Diamonds For Lunch

It was a public holiday, and all the villagers sat in the shade of the temple courtyard, laughing and joking.

Then who should come along but the village money lender who was greeted with a mixture of dirty looks and half-hearted smiles? Puffing out his chest, the money lender explained in a loud voice. “My friends, a great honour has been bestowed upon me today.”

“Ah! our friend has been elected to parliament,” said the village wag.

The money lender was not to be put off. “This morning, the Zamindar sent for me and ‘spent all the morning discussing his affairs with me.”

This particular Zamindar was a pompous and greedy individual who would never deign to speak to the ordinary village folk.

One of the villagers laughed in the money lender’s face. “What rot you talk. Why I cannot only go to the Zamindar’s house to talk, but I can have lunch with him.”

The money lender was furious. “I will wager anything you like that the Zamindar would never ask a villager like you to sit at his table.”

“A Bet! A bet!!” shouted everyone. Then after a lot of discussions, the wager was fixed that if the villager sat down to lunch with the Zamindar, the money lender would have to give him a pair of prize bullocks. But if the money lender won, then the villager would have to plough the money lender’s land for three years without payment.

The next day the villager could be seen proudly walking up to the door of the Zamindar’s house with an ornate jewel box underneath his arm.

“Your honour,” he said to the Zamindar as soon as he was ushered into his presence. “You are famous for your knowledge of diamonds and their value.”

“Yes, yes”, the Zamindar nodded in assent, greedily eyeing the jewel case in the villager’s hand.

“Then, Sir,” continued the villager, “Can you tell me how much a diamond, the size of an egg, is worth?”

The Zamindar was bubbling over with excitement. I can easily cheat this bumpkin into parting with his egg-sized diamond. In his mind, he could already feel the glowing lines of the diamond in his oily palms.

“My friend,” said the Zamindar rubbing his hands in anticipation. “Let us have lunch first, and then we can sit and discuss the value of such a diamond.”

And what a lunch! The villager had never seen such sumptuous dishes, and he thoroughly enjoyed every course, even the costly wines the Zamindar pressed on him. When all the containers were empty, the Zamindar was impatient to get his hands on this diamond, which had grown enormously in his mind.

Pointing to the jewel box, the Zamindar said. “Come, my friend, now let me look at the diamond, and being a generous man, I will buy it from you.”

“But I have no diamond,” replied the villager very meekly.

“Villagers like me do not have small diamonds, let alone the size of eggs. We were talking in the temple courtyard about jewels, and we wondered how much an egg-sized diamond was worth. And as you are an expert, I came to ask you.”

On hearing this, the Zamindar was speechless with rage and virtually frothing at the mouth. But before he could speak, our worthy villager quietly slipped out of the house.

Having won a pair of prize bullocks and had a good lunch at the Zamindar’s expense, mentioning the word diamond would make him laugh.

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