Woman’s Counsel

King Khusro of Persia was very fond of fish. One morning he was sitting on a terrace with his wife, Shirin when a fisherman brought a fish and presented it to him. It was a big and rare fish. The king was so pleased with this gift that he ordered his servants to reward the fisherman with four thousand silver pieces.

Shirin was annoyed whenever the king gave away vast amounts of money out of joy. As soon as the fisherman was out of hearing, she said to her lord, “What is the sense in giving us much money for one fish? Call him back and return him the fish on some pretext. Otherwise, you will have to pay for things on this scale in future,”

“Is it not too mean for a king to take back what he has given? Let it pass,” said Khusro.

“It shall not pass,” said the queen vehemently. “There is a way to manage the thing without appearing mean. Call the fisherman back and ask whether this fish is male or female. If it is male, ask for a female; if it is female, ask for a male. Then you can return the fish and cancel the payment.”

Khusro followed her advice because he was very fond of her and did not wish to displease her. With a painting heart, he called the fisherman back and asked, “Is this fish male or female.”

The fisherman bowed very low before the king and replied, “My lord, this variety of fish has no sex. It is both male and female. It lays eggs by itself.”

King Khusro burst out laughing on hearing this and ordered that the fisherman should be paid eight thousand silver pieces instead of four. All this money was counted out to him and put in his basket.

As the fisherman crossed the courtyard, one of the silver pieces slipped out of the basket. Fell on the paved floor and rolled away. At once, the fisherman began hunting for it. After searching for a long time, he picked it up and put it back in the basket with great satisfaction.

Khusro and Shirin were watching this from the terrace.

“What a mean fellow!” said Shirin. “See how he hunts for one miserable coin instead of giving some poor man a chance to find it and pick it up.”

Khusro again called the fisherman back to please his queen and began to rate him.

“You miserable skunk! You had a silver basketful and did not want to lose one small piece. You were not generous enough to let someone else pick it up.” Khusro said.

The fisherman bowed to the ground and replied. “May Allah preserve the king! I was not at all anxious to be richer by one silver piece. Because it carries the image of my king on one side and his sacred name on the other, I consider it sacred. If it was lying about on the ground, I was worried someone might step on it when my king picked a fisherman out of the dust, which was not worth a silver piece. Is it any wonder I pick up a silver piece from the ground?”

Khusro was so pleased with the wit and cleverness of the fisherman that he ordered that he should be paid four thousand more silver pieces.

After this experience, King Khusro concluded that woman’s counsel was quite dangerous. He proclaimed throughout the city: “Let no one he guided by a woman. If anyone does so, he will have to commit two more mistakes to rectify one.”

Chandamama August 1955 | M Razac

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