Adaptation of the Indian folk tale
Many years ago, a good, just and generous king ruled India, whom everyone loved and respected. So loved was he that his subjects considered him the ideal regent, except in one thing that you are about to learn about.
It turns out that the king, at fifty-seven years old, had a rather annoying flaw: he wouldn’t shut up even under water! Whether it was day or night, he always had something to say and linked topics with others with amazing ease. That incessant chatter drove everyone around him crazy, but since he was the most powerful man in the kingdom, no one dared tell his face to shut his mouth for at least a little while.
His adviser, an intelligent and faithful old man who helped him in important matters, was quite worried about the situation. He realized that the king talked so much that, in addition to being exhausting, he often spilled the beans and said things he later regretted. It was only a matter of time before he ended up getting into trouble.
– ‘This can not go on like this! I have to make him see reality, try to change his attitude without disrespecting him or hurting his feelings. I’ll think it over and see what comes to mind.’
That same night he consulted it with the pillow.
– I think the best thing to do would be to advise you through a short story… Yes, that’s right, a story with a moral. As soon as I am alone with him, I will carry out my idea.
Fortunately, the next day at mid-morning he found the perfect occasion when the monarch sent for him to go for a walk.
– The meeting of sages does not start until twelve, so we have plenty of time to go for a walk and enjoy the spring breeze. Do you feel like it, my friend?… It will do us both great!
– Of course, Your Majesty! It will be an honor to go with you.
The councilor and the king left their chambers and walked down the long corridor to the front door; then they walked down the outer steps of the palace, feeling the blinding sunlight in their eyes.
– It’s a beautiful day and the royal gardens look splendid, right, Your Majesty?
The king approached the pond and stood next to it, enthralled by such beauty.
– Oh yes, we are really lucky! For me there is no greater pleasure than contemplating the lotus flowers swaying in the water while I enjoy the intoxicating aroma of jasmine that perfumes the air… Do you think the same, dear friend?
“Of course you are quite right, my lord. This place is a paradise on Earth!
The king smiled with satisfaction and patted him affectionately on the shoulder.
– Oh, old friend, I hope we have many years left to share more moments like this!
Taking advantage of the fact that the king was happy and receptive, the counselor put his little plan into action.
– Changing the subject… Majesty, yesterday I was told a little story that I would like to share with you.
– Oh yeah?… Do you mean a story?
– Yes, it’s just a fable, but I think you might like it.
– Oh very well! What are you waiting for to start?… I’m all ears!
Wasting no more time, the counselor began his story:
Once upon a time there was a turtle who lived in a very beautiful but too small lake. While she was little, size did not matter too much, but when she got older the lack of space began to be tremendously overwhelming because, except for swimming or talking with her three fish neighbors, there was never anything interesting to do there. Over time, boredom took its toll on his character and he became a tormented tortoise who spent hours yawning and complaining nonstop.
– How tired I am of this lake!… I hope one day I can escape and visit other places, meet more species, practice some sport on land… I was not born to spend my life inside this depressing puddle!
After several months in the same situation, her luck changed thanks to the surprising and unexpected visit of two ducks who, unlike her, were more than used to traveling everywhere. The strangers, one blue-feathered and the other yellow-feathered, flew in at high speed and landed on the shore, staring at her. The one with blue feathers greeted her happily.
– Hi friend! If you don’t mind we want to drink some water from this beautiful lake.
The tortoise put on his best smile. It had been ages since I’d seen a new face and any visit was welcome!
– Hello, welcome to my home! You can drink all you want, folks.
– Thank you, you are very kind little turtle!
– You’re welcome, guys! You can’t imagine how happy I am to be able to chat with someone. This place is so lonely that I’m afraid I’m going to end up absolutely crazy!
The duck with yellow feathers looked around and thought that he was right: the lake looked like a pond, it was so dwarfed, and it was wrapped in an eerie silence.
– We must admit that with all the cool places on this planet, spending your life stuck here is quite unfortunate.
The duck’s words went straight to the little turtle’s heart and the poor thing couldn’t resist the urge to cry.
– Wow! wow!
The ducks looked at each other in surprise at her reaction and immediately realized that she was deeply despondent. The one with yellow feathers felt very bad and apologized:
– Oh, sorry, I’m a loudmouth, I didn’t mean to upset you!
The one with blue feathers also hastened to comfort her.
– Hey, calm down friend, maybe there is a solution!… Hey, why don’t you come with us? Behind those mountains you see in the distance, the ones with snowy tops, there is a lake a hundred times bigger than this one. Dozens of animals live there and usually they all get along very well.
The tortoise suddenly stopped crying, as if someone had pressed an off button like the one on dolls.
– Is what you say true?… I hope you’re not laughing at me!
– It’s true! The lagoon is spectacular, although…
– Although that?
– Well, to be honest I have to tell you that it is also a bit noisy. Games, races, dances are organized there every day… There is always a lot of revelry, but that is precisely why it is so much fun.
The tortoise began to spin and clap his feet together.
– Fun is just what I need!… Oh, living in that big lagoon would be a dream come true for me!… Please, I want to go anyway!
The yellow-feathered duck saw her so excited that he agreed with his partner’s proposal.
– So do not talk anymore! The road is long, but by our side you will not be in any danger. Come on, follow us, we’re leaving!
Hearing this, the tortoise was more paralyzed than if a bucket of ice water had been poured over his head.
– Do…follow you? But if I don’t have wings… I can’t fly!
Tears ran down her chubby cheek again.
– Wow! I am a turtle and I am condemned to stay in this horrible pool until the end of my days!… Buaaa!
The yellow-feathered duck, instead of throwing his hands to his head, winked at him mischievously and said between laughs:
– Well, woman, don’t get so dramatic, that’s what we’re here for! If we’ve told you we’ll get you out of here, we’ll keep our word, okay?
He then looked around and saw a long stick lying on the ground that must have been about a meter long. He picked it up with his paws and said to the bewildered tortoise:
– Do you see this stick? You just have to bite it down hard in the center while we hold it at the ends. This way we can take you comfortably through the air.
The tortoise’s eyes widened and in an instant he regained hope.
– Oh, it’s great, it’s great!
The bird did not want to spoil the tortoise’s moment of supreme happiness, but he had no choice but to frown to make one condition very clear:
– Of course, there is something very important that you must strictly comply with: once we rise you cannot open your mouth because you will fall into the void and it will be your end.
– Oh, sure, I understand!… I won’t, don’t worry! Many thanks friends!
The tortoise couldn’t contain himself with joy! At last he had the opportunity to travel, to end his old life and aspire to a more exciting one.
– It’s incredible that this is happening to me!… I still can’t believe it!
The blue-feathered duck began to get nervous.
– Is the time! Let’s not waste time or the night will catch us in the middle of the journey. Friend, bite the stick in the middle and remember: do not let go under any circumstances!
– Don’t worry, don’t suffer for me… I’ll hold on tight and I won’t say a word!
Saying this, he looked towards the place that had been his home and said with contempt:
– Goodbye hateful and soporific lake!
The ducks brought the stick closer to the water and she clamped down on it with her jaws. When it was ready, each bird grabbed one end and they took off. The two travelers had many hours of flight behind them, so they rose easily and began to cross the sky, flapping their wings in tandem and showing great coordination. Meanwhile, the tortoise carried out orders and allowed itself to be carried away with its body hanging down and so still that it did not even dare to blink.
Everything was going according to plan until, halfway down the road, a peasant harvesting the crop spotted a strange trio flying overhead. When he realized who they were, he was so surprised that he couldn’t help but let out a laugh and exclaim loudly:
– Hahaha! But what do my eyes see?!… Two ducks carrying a turtle hanging from a stick!… I had never seen such a ridiculous scene! Hahaha!
The tortoise, who had extremely fine hearing, heard the man’s words and felt extremely offended. Without stopping to think about the consequences, he opened his mouth to reply:
– And what do you care, piece of ignorant?!
What happened, Your Majesty, you can imagine: when you let go of the stick, the tortoise fell into the void like a sack of potatoes and took a hit that almost destroyed it.
The king was in great anguish.
– Oh, what a pity!… This story is very sad.
– I agree that it is, Your Majesty.
– Is it known how the turtle ended up?… Did it manage to save itself?
The old counselor sighed somewhat sadly.
“Yes, he was saved, sir. He was lucky to fall into a swamp, so despite the fact that he did a lot of damage, he managed to survive.
– Poor thing, luckily!
– Yeah… The pity is that the ducks, angry because he had not respected the rule of not opening their mouths, continued on their way.
– What do you say?!… They didn’t come back for her?
– No, Your Majesty, they never returned. The tortoise recovered from his injuries, but had to settle for living in a place worse than his old lake for the rest of his life. You can’t imagine how hard it was for her to have to give up her dreams!
The king was thoughtful.
– And all for being tongue-tied and speaking when he shouldn’t…
– That is so, my lord. This story shows us how important it is to know how to measure words and shut up when appropriate. Whoever talks too much usually ends badly.
It was almost noon now and the sun had turned a deep yellow. The king left the pond behind and continued to walk in silence, deep in thought, trying to assimilate the teaching of the little story he had just heard.
You wonder if the adviser’s tactic worked, if it had any effect on the monarch. The answer is yes: from that day on he made an effort to speak less and listen more carefully to others. Thanks to this change, he won the admiration of his people until the end of his reign.