The Shade of A Tree

Amir was one of the wealthy men in the village. There stood a big tree in front of his house, and every afternoon, he used to place his cot under the tree and relax upon it. The tree would shade him with its umbrella of thick leaves whilst he had his nap.

One day, Amir came out of his house and found Ahmed, the villager sitting in the shade of the tree.

“You oaf!” he shouted, “who permitted you to sit in the shade of my tree?”

“Kind. Sir,” the man replied, “I was feeling very hot after walking a long distance in the sun, so I sat in the shade of the tree to rest.”

“Away with you,” shouted Amir angrily, “the tree is mine. I planted, watered, and nurtured it with my hands; therefore, the tree’s shade is mine, and no one else can sit under it.”

Ahmed took a deep breath and said, “Sir, I love the shade of your tree so much that I cannot leave it. And, since you won’t allow me to sit under your tree, let us agree. For how much will you sell me the shade of this tree?”

Amir pricked up his ears at the word sell. “Well, give me one hundred and fifty rupees, and you can have the shade of my tree,” Amir barked.

“The timber is yours. The leaves are yours and the roots as well, so I will give you only fifty rupees for the shade of the tree and nothing more,” Ahmed said this and started walking away.

Amir called him back and said, “Give me seventy-five rupees.” Ahmed replied, “not a paise more,” and continued to walk away

But in the end, a bargain was struck, and the price fixed was fifty rupees. In the presence of the village elders, Ahmed paid the sum of fifty rupees to Amit. For the use of the shade of the big tree in front of Amir’s house.

Everyone in the village knew that Ahmed must be up to mischief. But Amir was pleased that he had got fifty rupees for the sale of the mere shadow of the tree.

Every day after that, Ahmed would sit in the shade of the tree. He would also call all the village idlers, like himself, to go and sit there with him and invite the cattle boys to bring their cattle and tether them under the tree too.

Not content with this, Ahmed, with his following of vagabonds, cows, buffaloes and street dogs, moved with the shadow wherever it went. When the shadow fell on the front verandah of Amir’s house, Ahmed was there with his entourage. He was there when it lay in his drawing room, and finally, when it fell in his backyard, he would be there too.

Amir lost his temper and shouted, “Ahmed, you are a wicked man! What right have you to come into my verandah, my drawing room, or my backyard with all your ragamuffin friends” cattle and dogs?”

Ahmed sweetly replied, “Sir, did I or did I not buy the shadow of your tree? Therefore, have I, not the right to go wherever my purchase leads me?”

A few days later, the wedding of Amir’s daughter was celebrated. The bridegroom’s relatives had arrived, and all the rich people of the village and other villages nearby had come too.

The wedding feast was in progress when the tree’s shadow fell on the house. In came Ahmed with his following of idlers, cattle and dogs. The guests could not understand why such a motley crowd had come to the wedding. They asked Ahmed to explain the reason for their presence, and Ahmed told them about his buying the shadow of the tree. When the guests heard the story, they laughed loud and long.

Amir felt very humiliated and was on the verge of tears. He fell at Ahmed’s feet and begged him, saying, “Take back your fifty rupees, man, and leave: me alone.”

“Prices have risen, Sir.” I will not sell the shadow of your tree back to you for anything less than three hundred rupees,” replied Ahmed.

Happy to get rid of Ahmed at any cost, Amir went into his house, unlocked a safe, took out the three hundred rupees and gave the money to Ahmed.

The next day Ahmed bought some new clothes for himself and invited all his friends for a big feast. Amir had realised that it never pays to be too greedy.

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