, most charming! Yes, I’ll report to His Highness that the work is going on very well.”

The king sent again other able officials to learn how the weaving was proceeding, and if the stuff would soon be ready. They all also fared just as the Prince did, but in fact, nothing was visible to them on loom

The day of king’s enthronement was approaching near. The news of so called marvelous dress with its peculiarity floated widely throughout the kingdom. The dress was being made ready to be experimented on the king on that special day of great celebration. The frauds were familiar with the fact that the king never put on any dress twice throughout his life and there was the question of a day. They were confident that the critical day will pass safely and they will be awarded an order of Knighthood to be worn in their buttonholes and also the title of “Court Weavers”.

At long last after two years, they announced that the cloth for garments is ready to be sewed. They pretended to take the stuff from the loom, cut it out in the air with big scissors, sewed with needles without any threads saying as “Look here, now the purple robe is ready. See, the trousers as white as swan’s wings are also completed. And turban! What a peacock blue color it has!”

The great day arrived. The Weavers said, “Would Your Majesty take off your clothes, please? Now stand in front of this large mirror so that we may get you put on your new dress and you may look in how you look in this wonderful dress.”

Now, the king was standing in front of the mirror with only his loin-cloth. They feigned to dress him one garment after the other and lastly made actions to twine the turban on his head.”

The king turned round and round in front of the mirror hesitating inwardly but pretending as if he was very happy with his new dress.

The announcer of the king’s arrival in the court recited loudly, “His Highness is entering the court.” All rose from their seats with pale but smiling faces to honor the king. The queens sitting in the balcony facing the court were confused and ashamed of seeing the king like an insane, but dared not declare that the king was in his minimum garment of simply a loin-cloth.

The improvisator (Poet who can make spot poems) praised the king, his marvelous dress and those two (Artificial) Gems who are added as the favorite figures of the king in his Court.

The folktale ends here leaving us pondering over the fact that all (all means all those save two Cheats and We-Readers) were idiots. They would have at least tried to feel the existence of the cloth with grip of thumb and finger tips as the blind do. The clothes may be invisible as it is said but how they can remain untouchable!

Generally, the Folktales – Parables – Fables bear some moral lessons, but here I have left to ascertain it upon my Readers as my aim here is only to entertain you. I don’t know whether I have succeeded in my aim.

Thanking you, meanwhile

– Valibhai Musa

P.S.: The ends of the tale in both the sources are different. Andersen writes that the suspense was made open by a child and verbal narration of my village-brother indicates that it was disclosed by the Chief Queen. I have ignored both the ends and allowed the Cheats to remain successful in their plots. Enjoy a quote of Albert Einstein on stupidity: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe!”

 
 

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