SHORT STORY: POWER VERSUS INFLUENCE: Kamlesh Tripathi

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    Once there was a young monkey who was sitting on top of a tree from where, he was keenly watching a person, atop a rostrum, addressing some thousand people, who were standing there.

    The young monkey was amazed at this unusual sight. He couldn’t understand, as to why, so many people had gathered around to listen to just one man. So he got very curious, and wanted to know what was happening. But he was clueless.

    So he asked the aged monkey who was relaxing on the abutting tree.

    ‘Who is this man, and why have, so many people gathered around him?’

    ‘The aged monkey smirked at the novice and said. ‘A person who addresses a gathering of a thousand people in one go is obviously a very influential man. And, in human parlance, he is called a leader.’

    ‘But I had heard that the most powerful person in a kingdom is the king, who is also, the head of the state.’

    ‘You are cent percent right. The king indeed is the most powerful person in the kingdom. But then, there is a great difference between power and influence.’ The aged monkey made a point.

    ‘And what is that?’ Asked the young monkey.

    ‘See, the king is all too powerful, to lock you up in a cage. But a leader is influential enough, to influence the king, to get you released from the cage.’

    ‘So then, who is more powerful the king or the leader?’ Asked the young monkey.

    ‘Well, they both are equally powerful, in their own ways. The king is the divine head of the kingdom, but a leader, or say, all leaders, put together, can make or break the kingdom with a lot of ease.’ Said the aged monkey.

    ‘In other words you mean to say that the king is, as powerful, or, as weak, as its, treasure of leaders.’ Insinuated the young monkey.

    ‘Most certainly. A king might think he is the ultimate power in the kingdom, but in reality, he is not, and the same law, also applies, to our kingdom too.’ Replied the aged monkey.

    Meanwhile, there was a king’s spy, who was standing below the tree, listening to the conversation of the two monkeys. He soon came and told the king, whatever, the monkeys were discussing.

    Upon hearing the spy, the arrogant king was alarmed, at what the monkeys were discussing, so he got them caged separately, as he felt, they were into, some unnecessary gossip, that would have resulted in a canard, both, about his own reputation and his governance. The king then told the monkeys in sheer hubris. ‘Now let me see which influencer, or leader, can get you out of this cage.’

    But after a few months only, the neighbouring kingdom, that was perceived, as more powerful, than the king’s own kingdom, threatened to attack. The king got paranoid, even when, he considered himself to be a brainiac. He didn’t know what to do. So he called for all his leaders, ministers and advisors to formulate an immediate strategy to save the country from war. Immediately, some of his advisors said, the king should avoid a battle at any cost, because, the neighbouring kingdom is too powerful, whereas, some said, we should take the enemy head on, come what may.

    Finally, after a great amount of deliberation, the king realised, that in his kingdom, there were, more of optimists than pessimists and naysayers, so he decided to launch an offensive against the neighbouring country, which he won.

    Thereafter, he rewarded all those leaders, who had advised him to take the enemy head on, and even got the two monkeys released from the cage. But he did not arrest or incarcerate the pessimists and naysayers, realising, they had a mental block towards positive thinking. These events made the king realise about the fruitful connection, between ‘power’ and ‘influence,’ and his inability, to differentiate between them, earlier. He asked the aged monkey, where from, he got this, reservoir of wisdom. The monkey replied he got it from the king’s garden.  The king was surprised at this. He asked, ‘how and when?’ The monkey replied.

    ‘Majesty! Your garden has the best of fruits and vegetables. I often used to hide and feast over there, in my heydays, where, I often heard, your arrogant monologues, and the spite that you had for the leaders and influencers in your kingdom, who were actually intellectuals, in their own right. At that time I had little doubt about you being the supreme power. But when I heard the leaders addressing the common public I released they indeed were the supreme brains. Huzoor, a country can only be run efficiently, by a good blend of the two, and you proved my point when you asked the leaders to formulate a strategy for the kingdom, as you couldn’t do it alone, post which you won the war.’

    After hearing out the monkey, the king waited for some moments and then ordered, that the aged monkey be arrested again, for stealing fruits and vegetables from his garden. The younger monkey was sent to the king’s remand home to reform.

    Moral of the story: One, power is a royal asset, influence is a wise man’s defense. Two, at times even an honest confession can land you in prison, just like the aged monkey, even years later. Three, even seen with someone can be misconstrued as keeping company, like the young monkey’s short conversation, because of which he had to serve the king’s remand home. Four: Beware, old habits die hard. The king, even after listening to all the grand wisdom of the aged monkey, still returned, to his old habit, and got him re-arrested and sent the younger one to the remand home.

  By Kamlesh Tripathi

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