Saturday, December 5, 2009

Perumthachan- The Master Craftsman

(Speech :Project 1 from Storytelling Manual from the Advanced Communication Manual .Time 7-9 min)

Have you ever heard of a father being jealous of his own son? Fellow Toastmasters and distinguished guests good evening…


Perumthachan, the master craftsman was a renowned carpenter. God created mountains, valleys and beaches but He left it to Perumthachan to build marvellous temples, monuments and mighty palaces. All around him were awe-struck by his skills. They praised him aplenty but those praises could never match to the towering majesty of his constructions.


In his native place, the trustees of a temple entrusted him to build a huge lake near the temple. But the trustees could not come to an agreement on the shape of the lake. Some wanted it a square, some as rectangle, some as circle. Hearing the argument Perumthachan said “Don’t fight. I shall make a lake to suit all your ideas about shape: rectangle, square or circle.” So the lake was made; it seemed to have all these shapes when viewed from different directions. People bathing in the lake found it difficult to the directions. At some time after bathing they could not even make it to the lake side where they kept their clothes!


Perumthachan had a very talented son. After the lake was built he asked his father: “Will the people of temple have to cross the river to have a bath in the lake?” This question was so absurd, as the temple and lake was close together and the river was some distance away. Perumthachan scoffed “What madness are you talking? The river is so far away.” The son smiled and replied “Let’s see”. After few days it began raining in cats and dogs. By this heavy rain the river changed direction and began to flow in between the temple and lake. So as predicted by the son the temple stood on one side of the river and the lake on the other side of the river. The people gave up bathing in the lake as they had to cross the river. The seeds of a niggling professional jealousy were planted in the mind of Perumthachan.


Afterwards a bridge was built across the river by Perumthachan to help people cross the river. On one end of the bridge, Perumthachan placed a doll which performed a trick. When the travellers stepped on the other side of the bridge, the doll would go down the river. By the time the travellers reach the middle of the bridge the doll would immerse itself in water. Then it will take a mouthful of water. As the travellers proceed further the doll would start rising up. When the travellers reach near doll it would spit the mouthful of water to the travellers' face. The gullible travellers were dumbstruck and peeved at this. Perumthachan’s son saw what this doll did to the unsuspecting travellers and had an idea. He came up with another doll which he placed at the opposite side of the bridge. This doll also performed a trick. The moment a traveller entered a bridge, this doll would start moving ahead of the traveller. When they reach the other side of the bridge and when his father’s doll is ready to spit water into the face of the traveller, this doll would give a mighty slap to the first doll. By the effect of the slap, the face of the first doll would turn to the other side. So when it spits, the water goes back to the river and the traveller is saved from the spitting from the doll. Not only that it was feast for their eyes like seeing free circus performance. The people praised the son’s skill. This stirred up his jealousy. It aggravated Perumthachan. He felt that the each slap his doll received was on his face. It was like in son beating him in the face.


During one of his journeys, Perumthachan saw some carpenters in the process of building a temple. He went near them, but they did not pay any attention to him or try to include him in their work. When they had gone for lunch, Perumthachan drew a small line on all the rafters and left. The carpenters came back and thinking that the line was drawn by the master carpenter giving them an indication as to where to cut the rafters. They proceeded to work accordingly. When it was time to join the rafters and make the frame for the roof, they found out that all the rafters were shorter than the length needed. They were in a fix and the roof frame was not mounted. They were troubled but they continued with rest of the work. After a few days, Perumthachan came that way with wooden pieces in the shape of musical instruments. His son was with him. During the lunch recess when the other carpenters were not around, Perumthachan lifted the frame up, filled the gaps with the musical instruments shaped wooden pieces and gave it a solid thump. The rafters were joined together, holding the roof frame. Perumthachan was filled with pride. He told his son, “You see, son, how the rafters are held together as a frame.” The son gave a curt reply, “Yes, I did see and have learnt how to do it.” These words acted as oil to the fire of jealousy raging in the heart of Perumthachan. When the world respected him; his own son brought disrespect to him. This disrespect could harm his reputation adversely. The great among the greatest craftsman felt threatened by his son. The pinnacle of glory is so coveted that the fear of replacement from that throne is thorny. Like a politician’s quest , like a corporate rat race, the chase for the crown of grandeur is self defeating—and it shall remain so till lives cease to exist. So, one day while he was working on the roof of this temple with his son doing some work just below him, Perumthachan let a broad chisel slip and fall as though in accident. The chisel fell down and severed son’s neck. The blood that oozed out of his son’s neck might have put out the fire of jealousy in Perumthachan.


Over to you toastmaster.

(This story is depicted as it is in the Ithiyamala by Kottarathil Shankunni.I have also dependend on the translated version of the same )

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