The Wise Men on the Camel's Back
The Wise Men on the Camel's Back
" Untaa var che shahaane. "
A longish story narrated by Parag Raje in 4 parts.....
Part One.. Uno
Once upon a time in a dry dusty village on the border of a desert lived a poor man in his mud hut with his wife and children. We can say they were barely surviving because there was no electricity, scanty water and of course hardly any food. Now the poor wife fed up of her lazy husband ( a common contagious complaint the world over ) had reared some goats as a daily source of milk and as a future dinner delicacy on a stormy desert night when there was no other food and the goat was too old to yield milk . She followed a very practical and simple way of rearing them. This was by mainly adopting an age old policy followed successfully by leaders the world over. " let the people or the goats fend for themselves and approach them only at voting or milking time. "
Now as the goats were also hungry and subsisted on desert shrubs, they were always on the lookout for every teeny weeny morsel of food they could find in that desolate desert.
As luck, destiny , fate, providence, niyati, vidhi likhit, prarabdha, daiva, karma,or naseeb apna apna, ( call it what you may ) would have it, on one fine day, one of the goats came across a mud clay cooking pot with a few grains stuck at its deep bottom end.
In its instinctive response to its hungry belly ( hey, hungry belly is a nice name for a food joint ). The goat stuck its head inside the pot to lick up the morsels.
However the crazy goat not being as clever as we humans are, forgot that she didnt have dextrous hands to pull her head out of the pot and as was the natural outcome she found her Goat-head caught in a mud pot. Blinded by the darkness inside the pot she started running helter skelter . But the pot was totally a perfect fit for her head and being quite a sturdy one wouldnt break easily. Luckily there was some space at the top of the pot where her neck was caught giving her an inlet to breath air.
The noise the goat made, woke up the lazy man and his wife and though they caught the goat by her legs and tried pulling the pot off, it was such a tight perfect fit that it would not come off.
In fact all these bodily catching, holding, pulling and pushings only scared the goat more and it started kicking wildly.
This commotion became a big source of entertainment in the village with no electricity and hence no televisions or netflix or twitters .
So a crowd of onlooker advisers soon gathered giving the wildest advices imaginable.
Dear reader let us take a snacks break here and think of some advice on this situation as it is our national moral ethical humane religious ethnic scholastic ancestral educational legal judicial civic divine duty to do so.
So welcome back dear persevering reader to Part 2 ( Part Dwitiya for those who need to be told in English ) of our story
Suddenly on the horizon they saw a group of men coming towards the village riding on their bouncy ships .
( Hello remember school day questions ? Why is a Camel called the ship of the desert ? Nanachi taang tya syllabus chi. Untaa var bas jaa )
Suggesting this as a divine sign of a redressing remedy to the poor mans stuck-in a pot - goat - head problem, the onlooker viewers without his permission in their over flowing helpful frenzy , waved and called out to the camel caravan to come towards them..
With such a hearty invitation from the villagers the camel caravan changed its course and reached the poor mans house. The leader of the caravan was an old rugged man who had a habit of twirling his big moustache with his fingers at every sentence he spoke.
As was the custom he introduced his caravan members. And what a uniquely assorted and chosen circus performers were they!
There were body twisting acrobats and trapeze artists skillful at swinging from one bar swing to another with multiple mid air somersaults , pole vaulters, dare devil stuntsmen and expert animal trainers who held their wild pets on a tight leash, the mandatory clowns wearing swift colour changing attires called turn coats, fire blowers who breathed out fire every time they opened their mouths, to mention a few. There were Gents and damsels of all shapes, sizes, colours and ages. Indeed it was a caravan circus of truly unimaginable and uncomparable characters. Perhaps the over discerning reader / audience's mind may seek some similarities in our Parliamentary or State Assembly members to this circus caravan crew but the innuendo is totally unintentional.
The villagers were suitably impressed and awe struck by what seemed to be almost a galaxy of galactic angels sent by heaven to solve the poor mans problem.
As was the prevalent custom the leader did not alight or get down from the camel first, but instead drove the camel right into the small courtyard of the poor mans house. The door arch and its small short fence mud wall of the courtyard, over which the camel could have easily stepped over given its long heighted legs, was broken down by this traditional rule of " Enter thru door only ". But it was a minor matter which could be ignored as when a great tall camel enters your house, a little adjustment by the host is normally expected.
The camel having entered the small courtyard squatted luxuriously overturning a big drum of water which the wife had just filled spending her entire dawn with multiple trips to a solitary almost dried up far away ultra deep well.
The mud hut had a thatched dried grass roof and it was at a perfect height for the squatting camel and it immediately began chomping on it. Like its masters it did not believe in formalities and permissions.
The leader got down from the camel and after the usual exchange of welcoming pleasantries by the village elders as the poor man in whose house the whole drama was unfolding, had been pushed aside by this in promptu reception committee lest his uncouth appearance may upset and turn away the new guest.
Now the immediate problem was to suitably welcome this caravan circus guests as per their timeless ancestral customs of being a generous host.
They reminded the poor mans wife that it was her duty to offer them a welcoming refreshing starter. For had they not changed their usual travel path and come to help her in her crisis ?
Notwithstanding the poor wifes pleadings that she had nothing to offer, the villagers dismissed her protests as a humorous joke and with a display of rare solidarity started searching her hut for some eatables to serve the distinguished guests.
Wonder of wonders ! The village women hit a gold mine ( well not actually ) when while ransacking the poor mans kitchen they found a pot full of grains which had been stealthily stored and hidden underground by the poor mans wife for her ever hungry starving ravenous brood of children for any unexpected emergency or famine. Being of a spontaneous creative make- do- with- what- you - find nature, the neighbouring women at once broke the wooden rolling pin and other stray wooden items in the kitchen into pieces and lit up the fire in the earthen chulha which is a stove or cooking fire place to cook a gruel of the discovered grains for the guests who had arrived on camel backs. Luckily the goats had just been milked before the pot adventure took place and so a nice boiling hot milky grain gruel or porridge was soon served to the wise men who had arrived on camels.
The lip smacking facial gestures of the guests were watched earnestly and copied by similar lip smacking children of the poor man as if they were enjoying the porridge by proxy!
After partaking of the porridge ,
the leader turned his wise attention to the immediate problem on hand... which in case you dear reader have forgotten in the course of this meandering crooked tail, was how to get the goats head out of the pot.
Upon being appraised of the whole problem by a host of cacophonous voices and from a quick smart drone like visual situational assessment, the leader immediately surmised what the problem was. He nodded his hoary head adorned by a huge turban most knowingly and said in a booming serious tone,
" My friends, dear villagers , pay heed to what i say. Indeed your very lives depend on it. This is indeed an unprecedented monumental calamity befallen on you all.
By some sinister conspiracy plan or may be by a black magic spell cast by some jealous people, this goat has been coaxed into putting its head into the pot.
Its evident that the goat is thrashing about its legs and causing a ruckus as it is scared. This wont do at all. We must steady and stabilise the goat first. If we dont do this who knows how this habit of poking ones head in others pots may spread like wildfire. This wont do at all . Dear folks the situation calls for immediate drastic action "
Here lets take another much needed loo break . Please note lest you interprete wrongly that dust storms in deserts in a local language are called as loo.
Part 3 of 4 ( Trutiya khanda )
Some long boring story about a goat and wise men on camel narrated by Parag Raje to show off his Eenglees knowledge )
Welcome back dear reader!
On hearing these words of the circus caravan leader, there was a wave of hushed scared whispering amongst the head nodding audience .
The leader was famous amongst his circus caravan and admired amongst his tribe for his quick bold decisions and swift action. He had an in built instinct to live up to this prestigious carefully cultivated image .
And without much ado nor any briefing about what he was to do next, the caravan leader took out his sword and in one swift strong stroke cut off the goats head. As the pot rolled on the ground with the head within, there was an audible loud gasp from the gathered crowd.
Before the crowd could react further, and recover from the initial shock of that almost divinely charged, seemingly sacrificial action on an imaginary altar , the leader shocked them further as he took a sharp heavy stone and with a dexterity that would put any mud pot shattering village lane Romeos to shame, broke the mud pot in which the goats head had been trapped so long into multiple pieces !
Lo and behold ! The now permanantly silenced and stabilised goats head miraculously emerged forth from the broken pots debris in tact in one whole piece !
It had already been partitioned from the rest of its body by the skillfull swift bold action told earlier.
Now its freedom was complete.. in toto... finis.... total independence...
The leader looked around victoriously with this culminating inspiring action of his, his eyes expectantly seeking an adulation filled response from the onlookers.
He was not disappointed.
The awestruck crowd marvelled at this great feat and unique hitherto not imagined solution of freeing the head of the goat trapped in a pot and loudly cheered and clapped in praise in appreciation.
" Unta var che Shahane " aka "
The wise men on the camel's back "
An old folk story revised and recycled and lately narrated by Parag Raje
Concluding Part 4 ( Bhaag chaturtha.... Antim Parva )
So much was the glee on this prompt and unique solution that the neighbours started clamouring collectively for a celebration in honour of the wise leader on the camel back and his entourage of circus performers.
The goat which had by now been freed from the blinding prison of the mud pot, and its life as well, became the proverbial sacrificial goat and was used as the main ingredient in this in promptu celebration.
The leader and the circus caravan did not need not much persuasion to participate in this feast.
As a single goat would not have sufficed for the entire caravan and ever obliging helpful neighbours, the remaining goats of the poor man were pressed into sacrificial service for this noble cause.
Just goes to prove the universal butterfly effect of how the misadventure of a solitary goat adversely affected and sealed the fate of all the other goats.
I heard there was some initial reticence or resentment of whether the goats mutton was halal or jhatka or dharmik certified but the controversy was soon hushed up or rather ignored by the overpowering taste bud teasing wafts of smell coming from the cooking pots.
A tasty dish it must have proved to be by the speed with which the food was devoured by the guests.
All the caravan members heartily partook of the meal with sumptuos helpings. Indeed so generous were they in serving themselves to the bouffet that soon the caravan members had devoured every titbit morsel and had licked up clean every platter and cooking vessel bare.
Alas ! All good things must come to an end sometime and soon it was time for the God sent travellers to depart for their destination.
With fond teary farewells the villagers bid them bye and returned to their dwellings.
After the last helpful neighbour had gone, the poor man and his wife surveyed the aftermath of the visit.
Their thatched grass roof had been eaten up by the hungry camel .
The courtyard door and walls were broken down.
Their entire year long stock of stored food grains had been wiped out.
Their pet goats which were always heard bleating had been silenced and vanished with no trace.
The cooking pot lay in shards.
Their roti rolling pin and other wooden furniture had been burned to ashes as fuel for cooking food.
Their ever hungry kids had been subjected unexpectedly to observe a forced holy fasting day and were going to be forced to observe a stricter fast for a longer period too. Perhaps these were the origins of all those prescribed holy month long fasts. But this is just a wild conjecture and let us not tread on dangerous corn filled toes . Let us silently ignore such stray minor irrelevant thoughts of the childrens fate. We are sure the poor children survived the ordeal.
As the poor mans wife surveyed the scene, it was as if they had been struck by a cyclone in the desert. Or a swarm of locusts sent by a neighbouring land.
The poor mans wife suddenly buckled down and collapsed on the floor on surveying the scene. Perhaps the excitement of the days events were too much for her understanding.
Instinctively her hand hit her forehead. She could not utter a word. Stupefied into silence she just sat there like a stone statue. Like a meditative yogi only with a different mudra.
In that eerie silence the poor mans trembling whispering voice was heard
" But finally we did manage to free the goats head from the mud pot ! Thanks to the wise man on the camel's back ! "
And so ends happily our narrative of the wise man on the camel's back.
Authors Post script....
I presume its a folk tale from Rajasthan or Gujrath for I remember the story was illustrated showing men wearing the typical Kathiyawadi dress in the story book.
I google searched for the story but apart from the 3 wise men of biblical fame visiting baby Jesus, did not find this particular story. This just shows that the sagacity of wise men on camel'\s back has been documented since Biblical times.
However I felt a pulverising pulsating purgative pull to type out this unique monumental historic earth shattering mind blowing enriching explosive exaggerating educating exfoliating exasperating excruciating engrossing elaborate elongated torturing perplexing intoxicating
Informative funtastic story for the benefit of posterity lest it be forgotten in the sands of a dreary desert of amnesia prone memories .
Strangely although Google is silent, I presume that the Marathi phrase "Untaa varche shahaane" implying Experts whose advice does more harm than good must have its origin in this story.
Any resemblance or similarities to the Covid experts advice of Lockdowns. If any of these experts are from Gujrath or Rajasthan it will be sheer fictional coincidence and purely a figment of the readers imagination.
An old folk tale retold by Parag Raje from his childhood memories.... with a tongue in cheek and frozen face policy
It's his hobby to suddenly on a whim write such sodden stories to exorcise the spirits of a defunct starved imagination.