Where ignorance is bliss...

...it is a folly to be wise

Ajaz A Baba
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 22 2018 1:02AM | Updated Date: Apr 22 2018 1:02AM
Where ignorance is bliss...Representational Pic

Long ago when democracy had not yet been invented and politicians were an unknown breed there was this King who ruled over a large and prosperous kingdom. His was a peaceful realm and everybody in the kingdom was more or less happy except for the King. You see he had this growing angst that the idyllic bliss seemed too unbelievable so it must not be real. To calm his mind the king went to see a spiritual guru, a Seer who lived in a dense forest in his kingdom to seek peace of mind.

The king was known to be a good ruler so the Seer welcomed him heartily. “Is everything alright?” he asked with concern because he perceived that the King was disturbed.

“Everything is fine your holiness, “the King said unconvincingly, “my kingdom is prosperous and there is peace and my subjects seem to be happy but...”

“But?” the Seer said.

“But somehow I cannot get rid of the feeling that things cannot be so perfect...”

“Now! Now! Your majesty it is unwise to be looking for trouble when there seems to be none...”

“If only...” the king said in a distracted voice, “If only I had the power to know what people really thought about me...” and turning towards the Seer  he said, “Holy man can you not grant me that power?”

The Holy man shook his head and said, “No my child I can’t and even if I had the power to grant your wish I wouldn’t do it. Such preoccupations can only lead to an evil end. Enjoy your bliss till it lasts and don’t worry about whether it will last forever, nothing does anyway!”

Back at his palace the King could not rid his mind of this obsession so he appointed a spy to gather information about what people thought about him. After a week the spy came up with his report.

“What do people say about me?” the King asked him.

“Some of them praised you to high heavens...” the spy said but the King interrupted him,

“And the rest?”

The spy coughed discreetly and said, “Well there were some who called you a buffoon...in fact in many places they use the word ‘King’ as an expression of contempt...and there are some of them who say that you discredit your forefathers.”

“That’s enough!” the King said in disgust, “continue with your job and report back next week.” 

A week went by quickly and the spy came up with another report.

 “Your majesty I managed to get employed in your royal kitchen...”

“Ah you must have met my Royal chef. He is a wonderful cook and is always admiring my discerning tastes...”

“On the contrary your majesty the Royal chef told me that...er...if you were fed a dead horse you could be easily convinced that it was delectable chicken that you eating. He said he had actually done it once just for a lark and then again for a bet. He seems to be an admirer of your Grand Vizier though as he even sent me a couple of times with special preparations for him...”

“A most faithful man my Grand Vizier and an ardent admirer of mine!” the king said.

“Well...please excuse what I am going to say your majesty but I am just repeating what your Grand Vizier said. He said that the most difficult part of his job is to listen to what he said you presume to be wit and that it was an agony having to laugh at your pathetic jokes...”

“He will lose his job and his head as well,” the King swore vehemently.

The next week again the spy again returned with the latest report. 

“I managed to get into the inner sanctum of your palace your majesty,” he said, “and purely in the interest of investigation I had a dalliance with one of your chamber maids.”

“So what all did you gather from her?” the king asked with a smug smile. He had a deep affection for his beautiful and charming chambermaids who were always fawning over him.

“This royal chambermaid and her friends gave me a very intimate portrait of your majesty which I don’t have the courage to repeat...”

“Tell me!” the King ordered.

“The chambermaids...er... made all sorts of jokes about your majesty’s...er...noisy expulsions of wind...they even staged a sort of slap-stick comedy for me that they have titled ‘The Royal Trumpet’...”

“Enough!” the king thundered, red-faced with embarrassment, “I will ask my Ranis to throw all of them out.”

“That reminds me I met some of your Ranis and your favourite concubine too in the guise of a bangle-seller...”

“They are the ones who know my real worth!” the King said twirling his moustaches.

“Well...er...they seemed to be preoccupied with the concern that...er...none of the love potions and herbs that your majesty is taking seem to be effective... and...and...may my tongue fall off for saying this, your favourite concubine even...er...made advances at me and so did two of your Ranis...”

“Enough!” the King said clutching his head in despair. After the spy left he fell into a deep depression. In desperation he again went to the holy man in the forest and related his woes to him.

The Holy man reproached him, “Didn’t I tell you not to go for this stuff!”

“Your holiness everything has changed for me!” he said despairingly.

The Holy man shook his head and said, “Nothing has changed. What all you have come to know through your spy is just a reflection of the inherent imperfection of this world which includes you. Live in the now my child and don’t let worries about what isn’t blind you to what is.”

“So what do I do?” the king asked in despair.

“Appoint your spy as your ambassador to some far off country and forget all that he has told you. Accept things as they present themselves and do not insist on raking up muck. Go my child and continue being a just ruler of your kingdom.”

The King took leave of the Holy man and returned to his palace. His Grand Vizier and courtiers and his wives and concubines who had noticed the King’s state of dejection left no stone unturned to revive his spirits. His court dancers gave wonderful performances, his court jester came up with new jokes and his cooks outdid themselves in preparing exotic dishes. A large number of his subjects anxiously waited outside the palace because the message had gone around that the king was indisposed. The king revelled in the attention and affection being showered upon him. His sagging spirits got buoyed and he decided to take the Seer’s advice. He punished nobody and he changed nothing, well nothing except that now whenever he felt the need to ‘un-wind’ himself he would take a stroll to the farthest corner of the royal gardens well out of earshot of the royal gardeners.

The King lived long and his kingdom continued to be an abode of peace... 


(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)


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