Dark was the night and weird the atmosphere. It rained from time to time. Gusts of wind shook the nearby forest. Between thunderclaps and the moaning of jackals could be heard the eerie laughter of spirits. But King Vikramaditya swerved not. He climbed the ancient tree once again and brought the corpse down. He flung it over his shoulders and walked towards the cremation ground with a determination to keep complete silence as he had vowed to the sage.
However, as soon as he began crossing the desolate cremation ground, with the corpse lying on his shoulder, the spirit that possessed the corpse said, "O King, I can't understand what your aim is. What is it that you wish, for which you're undergoing such difficulties? It is midnight, pitch dark, and no one can see anything. Aren't you frightened? Why are you risking your life amidst wild animals, ghosts, and poisonous creatures? Its been decades already since you first started this silly routine. Aren't you tired already?"
'I sure am', mumbled King Vikramaditya to himself, careful not to break his vow of silence. He kept walking.
"Well, I'm out of ideas and exotic names to weave a long story. So let me ask you a mathematical question."
'Dammit......should've paid attention during those darn arithmetic classes', thought the King to himself, and waited for the question to be thrown at him.
Betaal continued, "Someshwar from Janakpuri in the Kingdom of Ujjain, joined the Varanasi University. He had 4 subjects in the last year of his study. If he scored 37, 45, 29 and 33 respectively out of 100 in each subject, and needed an aggregate score of 35% in order to clear the course, what was his academic result? If you know the answer and still keep mum, your head will be blown into a thousand pieces."
Already feeling his head reel at the seemingly tricky riddle, the naive King shrugged his shoulders and said, "Pass".
"Holy Devil...you've got it right again eh? But you've broken your vow of silence again, silly boy! Hah!", laughed Betaal, and zoomed off, back towards the ancient tree.
But when he reached the spot, the tree had fallen. A couple of chainsaw-wielding men, were sitting on its massive trunk, already calculating how many tonnes of timber they had laid their hands on.
With no where else to dangle from, the spirit, carrying the corpse with it, went back and clung to King Vikramaditya's drooping shoulders.
SAVE TREES.....NOT JUST THE LIVING, BUT EVEN THE DEAD NEED THEM!
Wonder how many of you have ever read the Indian comic books of old, like 'Chandamama' and 'Tinkle'. I grew up with them. I preferred Chandamama more than Tinkle, coz Tinkle had more of rustic slapstick humor, the kind they have on the gazillion stand-up comedy shows we have on TV nowadays. Champak was a strict no-no, it had terrible English. Chandamama on the other hand had lovely stories, with morals and learnings. MAny of these stories were based on mythology, the vedas, and ancient Indian History.
Unforunately, today's kids are hooked onto Archie's. Which I personally feel is more suitable to 'tweens'.