Once upon a time there lived a poor man named Ali. He worked hard for his living and was contented with whatever he had. Now Ali had a neighbor Kasim who was as stingy as he was rich. It never gave him pleasure to see others, specially his poor neighbor, happy. He was always on the look out for an excuse to get Ali into trouble.
One day, Kasim held a feast in his house. The aroma of all the delicacies cooked in his house wafted in the wind and spread all over the neighborhood. Kasim, of course never cared to invite his poor neighbor. Instead, he peeped over from his balcony into his neighbor courtyard. To his consternation, he saw the poor man sitting and enjoying the delicious smell coming from his kitchen. Kasim’s heart almost stopped in shock.
“What!” thought he, “How dare that pauper inhale the aroma from my kitchen? My Kitchen! The aroma from the food cooked with my money! The rascal! I will make him pay for this! I will take him to the Qazi and demand justice!”
Seething with anger, Kasim marched to Ali’s house. Without so much as a greeting, he shouted to his neighbor.
“You robber, you thief! How dare you steal from my house!”
Poor Ali could not understand what theft he was being accused of. Without enlightening him, Kasim dragged the poor man to the Qazi. Word spread like wildfire and a great crowd gathered to watch the proceedings.
Kasim stood before the Qazi and presented his case in a loud and pompous voice.
“Your Honour, this man had the audacity to sit in his backyard and without so much as lifting a finger, enjoy the delicious aroma of food coming from my kitchen. I demand payment for the pleasure that he enjoyed at my expense. Your Honour, you have always been just and I am sure that you will mete out justice in this case too.”
Indeed the Qazi was a just man – as honorable and witty as he was just. He listened quietly – the shock on his face was slowly replaced by a twinkle in his eyes. Now he turned to Ali.
“ Is what this man says true? Did you enjoy at his expense?”
“Yes, your Honor, but I could not help it.”
“Ali, you have to pay Kasim for the favor enjoyed. The court orders both of you to come here tomorrow at the same time. By God, justice will be done!”
Kasim gave Ali a scornful look and walked out of the place with a victorious smile on his lips. Poor Ali was bewildered. Just as he was leaving, the Qazi called to him to a corner and whispered something in his ear. Ali’s face lit up and he hurried to his house.
Next day, the court was overflowing. The whole town, which knew about the low character of Kasim and the innocent nature of Ali, were curious as to how their Qazi would solve this problem. Both Kasim and Ali were brought before the Qazi.
Ali carried with him a big box. Kasim’s face glowed with anticipation as he recognized Ali’s money box.
‘All my money, your honour, said Ali.
“Okay. Now, shake the box so that all of us can be sure your box contains money”.
Ali shook the money box vigorously and there was a loud jingling noise. The Qazi turned to Kasim.
“Oh Kasim, doesn’t that sound lovely?”
“Aah, yes, yes, Your honour”.
“Ali, shake the box once more”, the Qazi commanded. Ali obeyed.
“Kasim, don’t you feel happy to hear the sound of so many coins?” the Qazi queried.
His eyes glittering, Kasim exclaimed, “Oh your honour, the sound of that money gives me utmost pleasure!” so saying, the greedy man was about to grab the money box from Ali.
“Don’t you dare touch it!” The grim voice of the Qazi rang out.
“Ali has paid you in full measure. Just as the aroma of your food gave him pleasure, so did the sound of his money gave you pleasure. You have been paid back in the same coin- Justice has been done.”
The court room rang with thundering applause for the Qazi for his keen wit and intelligence. The Qazi, his voice still grim, pronounced further: “Kasim, pay Ali one hundred gold coins and punishment for harassing your neighbor and disturbing peace of his household”
Ali returned home happy man and Kasim a wiser man.