The Auspicious Moment

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Once there lived a man and his wife. They were very good people and very simple too. So simple that they were almost stupid in many ways.

One night they woke up to hear some noise in the house. “Sounds as if there are thieves in the house,” whispered the husband. “Can you hear them, wife?”

“Yes. It must be thieves, who else would be making such sounds in our house at this time of the night,” she whispered back. “Shall I yell loudly so that neighbours can hear and come to our rescue?”

“No, wait,” said the man. “You know that we don’t do anything important without checking the auspicious time. It has been a family tradition for generations. Let me get the time chart and see what is a good time to scream for help.” And he tiptoed to the cupboard and pulled out his books and charts and silently began to read in the dim light of a diya (earthern lamp).

“Well, what does it say?” whispered his wife anxiously.

“Oh, dear,” the man shook his head in dismay, “according to this, the first auspicious time for this type of action is only after six months. We cannot do anything at this moment. We may as well go back to sleep now.”

The wife was uneasy. She was not sure if it would be correct to wait that long. Yet, she knew that all important occasions were fixed only after checking the calendar and time charts. So she did not say anything. The couple went back to bed quietly, wrapped a sheet around their heads and tried not to hear any noises downstairs.

The thieves had a field day. They helped themselves to all they could lay their hands on and decamped.

The man and his wife found the house cleaned out in the morning, but what was there to do now? Six months went by. The man kept track of the dates, and the day dawned when it was auspicious to scream for help.

“I will show those thieves today,” muttered the man. And he called his wife. Together they set up a great hue and cry. “Help, help. Thieves. Thieves in the house. Help,” they yelled.

The neighbours heard and came running. “Where are the thieves?” They looked around but did not see anyone except the couple in the empty house.

“Oh, the thieves came and left six months ago,” said the man. “I am informing you all today.”

“What is the point, you silly man?” shouted the people angrily. “What do you expect us to do six months after the thieves have disappeared?”

The man replied meekly, “It was not the auspicious moment to call for help then, you see.”

Everybody laughed.

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