THE INVENTION OF SHOES
One day, Hobu, the King of Chandrapur was very angry with his minister, Gobu. He was sick of the dust which clung to his feet. “You take high wages from me but never bother to serve the demands of your king! My own soil is soiling my feet. I can’t tolerate this! Unless you find a solution for this grave issue, you are doomed to death”! King Hobu snarled. Minister Gobu was very frightened. He called all the courtiers, scholars and pandits of Chandrapur. He said, “Seven days are there for you. Find a solution for the King’s soiled feet, if not be ready to face the royal rage”. A thousand gold coins will be the reward. Wise men came forward one by one with great ideas. One scientist said, “If the crust of the earth loses its dust, you couldn’t grow food grains, so be careful”. Everybody nodded their heads and agreed. The pundit from Kalighat said, “Ministerji, it is so simple, buy millions of
brooms and sweep away the dust”. Minister Gobu ordered for it. The army started to sweep the land. The dust from the street filled the royal palace of King Hobu. People were blinded by the dust, they coughed and sneezed. King Hobu was so angry that he shouted.”Fools, instead of cleaning the dust, you have added more. Now clean it away! Minister Gobu summoned one lakh watermen for sprinkling water to settle the dust down. They drained all the lakes and rivers. Boats couldn’t sail in the streams. Water creatures died land animals struggled to swim in the pools of water on the streets and roads. All the business of Chandrapur Kingdom was stuck. Water, water, everywhere! King Hobu screamed in distress, “My army of asses has changed my kingdom to a patch of marshy land. Gobu tell me, what is the remedy?” Gobu said, “Your Majesty can always sit in a closed chamber so that your royal feet will never touch the dust’’.”How can I rule my kingdom sitting in a closed chamber? Angry King Hobu snarled like a lion. Padma River came forward, bowed before the King and said, “Your Majesty, we can cover the earth with a leather sheet, for that we have to just find a smart leather man”. “What a wonderful idea! Permission granted”, said King Hobu. The Royal Army searched everywhere for such a crafts man. They knocked at the doors of all the leather works men in the country. But they couldn’t find even one. Then one day an old cobbler came to the palace. He had a solution for the King’s problem. King Hobu summoned him in. “The Royal Army of Chandrapur is in search of a leather works man to cover the whole kingdom with a leather sheet. I hope you can do it”, King Hobu said. The cobbler replied: “Your Majesty, for that we don’t have to cover the kingdom with a leather sheet, just cover your holy feet”. “What? Cover His Majesty’s feet! What impudence! Soldiers arrest him and throw into the prison!” Minister Gobu screamed. “Let him finish his work”, declared King Hobu. The old man sat silently at the feet of the King and took the measurement of King Hobu’s feet. Then he took some leather pieces and sewed them together. The leather man dressed up His Majesty’s feet with beautiful leather coverings. King Hobu walked gracefully in the palace chamber. He laughed aloud, clapped his hands and said, “Great idea! Oh leather man! you are so wise! You have solved the serious problem which was troubling Chandrapur.You can be my royal advisor”. King Hobu embraced the cobbler. He paraded before his courtiers with the newly invented leather covering for his feet. That is how shoes were invented.
SHIRLY SOMASUNDARAM. Vidyodaya School, Ernakulam