SHORT STORY: ‘HAPPY DAYS’ – Kamlesh Tripathi


    There was once a king who was perennially unhappy. Either he was warring with his neighbours or he was sulking in his kingdom. He never had happy days, barring the days on which he expanded his frontiers and therefore over a period of time he had become a total expansionist, perhaps, to be happy. One day a learned Sadhu came to his kingdom. The king asked the Sadhu. ‘Hey Budhijivi. I’m often disturbed and never happy and because of this nature of mine even my citizens are not happy. So, can you suggest some ways and means for me to be happy?

    Sadhu thought for a moment and then asked.

    ‘Maharaj, do you keep a count of your happy days?’

    ‘No.’ replied the king.

    ‘Then I suggest start keeping. Tell your house-keeper to call a painter and ask him to mark your happy days on the outer side of the boundary wall of your castle.’

    ‘But, how will that help and will it make me happy?’ Asked the king.

    ‘I’m not very sure, but I think it may. So make a small beginning and I’ll see you after six months.’ After this the Sadhu left.

    The king called for a painter and instructed him, that on the days, he is happy, the painter should make a green mark on the outer side of the boundary wall of his castle. But sadly in the next ten days the painter only sat idle as the king was not happy. One day the king left for a battle. After winning it, he returned happy, and told the painter to colour the first mark of happiness on the boundary wall of his castle.

    Upon seeing the green mark on the wall a passer-by asked the painter, ‘what is this green mark for?’ The painter replied, ‘the mark means that the king is happy today.’

    The passer-by was aghast to hear this. He asked, ‘does it mean that the king is not happy on the days you don’t put the green mark?’

    ‘Yes.’ Said the painter. The passer-by was rather surprised at this novel way, the king had adopted to communicate his happiness to his riyaya. He reached home and told his wife that the king is happy today.

    ‘How do you know?’ She asked.

    ‘Because the king has instructed his painter to put a green mark on the boundary wall of his castle on the days he’s happy.’

    Soon the news spread like wild fire that the king is happy and thus the kingdom started celebrating. But in the castle after that day there was no other green mark that was painted and the painter happened to be merrily sleeping. Based on the reports a few more citizens came looking for the green mark on the boundary wall, but, there were none, barring the first one. This had a negative impact when the news started spreading in the kingdom that the king is now unhappy again and that saddened the riyaya of the kingdom once again.

   Thereafter, on the few days, that the painter painted the green mark on the wall, the citizenry of the kingdom was happy, but on a majority of days, it was otherwise, so the citizenry of the kingdom was largely unhappy, even when, the king was an efficient ruler. This kept happening for a few months in the kingdom but the king was unaware about it.

    One day a close minister of the king came to meet the king and gave him the feedback of how the citizenry was reacting to the king’s mood. The intelligent king at once realised his mistake—that on most days, the citizenry was unhappy, because the green mark was not put on the boundary wall, because he was unhappy.

    Soon the king instructed the painter to increase the frequency of the green mark which the painter did and that blossomed the mood of the citizenry even when the king continued with his spells of gloom which was part of his inherent nature.

    After six months the Sadhu returned. He asked the king if his solution had worked. The king replied, ‘it didn’t work for me, but yes, it did make me realise that a leader no matter under what circumstances, should wear a cheerful mask in front of his subjects at all times.

    The Sadhu replied. ‘Maharaj well begun is half done.’

By Kamlesh Tripathi



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