The Clever Lawyer and the Cleverer Client
Once upon a time there lived a clever lawyer named
Ghulam Mustafa Khan. He had a roaring business, for he had the reputation for
finding a solution to the difficulties of all his clients. His name was familiar
to all those driven to litigation and courts. It was shortened to Musa Khan and
to Musa in colloquial language.
One day his attention was drawn to a client who was unduly
humble. He seemed to be much oppressed and miserable. He stated his business to
the lawyer, sobbing. He was a petty shopkeeper and was the only breadwinner of a
large family. His business had failed and he had been obliged to seek a loan. He
had paid a considerable sum by way of interest but could not cope up with the
loan and the amount had been accumulating. He had been threatened with dire
consequences if he failed to discharge his debt promptly.
According to the law in existence then, the creditor
could get a decree and have the property of the debtor attached. The debtor in
this case had no other property except his house and what he dreaded most was to
be forced out of the house after the creditor had it auctioned in conformity
with the decree. He requested the lawyer to save him from this fate. He painted
such a mournful picture of his difficulties that the lawyer, even though used to
such accounts, was really moved with commiseration. Musa Khan put several
questions to his client who told him that the sum he had repaid by way of
interest exceeded the principal borrowed. Musa Khan was satisfied and
asked the client to meet him in the court of the Qazi.
Just before the parties entered the court Musa Khan
took his client aside and talked to him for a few minutes. Soon after, the
creditor and the debtor were called into the presence of the Qazi. "What is
your plaint?" the latter beckoned the money-lender who gave details of the
sum owed to him by the shopkeeper. "What have you to say to the charges
against you?" said the Qazi to the shopkeeper. The latter twitched the
lapel of his tunic but said nothing. The Qazi repeated the question louder to
which the shopkeeper replied, "Kapas!"
"What do you say?" asked the Qazi.
The shopkeeper repeated "Ka-p-as!"
The Qazi wrinkled his brow and was about to say
something in a stern voice when Musa Khan stepped in and said, "My lord the
poor man standing yonder is.... "
"Innocent and falsely charged."
"He knows nothing about the matter and has never
borrowed money from this man."
"He has lost his wits and is in fact stark
"What does he mean by saying 'Kapas'?" asked
the Qazi. "Kapas."
"My lord! my client was a merchant in cotton
trade. He invested a lot of money in this trade, purchased a great quantity of
cotton and stored it in godowns waiting for a favourable rate at which to
dispose it of. While he was dreaming of a fortune of...."
"My lord, while he was dreaming of a fortune
running into lakhs he heard the news that his godowns had been burnt down to
ashes. Since then he has been raving."
The Qazi was so impressed that he dismissed the suit of
the money-lender and discharged the shopkeeper.
Outside the court the lawyer approached the client
saying, "Are you satisfied now? You have been relieved of your worry."
"Ka-pas!" retorted the shopkeeper.
"Come on, let me have my fee now," demanded
"Ka-p-as!" said the other.
"You don't mean to teach your grandmother how to
hatch eggs!" said the lawyer.
"Kapas! kapas! "
"Let me have my fee, you villain."
Musa Khan saw into the whole business: he had been
beaten with his own stick. He gave him a slap and shouted to the bystanders,
"He is hoisting Musa with his own petard of Papas!"