Three Short-Sighted Brothers

In a small town, there were three houses in a row; three brothers were getting on in years. They were all so short-sighted that they could not see anything unless it was within six inches of their noses.

One day the brothers met at the eldest brother’s house as usual. After a lot of idle gossips, the eldest brother turned to his brothers and said, “My sight has improved considerably. I can even see the hindlegs of a mosquito when it rests on the wall.”

“Brother, do not boast,” laughed the second brother. “Only last week, you fell over a fruit seller’s basket.”

“Don’t be stupid,” shouted the eldest brother, “I am not talking about seeing in the daytime. It is at night that can see even better than a cat.”

“Let us not argue,” said the youngest brother, “Instead, we should find out which of us has the best eyesight.”

“I have an idea,” continued the youngest brother. “Tomorrow morning, they are laying the foundation stone for the new rest house. So let us see who can read what is engraved on the foundation stone from a distance of two hundred yards. Then, whoever’s sight is the worst will have to give a fee to the others.”

All the brothers agreed to the contest, and then they parted.

Having boasted so much about his eyesight, the eldest brother wanted to win the contest. But how? After a great deal of thought, he hit upon a simple plan. He knew the contractor building the rest house and would ask him what was engraved on the foundation stone.

So off he went to the contractor’s office, and soon found out that the wording on the foundation stone read, “The building is donated to the pilgrims by the grace of Lord Krishna.’

As the eldest brother left, he passed his second brother in the entrance. But neither of them recognized the other because of their bad eyesight.

The second brother had also hit upon the same idea to win the contest, but he was not content with learning what was engraved on the stone; he also found out from the contractor that the stone was white marble and the lettering in gold.

Now the youngest brother had also schemed to seek the help of the contractor, and apart from what his brothers had learned, he also found out the donor’s name.

The three brothers were all very pleased with themselves and, in their excitement of winning the contest, could hardly sleep all night and lay anxiously waiting for daybreak.

After hurried breakfasts, the three brothers set off for the building site, and when they were more than half a mile away, the eldest brother stopped and exclaimed, “There is no need to go any further; I can read what is on the foundation stone from here. It says This building is donated to the pilgrims by the grace of Lord Krishna.”

The younger brothers were dumbfounded and thought at first they had been defeated. But the second brother plucking up courage, turned to the eldest brother and said, “What kind of stone is it, and what is the colour of the lettering?”

“Who bothers with such detail,” retorted his eldest brother.

“I do,” replied his brother with a smug smile. “The stone is white marble, and the letters in gold.”

“Not so fast,” chirped the youngest brother. “Tell me, what is the name of the donor engraved at the bottom of the stone?”

The two brothers could not answer his question, so the youngest brother shouted triumphantly, “The name of the donor is Sri Govind!”

So victory seemed to go to the youngest brother, but the other two were unsatisfied, and an argument started. Just then, none other than the contractor was passing by, so they asked him to settle their dispute.

Having listened to each brother’s story, the contractor was both surprised and shocked.

“How can you three read what is on the foundation stone when it has not been laid?” he exclaimed. “The stone cracked as it was being carted to the site. So all three of you are just imagining things.”

The three brothers realized that they had all been trying to hoodwink each other and were growing old, and none had good eyesight any longer.

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