The Benevolent Brother

The Benevolent Brother :

“I won’t leave you,” said king Vikram as he grabbed the betal and whisked him to the sage. The betal narrated a story as usual.

There were three robbers. They were talking, sitting under a tree on the top of the hill and glancing at the village below dotted with houses.

“The people in this village are rich. They are hard working. Surely we can get a lot of money, if we target these houses!” suggested one. The second nodded in acceptance. “What you are saying is not wrong. But you know, these people are always very alert?”

“If one of them gives an alert, the others will come out carrying knives and sticks. We will be beaten severely. Who knows….they may even kill us too, if we get caught!”

The third robber agreed. “What you are saying is right. The moment one hears the alert, the others would immediately spread in all directions and seal off our way. Then we can never escape!”

“Our escape route won’t be a problem. I know this area. There is a gap between the two mountains where hundreds of deadly snakes live. So, these people don’t go that side. We can escape through that way!” said the first one.

“If so, what are we waiting for? Let us go and reap the harvest!” voiced the second.

The other two surveyed the surroundings. The village seemed lifeless. They did not even see a person over there.

“The villagers must have gone out to work,” said the second one.

Then they set off down the hill.

Reaching the row of houses, they started robbing. But there was an old woman. She was sitting under a tree. Immediately on seeing them, she screamed. Her feeble shout alerted about 20 men working at a shorter distance away from her place. All of them were weavers. They were weaving when they heard the scream.

The next moment, they abandoned the work, grabbed the sticks and ran. They saw the three men running away. The weavers gave a hard chase. But they could not catch the robbers. It was while they were returning. They spotted three men working in the field!

“Those three are the robbers,” indicated one.

Moments later, they all surrounded the three men. Tying their hands, the villagers took them to the king and complained.

“Keep them in prison for a few days. I will put them to death sooner!” ordered the king. Accordingly, the three men were imprisoned.

The next day a woman came crying to the palace. “I want to see the king. My husband, son and brother are held as prisoners. They are not the offenders. We are innocent farmers. We live at the edge of the forest. It is a mistaken identity. They are not robbers!”

The king was taking a stroll in the garden. He heard the woman’s cry. He called a guard and told him to find out what it was. The guard went and told the king who the woman was and why she wanted to meet the king.

“Send her in,” snapped the king. The woman came and knelt down before the king.

Sobbing, she narrated her plight. The king eyed her for some time. He felt sorry for her. Yet, he knew he could not distort the rules.

“Look, there are 20 people here who brought the three offenders. So, how you alone can prove that they were not robbers?” he asked.

The woman could not speak. The king knew she was speaking the truth. He knew if he hanged all the three men, she would be without support. And she might end her life too. So, he showed some pity on her.

“All right,” he went on, “I will release one of them. Tell me who do you want to be spared - your husband or son or your brother?”

The woman thought for a while. Then to the amazement of all, she said, she wanted her brother to be spared!

“You want your brother back?” repeated the king unbelievingly. “I thought you will ask for your husband or son?”

At this juncture, the betal gave a break. "Now tell me, O' king, Vikram, why did she ask for her brother and not her husband or son?”

"A woman can always find another husband and have another son. But after parents had died, it was her brother who was her only sibling. She cannot get another. Hence, she asked the return of her brother!”

“Ah, your answer makes it complete. So does my time with you!” uttered the betal as it escaped from his grip!

The Benevolent Brother

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