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A Poor Herder
This tale highlights the difference in priorities of individuals who belong to different circumstances and realities. Muni is a penniless herder (one who looks after animals) in a small Tamilian village of Kritam.
He is desperately poor and only has two goats as a possession. His life is a tale of constant struggle and misery. He and his wife have not had a stomach full meal for a long time. All they have to feed their bodies are some coarse millets and onions.
Muni Finds Some Seeds
One day, exasperated by his condition, Muni finds some seeds at his door and requests his wife to whip some nice sauce for her. His wife is reluctant but agrees as long as he can manage to procure the necessary ingredients for the delicacy.
Muni is determined and goes to the local grocer in a hopeful mood. He tries to earn the grocer’s favor by laughing at his poor jokes and singing fake praises. However, the grocer is not to be conned or lulled into giving his things on credit.
He opens up his books and reminds Muni of his outstanding payments and huge debt. Muni is embarrassed and frustrated and returns home empty-handed. Back at his house, he asks his wife to try and sell the seeds for some money.
Muni Again Goes Out
She is also temperamental and demands that Muni goes out again and take his goats to graze this time. Muni relents and goes outside the village. He leaves his goat near the road and perches down near the statue of a horse.
The horse actually has a mythological tale behind it and Muni has been visiting it since his childhood and knows about the mythological story. The horse represents a mythological figure of the future that would come and raze all the sinners to the ground and end-all evils from the world.
Consumed by the majesty of the statue, Muni is startled by a visitor. He is a white man who introduces himself in his native English which Muni fails to understand. Looking at man’s uniform, he mistakes him to be a policeman and feels nervous to speak anything.
Man is an American
The man is puzzled by Muni’s words and shifts his attention to the exquisite statue. He reveals that he is an American who is interested in learning about diverse cultures and their folklore.
Muni learns about the man’s interest in the statue and tries to narrate the legend of the horse. The man soon whips out a hundred rupee note and offers it to Muni.
Muni is confused by the man’s offer but when the man stoops (bends down) to pat one of his goats; he considers it as an offer to buy off the animals.
Muni agrees to the deal instantly and walks off, leaving his goats behind. The man is left puzzled again as Muni fails to return. However, he manages to get some local help and load the statue on a truck.
On the other hand, Muni returns to his wife in the best of moods. But before he could narrate the whole episode, they both are amazed to see his goats return to the house. Muni is left confused again and worse still, his wife assumes that he must have committed a crime for money and leaves him.