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The Washerman and the Lazy Bull

Once upon a time, there lived a washerman called Ravidas. Ravidas lived in a small village.  Everyday, he would go from house to house and collect the clothes to be washed. He put the clothes in a cart he brought along. The cart was drawn by a bull.

He then made his way to the banks of the river which flowed near the village.  He washed the clothes in the waters of the river. In the evening, he went and handed the clothes to their owners.

Ravidas was a kind man and took good care of his bull.  The bull was fed well.  He had a clean and spacious shed to stay.

But, the bull was a lazy and thankless animal.  He always felt a false sense of importance and thought of work as a burden.  He hated carrying the load.  He wanted to lounge in his shed all day and while away the time.  One day, a wicked idea crossed the bull’s mind.

The next day, Ravidas went about his daily routine.  He collected the clothes from the villagers,  went down to the river and washed the clothes.  In the evening, he was returning to the village.

The wicked bull was waiting to put his plan into action.  A short distance from the river bank was a small canal.  The canal carried muddy water from the village.  The canal was just a few inches deep.  Every day, Ravidas would drive through the canal.  The wheels of the bullock cart were tall enough to pass through the water.  The cunning bull pretended to stumble while crossing the canal.  As the bull buckled, the cart tilted to one side.  The washed clothes on the cart slid across and fell into the muddy water.

Ravidas was shocked.  He jumped from the cart and picked up the clothes from the canal.  They were soiled in the muddy water.

Ravidas was distraught.  “What will I tell the villagers?”, he asked himself, “How will they trust me again with their clothes?”.  It was late in the evening and everyone would be waiting for their clothes.  He thought of his reputation and how it would be damaged.

He quickly collected the clothes and drove the cart home.  He told the villagers that he was unwell and that he would return the clothes the next afternoon.  The next morning, he hurriedly went to the river and washed the clothes again.  It was a difficult job.  The stains were difficult to remove.  After a lot of scrubbing , Ravidas finally managed to remove the stains.  He then dried them and returned them to the owners that evening.

The bull was happy.  “Now, the master will not ask me to work any more”, he told himself.

Ravidas saw through the bull’s plan. He knew that the bull stumbled intentionally.  “I will teach him a lesson”, he told himself.

The next day, he went to the shed where the bull was kept and fed him as usual.  His wife, Ragini, was also with him.  She helped in cleaning the shed.  “Ragini”, he said, “I think our bull is getting old and weak. He stumbled the other day while crossing the canal”.  The bull was keenly listening to Ravidas.  Ravidas was aware of this.  He continued, “I think he can no longer work.  If this happens again, we will have to send him to the slaughterhouse where he can be used for meat.  We will buy another bull.”

The bull was shocked on hearing this.  He was going to be killed.  He cursed himself for the trick which had backfired. Fear and dread seized him as he thought of the butcher’s knife in his throat.  He felt angry at himself on how he had thrown away his life on a silly plan. 

He began to feel remorseful.    “Here, I get the best of food and a place to stay”, he thought to himself, “and I have chosen to deceive master and to harm his business.” He could barely sleep that night.  “I will work harder from tomorrow”, he told himself, “maybe, then,  master will spare me”.

The next day, he dutifully carried Ravidas and the clothes to the river and back.  He worked harder than usual.  Ravidas noticed the change in the bull.  He knew that his plan had worked.

 Children, this story teaches us to be sincere to others and to work with dedication.   All of us have a role to play in society and we should do our duty wholeheartedly and to the best of our ability.

It also teaches us to be thankful to those who take care of us.  We should be appreciative of them and never let them down.

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