Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Man Who Twirls His Beard

Once upon a time there was a rich man who had a beautiful daughter. Like most rich men of his time, he was worried about his wealth to which he clung like a leech. He was a shrewd man, this rich man, ever conscious of the changing times. He knew only too well he had to move with the tide, which at that time was threatening to sweep away his riches.

The rich man pondered over his problem and at last he thought he had found a solution. His most valuable asset, he remembered, was his beautiful daughter. If only he could get a young man, wise and clever, one, whose wits could match anyone who threatened his wealth, the rich man thought, he would have no more worries.

With this object in mind, he turned down many of his daughter's suitors whom he thought not wise and clever enough. One day his wife, anxious of the daughter's future, said: "My good man, it's high time you did decide whou should marry our lass. It's better for her to gather rosebuds while she may. Please do not tarry, or our lass will be a faded old maid.."

The rich man replied: "Don't you worry, wife. I'm biding my time. Today is the age of workers, only those who work are highly placed in society."

The wife was mortified: "Do you mean that you'd marry our lass to one of those rough brawny workers of the fields or mines? How could you think of such a thing!"

The rich man replied: " Forbear, wife. Surely you're not one of those stupid people who think that only those who weild the hammer or the sickle are workers. Don't you know that those who live by the effort of their brawn or brain are workers. I'm going to find a brain worker or an intellectual worker for our fair lass. An intellectual worker, a wise and clever one, I am going to have for my son-in-law."

The wife was pleased thinking how wonderful it would be to have a man of intellect for her son-in-law, a rare specimen to show off to the less fortunate neighbours. She urged her husband to be quick in his search.

The rich man worked diligently. Every morning he went to the market place where people from all parts of the country gathered. For days he could not find anyone that looked like a man of intellect.

At last, one day he saw a young man sitting on a wayside rest house. This young man did not do anything but sat leaning on a post, his fingers twirling his beard as if in deep thought. The rich man was struck by the grave demeanor of the young man and watched him for some days.

Day after day he saw the young man sit on the rest house twirling his beard. The rich man was now convinced that he must be indeed a man of intellect. So he took him home and gave his daughter in marriage.

The young man, now the son of the house, went on twirling his beard everyday as if in deep thought. The rich man thought that it was time to ask him what his innermost thoughts were and what wonderful plans for the future he was contemplating. So he said: "My son, everyday, you sit in deep thought twirling your beard. Pray tell me what made you contemplate so hard. I'm your father, tell me what social or economic problems you are concentrating on."

The son-in-law gazed into space and twirled his beard extra hard and said: "Oh, my father, for a long time I'd been concentrating on this problem: from whence does this beard spring? Is it from the scalp or from the mustache on my upper lip?"

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This story is taken from "The 13carat diamond and other stories" by Khin Myo Chit.

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