Black will take no other hue

This morning, a tweet reminded me of this story. I thought it would be nice to share it with the rest of the world :) Enjoy!

«Perhaps you’ve heard stories about the mythological city, Andherinagari, which was located near Allahabad. Food was extremely cheap there. You could buy a kilo of fried okra for two paisa and a kilo of fried vegetables for one paisa. The king of Andherinagari was called Choapat́.

There lived in Andherinagari a very intelligent man who had an extremely bad habit of hurting people. He was so possessed by this habit that his food only became palatable when he had just hurt someone. He wouldn’t even drink a glass of barley water unless he had recently given pain to others. As you can well imagine, this bad habit made life unbearable for his neighbours.

One fine day the call came for him from the Other World. He summoned the neighbours and said, “Friends, my bad habit has brought great torment to your lives. Today, before my life in this mortal frame comes to an end, I wish to give up this bad habit. But I need your help. Please do me one last favour when I expire. Kindly hang my dead body by its legs from a branch of that banyan tree and throw stones at it. Each stone which hits my dangling corpse will push me one step further towards heaven.”

The neighbours were reluctant. “But you’ll certainly give up your bad habit when you get to the Other World,” they said. “Moreover, we couldn’t possibly throw stones at a dead body. No, we can’t even contemplate doing such a thing.”

“Do you want to deny me the pleasure of eating sweet and savoury polau for eternity in heaven?” he asked. “Do you want to prevent me from having friendly conversations with the angels? Are you trying to stop me from going to heaven?” “No, no, no, of course not,” said the innocent neighbours, “but we don’t like the thought of throwing stones at your dead body. If that alone will bring peace to your departed soul then I suppose we can do it, but with the greatest reluctance.”

Late that afternoon the man passed away and the neighbours unwillingly carried out his last wish. They gently threw one or two stones at his dead body hanging head down from a branch of the banyan tree. Tears swelled in their eyes, for they were doing it for the peace of the departed soul.

Suddenly, the district police superintendent arrived on the spot with a large contingent of police. They encircled the villagers, arrested them and threw them into the back of a red van. The villagers were dumbfounded. One of the police officers broke the silence, “We have just received a letter from the deceased. He writes, ‘The villagers have given me trouble all my life. I heard that even on the eve of my death they were planning to torture me by hanging my corpse from a tree and throwing stones at it. Please come soon to protect my dead body.’ We came immediately and caught you people red-handed.”

Even after death that man refused to give up his bad habit. That’s why it is said, “Black will take no other hue.”»

From “Sarkar Short Stories”, Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar

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