Short and Ugly Son

Sa’di narrates: “A king had several sons, one of them being short, thin and ugly, while the others were tall and good-looking.
The king would look at the short son with scorn and contempt, thereby causing him humiliation. The son, being intelligent, realized why his father looked down upon him and so said to him: “O’ Father! A short but wise person is better than a tall but ignorant one. He who is taller is not necessarily better and superior; a sheep is clean but an elephant, like a carcass, always possess a foul smell.”

The son’s words made the king laugh and the elders of the court approved of what he said, but his brothers were upset.

Coincidentally, during those days, it so happened that the enemy forces attacked the kingdom and the first person from the king’s army to heroically attack the enemy was the king’s short and ugly son. With a display of great courage, he felled a few of the enemy chiefs and then, returning to his father and paying his respects to him, said: “On the day of battle the lean horse comes of use.” Despite the fact that a group of his soldiers had taken flight, the son returned to the battlefield.

“O’ Men! Endeavour hard or else put on the dress of womenfolk,” he shouted with bitter sarcasm.

This sarcasm breathed fresh life into the cavalry who fought with renewed vigour till they eventually overcame the enemy forces and became victorious. The king kissed his son all over the face and named him his successor. From then on, he looked at this son with great respect and esteem. These events caused his brothers to become so envious of him that they put poison into his food in order to get rid of him. Fortunately, his sister watched what was happening through a small door and sent a warning signal to her brother by shutting the door loudly. The intelligent brother became suspicious and abstained from eating the food.

“It is impossible for skilled people to die while the unskilled ones continue to live on and take their place,” he commented.

When the king was informed of the incident, he reprimanded the other brothers and sent each of them to the farthest part of his kingdom.


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