The foolish badshah

A long time ago, people say Persia was ruled or rather misruled by a foolish badshah. His absurd and illogical decisions frustrated the people of his kingdom. One day, the royal soldiers brought in two men seeking justice.

The first man complained that the other had jumped into his house through the thatched roof, with an idea to steal; the second man was furious that the roof of the house was so poorly made that he almost broke his leg when he was out to burgle the house. The two men wanted the badshah to give his judgment.

“Hang the owner of the house! The poor thief could have broken his leg while trying to make his living! How careless and inconsiderate of him!” proclaimed the king.

“Oh no, please, Your Highness! It is not my fault that the thief fell from the roof. I got the roof made by the village weaver. I think if anybody is to be punished it is the weaver,” pleaded the house owner.

The badshah thought for a while and nodded wisely. “You are right! Soldiers, prepare the gallows for the weaver,” he ordered.

The soldiers dragged in a sobbing weaver.

“O Great Badshah! I generally make strong mats for roofs. But when I was weaving mats for this man, my neighbour’s pigeons distracted me. I think you should punish him for keeping noisy birds that disturbed me and made me weave shoddily!”

“Hmm. . . maybe you are right! It is time to hang that foolish keeper of pigeons! Bring him in, soldiers!” thundered the king.

The pigeon-keeper was a poor man. He had nothing to lose and that gave him the courage to speak boldly to the badshah.

“Your Highness, I suggest you hang the thief who was going to rob the man in the house. Is it not wrong to take other’s possessions? You are a wise king and I know that you will punish the guilty,” said the bird keeper.

The badshah twirled his moustache and thought for a long while. There was a heavy silence in the court. Finally, he spoke.

“Yes, my good man, I should punish that rogue. You dithering soldiers, get the gallows ready for the thief.”

In a very short time, the thief was brought in. But luck still favoured the scoundrel. He was too tall and hence, he didn’t hang from the noose when it was pulled up.
The king was furious when heard about the problem.

“You stupid oafs, can you not solve this simple problem by yourselves? If the thief is too tall, then hang a short man instead!”

The king’s equally foolish soldiers ran through the streets of cities and towns of Persia till they found a really short man who would hang from the gallows. But the little man was not going to die without a protest.

“O Mighty Badshah, it is the thief who must die, not I! If he is too tall, then just dig a deep hole under his feet so that he will hang!”

“Exactly what I too thought of, good man! Soldiers, dig a hole and hang the thief!” ordered the silly king.

It seemed finally that the real wrong-doer was going to be punished. When the noose was put around the thief’s neck, the cunning fellow shouted, “Quick, tighten the noose real quick! I must die right away to reach Heaven in time to become the badshah of the universe!”

When the king heard this, he cried, “You lowlife, how dare you aspire to be the ruler of the universe? Soldiers, free that fool and hang me instead, for I am the only one worthy to be the badshah of all worlds!”

The soldiers did as their king demanded. Perhaps it was the only thing they had done right during the badshah’s rule. And the people of Persia weren’t complaining!

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