In a village in Bengal, there were two brothers. The elder brother was quite a successful farmer, whilst his younger brother, Dipu, never seemed to make any headway. Although he worked hard, things never seemed to go quite right.
One day, Dipu wanted to cart a lot of manure to his fields, so he asked his brother if he could borrow a bullock cart.
“Every time I lend you anything, it always gets damaged,” his brother growled. “Anyhow, I will lend you my bullock cart, but take good care of my prize bullocks. Return them before evening, and do not overwork them.”
Dipu went off with the bullock cart, and towards the end of the day, when his work was finished, he drove back to his brother’s farm. On the way, he wondered if these bullocks could gallop, so he gave them a taste of his whip. Next, the bullock cart hit a pothole, careered off the road, and struck a tree. Unfortunately for Dipu, one of the bullocks broke off one of its long curved horns.
Dipu’s brother was furious when he saw his injured bullock and promptly complained to the nearest Magistrate’s court.
The following week the two brothers were summoned to attend the court in a town about ten miles away. They journeyed there together, with Dipu receiving a reprimand from his brother every yard of the way.
When they arrived in this town, it was decided to spend the night at the house of a friend of Dipu’s brother. Dipu had to sleep on a hard wooden bench because the accommodation was limited. Dipu could not sleep; he tossed and turned all night. Ultimately, he fell off the bench, landed on his host’s youngest son, who was sleeping on the floor and broke the boy’s leg.
The host was raging mad and swore that Dipu had broken his son’s leg out of spite. He refused to be pacified and was determined to go to the Magistrate’s court and lodge a complaint for assault against Dipu.
Poor Dipu, fed up with his brother’s lectures and his host’s abusive tongue, dejectedly made his way to the court, wondering what his future would be. On the way, he had to cross a bridge over the river. When he was on the bridge, with his mind despairing at the thought of impending prison sentences, he decided to end his wretched life. So he jumped off the parapet into the river.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Dipu did not land in the river. He landed straight into a small boat where an old fisherman fell asleep.
The old fisherman yelled blue murder when Dipu landed on him, which was only natural, seeing that he suffered two cracked ribs and innumerable bruises.
The fisherman’s son, who was on the bank nearby, came running to the scene and accused Dipu of trying to murder his father. He also hastened to the Magistrate’s court to swear out a complaint.
Dipu thought this was the end. All his crimes had been unintentional, which he felt would mean years in prison. Well, he thought, my next crime will be intentional. As soon as Will broke his head as the Magistrate pronounced me guilty, I wi that Dipu had picked up a lovely heavy stone, which he had put in a bag.
At the Magistrate’s court, the elder brother stood up and accused his brother of wilfully injuring one of his prize bullocks. The Magistrate glanced at the accused, but Dipu lifted the bag containing the stone; so the Magistrate could see the fate in store for him.
Ah! thought the Magistrate; the prisoner is offering me a bribe. And by the look of that bag, it should contain plenty of money. Perhaps I should be a little merciful.
Putting on his most learned look, the Magistrate pronounced. “I order that the accused keep the injured bullock until the horn grows again.”
The elder brother was so amazed he could not speak. Then the Magistrate called for the second complaint to be heard. Whilst Dipu’s late host poured out a virulent tale about how his son had been lamed and could no longer help in the house, Dipu again held up his bag for the Magistrate to see.
The Magistrate with visions. Of untold gold and silver coming his way quickly pronounced his judgement. “The accused will loan the plaintiff his son in exchange for your son until the injured boy’s leg is better.”
“But the accused has not got a son,” the plaintiff wailed. “Then wait until he has one,” snapped the Magistrate.
Now the third case was heard, and the Magistrate, with his eyes glued on the bag in Dipu’s hand and his thoughts on the money soon to come his way, turned to the fisherman’s son. “You say the accused deliberately jumped from the bridge upon your father,” he said. “Then, you shall jump from the bridge onto the accused, who will be put in a boat under the bridge.”
Having heard all the cases, the Magistrate hurriedly left the court, anxious to collect his bribe. Dipu satisfied that justice had been carried out, was all smiles, but he had not gone very far when he was overtaken by the Magistrate’s clerk, who said he had come to collect the bribe promised to his master.
Dipu looked frowningly at the man, then burst out laughing. “Go and tell your master I was not offering him a bribe. I threatened to break his head if he dared send me to prison.”
As the Magistrate’s clerk went off, ruefully shaking his head as to what his master would say, the three plaintiffs walked up to Dipu.
“Look here, Dipu, we feel we have all been too hasty,” said his brother. “Let me keep my bullock, and our host will look after his son, and our friend here has no wish to jump off any bridge. So let bygones be bygones. But,” he added, taking out a roll of notes. “Here are three hundred rupees to recompense you for all the trouble we have caused you.”
Dipu went home very happy. With the three hundred rupees, Dipu purchased a pair of bullocks, and somehow afterwards, he managed to prosper.