One winter morn Akbar went for a stroll,
along with Birbal, his witty counselor.
They approached a river, it’s water cold
which dared and tempted the old emperor.
He climbed into the river for a bath,
few dips down and the shivers forced him out.
Defeated he stood, and frozen each part,
complaining to Birbal with grief aloud.
‘How can one stand, let alone bathe here?
I will give five gold coins to anyone
who can spend the whole night in this river.
Is there such a person in my kingdom?’
After many attempts turned failures-
a poor old man took up the challenge.
He stood whole night in cold so severe
for an empty belly growled in revenge.
Finally, with dawn’s first light, he conquered,
and approached king Akbar to claim his prize.
Akbar was happy but he still wondered,
‘How did you do it?’, he asked in surprise.
The poor old man said, ‘Jahapanah,
it was a long night and water freezing.
All I did was stare at the lamp afar
which so flickered and kept me from sleeping,’
Akbar announced that the man had cheated
by getting warmth from the lamp, though remote.
The man cried injustice, felt defeated,
but Akbar was furious and stripped him off gold.
With no choice left the man approached Birbal,
lamented his tale to the sound ears.
Birbal listened then imparted wisdom
for which he was famous all his years.
The old man now, promised of his reward,
returned home to work on their devised plan.
And few days later as per their accord,
invited Akbar for luncheon so grand.
Akbar with Birbal finally arrived,
and waited for the food to get ready.
Hours later his patience was agonized
at the delay in making khichdi.
‘Why is it taking so much time to cook?
Show me how you are making it’, he frowned.
Khichdi in a pot hung high on a hook,
on a tree, and a small fire aground.
‘How can khichdi cook with fire so below’,
Akbar bellowed in hunger, in sorrow.
‘The same way, Jahapanah, when a lamp’s glow,
far away though, on a night cold, warmed me so.’
Akbar perplexed but soon burst out laughing.
‘You shall get your prize, my good man’, he aired,
glanced at Birbal, should have guessed it coming.
‘Now, I shall make khichdi ‘, old man declared.