Born To Be Happy

Long, long ago, there lived a King. He had everything a monarch could wish for. A large fruitful kingdom, a well-filled treasury, and a mighty army. But this King had one fault. He considered himself the happiest man in the world; therefore, no one else had the right to be satisfied.

Sometimes the King would have his doubts about this score. But they would readily assure him whenever he mentioned the matter to his council of ministers. “Your Majesty, no man, woman or child has been born, or will be born, who will be as happy as you.”

Somehow the King was unconvinced, so he decided to find out for himself if his ministers told him the truth. So, disguising himself as a peasant, he wandered the towns and countryside. But he had to admit that most people looked worried and sad. Indeed, he never saw anyone as happy as himself.

Nearing the end of his wanderings, the King came to a small village nestled by the side of a mountain. As he walked through the town, he was sur- prised to hear music and singing in one of the huts.

Peering inside, he saw a youth playing an instrument and singing merrily away. When the kid looked up and saw the stranger, he invited him to come in.

“You seem to be very happy. Tell me why?” asked the King, hoping the youth would confess to many worries.

“I am as happy as the day is long,” the youth laughed. “Why should I have cared? I am Anand, the tinker. I earn sufficient for my needs and have no ties or debts. I am as free as a bird.”

The King immediately saw that this happy youth had far too much freedom. So hurrying back to his palace, the King ordered that henceforth no tinkers were allowed to work independently and would become servants of the King.

As our musical tinker had no wish to work for any king, he wandered around looking for some work whereby he could still be his own master.

He came across an elderly. Man who was finding it difficult to chop wood, as the axe was nearly as big as himself.

“Let me cut the wood for you,” said Anand, taking the axe from the man, who was only too pleased to be relieved of the task.

The wood did not take long to chop, and Anand was pleasantly surprised with the amount the man paid him. This was the answer. From now onwards, he decided to be a woodcutter and be free from all cares.

Now the King thought that as all tinkers were now his servants, that singing youth would not be quite so happy. So donning his disguise as a peasant, he took another trip to the youth’s village. But when he arrived, he was amazed to find the child singing away as merrily as before.

“I thought you would now be working as a servant at the palace,” said the King.

“Not me,” replied Anand with a broad grin. “When the King stopped us wandering tinkers, I became a woodcutter, which pays just as well.”

The King returned to his palace, more determined than ever to curb this youth’s happiness. The following morning, Anand was awakened by two of the King’s officers, who announced that he had been appointed a soldier of the guard.

“I do not want to be a soldier,” said the hapless Anand. “I much prefer to be a simple woodcutter.”

One of the officers gave Anand a prod in the chest with the hilt of his sword. “You will come with us to the palace and be a soldier whether you like it or not.”

So the next day, here was Anand, all dressed up in the colourful uniform of the King’s guard, with a giant sword dangling at his side. But his high spirits soon overcame this tedious occupation. The only trouble was the King never remembered to pay his soldiers.

This was not at all to Anand’s liking, and the next day, having no money to buy food, he sold his sword for a goodly price and got a carpenter to make him a wooden sword to fit his scabbard.

But trouble was brewing. The King received reports that the youth had been caught singing whilst on guard duty! At first, the King was at a loss for words, but then he had a grand idea. He would make the youth the executioner. Now, that was a gruesome task to wipe the smile off his face.

The first unfortunate to be dragged before the King for some petty crime was promptly sentenced to be beheaded, and Anand was sent to carry out the excellent deed.

Poor Anand was in a miserable plight. He had no desire to kill anyone. Turning to the King, he stammered. “Your Majesty, I cannot behead this man. Let someone else do it.”

The King jumped up from his throne in a rage. “You will behead the prisoner at once. Otherwise, you will also lose your head.”

But Anand was not to be outdone by this reckless King. Raising his arms, he solemnly declared, “If this man is innocent, may the gods change my deadly sword to harmless wood.” With that, he drew his sword, and to the amazement of everyone, it was wood!

At first, there was a deathly silence, and then someone took up the cry. “It is a miracle. The sword has been changed to wood. The prisoner is innocent, so set him free!”

The King realised that the youth was far too clever for him, so he quietly banned Anand from the kingdom. Anand was glad to go. Happy to get away from such a despot of a king.

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