Indian Tales (Puffin Books) by Romila Thapar

Indian Tales (Puffin Books) by Romila Thapar

Author:Romila Thapar [Thapar, Romila]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
ISBN: 9789351180067
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2000-10-13T16:00:00+00:00

The Barber’s Wife

There was once a barber who was known as Clumsy-Fingers. Try as he might, the poor man could never cut a man’s hair without cutting off a bit of his ear as well or shave a man without leaving gashes on his face. Naturally, people stopped coming to him and the barber became extremely poor. The less he earned the more his wife and children suffered. His wife was irritated at having to put up with a stupid husband.

One day, Clumsy-Fingers did not earn any money at all. He waited all day for customers but no one came. At the end of the day he had to face his wife with the fact that there was no money in the house. She said angrily to her husband, ‘Why can’t you earn at least enough to feed us each day even if you can’t provide for any comforts? The pots have been scraped clean in the kitchen and there is nothing for us to eat tonight. I was hoping to buy some food with your earnings and now you tell me that you have made nothing all day.’ Then, as she stamped out of the room, she shouted, ‘If you can’t earn any money, then go and beg for some.’

The barber thought this was a good idea. But where was he to go in order to beg for money? He asked his wife where he should go. She thought for a moment and then said, ‘Why, the king is getting married today. Go to the palace and ask him for something.’ Clumsy-Fingers nodded and set off.

On reaching the palace, he told the officers that he had a special request to make of the king. Ushered into the king’s presence, he bowed respectfully and begged him to give him something. The king was amused and asked him what exactly he wanted. Clumsy-Fingers suddenly realized that he hadn’t asked his wife what he should beg for, so he repeated, ‘Just something, your Majesty.’ The king laughed and ordered his minister to grant the barber some wasteland outside the city. The barber returned home delighted. ‘Well,’ asked his wife, ‘what did the king give you?’ ‘Some land outside the city,’ replied Clumsy-Fingers with a smile. ‘Oh you foolish man,’ said his wife. ‘Since when have you become a farmer, asking for a piece of land? What are we going to do with it?’

When her anger had cooled a little, the barber’s wife called out to Clumsy-Fingers and they both went to see the land. It was a large patch of uneven ground. The poor woman shrank with horror at the thought of the amount of work they would have to put into ploughing the land before they could plant anything on it. But she was never without an idea for long. She ordered her husband to imitate her movements and soon they were both walking slowly over the land, treading carefully, with their eyes on the ground, as if looking for something.

Whilst they were busy doing this, a band of robbers happened to pass that way.


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