Sunday, August 13, 2006

Folktales and Fables...

I grew up reading folk tales and fables around the world. The stories of Kings, Queens, and animals behaving human, and humans behaving like animals. Panchatantra, Jataka, Hitopdesha, Aesop, Russian fairy tales with Prince Ivan and Baba Yaga - all of them had morals, and it helped me to grow. I learnt some lessons, which my parents and teachers didn’t teach me. It helped.

The stories were fictional, because the kids who read them were still not prepared for the real world. The fictional stories of the Kings and the Queens, where people in their kingdom were simple, happy and complacent. The desire for 'more' was only restricted to the royal families. Kings didn’t have much work to do. And that’s why they came up with weird ideas and contests. A Russian fairytale narrates how a Tzar got his prince Ivan married to a Frog, just because the Frog held the arrow that Ivan had shot from his palace! I'm happy that my dad isn't a Tzar!! LOL!

One of my favorite stories is an Armenian folktale, where the king was a big time weirdo. He kept a contest, wherein a golden apple would be given to the one who lied the best. People from everywhere turned in huge numbers, telling the King all sorts of lies but no luck. The King didn’t find the potential liars worth.

Days went by, and the King got bored of hearing the same lies again and again. The candidates now irritated him. He even got some of them chopped off. He was the King, and he wanted to show the world the price one pays to bore the King. He was planning to cancel the contest without any winners when one fine day a man in rags appeared in his court. The man was in tatters, leanest you can ever imagine, and all he held was an empty earthen pot in his hands. Raising the pot towards the King, he said - "Your Majesty, I have come for the pot full of gold you promised me! I hope you didn’t forget your promise."

The King was startled at the man's courage. He blurted - "Which pot of gold! What promise? That’s a biggest lie I've ever heard!"

The man replied calmly - " Biggest lie, eh?? Then give me the golden apple. I guess I deserve it, isn't it?" The king felt caught in his own trap. "No, that’s not a lie, you do not deserve the golden apple! Go away!" - the King tried to avoid the man.

"Your Majesty, in that case, I need my pot full of gold that you promised me!" - said the man, smiling at the King. The King saw the dilemma. Had to give away his Golden Apple. :)

The story, teaches us an easy, but an important rule of politics. Control the options that other people hold. Simple, isn't it?

I guess we lost track.. :)