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The Lost Camel

The Lost Camel
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The Lost Camel

An INdian folk tale told by David Heathfield


Once, there was a merchant, not a rich merchant. And he had a camel, not a beautiful camel. But he loved that camel. And one day, he came to look for the camel but the camel was not there. The camel was gone. ‘Oh, where is my camel? My camel, where is he? And he looked all around in every direction; he searched high and low, but could he find his camel?

Finally, he saw coming along the path towards him, three strangers. Along the tree-lined path they walked towards him, and when they reached him he stopped the first: ‘Have you seen my camel?’

‘Your camel is blind in one eye.’

‘That is true; my camel is blind in one eye. Where is he?’

But the stranger walked on.

The second traveller now arrived.

‘Have you seen my camel?’

‘Your camel is lame in one leg.’

‘That is so. Where is he, what have you done with him?’

But the traveller went on.

The third stranger now stopped.

‘Have you seen my camel?’

‘Your camel has a short tail.’

‘This is true! What have you done with him?’

But the traveller walked on.

The merchant followed the three travellers as they went along the tree-lined path. ‘Where is my camel? You have stolen my camel! You have stolen him! Thieves! Vagabonds!’

Along the path they went. The path became a wide, tree-lined avenue. And on he went, even more furious than before for they seemed to pay no attention to him.

More and more he berated them, until now they entered into the gardens of the palace of the sultan. There the perfumed gardens, the jasmine, the beautiful flowers. And there appeared the sultan: ‘What is the meaning of all this noise?’

‘These strangers have stolen my camel!’

‘How do you know this?’

‘They know that my camel is blind in one eye! They know my camel is lame in one leg! They know my camel has a short tail!’

‘How do you know this,’ asked the sultan?’

And the first stranger spoke: ‘I know his camel is blind in one eye, for as we came along the tree-lined path and along the tree-lined avenue, the leaves had been torn from the branches of the trees that stood to the right of the path. The trees on the left side had not been touched.’

‘How do you know his camel is lame in one leg?’

‘Following the tracks of the camel,’ said the second stranger, ‘it was clear by the footprints.’

‘How do you know the camel has a short tail?’

‘It is clear his camel has a short tail,’ spoke the third stranger. ‘There were drops of blood along the way. If the camel had a longer tail he would have swept the insects aside that sucked the blood.’

‘It is true,’ said the sultan. ‘Your camel arrived in my gardens but a short time ago.’

And the camel was brought forth. Not a beautiful camel. But the merchant kissed his camel. ‘Oh, my camel. My beautiful camel is returned to me.’

Three wise menAnd the sultan turned to the three travellers: ‘You are wise men indeed. Remain here,’ said the sultan, ‘and be my advisors.’

And never before that nor since has any sultan ever received more wisdom and advice than he did from those three.          

The Lost Camel
Find out more
about the contributors

The Lost Camel

An INdian folk tale told by David Heathfield


खोया हुआ ऊँट

एक बार एक व्यापारी था. वह ज्यादा अमीर नहीं था. उसके पास एक उंट था जो ज्यादा खूबसूरत नहीं था, पर वह उस उंट से प्यार करता था. एक दिन, वह उंट को देखने गया मगर उंट वहां नहीं था. उंट गायब हुआ था. 'अरे, मेरा उंट कहाँ गया? मेरा उंट, कहाँ है वह? उसने हर जगह देखा; सब जगह ढूंडा, मगर उसे अपना उंट नहीं मिला.

आखिर, उसने तीन अजनबियों को अपनी ओर आते हुए देखा. पेड़ों से घिरे हुए एक रास्ते से वह चल के उसकी तरफ आ रहे थे. जब वे उसके पास पहुचे, उसने पहले आदमी को रोक कर पूछा: 'क्या आपने मेरे उंट को देखा है?'

'तुम्हारा उंट एक आँख से अँधा है.'

'हाँ, यह सच है; मेरा उंट एक आँख से अँधा है. कहाँ है वह?'

पर वह आदमी चलता गया.

अब दूसरा मुसाफिर आ पंहुचा.

'क्या आपने मेरा उंट देखा है?'

'तुम्हारा उंट एक पैर से  लंगड़ा है.'

'जी हाँ. कहाँ है वह, आपने उसके साथ क्या किया?'

पर वह मुसाफिर चलता गया.

अब तीसरा अजनबी आ कर रुक गया.

'क्या आपने मेरा उंट देखा है?'

'तुम्हारे उंट की पूँछ छोटी है.'

'यह सच है! क्या किया आपने उसके साथ?'

मगर वह मुसाफिर चलता गया.

उस व्यापारी ने उन तीनो मुसाफिरों का, पेड़ों से घिरे उस रास्ते पर पीछा किया. 'कहाँ है मेरा उंट? आपने मेरा उंट चोरी किया है! चोरी किया है आपने उसे! चोर! आवारा!

वे उस रास्ते से चलते गए. अब वह रास्ता चौड़ा हो गया. और वह चलता गया, पहले से भी ज्यादा गुस्से में क्योंकि वह उसे ध्यान नहीं दे रहे थे.

वह उन पर और जोर से चिल्लाता गया. अब उन सब ने सुलतान के महल की बाग़ में प्रवेश किया. उस सुगन्धित बाग़ में जासमीन और दुसरे सुन्दर फूल थे. और वहां सुलतान पधारें: 'इस शोर का क्या मतलब है?'

'इन अजनबियों ने मेरा उंट चोरी किया है!'

'तुम्हे यह कैसे पता?'

'वे जानते है की मेरा उंट एक आँख से अँधा है! वे जानते है की मेरा उंट एक पैर से लंगड़ा है! वे जानते है की मेरे उंट की पूँछ छोटी है!'

'और आप को यह कैसे पता?', सुलतान ने पुचा.

पहला अजनबी बोला: 'मैं जानता हूँ की इसका उंट एक आँख से अँधा है, क्योंकि जब हम पेड़ों से घिरे उस रास्ते से आ रहे थे, सिर्फ बाए तरफ के डाल के पत्ते टूटे हुए थे. दाए तरफ के पेड़ों  के पत्तों को छुआ भी नहीं गया था.'

'आप को कैसे पता की इसका उंट एक पैर में लंगड़ा है?'

'उंट के रास्ते को देखते हुए,' दूसरा अजनबी बोला, 'उसके पैरों के निशानों से यह बात साफ़ थी.'

'आप को कैसे पता की उंट की पूँछ छोटी है?'

'यह बात साफ़ है की उंट की पूँछ छोटी है,' तीसरा अजनबी बोला. 'रास्ते में खून के निशान थे. अगर उंट की पूँछ लम्बी होती तो उसने खून चूसने वाले कीड़े मकोंडों को दूर किया होता.'

'यह सही है,' सुलतान ने कहा. ' तुम्हारा उंट मेरे बाग़ में कुछ ही देर पहले आया था'.

और फिर उस उंट को सामने लाया गया. ज्यादा सुंदर नहीं था वह उंट. पर उस व्यापारी ने अपने उंट को चूमा. 'अरे, मेरा उंट. मेरा सुंदर उंट मुझे वापस मिल गया.'

Three wise men और वह सुलतान उन तीनों मुसाफिरों की तरफ मुडा: 'आप सच मुच होशियार हैं. यही रहिये,' सुलतान ने कहा, 'मेरे सलाहकार बनकर.'

और पहले कभी भी, और आगे कभी भी, किसी सुलतान को इतना ज्ञान और इतनी सलाह नहीं मिली जितनी की उन तीनो से मिली.

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