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Ass and Bull : Arabian Nights

Among the 1001 stories Scheherazade tells her husband the king Shahryar and her younger sister Duniyazad is the story of Ass and Bull. Why 1001 stories?

King because of the unfaithfulness of his previous wife, thinks that every woman is faithless. He marries a different girl each day and after first night kills her. This way the kingdom is short of girls. Scheherazade is the daughter of his vizier who swears to broke this mindset of the king. So she marries him.

Purpose is to tell a different story every night but in a such a way that when the climax of story is reached, it is dawn and King who is fond of listening to the stories spares her life for another day to get the story completed the following night. She is a accomplished story teller and weaves a spider’s web and from the ending thread commences another story and this way her death is deferred for next day.

Actually this is a style of story telling and was very popular in India. People of India, especially in rural areas, has a culture of sitting together in the evenings and chatting and telling stories for centuries. Similarly, the womenfolk will come out of their homes with pitcher on their head and babies on their hips for fetching the water. There on the well, they will spent a lot of time sharing their travails and moments of happiness in their homes. Thus stories were born and spread here and there. In fact, it is claimed that Arabian Nights have been written in India.

One such story is concerning an Ass and a Bull. There is a big landlord who has a big house, lots of cattle and land. Among these cattle are our protagonists of the story. They are tethered side by side in the stable. In the evening when bull comes dead tired from tilling the land all day, they talk together. One day, Bull relates his miserable condition in the fields to the Ass who is well off and is used only when the master goes for a trip to city. The bull curses his being a bull and having a hellish life. The ass tells him the trick by which he, the bull, can ease his life. He tells the bull to behave like a very seriously ill and sprawl himself on the ground, don’t eat any fodder when the servant comes with yoke for taking him to fields. The bull sincerely follows the advice and is thought of as seriously ill by the servant and is thus spared for the day in the stable. This continues for few days. Bull thanks the Ass and the Ass basks in the glory of being a wise fellow. But alas!

The master is blessed with a boon by which he is able to understand the language of the birds and beasts and happened to be near the ass and bull when the ass was advising the bull. Presently, when the bull begins feigning the illness, he tells the servant to spare him and take the ass instead and make him work all day in the fields. Ass suffers all day. The master also tells the servant that if the bull does not get well by tomorrow, they will send him to a slaughter house. Bulls comes to his senses and resumes his routine as before.

Moral of story is that no one should think himself the wisest and also refrain from giving free advice to others. Otherwise the chickens shall come home to roost and ruin you.

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