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Story No 51

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51 - The Tale of the Bull and the Ass

There was once a merchant who was very rich and had many servants and cattle. He had a wife and a family and did farming for living. He was bestowed with the power to know the tongue of beasts and birds of every kind, and under the pain of death he could give this gift to anybody. So he kept it very secret.

One day he was sitting with his servants and his children were playing around, he heard the Bull saying to the Ass - "All under you is clean and fresh, men wait upon you, they feed you sifted barley, they give you clean water to drink; while I am led in the middle of the night, they set the plough on my neck, and I get tired tilling the earth from morning till evening. After that they ill-treat me, shut me in a shed and throw me beans and crushed straw mixed with dirt, and I lie in dirt. While you always live in a clean place. I am always kept hungry while you are given food to your fill."

The Ass said - "O Father of the Bulls, You are very simple and you do not have good advisors. You are full of zeal and you are so polite to your master, you tear yourself for the comfort of others. Now you listen to me. When they tie you in a dirty place, you dig the ground with your forehead and you show your satisfaction, when they throw you the dry fodder, you fall for it with greed and eat it soon. But if you accept my advice, you will be better off, and you will lead a better life than mine.

When they take you to field and keep the yoke on your neck, you just lie down and do not get up even after they have shaken you several times; and if you rise, lie down the second time. When they give you food, just sniff at it and withdraw yourself, do not taste it, be satisfied with your crushed straw and chaff. Do this for 3-4 days, then you will have some rest." Bull thought the Ass his good friend, so he thanked him and said - "You are right."

Next day the driver took the Bull settling plough on his neck, and made him work, but he would shirk his plough, and the ploughman beat him until he broke the yoke. The ploughman was surprised to see this. He gave him beans and husks, but he only sniffed at them and left them. He just lay down as far from them as he could and passed the whole night fasting.

The peasant came in the morning, and seeing the manger full of beans and straw un-tasted and the ox lying on his back, got worried about him. He said to himself - "He looks sick, that is why he did not plough yesterday. He went to the merchant and reported - "The bull is ailing, he did not eat his fodder last night at all." The merchant understood all what it meant because he heard the talk between the Bull and the Ass, so he said - "Take the rascal donkey and set the yoke on his neck and make him do the Bull's work. Thus the Ass did the Bull's work the whole day. When he came home in the evening he was hardly able to move his limbs. While the Bull passed the day lying and ate his fodder with an excellent appetite. He thanked to Ass for this.

When the Ass returned to the shed, Bull rose for in his honor and said - "Thanks very much. Because of you only I could rest today and I ate my food in peace and quiet. But the Ass didn't reply anything because of tiredness, and repenting for his advice to the Bull. Then he thought to return him to his place.

When the Ass had returned to his place, the merchant came out on his terrace to enjoy moonlight. He heard Ass saying to Bull - "What will you do tomorrow?" The Bull said - "The same. I will follow your advice. I will do the same." The Ass said - "No, Not tomorrow." "Why?" "Now I will tell you a good advice, because I have heard our master say "If the Bull doesn't rise to work, give him to the butcher, so that he may slaughter him and give his meat to the poor." I fear for you. So better you rise tomorrow and go to work." The Bull thanked him for this advice.

Next morning the merchant and his wife went to the shed where the Bull was. The driver came to the Bull to take him to the fields and was surprised to see that he behaved with him in a normal way. Seeing this merchant laughed so much that he fell on his back. His wife asked - "Why did you laugh so much?" He said - "Nothing special. I laughed on a secret thing which I have heard but cannot tell you until my death." The wife said - "You must tell it to me even if you die." He said - "I cannot tell you the language of the birds and beasts for the fear of my death."

She did not believe this, so she said - "By Allaah, You are lying to me. You are laughing at me only. And since you are not telling me, I will not live with you, I am going." And she started crying. The merchant said - "What has happened to you? Fear Allaah and do not ask me any more questions." "But then you must tell me the reason of your laugh." He replied - "When I prayed Allaah to give me the understanding the language of birds and beasts, I made a vow never to disclose the secret to any one, until my death." She did not listen to anything and insisted he tell her - "No matter. Just tell me what secret passed between the Bull and the Ass."

When she didn't agree, he asked her to call her parents, other relations and some neighbors, which she did. He sent for the Qaazee and his lawyer to make his will, because he was going to reveal the secret and after that he would die. He loved her very much, because she was his cousin, his father's brother's daughter, and the mother of his children, and he had lived with her for 20 years. 

When everybody had gathered, he said - "I have a strange story but if I tell it to anybody I will die. That is why, please, tell this woman to leave this obstinacy because by doing this her husband and the father of her children will die." She said - "But I am not turning from him until he tells me, even though he dies." So the merchant rose, did his Vazoo ablution and returned to tell the secret and to die.

Now that merchant had 50 hens and one rooster also in his shade. He went to them to bid farewell, he heard one of his many farm-dogs talking to the rooster who was jumping from one hen's back to another, "How mean are you. He should be disappointed who has brought you up. Are you not ashamed of your doings on such a day like today?" Asked the rooster - "And what has occurred today?" "Don't you know that our master is getting ready for his death today? His wife is insisting that he open the secret and then he will die. We dogs are mourning for him and you are enjoying? Is this the time for pleasure or for mourning?"

The rooster said - "Then, by Allaah, our master is lacking sense. If he cannot manage matters with a single wife, his life is not worth prolonging. See I have 50 hens, I please one, and provoke the other, starve one and stuff another, and through my good governance all are in my good control. He is a fool, he has only one wife and still he cannot control her." At this the dog asked - "What do you think he should do to pass this moment?" The rooster replied - "He should arise, take some twigs from mulberry tree and give her a regular beating on her back and ribs until she cries "I repent, O Lord, I will never ask you such question till I live." Then let him beat her once more and then he can live freely and enjoy life. But this our master has neither sense nor judgment."

Hearing this, the merchant went to the mulberry tree, cut some branches and hid them in his wife's room. Then he called her - "Come here in this room, I will tell you that secret, so nobody sees me and then die." She entered the room with him, he locked the door and beat her on every part of her body saying, "Will you ever ask any question about what does not concern you?" until she got unconscious. As she was beaten, she was repeatedly saying - "I repent sincerely, I will never ask you any question." Then she kissed his hand and feet and both came out of the room, she as a submissive wife as she should be. Her parents etc rejoiced and the merchant thus learned household management from rooster. They lived then happily till their death.

End of Story No 51



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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 09/28/13