Lions and Sweets

It was Somu’s birthday; there was a big birthday cake, ice cream and many other goodies on the table for the party.

Just before the party began, the children started to argue as to whether lions ate cakes and sweets and if the animals would be friendly towards children when they were offered sweets,

Ramu, Somu’s elder brother, believed that lions did not eat cat sweets and did not make friends with boys and girls. Somu insisted that lions liked sweets and that they would become friends. The other little guests were equally divided in their views. So they decided to ask Somu and Ramu’s grandfather what he thought was right.

Grandfather was reclining in his armchair, dozing in the afternoon’s heat. When the children entered his room arguing noisily, he was abruptly awakened. Happy birthday children, to all of you,” he cried.

“It’s Somu’s birthday, grandfather, and not ours,” shouted the children.

“I know, I know,” grand- father said, “But I wish everybody a happy birthday, whether their birthdays are to come or whether they have passed. It makes no difference. I wish you all many happy birthdays once again.”

The children then asked him to clear their doubts about the lions and the sweets.

“I will tell you a story about a lion and some sweets,” said grandfather.

“A Story! A Story!” shouted the children.

As they crowded around grandfather’s chair to listen to his tale

“Grandfather, does the lion in your story eat cakes and sweets?” questioned Somu.

“Have patience, my child,” grandfather answered, “I should not tell you what happens beforehand.”

Grandfather then took a large pinch of snuff and slowly! Began:

Once upon a time, a Brahmin cook lived in a village. He was so good at making sweets that he was in demand everywhere. He was sure to be asked to prepare the sweets whenever and wherever there was a feast.

Late one afternoon, the cook. I was returning home from a big feast in a rich man’s house. He was carrying a big basket of the tastiest sweets the rich man had given him for his children.

He was taking a shortcut home as he was in a hurry to give the delicious sweets to his children. It was a big mistake for him to use the shortcut, because in doing so he had to pass through a dense forest and there was a big cave in that forest and in that cave there lived a giant lion, with a very long mane.

The Brahmin walked straight Into the Lion. Waving its tail above its head, the Lion roared, “Halt! I am starving, and I am going to eat you up!”

The Brahmin turned green with terror, his limbs shook, and his teeth chattered. He stammered, “Oh! Mighty King of the forest, I have the most wonderful things for you to eat here in this basket. Pray, do not eat my evil-smelling self.”

With that, he opened the basket of sweets, and the King of the forest was soon enjoying the delicious aroma coming from the sweets. The Brahmin stammered, taking advantage of Lion’s interest, “The sweets must be a thousand times tastier than my poor body and saltish blood, your Majesty.”

The Lion shook its majestic head in consent and proceeded to devour the sweets. Smacking its lips, it roared, “It’s good eating, Brahmin; I am very pleased with you so that you can have some of the gold in my cave.”

The Lion was in the habit of collecting all the gold coins, jewellery and clothes that it found on the bodies of the people that it killed.

When the Brahmin beheld the vast heap of gold in the cave, his eyes lit up with avarice. “Great King of the Forest,” the Brahmin cried as he heaped as much gold and ornaments as he could into his upper cloth, “I will be thrilled to give your majesty a big basket of sweets everyday just as good as the ones you have just eaten if it so pleases you.”

The Lion growled in approval, “Yes.”

From that day onwards, the Lion ate the Brahmin’s sweets each day, and in return, the Brahmin took home as much of the Lion’s gold as he could.

“Children, you all know,” said grandfather, that a jackal always waits upon a lion, eating Lion’s leftovers from its kills. Now the jackal waiting on our sweet-eating Lion began to starve because the Lion ultimately gave up making any kills. The jackal was a very clever as well as cunning animal. He decided that if it did not get rid of the Brahmin, who fed the Lion with sweets, he would have to die of hunger. So, the jackal devised a brilliant plan to eliminate the Brahmin.

The jackal entered Lion’s den one afternoon, looking very sad. It would not speak at all. Two big tears rolled down its nose. The Lion was moved by the sight of the jackal’s tears and asked what was a miss.

“Many victories and a long life to your Majesty!” said the jackal. “Last night, by chance, I happened to go to the Brahmin’s village and there, I overheard him talking to his wife. He said, dear; I am so tired of cooking sweets for the Lion every day. Tomorrow I am going to put some poison into his sweets. If the Lion dies, we can have all his gold for ourselves and become rich.

When the Lion heard this, its mane stood on end, and its tail arched over its back. The Lion raised its right fore paw and roared so loudly that the whole forest seemed to shake. “Let him come to me with his poisoned sweets, and I will teach him a lesson.”

The jackal was very happy that its plan had succeeded so well

At the usual time, the Brahmin arrived with his sweets for the Lion. The Lion at once stood on its hind legs and roared in anger, saying, “You human snake, so you want to kill me! I will teach you a lesson!”

The Brahmin was terrified and pleaded with the Lion, “Your Majesty! What has your humble servant done to deserve your highnesses wrath?”

“Did you not mix poison into my sweets this morning? Tell me before I kill you!” ordered the Lion.

“Your Majesty”, prayed the Brahmin, “I swear upon all that I hold holy that I would never harm you. If your Majesty doubts my intentions, allow me to eat the sweets before you touch them.”

The jackal intervened, “Your Majesty, knowing that he will die anyway. This avaricious Brahmin wants to die a painless death by eating sweets. For his offence, he should be torn into pieces by your Highness! Therefore please permit me to sample the sweets,”

The jackal ate only one sweet, and upon doing so, immediately fell to the ground and lay there motionless.

Now the Lion was convinced of the Brahmin’s guilt, and raising its paw over the Brahmin’s head, the Lion roared. “The jackal has died because of your poisoned sweets. What have you to say, wretch, before I kill you for your wickedness?”.

Shivering with fright, the Brahmin answered, “I have not committed any offence against your noble life, but as I am condemned to die, grant me one last wish.”

“What is this last wish of yours?” growled the Lion.

“We Brahmins”, pleaded the Brahmin, “wear what is called a sacred thread. If, at the time of our death, we tie a piece of the skin of a jackal to it; we go straight to heaven. Otherwise, we have to go to hell.”

“Granted,” growled the Lion as it went to sharpen its claws on a stone, which it kept in the corner of its cave for this purpose. After honing its feet, the Lion went towards the jackal to tear out a piece of its skin to give to the Brahmin.

What followed was a miracle. The jackal leapt up with a bound and disappeared, never to be seen again.

Grandfather then turned to the children and said, “Do you see now that lions are noble beasts who love to eat sweets and make friends with human beings?

The children agreed to say “True, true, grandfather” and hurried away to begin their party.

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