The Boon of Boons

The Boon of Boons

ONE DARK, rainy night, a King was riding through a narrow lane. He was in the habit of assuming the guise of a common man and observing how his subjects lived.

He got thoroughly drenched. But that he did not mind He loved adventure and was healthy enough to with the cold. He did not mind the darkness either. He was not afraid of facing dangers. He rode on leisurely, nevertheless cautiously.

Riding stealthily behind him were some bandits. They observed that the King rode and they excellent horse and intended to steal it.

All of a sudden, the bandits surrounded the King. The King was taken by surprise, but he did not panic. Just as a was making good his escape, however, his horse’s hoof got stuck in a crack on the road. The bandits, who were more than a dozen in number, were just about to pounce upon him when six young men arrived on the scene and came to his rescue. They attacked the bandits from the rear. The bandits, forced to defend themselves, were unable to harm the King.

Whenever the King moved about in disguise/some of his ablest bodyguards followed him. But they kept some distance from the King; The bodyguards now arrived on the spot. The bandits were soon cornered with six young men on one side and the King’s bodyguards on the other. They tried to escape but failed. The King’s bodyguards captured them all without much difficulty.

The King Was very pleased with the young me who had come to his aid, though they had no idea that the they were doing – a great service to their King. After thanking them the King insisted that they accompany him to his palace. They were lodged in the royal guest-house.

The young men had come to the town from distant villages. They had become friends because they were staying at the same inn.

In the morning, the news of the incident became the talk of the town. People were delighted that the bandits had failed to harm their noble King. The members of the royal family, the ministers and courtiers, and the pubic were all praise for the young men’s courage.

As soon as the King appeared in his court, the six young men were brought before him. The King got down from his throne and embraced them. He expressed his desire to reward them for the help they had given him.

“Let each one ask me for the thing that would please him most. I promise to grant it, unless it is beyond my power capacity to do so,” the King announced.

The oldest of the six friends was asked to state his desire first. He thought for a moment and said, “O great King, for a long time I have wanted to live in a comfortable house. So please, will you fulfil my wish?” The King immediately summoned the royal architect and instructed him to build a fine mansion for the young man.

The next young man wanted to be promoted to the rank of a nobleman. The King bestowed some titles upon him and made him one of his peers.

The third young man said, “My Lord, the people from my village travel to the town every week to sell vegetables.

Because there is no good road between my village and the town, they suffer, particularly during the rainy season. My prayer is, let there be a good road for my poor neighbours.” The King made a gesture of approval and the minister in charge of roads and bridges made a note of it.

When the fourth young man was asked to state his wish, he blushed and replied, “O great King, you are like my father. Please find me a beautiful bride.” The King remembered the court-jester having a beautiful daughter. He asked the jester to consider giving the girl’s hand in marriage to the young man. The jester happily agreed.

The fifth young man expressed a desire for money. Bags of gold were handed to him immediately.

At last came the turn of the sixth young man. “My noble Lord, I want you to be my guest once a year until one of us dies,” he said.

Everyone was surprised at the strange wish of the young man. Many took him for a fool. Even to the King, the request appeared rather odd. But he had promised to fulfil any request unless it was beyond his capacity to do so. He was obliged to agree to spend a day and a night once every year at the young man’s house.

Now it was left to the various departments of the King’s government to make adequate arrangements for the King’s yearly visits to the young man’s house.

First of all, it was necessary to build a good road-a royal road—to his village, so that the King’s chariot could move smoothly. Then the question was, how could the King eat and sleep for a day and a night not once but year after year in a humble hut? A castle, worthy of hosting the King, had to be built for the young man. But how would he, with his meagre income, maintain the castle and entertain the King and his entourage? To solve this problem, he was given bags of gold and an annual allowance.

According to a long established convention, the King could onlyibe a nobleman’s guest. So, the young man was promoted to the rank of a nobleman with very special titles of honour bestowed upon him. He grew as respectable as any prince.

There was yet erne more factor to be considered. The lady who would be the King’s hostess should be familiar with {he King’s habits and delicate tastes. Who could be more familiar with them than the King’s daughter? Now that the young man was a member of the nobility, there was no difficulty in the way of the princess being wedded to him.

Thus, asking but one boon, the young man got all that his five companions had obtained and, in fact, much more!

Interaction by Shri Manoj Das with villagers at Shankhari(native village of him)

About Manoj Das

For thousands of men, women and children of the past two or three generations, Manoj Das has been the very synonym of light and delight, whose writings in Odia and English inspire in his countless readers faith in the purpose of life and also open up concealed horizons of confidence and compassion in humanity a dire need today.