Monkey Business

Hiralal was a simple villager. He was neither well-educated nor very clever, but he had a happy disposition, cheery words, and a smile for everyone. He lived pretty comfortably, according to his tastes, by doing any odd job, whether repairing a cart, building a wall, or working in the fields.

His happy-go-lucky way of life made him very popular, perhaps except for Madan, a reasonably prosperous land- owner, who couldn’t under- stand why people should like a penniless individual such as Hiralal, and yet avoided a well-to-do man like himself. The trouble was Madan spent all his time gloating over the money he squeezed out of other people.

With Diwali approaching, a fair was being held in a nearby town, and Madan decided to walk there, as it was cheaper than hiring a conveyance to buy new clothes.

On the way, he overtook Hiralal, who was idly strolling along the road. “Hullo Hiralal,” he called out. “Don’t tell me you are going to the fair to spend money.”

“Not me,” replied Hiralal with a broad grin. “I have no money to spend. But I am going to the fair to make some purchases for the magistrate, who is too busy to go himself.”

The two men went on together, but Madan suggested they rest a while beneath the shady neem trees as it was becoming uncomfortably hot on the side of the road. They had no sooner sat down and made themselves comfortable when Hiralal, as his wont, fell fast asleep.

As Madan looked at his sleeping companion, it struck him that this was a golden opportunity to take this fellow down in the world. Now if Hiralal were to lose the money entrusted to him by the magistrate, the poor fool would probably be accused of stealing it and have to spend a few years in jail.

So careful not to disturb the sleeping Hiralal, Madan deftly took the money out of Hiralal’s pocket and put it in his pocket.

Congratulating himself on his cleverness, Madan lay back lovingly, contemplating Hiralal’s future fate, and then he fell off into a deep sleep.

Several chattering monkeys were now high up in the branches of these neem trees. One old fellow, wise in years and curious by nature, had carefully watched the drama below his perch. He was rather intrigued about what had passed from pocket to pocket, so he decided to climb down and investigate for himself.

The old monkey nimbly removed all the money from Madan’s pocket and then, seeing it wasn’t something nice to eat, stuffed it all into Hiralal’s pocket.

Later the two men resumed their journey, Hiralal enjoying the scenery whilst Madan evilly contemplated all the troubles in store for Hiralal.

When they arrived at the fair, they parted company. Thinking of the extra money in his pocket, Madan purchased many expensive clothes, but when he reached for his money, it had gone! Some dastardly thief had picked up his bag!

Hiralal methodically bought everything the magistrate required and imagined his surprise to find he had a lot of money. Maybe money did multiply, but he couldn’t work that out, although now he could buy himself some new clothes.

When eventually the story of Hiralal’s good fortune became village gossip, Madan ruefully scratched his head in wonder and decided that perhaps Hiralal wasn’t quite so foolish as he looked.

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