The Deaf Friend

In a certain village there lived a merchant who had a deaf friend. The latter learning that the former was ill, went to enquire after him, and while going along the road, determined to hold the following conversation with his sick friend; “After the usual greeting, I will first ask, ‘well, Sir, how do you feel yourself to-day’? He will reply, ‘better,’ and I shall rejoin, ‘very good.’ I will then make enquiries about his diet, and he will reply ‘rice without salt,’ and I shall rejoin, ‘may it do you much service.’ I shall then put the question, ‘pray, who is your doctor’ ? He will, of course, tell me that such and such a person is his doctor and I may safely add, may God assist him in the fulfillment of his work.’ “

At length, having come to a resolve, he reached the house, and after the usual greetings seated himself near the patient and said, “My friend, how are you”? To which the patient replied:—”I am very much troubled with a virulent attack of fever.” The deaf man, not understanding what he said, thought that he was answering according to the plan he had settled beforehand, and responded, “Very good: I hope God will keep you so!”

The patient, who was already peevish with the disease, was made more so by this speech of his deaf companion. The latter next asked what his diet was, and was told that it was the dust of the earth! “May it do you much good,” said he! “and pray, my good friend, which doctor attends you”? The sick merchant, boiling with wrath cried,”Doctor? Death himself.” “Very well, may God speed his medicines!” said the deaf companion, and returned home.

Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, shows the portrait of a Bania from Bombay, India (c. 1874-1876). Banias are members of a mercantile community hailing from western India. This painting was the work of the famous Russian artist Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin (1842-1904).

References:

  • Folk-lore of the Telugus by GR Subramiah Pantulu (1919)