Folktales

The Burglar And The Mason

Lubna Majid | 08/03/2018

There was once a mason who was very skilled and proficient in his work. But the time he lived in wasn’t always favourable for him as the artisans of this kind very much required. The sunny days would be fine, and he would get work for 20 days a month. But during winters, his skill was very much less in demand. During the harsh winter season, he would face long periods of hibernation. These conditions had made him weak, both physically and mentally but it has not left any impact on his skill, which was the finest like ever.

The mason followed a crude yet strong belief and discriminated his clients on the basis of this belief. He never accepted a work where the proposer wouldn't be a gentleman. The reason was that earlier in his career, he had suffered a tough time as one of his clients had got involved in a theft case and the mason’s name had been mentioned as a witness. He was a weak man and did not have the ability and wits to face interrogation or answer the tough questioning from the lawyers side. He was hence forced to bribe one of the policemen to escape the case. “The case cost me a month’s wages. Dishonesty has a chain reaction” he said whenever asked about why he was so cautious when it comes to choosing clients.

Unfortunately, like anyone of us, he could not live upto his own principles. The mason started losing all clients and soon his clientele dropped. There came a time when he confronted phases of starvation. He wouldn’t care about his own deprivations but the condition of his family, his wailing wife, his frail children were not bearable now. Despairing, helpless because of the crisis, one fine morning a man approached him with a proposal of rendering him services. The person had no alleged profession. As a matter of fact, he was reported to be a thief, a burglar. But without any further to do, the mason welcomed this opportunity and started his work for the new client at his residence. The mason was asked to make some underground cells in the basement of the house and provide adequate ventilation and lighting too. The client confessed that he had planned to get the work done a long time back, but couldn’t proceed because of the mason’s reluctance to take him up as a client. He gave many accolades to the mason for his utmost skill.

                                                                                       

(Image Credits: KOUSA.ORG)

In just a few weeks, the work was completed in a perfect manner. The client inspected the work and found them to be foolproof. In addition to giving the cells a solid foundation, he was able to outperform himself and surpass the expectations of the client. The client was delighted and satisfied. “This is the reason I wanted to engage you for this particular work”, he said.

The new client knew how to repay anyone who does his job well. He asked the mason to have dinner with him the next day, promising him a humble reward. The mason, being impressed by the conduct of this “thief” all through the time, accepted. Everyday he was being paid his wages  and given refreshments as the work demanded. Also the courtesy of the client was unmatched. His behavior let the mason rethink about his old beliefs about people. The old saying of “live and learn even though you have attained a ripe old age” was flashed in his mind and he decided to revise his early opinion of discriminating people on the basis of what they did.

Next morning, he came to the thief’s house being the only guest. After the preliminary greetings, he could guess that the burglar wasn’t in a mood too good. He felt a bit nervous as the atmosphere around him started to get tense and uneasy for him. He wished he had made an excuse, but what was done was done. Shortly the burglar started to attack him with harsh words and comments. The mason, partially surprised, felt regret for thinking otherwise about the burglar and for accepting this offer against his prior knowledge. His host continued to strike him with the most crude behavior manifesting perhaps one of his worst moods and the mason pursued to beseech the burglar to excuse him if he was at fault.

The mason started to beg the burglar to let him go. “I shall return every penny you gave to me as wages. My greatest reward is to let me go”. The burglar acted deaf and the mason continued to invoke God and all the holy angels and books to dispose of this misfortune which had just befallen him. Eventually the burglar stopped. Maybe he got tired. Or maybe he wanted to put forth his own words about what had just happened.

The mason looks tired, crying and wailing for his rescue. The mental torture he had faced had got better of him, more than the physical pain. He stood up to leave, but the harsh voice which commanded him to stop hindered the movement of his feet. He couldn’t dare to disobey him and hunched back to where he was. Meal was served. An exclusive meal was served. Yet the poor mason, struggling under the verbal whips of the burglar, couldn’t relish it. When the dinner was over, the burglar offered a velvety turban and a five rupee note as a reward. The mason was confused by this mysterious behavior, yet the ruinous threats forced him to accept the reward quietly and begged the burglar to let him go.

To further enhance his puzzled state, the burglar said, “I shall happily bid you a Goodbye but only after I place a timeless gift at your feet”

“Why didn’t you ask me why I behaved in such a manner”, the burglar continued. Filled with humiliation, the mason kept quiet.

The burglar started to say something which left a deep impact on the mason. “What I gave you as a reward for your work has a short life. It is taken and forgotten in a short span of time. But what I have for you now is everlasting, and the reason why I belaboured you today was to imprint this lesson permanently on your mind”, the burglar said. The lesson I want to teach you was that you don’t need to fear thieves and burglars if your doors and windows are well bolted and fastened.  If the case is so, you will spend the night in peace”

The burglar ended the conversation saying, “Excuse me for the beating, but now the lesson will be rubbed thoroughly in your mind and never vanish again”