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A Fable For Today
|by Ramendra Kumar|
This is a tale of a people who lived in an island in the Indian Ocean. This island, a tiny speck floating on the serene waters was called Haven. It was ruled by a benign and benevolent leader called Sage. The people of Haven - let us call them Havenites - were as advanced as the so called developed countries. They were also totally self sufficient. Whatever they wanted their farmers produced , their scientists invented and their engineers designed and constructed. They were completely isolated from the rest of the world. No one knew of their existence nor were they aware of the outside world.
Havenites were peace loving and were a happy and contented lot. They neither had a police force nor an army since Havenites never fought among themselves or waged a war on the outside world. Moreover, since the rest of the world hadnï¿½t heard of Haven no one ever attacked it. Another aspect which made Haven special was the total absence of locks. No one ever locked anything since they trusted each other implicitly. The dictionary used by the Havenites was also rather unique. Words like competition, jealousy, envy, hatred, theft, robbery, cheating, swindling et al, were missing.
Let us, dear reader, now shift from Haven to Heaven where Lord Inder, its undisputed monarch, is sitting in his chamber with his chief consultant Narad Muni.
ï¿½You know Narad, Lord Brahma must be really proud of me.ï¿½
ï¿½Because I have been ruling Heaven with perfection for so many decades. My kingdom is the happiest place in the universe. People are literally dying to come here.ï¿½
ï¿½Boss, I think you are wrong. Till the other day I too was of the opinion that Heaven is really heavenly, but not anymore.ï¿½
ï¿½What do you mean? Are you suggesting, like all crazy Indians, that America is the new Heaven.ï¿½
ï¿½No, of course not Boss. I am talking about Haven - that is Heaven without an ï¿½eï¿½, Narad said and went on to describe in detail the life and times at Haven.ï¿½
ï¿½But Narad this is really disturbing. Tomorrow if Lord Brahma has to chose his successor instead of me heï¿½ll chose that fellow Sage.ï¿½
ï¿½Yes, boss. That danger is now there.ï¿½
ï¿½Weï¿½ll have to do something about it. Somehow we will have to turn Haven into Hellï¿½
ï¿½How do I know? You are my consultant. You have to advise me.
Five days and four nights later Narad entered Lord Inderï¿½s chamber.
ï¿½Where were you all these days? I was searching frantically for you.ï¿½
ï¿½Relax Boss, I too was searching - searching for a solution to your problem.ï¿½
ï¿½Well, have you got it?ï¿½
ï¿½Yes, the only way to turn Heaven into Hell is by injecting a virus?ï¿½
ï¿½Yes. I have invented a virus - I have named it VC or the Virus of Competition?ï¿½
ï¿½What will it do?ï¿½
ï¿½ It will infect people with a disease called ï¿½Competitivitisï¿½.ï¿½
ï¿½What is that? Have you invented that too?ï¿½
ï¿½No boss. I have only invented the Virus. The disease which was earlier prevalent mainly in America is now rapidly spreading in our very own Bharat. The dictionary defines it as ï¿½A sickness where individuals chronically compete with anyone around them and live in a permanent state of frustration. The focus of these people keeps on shifting. The result is that they never relax or stop to enjoy life which ultimately leads to an early mental, physical and emotional collapse.ï¿½
ï¿½How are you going to infect Haven with VC?ï¿½
ï¿½This evening ï¿½Iï¿½ll go down to Haven. It has a huge water reservoir called Pataal which supplies water to the entire kingdom. Iï¿½ll quietly put five drops of a magic solution containing the dreaded VC, prepared by me, in Pataal. The solution will dissolve immediately and a few hours later VC will strike Haven.ï¿½
* * *
Naradï¿½s plan was executed to perfection. To see the results, dear reader, let us take a look at a typical family in the island kingdom. It is a happy threesome - Mr. Happy, Mrs. Happy and Happy Junior or HJ.
On the morning after Narad infected the waters of Haven, Mrs. Happy got up and after stepping into her garden looked around. Her neighbor Mrs. Jollyï¿½s garden or rather the bed of roses in it caught her eye. Roses - red, orange, pink, yellow, white and yes even a black one! It was truly a gorgeous sight. Mrs. Happy had been seeing this spectacle every day for years and had been enjoying it. But today with V.C. inside her she was a different person. She turned a rich shade of bottle green with envy and called her maali.
ï¿½Maali, what is this? Why is Jollyï¿½s garden looking better than mine?ï¿½
ï¿½I donï¿½t think so maaji. I think your garden is as beautiful if not more beautiful than Jolly maajiï¿½s garden. You have chrysanthemums, dahlias, zinniaï¿½s, pansies, lilies, daffodils and lots more.ï¿½
ï¿½So, what? I donï¿½t have roses. Sukhram you are fired. Iï¿½ll hire Jollyï¿½s maali Khushram and Iï¿½ll soon have twice the number of roses Jolly has.ï¿½
And so Khushram was offered double the salary he was getting and he gladly switched loyalties.
Sukhram went weeping to Mrs. Jolly and she hired him. Sukhram told his new mistress that Mrs. Happy was planning to use Khushram to destroy her garden of roses and if Mrs. Jolly wanted he would do the same to Mrs. Happyï¿½s garden before Khushram could act. Mrs. Jolly agreed.
Next day Sukhram released a bucketful of snails in Mrs. Happyï¿½s garden. The snails promptly ate up her plants. Khushram, in retaliation, dug up Mrs. Jollyï¿½s bed of roses the same night. Thus the two gardens were completely destroyed and Mrs. Happy and Mrs. Jolly, who had been loving neighbors for years, became sworn enemies for life.
Let us now shift to the happenings in Mr. Happyï¿½s life. That fateful day when Mr. Happy entered his office his eyes fell on his table and the table used by his colleague and good friend Mr. Good.
ï¿½Arrey! I never noticed that Goodï¿½s table is bigger than mine.ï¿½
Enraged Mr. Happy barged into his boss Mr. Niceï¿½s room.
Seeing Mr. Happyï¿½s unhappy face Mr. Nice asked him, ï¿½What happened Happy why are you not looking happy today?ï¿½
ï¿½Boss, you know Goodï¿½s table is bigger and far more impressive than mine. This is unfair.ï¿½
ï¿½But Happy you two have been sharing this room for the last four years. How come you noticed this difference only today?ï¿½
ï¿½Sir, do you think Newton had never seen an apple fall before that momentous day when he discovered gravity? Well, just as the great idea struck him at that particular moment, the realization that I am being humiliated, dawned on me just a few minutes back.ï¿½
ï¿½So what do you want me to do?ï¿½
ï¿½Give me a bigger table.ï¿½
ï¿½Right now with all the budget constraints it is not possible. Iï¿½ll think about it next year,ï¿½ replied Mr. Nice rather curtly.
Mr. Happy went back seething with rage. He was not going to wait for a year, or a day or an hour or even a measly minute. He rushed to the factory workshop in the basement of the building, picked up a saw and came back. Within an hour Mr. Goodï¿½s table had been sawed into half.
Mr. Good, who had gone on an urgent assignment, reached his office late. As soon as he entered and saw the state of the table he was livid. He made inquiries and came to know the identity of the person responsible for this ï¿½crimeï¿½. Now Mr. Happy had a brand new air conditioner which was located to the right of his table. Mr. Goodï¿½s air conditioner, located to the left of his table, however was an old one.
Mr. Good, making use of Mr. Happyï¿½s absence, picked up a hammer and smashed his colleagueï¿½s new air conditioner.
And so Mr. Happy and Mr. Wise, who till a few hours earlier had been the best of friends, became the worst of enemies.
Dear reader, let us now shift our attention to the third corner of our family triangle - HJ.
When HJ reached his school he found his best friend Funloving just entering the school gate.
ï¿½Hey HJ! How do you like my brand new bike?ï¿½
HJ looked at Funlovingï¿½s bike and was filled with jealousy. It was truly a terrific piece.
ï¿½It is okay but tomorrow I will be getting a better one.ï¿½
That evening HJ pestered his parents no end. Finally they got him a new cycle which was a shade better than Funlovingï¿½s machine.
Next day it was Funlovingï¿½s turn to turn green. During break Funloving let the air out of the tyres of HJï¿½s bike. When HJ came to know he used a blade to slit the seat of his friendï¿½s bike.
In the afternoon, during lunch break, HJ and Funloving flew at each otherï¿½s throats. With the entire class playing referee they fought their hearts out.
This dear reader was only a trailer. Soon the entire island kingdom became a minefield of competition. Havenites started competing for everything. Each one wanted the most successful husband, the prettiest wife, the biggest house, the flashiest car, the cutest dress, the brightest kid and the best of everything else. The ultimate end was to be better than oneï¿½s neighbor or colleague or friend. And to achieve this end the Havenites were willing to adopt any means - fair or foul.
Soon people stopped trusting each other. Locks and locksmiths appeared out of nowhere. The dictionaries had to be revised to incorporate words like hatred, envy, jealousy, cheating, fraud, theft et al. Sage had to set up a police force. When he found the Police couldnï¿½t control the Havenites he had to institute an army.
Six months later a civil war broke out and Haven was wiped off from the face of the earth. Lord Inder was delighted and he made Narad Muni his consultant for life.
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