As King Haroun and Queen Zubayda were sitting in their palace one day, a fisherman who was selling fresh fish was brought in front of them. King Haroun decided to buy a fish and gave the fisherman 4000 dirhams for it.
The fisherman was overjoyed. He thanked King Haroun and left.
Queen Zubayda turned to her husband in anger and scolded him for paying so much for a fish. King Haroun let her have her say, but said that the fish was purchased and that there was nothing that could be done about it.
However, the Queen was adamant and insisted that the fisherman be brought back.
“We will ask the fisherman about the gender of the fish,” she said. “If he answers that it is female, we will say that we wanted a male fish and if his response is that it is male, we will say that we wanted a female fish! Either way, we will be able to return the fish and have our money back.”
So the poor fisherman was called back and was asked the question.
Fortunately, he was clever enough not to be caught out.
He replied, “The fish is neither male nor female. It is eunuch (neuter).”
King Haroun was so impressed by the ingenuity of the man that he ordered a further 4000 dirhams to be paid to him. The fisherman thanked the King again but as he was about to leave with the heavy bag of money, one of the coins fell onto the floor. The fisherman immediately bent down to look for the coin. Queen Zubayda was already upset that the fisherman had been given 8000 dirhams.
“Look how miserly this man is!” the Queen exclaimed. “One coin has fallen out of his bag full of money and he searches for it, instead of leaving it for some other poor servant to find.”
The man heard this remark and said, “O Queen, it is not out of miserliness that I search for the coin, but rather because it had the picture of generous King Haroun on it. I would not tolerate anyone to cause dishonour to the King by treading on the coin.”
The King was so happy with this response that he immediately called for another 4000 dirhams to be given to the fisherman. When Queen Zubayda saw all this, she thought it was better to hold her tongue and let the man go with 12000 dirhams before the King decided to increase the amount again.
Even a fish would not land in trouble if it keeps its mouth shut at the tempting moment.
Lessons for Life:
Speaking is an Art. Just because one is able to talk doesn’t mean that one knows the art of speaking well and is an effective communicator. If one has the viveka (discrimination) of what to speak, how to speak, when to speak (and when to hold the tongue), how much to speak and whom to speak, then such a person will be successful in life.
“The beauty of a person is in the clarity of his / her speech.”