A true friend: folktale found while net-roaming
A True Friend
A beautiful orchard stood in a valley of the Himalayas. The river Ganga had made the land so fertile that the trees in that orchard were always full of fruits. These fruits attracted thousands of parrots.
On one such tree lived the king of parrots, Shukaraj. He loved the tree and tree too was very fond of him. One day the tree fell sick. Its fruits fell off and despite that Shukaraj did not abandon the tree. He ate its leaves and drank water from the river Ganga. The next day even the leaves fell off. Yet Shukaraj stayed on. He ate tiny twigs and drank water from the river. Shukaraj was happy and contented.
Lord Indra in heaven was looking at the affairs of the world from up above. He came to know that there was a parrot Shukaraj, happy and contented even when he had almost nothing to eat! He could not believe that earthly creatures, normally highly self-centered, could possess such noble qualities. Lord Indra wanted to test Shukaraj. He used his supernatural powers and made the tree completely dry. Now there were no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no twigs, nothing, except the dry porous trunk. In spite of all this Shukaraj did not leave porous trunk. He noticed some powdery stuff falling from the pores. He ate that and drank the river water. He still looked quite happy and contented.
Lord Indra was most impressed by Shukaraj. He decided to load that tree with fruits of immortality after talking to Shukaraj. He became a swan and flew to the tree standing next to the Shukaraj’s. This ordinary looking swan asked the king of the parrots, “There is nothing on your tree. Why don’t you come to this tree? Look, it has so many sweet fruits. Your tree has turned into a dry stump. It is time you left it.”
Shukaraj smiled and said, “I am extremely grateful to this tree. All these days this tree has fed my family and me. It also had the most delicious fruits in the world. I am his friend, his brother. I was with him in his good days and I will stay with him through his bad days as well. How can I ever forget what all he has done for me! I will never ever leave him.”
The swan looked very pleased with this reply from the king of the parrots. He immediately transformed back into his original form. When Shukaraj saw Lord Indra he bowed to him and said, “I am indeed honoured that you have come all the way to meet me. I am sorry, I have no food no offer you.”
Lord Indra was so pleased with Shukaraj that he asked him, “What is your wish? I would like to fulfill it. Please do not hesitate to ask for whatever you want.”
Shukaraj said, “Please make my friend happy and healthy.”
Lord Indra blessed the tree and left for heaven. In moments the tree became full of leaves and fruits. Seeing his friend again its lustrous and green form Shukaraj felt the happiest of all.