New Year’s day was fast approaching, and Yogesh’s wife decided they would have roast turkey that day, so Yogesh was sent off to buy a nice turkey.
Yogesh went to the farm of Rakha, a wealthy landowner who bred turkeys. Rakha himself was selected Yogesh, a lovely plump bird. But when Yogesh went to pay for the turkey, Rakha shrugged him off and told him he could spend some other time. Yogesh was rather pleased with this because he had several bills to pay before the New Year, and he considered Rakha extremely generous to give him credit without asking.
Come New Year’s day, Yogesh and his family thoroughly enjoyed the turkey. A few days later, Yogesh went to Rakha and said he would like to pay for the turkey. Rakha told him to return some other time as he was too busy that day to make up the account.
“But what account do you have to make up?” asked Yogesh. “All I have to pay for is one turkey.”
“I have just told you that I am busy and do not have the time to attend to your account. So come back later.”
Yogesh was not too happy about this, and every week he called at Rakha’s house to pay for the turkey, and each time Rakha sent him away with one excuse or another. At last, months later, Rakha agreed to look into Yogesh’s account. First, he brought out a big leather-bound accounts book and, having turned over sundry pages, sat down and made countless calculations on a large sheet of paper. All the while, poor Yogesh sat fidget- ting and muttering at all this nonsense to pay for one turkey.
When all the unending calculations had been completed to Rakha’s apparent satisfaction, he turned to Yogesh. “Here is your account, and you owe me two hundred and seventy-five rupees and seventy-one paise, but we can forget the paise.”
Yogesh could hardly believe his ears. “You must be joking, Rakha, even to suggest that one turkey could cost so much money.”
“I am certainly not joking,” said Rakha. “If you dis-, believe me, examine the account yourself.”
“It is ridiculous,” shouted Yogesh. “The turkey you sold me was not made of gold!” “Do not lose your temper,” said Rakha, thrusting the account in Yogesh’s face. “As I have not been paid for the turkey, I have had to reckon on how many eggs that turkey would have laid till today and how many young turkeys would have been hatched.”
Poor Yogesh’s head was in turmoil with such figures. Finally, he blurts out, “I will not pay you anything until I have consulted our village magistrate.”
So both Yogesh and Rakha went to the village magistrate’s house, and Rakha showed the magistrate the accounts book and explained how he had arrived at the cost of the turkey.
The magistrate, who happened to be a friend of Rakha’s, studied the account very closely and then solemnly declared,
“This account is in perfect order. Rakha has been very reasonable in only charging Rs. 15 for the turkey when the market price should be Rs. 35. The eggs are also reasonably priced. So I order that this account be paid within seven days.”
Yogesh was very down-hearted at such apparent injustice, so he went to his good friend Patel, who owned many acres of paddy fields, and told him the sad story of the price- less turkey.
Patel patted Yogesh on the shoulder. “Do not worry, my friend. Go to Rakha at once and tell him that you will appeal to the village elders and that I will give evidence on your behalf.”
The following day the village elders sat to hear the case, and the whole village was there, all except the critical witness, Patel. The village elders started to grow impatient when Yogesh could not produce his witness, whilst Rakha could hardly express his enjoyment of Yogesh’s discomfiture.
Then, just as the village elders were about to dismiss the case in Rakha’s favour, Patel came hurriedly onto the scene. “My apologies,” he said breathlessly. “I was unfortunately delayed because I was arranging the sowing of my paddy fields, and the fire would not burn properly, so it took longer for the paddy to roast.”
“You stupid man,” said the eldest of the village elders. “You do not roast paddy before you sow it.”
“Why not?” asked Patel. “If the turkey Yogesh bought and ate can lay eggs and hatch young turkeys, why cannot my burnt paddy sprout?”
The village elders realised then how foolish they had been even to consider this case. At last, Yogesh could smile.