At that time, Mullah Naseeruddin was appointed as the king’s procurator.
His job as a treasurer was to judiciously use the money to procure various commodities and properties that were required for the state. He had to be an expert in valuation of things he wished to procure.
He would buy Horses, Elephants, Weaponry, Gold, Silver, Clothing, Grains and so on for the kingdom and pay the merchants who brought them.
Mullah Naseeruddin was a very capable procurator as he ensured that the kingdom always had abundance of what it required for sustenance and security. He would ensure that whatever he bought was of the highest quality and at the best valuation. This in turn ensured that while the kingdom always had what they wanted, their coffers would also not run empty.
He always thought of saving for a rainy day and apportioned a part of the kingdom’s wealth for meeting any eventuality in the future.
Mullah Nasseruddin was also a very good administrator making sure that the economy was in good shape with a continual flow of necessities and trade. He was also very fair-minded in his dealings with all the merchants who came from far and wide and always was prompt in his payments. This kept the merchants happy and they would always bring commodities of the highest quality for the Mullah to purchase.
Thanks to Mullah Nasseruddin the name of the kingdom and the king spread far and wide as a place to do trade with.
The King however did not see the value of the Mullah to the kingdom. He was a miser and felt that the Mullah was depleting his coffers by expending a lot of money. At this rate I would soon be bankrupt he thought.
“It’s time I replace the Mullah with someone who is as miserly as me, as thoughtful as me in spending money, and who could buy things at a very cheap price” he thought.
He found a very easy way to find such a person. He looked out of the window and found some of his attendants standing and chatting away doing nothing. He called out to one of his attendants and asked him to appear in his courtroom immediately.
The attendant went as ordered by his king, fearful of the possible consequences from this sudden call from his majesty.
As the attendant stood, frightened, the King announced in the courtroom “From today, you shall be my procurator in place of Mullah Nasseruddin”
The courtroom fell silent by this order, but no one, not even Mullah wanted to defy the King’s order. As the Mullah bowed to his King, and walked out of the courtroom, he had a faint smile on his face.
The king had come up with this plan as he thought that an ordinary attendant without any rank or status would buy nothing without haggling and would be more economical in his purchases. But, this man was quite a fool which the king was soon to find out.
The new procurator could not distinguish between a donkey and a horse, but was as the king thought an expert in offering astoundingly low value for anything he had to buy.
The merchants who came from far off places, started to feel the pinch of low value being offered for their high quality goods. They couldn’t argue with the procurator as he was specially chosen by the king and anyone who went against his will would have to face his wrath.
In his enthusiasm to buy cheap, the procurator went ahead and purchased anything and everything which could come at a very low price, no matter the quality and the quantity. He didn’t have the sense to understand what was required for the efficient running of the kingdom.
Within no time, the storehouse was filled with a whole lot of rubbish which had no value or use to the kingdom. The merchants started to make heavy losses and to compensate, started to bring inferior quality products to the kingdom.
The storehouse was turning into a junkyard of unwanted goods.
The kingdom’s reputation started to get tarnished as the merchants carried the message far and wide.
One day, the King came to know of a merchant who had arrived with about 500 horses of the finest quality. He ordered his procurator to purchase all of them.
The new procurator found this as an excellent opportunity to impress his King.
He ordered the merchant to supply all of the horses to the King’s stable and in return offered a measure of rice. “Be happy that the King even considered to buy your horses. You are lucky to be of service to our great King” he proclaimed.
The merchant was dejected as a measure of rice was not even worth the price of one horse and here was this man who was offering that for 500 horses.
As he went back to his stable to get the horses, he found Mullah Nasseruddin on the way. “Why are you looking sad and dejected?” asked the Mullah.
The merchant narrated the whole incident and then asked Mullah to come to his aid as he didn’t’ want to make so much loss in this trade. It was a matter of his survival.
Mullah Nasseruddin pondered over the problem and then said “When you go to the courtroom tomorrow to receive the payment for your horses, ask the procurator in front of the King and all the witnesses in the courtroom, as to how much he is willing to pay for the horses. And when the procurator says – a measure of rice, please ask him what is the value of a measure of rice?”
Let’s see what happens next. Don’t worry, I will be present in the courtroom as well.
Next day in the courtroom in front of all the witnesses and the King, the merchant asked the procurator “Sir, I bring the finest horses to you, no one in this entire world has bred such horses. What value do you have to offer for these finest of the fine breed?”
“A measure of rice ofcourse, as I had already told you yesterday” the procurator said and turned to his King for receiving the acknowledgement for getting such a low price.
“And Sir, may I ask you before these witnesses, how much value is a measure of rice?” the merchant asked as advised by the Mullah.
The boastful procurator wanted to show that a measure of rice from the king was invaluable replied “As anyone in this courtroom will tell you, a measure of rice is equal to the value of this entire kingdom and all the territories under its rule” bragged the procurator.
He was obviously wanting to show as any good bargainer that what he was willing to pay was much more in value than the commodity he was buying.
Listening to this, all the courtiers burst out laughing at the foolishness of the procurator. Some even made jokes as to how they could gobble up an entire kingdom with one meal. How all of them could procure many kingdoms with the amount of rice they had stored in their houses.
Some of them even chided the procurator to buy them a kingdom with one measure of rice, as they continued to laugh at the stupidity of the man.
The only people in the court who did not laugh at this enjoy the joke were the foolish procurator and the King who had employed him without much thought. The king bowed his head in shame for appointing such a fool who had made himself and the King a laughing stock in front of his courtiers.
Mullah Naseeruddin saw the predicament of the King and wanted to put a stop at all the jokes and banter which were going around. “Do not mock a man for his ignorance. When a man entrusted with a job for which he is not qualified he is bound to make a laughing stock of himself sooner or later. It is not the poor fellows fault that he was appointed as a procurator”
Hearing this the King, raised his head and said “It was my fault O Mullah Nasseruddin. I have learnt my lesson. I understand, no one can do wrong except the King”
The king at once removed the procurator from the post and appointed the Mullah back to the job he had so astutely performed.
- Are you able to relate to the characters in this story? Namely the King, Mullah Naseeruddin, New Procurator, Merchants, the Horse trader, the Courtiers?
- What did you learn from each character?
- Do you find similarities in your life at work and at home?
- What leadership lesson is there for you in this story?