Digital Dimdima

TALES FROM READERS

A King's Costly Mistake

King Vikramaditya could do something no ordinary mortal could do. His soul could leave his body and enter that of a corpse. VIOLA! The dead creature came back to life. He had to take care no one burnt his own lifeless body. Only then could he re-enter it and once again become king!
Now the king had a very jealous friend. Ah! If ONLY he could do what the king could do. Life would then be very, VERY interesting! So he pleaded and pleaded with the king, to teach him how to bring dead corpses back to life. The kind king taught the magic to his friend. After all good friends shared everything!
The king's faithful minister, Bhatti, was VERY upset. He did not trust the king's friend. Bhatti was convinced that one day the cunning, ambitious friend would dupe King Vikramaditya!
One day the king and his friend were in the forest. They watched two parrots on a tree. Suddenly a hunter's arrow fatally pierced the male parrot. The female parrot screeched piteously. The kind king felt very sad. He decided to leave his body and enter the body of the dead parrot. The female parrot was delighted to see her dear mate, hale and hearty like before!
The cunning Vijay realized he had a chance to become king! He promptly entered the king's corpse. Now HE was the KING! He went back to the palace. But first he burnt his own corpse up. He NEVER wanted to return to it! The real king did not notice that his friend had gone. He was happy being a parrot!
Bhatti was very suspicious. The king had returned much earlier than had been planned! The faithful minister soon realized the king in the palace was a 'fake'. His proof? The king suddenly had new food fads! He warned the queens. Then he told the king that the queens had ordered that he should not meet them. They were observing 'gowri vrat'.
Meanwhile, the real king was having a wonderful time! He had an admiring audience. The forest parrots! They thought he was very, VERY clever. So they all kept close to him. They did whatever he told them to do. He was their KING!
One day a greedy hunter managed to trap many of them in his net.
"What should we do?" cried the hapless victims.
"Just pretend you are DEAD!" advised the wise parrot, King Vikramaditya. "FLY when I tell you to!"
The hunter was disappointed to see 'dead' parrots when he lifted the net.
"SCREEEEECH!" squawked king parrot. "SCREEECH! SCREEEECH!"
The parrots immediately flew away! The furious hunter was VERY angry.
"HOW DARE YOU MAKE A FOOL OF ME?" yelled the hunter furiously.
He lunged and caught the king parrot. "NOW let me see how YOU fly away!"
"Sell me for a thousand gold coins," said the parrot, to the hunter's amazement.
So the hunter sold the king parrot to a merchant. The hunter now was VERY rich! The parrot gave advice to everyone. Soon the merchant too was VERY rich! The parrot's fame spread far and wide.
One day a beautiful dancer heard that someone had seen her dance in his dreams. The furious lady landed up at the hapless man's place demanding he pay her for her dance performance!
"But it was JUST a dream!" pleaded the man.
"NO ONE watches my dance for FREE!" said the woman angrily.
The wise parrot's advice was sought. They all waited with bated breath. What would the wise bird say?
"Place gold coins in front of THAT mirror!" said the parrot king to the man who was being asked to pay for his wonderful dream!
The dancer was shown the reflection of the coins.
"LOOK!" ordered the parrot. "THERE is the money this man OWES to you!"
"THAT'S only a reflection!" protested the woman.
"He SAW you in his dream. So now you SEE the money he owes you!" said the clever parrot.
The angry woman vowed to KILL the parrot! The king parrot guessed her bad intentions. He flew away and hid behind the deity in a temple. NOW he gave advice to distraught devotees who thought God had come to Earth to help them! People flocked to the temple. They went back VERY happy!
Bhatti, meanwhile, was searching for the real King Vikramaditya. The kingdom was in danger in the hands of the unscrupulous usurper! He heard about the famous temple.
"The God they are worshipping speaks like my dear king!" said clever Bhatti.
He went to the temple. He waited till every devotee had left. Then he went behind the deity. He found a parrot.
"Bhatti!" exclaimed the bird.
"Come home, Maharaj!" said Bhatti happily. "Your people NEED you!"
He told King Vikramaditya about the fake king.
"My treacherous friend must have entered my lifeless body!" exclaimed the king. "I have been very, VERY foolish!"
They both knew what they had to do. The friend had to be tempted to leave the king's body so that King Vikramaditya could re-enter it!
"He's very, VERY eager to meet your beautiful queens!" said Bhatti.
"So we will use THAT as a lure, to tempt him into doing what we want him to do!" said King Vikramaditya.
Bhatti told the fake king that a bullfight was going to be held. The queens would meet him IF the king's bull killed their bull. The bulls charged at each other. The king's bull got killed. The queens laughed and clapped their hands happily!
The fake king was desperate. He wanted to have an audience with the beautiful queens!
"OF COURSE!" thought the cunning man happily. "I'll enter the dead bull's body. Then fight the queens' bull. Kill it and win the fight!"
He promptly left the king's body and entered the dead bull's body. King Vikramaditya quickly took the opportunity to re-enter his own body!
The traitorous friend, did not know what to do! Winning the bullfight was now of no use to him. King Vikramaditya was going to punish him! He had to enter the parrot's body. He had no other alternative. He had foolishly burnt his own body many months ago!
King Vikramaditya ruled his kingdom wisely for many years. But he had learnt a valuable lesson. He NEVER ever let his heart rule his head again!

An old Indian folk tale adapted and retold by Hema Rao

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