Funny Akbar Birbal Stories - When The Child Cries

 When The Child Cries

Emperor Akbar had a large number of courtiers. Most of them had honey in their tongues. They vied with each other to win the Emperor's favour. They never missed an opportunity to please the Emperor. They never differed with him, but agreed with him even when he said something absurd or silly. That attitude amused Birbal. He thought the courtiers were more servile than even pet dogs. He did not keep his opinion to himself. He made it public. Many courtiers felt angry. "Withdraw that charge," they said. "Why should I?" he growled. "We are not dogs," they groaned. "I know, I know," Birbal sounded quite amused. "Yet you compare us with pet dogs?" they raised their eyebrows. "I'm sorry. I failed to notice one difference," Birbal chuckled to himself while adding, "the dog has a tail where one ought to find it. You have the tail where the tongue ought to be. So you wag your tongue when the Emperor is around. You nod your head even when his ideas and statements are wrong. You've no courage to differ with him. You're cowards," Birbal sneered. "Withdraw those words," the courtiers raised their fists, threateningly. "Well, you've all that men should have," he paused, "except," "Except?" the courtiers asked in one voice. "Except spines," Birbal gloated in glee. "You're insulting us," said a courtier. "This has gone on for too long," said another. "It's time you stopped abusing us," said a third. "My friends, the truth hurts," said Birbal. "Truth? What truth?" the courtiers made threatening gestures. "The truth that you're no better than pet dos. You're slaves, you can never dare do anything against the wishes of the Emperor," Birbal did not show any sign of fear. "If you're so sure of yourself, prove that you can be bolder than us," one of the courtiers locked glances with Birbal. "I'm willing," Birbal nodded his head. "If you fail, you will probably confess that you had been wrong!" they added. "Suits me," Birbal smiled at them. One of the courtiers remembered a rule strictly observed at the Royal court. They always reached the Royal Court before the Emperor arrived, and stayed on so long as the Emperor was around. They never absented themselves from the Royal Court without prior permission.

"Birbal, will you dare stay away from the Royal Court tomorrow without seeking prior permission?" he asked. Birbal thought for a moment. He knew the risk. The Emperor would certainly take offence. Why, he might be arrested and detained in the dungeon. In his fury, the Emperor might even sentence him to death. "But nothing dared, nothing achieved," Birbal muttered to himself. "Why are you silent? You're now scared!" the courtiers teased him. "Scared? Not a wee little bit. On the contrary. I'm feeling sorry for you. Sorry that you will have no face to show, once I prove you're all cowards," Birbal kept talking while thinking of ways and means to escape the wrath of the Emperor while he kept away from the Royal Court the next day. He talked and talked while he thought and thought till at last, he knew what to do. He held his head up and said, "All right, tomorrow I won't be at the Court when the Emperor arrives. I would stay out without prior permission" "And get it on your neck," a courtier sniped. "I'm not like you. I have a spine that backs my neck," Birbal silenced them with that sharp snipe, gave them a defiant nod and stomped out. They watched him till he vanished from sight. "The fool! He's in for real trouble," the courtiers melted away, happy that they would soon see the end of Birbal's influence at the Royal Court. The next day, the courtiers arrived, as usual, long before the Emperor arrived. They awaited his arrival. They wondered whether Birbal would have the courage to stay away. Some of them expected him to turn up, just in time to greet the Emperor. But Birbal did not come. The soldier carrying the royal insignia walked in, hailing the Emperor and announcing, "His Highness, is coming!" Everyone at the court stood up. They bowed low while the Emperor walked along the carpeted aisle between the seats meant for the courtiers, climbed the steps and took his seat on the throne. He surveyed the Court. All the courtiers were present. Not Birbal. "Where's Birbal?" he asked. "Has he sent word that he won't be coming?" "No, my lord. None that I know of," the official of the Court stood up, bowed and announced. "How dare he absents himself without intimation? Send someone to his house. Tell him that he should appear before me right away!" the Emperor roared. "Yes, sir" The official instructed one of the guards to fetch Birbal. The guard left immediately. He returned an hour later, alone.

"Where's Birbal?" the Emperor asked. "He said he would come as soon as his baby girl stops crying," the guard announced. "How dare he disobey my orders? What sort of nincompoop is he that he can't make a child stop crying? I thought him to be wise, that he had an answer to every problem?" the Emperor turned red with rage. The courtiers felt the heat and chose to be silent. "Go, bring Birbal right away. If he doesn't come willingly, bind him and drag him to my presence," the Emperor exploded. Sometime later, Birbal presented himself at the Court. He bowed to the Emperor and waited. "Birbal," the Emperor surveyed him, from head to foot, his eyes red with rage. "My King, I beg your pardon. My little girl was crying and crying since morning, I was trying to make her stop crying. That's how I got delayed. I beg your pardon, my lord! I erred by not turning up at Court in time. But I could not. The child won't let me leave. I'm afraid she is still howling, bringing the house down." Birbal explained why he was late. "I thought making a child stop crying should be child's play for you, Birbal," the Emperor glared at him. The courtiers smiled at each other. They hoped that Birbal would not get away easily, that the Emperor would punish him severely for breaking the rule. "My lord," Birbal lowered his voice and added, "Once I explain the situation, you'll see my point." "Go ahead," the Emperor showed curiosity. "The girl demanded sugarcane. I got a stub of sugarcane, cut it into small bits and offered the pieces to her. She kept on crying, saying between sobs that she wanted sugarcane juice. So I extracted the juice, collected it in a glass and held the lass out to her. She wildly pushed the glass aside and cried still more loudly, asking me to put the juice back into the sugarcane," Birbal paused before adding, "My King, I could not do that. My baby is still crying. Crying her heart out." "Birbal! How can you be my counsel when you can't handle a little baby's problem," the Emperor's moustache twitched. "My lord, Have you ever tried to make a crying baby smile?" Birbal asked. "No." "I think you should try that. May I make you a suggestion, my lord?..." Birbal hesitated. "Speak out your mind, you silly man, who couldn't make a three-year-old stop crying!" the Emperor's words sounded truly harsh. "My King! I shall play the part of a three-year-old child, crying endlessly. You enact the role of an elder who tries to stop me crying," Birbal spelt out his plan. "I'll make you smile in seconds," the Emperor sounded sure of himself. "Do that, My Lord," Birbal fell on the ground and started crying loudly. He played the part of the child with skill. The Emperor walked down the steps and came close to Birbal." He said, in a soothing voice, "Stop crying baby, what do you want?" "Get me a gold ring," said Birbal, in a child's voice which he was good at producing. The Emperor took a ring off one of his fingers and gave it to Birbal. Still, Birbal continued to cry.

"Stop crying. Didn't I give you the ring?" said the Emperor. "Get me an elephant," Birbal made yet another demand while crying loudly. Someone hurried to bring a baby elephant. "There! An elephant for you!" the Emperor told Birbal. Birbal kept on crying loudly, beating the ground with his hands and feet. "Stop crying, Or else..." the Emperor screamed. Birbal cried still more loudly. "What do you want now?" the Emperor wrung his hands, helplessly. "Make the elephant go through the ring," Birbal said between sobs. "Impossible," the Emperor admitted. "As impossible as getting the juice back into the sugarcane," said Birbal as he stood up, laughing. The Emperor tried to look stern, but could not. Tickled by the humour in the situation, he burst into laughter. So did the courtiers who always took the cue from the Emperor. "Birbal, O Birbal! We now understand why you were late. A child can be very demanding," the Emperor walked back to the throne, amidst cheers. Birbal smiled at the courtiers. Most of them avoided his eyes. They felt ashamed of themselves. They had failed to get Birbal into trouble this time too. 

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