The despicable Mr. Charlatan is known to all of us, he is the deceiving, conniving, scandalous, and cruel bully whose greed is limitless and his shame none. He is the man of all trades but skilled in nothing, claims to knowledge that he doesn’t have, and witnesses to events that hasn’t happened. He doesn’t care who his victims are, old, young, poor, rich and even blind and child, he deceives everyone equally, except for his cousins who are of the same blood and creed. He is the one who could be anyone he wanted to be, a merchant, an officer, a war hero even a king. Exposed or unexposed, he is a professional imposter, his character is flawed, and he has no soul, but whoever he is and whatever he does is for his own good. When speaking to others, it is most likely that he is lying, if he is kind to someone, it is because he has other hidden agendas and if you made a deal with him the chances are that you have been cheated.
This is as much as we know about the Charlatan, but his story is a tale to hear. For the chances are that you have had your own encounter with the Charlatan and didn’t know it. The rest depends on your own common sense; for as we all know, lie dressed in truth’s clothes goes everywhere but naked truth who is ashamed of showing herself naked remains hidden.
Like other charlatans, this particular Charlatan deceived, conspired and stabbed others in the back, but most importantly he could do all these things with complete immunity from law or even criticisms; for he was the loudest, strongest, richest and meanest being that no one dared to challenge.
Bribed, fearful and complacent, people kept quiet about Charlatan’s miss deeds and in absence of a louder and more truthful voice, what the Charlatan said became common truth. Our Charlatan had his own bootlickers who amplified his lies. Together, bound by their banditry, and blood they saw no limit to their malicious activity.
This was a tremendous amount of power in the hands of merciless Charlatan who had his eyes set on the Villager’s store. But it happens, however, that this Villager was not your everyday villager; he was wise, well-seasoned, well rounded and had enough courage and boldness in him to get him in trouble. His store, that he built with his own hands, however, was of most importance to him and he would not part with it even if his life depends on it.
Our story starts on the day the Charlatan laid his eye on the Villager’s prosperous store located on a prime real estate. Impressed by the store’s location and money-making potentials, the Charlatan told himself: “I must, I could, and I will get that store.” Of course, and unfortunately, everyone knows that what Charlatan wants, Charlatan gets, often at a cost to the others. He spent all night thinking about the store and planning a way to acquire the Villager’s store without buying it. The next morning, before Villager opens his store, he called his four cousins and they all mounted on their horses dressed in Darugheh[ii] (police) uniform and headed to toward Villager’s store. They arrived as the Villager was opening his store for the day. Still mounted on his horse the Charlatan shouted: “Hey, you, what are you doing, you wicked peasant” and continued: “What are you doing? You are acting awfully suspicious.” Smiling and somewhat sarcastically the Villager responded “Greeting to my lord, which one is suspicious, opening my store or my being here. At any event, my Lord can rest assured that there is no threat on my part; nothing to be concern about here.” The Charlatan rode his horse closer and for maximum intimidation, effect lowered his voice and in a threatening manner said: “Outspoken and brazen you are, aren’t you, you certainly hiding something, I know you are”.
Unimpressed and somewhat annoyed Villager took a step closer to where the Charlatan and his four cousins were standing and softly responded: “let’s first establish what is it that I am hiding then we will entertain what I might have done with it.” Without knowing who he was dealing with, the Charlatan repeated his accusation: “We saw you hiding something, what would that be, a dagger perhaps? “A dagger!?” the Villager exclaimed. “Yea, a dagger, you are hiding a dagger, you can’t be trusted with one. You are inherently a dangerous person.” The Villager calmly approached the Charlatan and answered. “You are making things more difficult than they are my Lord. First, let’s find out if I really do have a dagger then we talk about the inherent danger with me and the possibility that I have malicious intent.”
Upon hearing the word ‘dagger’ the Charlatan quickly jumped off of his horse and acting as if he had finally secured confession, interrupted the Villager: “Aha, I knew it, I knew it, it is a dagger, It is a dagger that you are hiding, your intentions here undoubtedly are impure. You are hiding a big, sharp and poisonous dagger. It is only a matter of time when you jump out of the dark and stab someone in the back, yes sir, you do have a golden dagger.” The brazen Villager still calm and composed, again tried to dismiss the matter as a simple misunderstanding, he smiled and suggested to Charlatan that: “For something that doesn’t exist you have a lot of information, or perhaps my lord has a good imagination. I have been saying this repeatedly, I don’t have a dagger to stab anyone with.” The Charlatan looked at his four cousins and with a bitter smile answered: “Then prove it to us, prove that you haven’t hidden your poisonous dagger for the right moment to put your malignant designs in motion.” “There is a lot of questions in your question my lord,” the Villager tried to reason with Charlatan who was getting more agitated by minutes.
For whatever his intentions were, he seemed determined to intimidate the Villager to submission with or without a cause. The Charlatan seemed eager to provoke the Villager into actions that merited punishment, but the Villager proved to be the shrewder one. He smiled and with a friendly voice responded: “You are expecting me to; first, prove the existence of something I never had or even seen, presumably a dagger, you say, second, you assume that I have ill intention toward you and others and third, what do you want from me anyway.”
“Yes, you have a dagger and a wish for stabbing me and others I am sure.” said the Charlatan accusing villager while holding him by the culler of his shirt. “Not I, not I,” said the villager. “Swear to God, cross my heart.. not I, ..look I don’t even have a dagger.” “We said you hid it.” said the charlatan deceitfully. Thinking for a moment, the Villager who knew the real Darugheh bashi, (chief of police) showed courage and asked: “Who are you, and who are they?” The Charlatan began laughing gleefully “It is me, Darugh Bashi, and everyone else is everyone in the world, you are a threat to everyone.”
Flabbergasted, the Villager slowly pushed the Charlatan’s hand away and daringly and somewhat sarcastically answered: “We are still where we were before, I still don’t know who are you and who are they?“ “Think of me as the mighty Darugheh Bashi and they are everyone else in world, I am the law and you are a lawbreaker” Charlatan said showing a bitter smile. “The rest of the world!?, I can only see your cousins, not the rest of the world, that would be awful number of people.” The brazen Villager was frustrating the Charlatan and he himself remained calm. This farther annoyed the Charlatan who taught he had an easy target in front of him, shaking his head while pressing his index finger on Villager chest shouted: “Listen, you miserable peasant, you do what you are told to, give me the dagger or we take everything you have.” Still calm and unimpressed the Villager again pushed Charlatan’s hand away and responded “nothing I have is worth anything, but if the law demands, who am I to resist. May I, however, express my legal opinion here; a crime must have been committed to deserve punishment; otherwise, first of all, I don’t have a dagger and even if I had one hiding it is not a crime, as my lord himself, I might add, has a handsome brand new dagger on his belt which is hidden under his coat which also not a crime.”
The Charlatan who was flabbergasted by Villager’s audacity and the way he brazenly book-talked and ridiculed him, shouted back at Villager: “You are one step away from a lifetime jail, now answer me clearly, are you hiding something? What are your plans?” The Villager again denied all that he had been accused of: “Here we go again, for the dagger that I don’t have to hide, and intention that has never crossed my mind I am threatened with lifetime jail. Which part of this is the law?” Irritated by Villager’s response, the Charlatan raised his voice and angrily answered, “It is more than the dagger, it the way you threaten others, instigate trouble and cause mayhem you are a threat to world peace. The Villager laughed loudly at Charlatan’s absurd claim and said, “Wow, from a dagger to world peace in one second, when did this happen? I have a feeling that your grievances are not limited to a worthless dagger, what in God’s name do you want from me?” The Charlatan began preparing the ground for his final pitch; “You are right, the dagger is only the latest mischief you have caused, I am here on behalf of people of village..” the Villager abruptly interrupted the Charlatan and shouted, “..which includes only your cousins..”
The Charlatan sternly looked at the Villager and continued: “they don’t want you among them, you have stolen from them and threatened them.” Rebuffing the accusation levied against him, the Villager pleaded; “A lie, it is a lie, I am afraid, my lord is repeating a baseless lie, otherwise I have never heard anyone talk unkindly about me let alone complaining.” “Silence, you miserable peasant, I am the law and the judge, and I say you have committed many crimes each one of them earns you many years in jail and a hefty amount of fine, not to mention the taxes and accumulated fine. You are a public threat and I need to deal with you.”
Still unphased by Charlatan’s accusation the Villager defiantly and in a paternalizing way that further annoyed the Charlatan answered, “good, we are getting somewhere; if the dagger is not an issue then what is it? Why my lord this early in the morning has traveled here to accuse this insignificant servant of crimes he has not committed.” The Charlatan softened his voice and said, “There is one other way you can save yourself from the predicament you are in now.”
Waiting for this moment the Villager said: “here it comes again the main trap for bribe.” Ignoring the Villager’s remarks the Charlatan continued: “The way I see it, you owe 10,000 Derham in taxes and about 2,000 Derham in fine and other fees, you can pay all of it now and avoid the future headache.” The Villager cried out-loud “all I have is worth no more than 7,000 Derham and that include my store and everything in it.” “I must consult the judge. But this will cost you a lot more, we can come up with an arrangement that considers your problem. In exchange for your store, I will forgo all other money you owe to the treasury.” Eureka..” said the villager loudly “now I understand, all the fuss is over Mullah Nassreddin’s blanket.[iii]
[i] Come and hear the tale of Cat and Mouse, if you are wise, learned and intelligent
[ii] Police in old Persia
[iii] One summer night, escaping from indoor heat, Mulla Nassreddin and his wife were sleeping on the roof. A loud quarrel broke out in the alley next to them and woke them up. Mullah’s wife told him “Go find out what is going on.” Mullah got up and instead of wearing his clothes again, he wrapped himself in his blanket and went down. There were a few thieves arguing over their loot, Mullah tried to mediate but someone grabbed his blanket and ran away. Annoyed and blanket-less Mullah went back to sleep, his wife asked, “what was going on?” Mullah answered “nothing, go back to sleep, all the fuss was over my blanket.”