The King and the Squirrel

The King and the Squirrel

By Manoj Das

ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a King who was very pro of himself. He was young, well-read and intelligent and no of the youths of his kingdom equalled him in physical strength or valour. Needless to say, he was naturally t richest man in the kingdom.

One day, while strolling in his garden, he said to 1 wise, old minister, “I am sure no one would ever dare boast before me about anything. I am glad that I am superior to everybody in every respect.”

The old minister, who generally agreed with everything the young King said, did not reply. He did not even smile.

The King was very surprised. “Why, my good minister, why do you keep quiet?” He asked.

The minister smiled and replied, “My noble Lord/to be quite frank, you can never be sure that no one will ever boast before you. Though it is a fact that you are superior to everyone in the kingdom, it is quite possible that there are people who do not realise this. Everybody has his own vanity. Often it is seen that even a weakling considers himself the boldest of knights. We should not be surprised if somebody, ignorant of your superiority, boasts before you some day. The best we can do is to ignore such a fellow. To take notice of the vanity of others is to lose one’s own peace of mind.”

While the minister was talking, a tiny squirrel jumped forward and climbed a marble column in front of them. In his front paws, he held high a small coin.

The King was amused. Sure that the King noticed h the squirrel chanted:

I have got so much wealth How much has the King?

How miserable he looks, indeed! Envy causing him suffering.

The King was furious. He rushed at the squirrel before the minister could say a word. The squirrel slipped away but dropped the coin. The King pocketed it. Looking at minister he smiled with satisfaction. The minister, however did not seem to appreciate his action.

It was evening and the King and his minister were bi discussing some important issues with the emissaries from the neighbouring kingdoms. Suddenly, from above/ tl heard the squirrel chanting:

If the King is so rich and so proud

It is with my wealth! I disclose this aloud!

The King’s blood boiled with anger. But he had to control himself as he was in the company of honoured guests. The squirrel hopped from pillar to pillar and repeated his verse. The emissaries were curious, but they did not laugh or utter a word, lest the King should feel offended.

After the guests had left, the King searched for the squirrel. He looked everywhere but could not find him. Restless, he could not sleep a wink at night.

The Kind used to begin his day by giving alms to the poor. The next morning, while he was doing so the squirrel appeared near the door and squealed:

How proudly he distributes alms!

But is it not my wealth that adorns his palms?

The King ordered his attendants to capture the squirrel. But the squirrel managed to slip away. It was with great difficulty that the poor King suppressed his surging anger.

A few hours later, when the King was about to sit down for lunch, the squirrel peeped through the window and sang:

Is it not funny

That with my money

Many a dish

The King would relish!

The King was so enraged that he could not swallow even a morsel of food. His attendants rushed around trying to catch the naughty creature.” But the squirrel was, nowhere to be seen.

Early that night, just when the hungry King was going to eat his dinner, the squirrel appeared in front of him and repeated the verse that had made him give up his lunch.

The King felt absolutely helpless. He took but the squirrel’s coin from his pocket and hurled it at him squirrel picked it up immediately. But while leaving, chanted:

Victory to myself, the mighty squirrel

To all the world I can tell,

The King did return all my wealth

Out of fear for my strength!

The King chased the squirrel like mad. But again the squirrel gave him the slip. Once again sleep evaded the King at night. The squirrel’s taunting words haunted him

As soon as the day broke, the King summoned the minister. “We should mobilise all our soldiers and order them to kill all the squirrels in our kingdom. That will solve the problem,” he said.

“My Lord!” The minister replied, “I understand your wrath. But there is no certainty that our soldiers will succeed in killing all the squirrels in the land. Spread over are vast stretches of cornfields, the dense forests of our land where men cannot enter, and on the lofty peaks of our mountains, their number can run into millions! Besides, a squirrel does not need a passport to enter our land. Any number of squirrels from our neighbouring lands may pour into our kingdom. Our soldiers, who are so brave in battles, would feel surprised and unhappy when asked to fight tiny enemies like squirrels. Imagine their disappointment when they would not be altogether victorious. After all this if the naughty squirrel which is teasing you escapes by chance, all our efforts would have been in vain. And what will our people say and the future historians write about you? Would it not be funny for the students of tomorrow to read: Once upon a time there was a king who led his army against squirrels!”

“What then should I do?” Asked the harassed King.

“My Lord, simply ignore the creature. If you had paid no attention to him when he first appeared in the garden, or, better still, without getting angry you had just listened to his idle boasts, he could not have caused you so much unhappiness. However, it is never too late to change policies for the better.”

A little later, the squirrel approached the King repeated the theme that the King had been obliged to return his wealth out of fear.

This time the King stood unmoved. Then he smiled and said gently:

Who does not know that the mighty squirrel

In wealth and wisdom can easily excel

A king or a monarch, as the yawn of a hen

Excels in expanse the mighty ocean?

The squirrel was delighted. He looked at the King in pleasant surprise. Without a word, he scampered away, never to be seen again.

Speech by Shri Manoj Das at Saraswati Sishu Bidya Mandir, Chandaneswar

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.