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Haste makes Waste

Stories From Panchatantra - It is true that mother loves her son, but you were a mother to mongoose too. You had brought it up with your hands. Why did you kill it then?

Author: Manpreet

Last Updated On: Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Long, long ago, a peasant lived in a village called Madhopur. The peasant, named Banarsi, was just a simpleton. His family comprised only three persons- he himself, his wife Sharmili and their three-month son.

One day Banarsi was returning home after his day's work in his fields. Suddenly he saw a little mongoose lying on the wayside. Picking it up, he brought it home.

"What is it?" asked Sharmili

"A small mongoose; I found it on the way and so I hve brought it for our dear son to play with," replied Banarsi.

Days went by followed by weeks and months. The peasant's son and the mongoose kept growing up side by side. His son was now eight months old.

One day Sharmili said her husband, "Darling! I am going to market along with other ladies in order to buy articles of daily use. Take care of the boy. He is sleeping soundly in the cradle."

"Don't worry, dear. Even if I have to be away, our mongoose is there," retorted Banarsi.

"No, not at all. A wild animal is after all an animal. Finding our son alone, it may attack him," said Sharmili thoughtfully.

"Animals are far more faithful than human being, dear. However, rest assured; I won't leave the house until you return," said Banarsi.

Sharmili left for the market. A few minutes later, a messenger of village sarpanch approached Banarsi and said "Banarsi, the sarpanch has sent for you for some urgent work."

Banarsi said, "My wife has gone shopping. Let her come back; I shall come then."

"No, the sarpanch wants you immediately," said the messenger.

Banarsi was in a fix. He was mindful of the assurance that he had given to her wife. But he did not want to offend the village-head either.

He chose to go to the sarpanch leaving his infant son alone to be looked after by the mongoose.

Shortly after Banarsi had left, a black cobra entered his house. It began to crawl towards the cradle slowly.

The mongoose, a sworn enemy of snakes, saw the cobra in time and ran towards it.

The snake put up fiery attacks on the mongoose got the better of him and killed the cobra tearing its body.

Puffed up at its triumph, the mongoose came out of the room and sat at the threshold of the doorway. Its mouth and paws were smudged with the snake's blood.

When Sharmili returned from the market, she saw the mongoose at the doorway. Seeing its bloodstained mouth and paws, she jumped to the conclusion that the mongoose had killed her son. She picked up the pitcher lying near by and flung it on the head of the mongoose shouting, "You wretch! Why have you killed my son? Is that the way to repay what we did for you?" she cried.

Then throwing her articles there on the ground, she began to bewail bitterly and ran towards the cradle "Sonny, O my dear Sonny."

Great was Sharmili's surprise when she saw her son sleeping safely in the cradle and dead cobra lying by its side. She lost no time to follow what had actually happened. She now knew that mongoose had saved her son from the cobra.

Sharmili ran back to the doorway but the mongoose had breathed its last. She repented of what she had done in haste. She wailed mournfully. "What a grave sin I have done! I have killed the saviour of my son. God will never pardon me. I must be punished severely for my misdeed."

Sharmili's wails attracted a crowd. When the people heard the story of the mongoose, they were all praise for it. Just then Banarsi returned home too.

Seeing his pet lying dead, he burst into tears. He said to Sharmili. It is true that mother loves her son, but you were a mother to mongoose too. You had brought it up with your hands. Why did you kill it then?"

Sharmili folded her hands and said, "Forgive me, dear. I am a sinner. I suspected the pet for nothing and killed it in haste. I am a killer." Saying so, she began to weep bitterly.

"It is no use crying now Sharmili. Learn a lesson from what you have done. Anything, done in haste without properly thinking over it, always leads to bad results," said Banarsi.

The couple then buried the dead mongoose. Banarsi prayed to God, "May the soul of my dear pet rest in peace!" he also begged his pardon for the sin committed by his wife.

Moral - One has to repent for what one does in haste.