The fire on the hill
Here is an old story from Kenya in Africa.
There was a big lake of cold water in Kenya. The water was always cool, fresh and sweet. At night the wild animals came to the lake to drink water. So the people never came at night. They were afraid of the animals.
A rich man had a beautiful daughter named vanaja. He once said, `any young man who will stand in the cold water of the lake all night, will marry my daughter.’
There lived a poor young man named Shyam. He loved the rich man’s daughter very much. He decided to try and stand in the lake all night.
Shyam’s mother was very sad. She was worried that the cold water would make him ill. And that the wild animals would attack him. She pleaded with him not to go. But Shyam said, `Mother don’t cry, I must try. I love Vanaja so much.’ And so he went to the rich man.
That night the rich man’s servants climbed a very tall tree to keep watch on Shyam. Shyam was standing in the lake. The cold after came up to his chest.
About forty steps away from where Shyam stood, there was a hillock. Here, Shyam’s mother had lit a fire. But Shyam did not know. She had come very quietly and secretly. The wild animals saw the fire and were afraid to come near the lake.
In the middle of the night Shyam saw the fire too. He understood that his mother was there.
All night Shyam stood in the water. In the morning he went to the rich man’s house. But the rich man did not want his daughter to marry a poor man like Shyam. He said, `My servants say that there was a fire on the hillock. The heat from the fire warmed you. You cheated. You cannot marry my daughter Vanaja.
Shyam was very angry. He went to the judge and told him everything. The judge said, `this is a very simple case.’
Next day, the judge called Shyam, his mother, the rich man and the servants outside his court. Many people gathered to hear the judgment.
The judge put a pot of cold water on the ground. Then he walked forty steps away from the pot and lit a fire. He said, `Walked forty steps away from the pot and lit a fire. He said, `we will wait till the water gets warm.’
The rich man laughed rudely. `How can the water become warm? The fire is too far.’
The judge replied, `in the same way as Shyam got warmth from a fire forty steps away.’
The people laughed at the rich man.
And Shyam married vanaja.