This story, I heard for the first time, when doing my post graduation at the medical college. Recently, it came to mind again when, I saw an officer in my unit misbehaving with a civilian and virtually throwing him out of his office by verbal rebuke. Here it goes:-
There was a potter in the village. He had a Donkey. The potter used to bring raw materials for his use on the back of this donkey. The potter, while bringing clay, wood etc from jungle, used to bring these in heavy loads so as to reduce the number of trips. But while going to sell his product he used to take pots and other earthen wares in small numbers, so that they remain safe, but increasing the number of trips to the market in effect. In both the conditions, the donkey used to suffer – either it had to carry the huge load or used to get beaten up, if not careful in carrying finished goods to the market. The donkey was very annoyed by the treatment it used to get at the hands of the master.
Then, there came the Deewali time. The potter decided to make statuettes of Gods like Ganesh and Laxmi. After making beautiful statuettes, he wanted to sell these at the market. The statuettes had really come out very beautifully. Every body, who saw the statuettes on the way, bowed to the Gods. Some even exclaimed about how beautiful it was. The Donkey, at the change of its fortunes but oblivious of its load and ignorant of the reason, thought people were praising his beauty and bowing to him! In the market statuettes sold at a premium and the potter made a good profit.
The Donkey was happy at the change he saw in the attitudes of people while going to the market and was flabbergasted. “May be, I am looking exceptionally appealing today”, came to its mind. Returning from market, while he came across a man, he stopped on the way, looked up, and expected the man to bow to him. That did not happen. The donkey swore at the ‘Idiot’ and then moved ahead. Slightly ahead on the way, another man came across. But, what is this? This man also did not bow to the donkey; neither did he say anything in its praise. The donkey was now furious seeing the neglect. It started to make sounds of protest, “… Hey Aeee, … Hey Aeee, … Hey Aeee!” This unexpected loud burst of cry made the potter very angry, he took out his stick and gave the donkey a good thrashing to remember for whole of its life.
This story is significant in the context of all those who have to deal directly with the public, specially the Civil Servants, who actually are ‘Servants’ and their job is to serve the public rather having the wrong notion of ruling over them by virtue of their posts. They must remember that if people bow to them, it may not necessarily be because of their innate capabilities but because of the chair they are holding. This chair is going to be removed from underneath in any case, like – after retirement or in some cases after suspension, and they should not make their situation like the donkey. It is incumbent upon them not to behave like the donkey – expecting everything naturally!