Summary of the Tale of Melon City
(By: Vikram Seth)
This poem is all about a king who was just and placid who carries his notion of justice too far that he has to lose his life.
One day, the king decides to get an arch build to show his victory to his minions and subjects and to address his spectators from there, if needed. Following his orders, the workmen go there and build that arch but too low. One of the days, while going past that arch, the king’s crown collides with that lowly-built arch and falls down. All this makes king filled with fury and rage. Therefore, he sends for the chief of the builders and orders him to be hanged in front of all the people for his blunder. Even the ropes and the gallows are arranged to execute all this. But before he is hanged, he justifies himself and advocates his innocence adding that it is the fault of workmen who had built that arch not his.
For a moment, his hanging comes to a halt. The maharaja ponders and summons all the workmen so that they can be hanged. Whey they are produced before the maharaja, they declare themselves at faultless. They pass on the blame to the masons who made those bricks of wrong size and shape which led to the building of improper arch.
Once again, the hanging comes to a standstill. The maharaja ponders once again and calls all the masons and order his minions to hang them one by one. The masons stand trembling over there but soon, one of them, passes on the blame to the architect.
Later on, the architect is summoned who holds the Maharaja responsible for making amendments at the eleventh hour. Now, the Maharaja, himself gets trapped in dilemma. He orders his minions to find out the wisest man of the city who can counsel them to come out of that tricky thing. Soon, the wisest man is found who advises the Maharaja to hang the arch which led to the falling of Maharaja’s crown but soon contradicted by others.
Now the crowd gets restless and wants the hanging as early as possible. Perceiving their mood, finally, the Maharaja comes out with an idea that whosoever fits from the crowd in the noose, made for hanging, will be hanged by royal decree. All of them are measured one by one but there is only one who fits in that noose i.e. the Maharaja himself. So, he is hanged without any objection made by him.
Now they decide that the first one who passes by the city gate, will choose the king and this will be enforced with due ceremony. An idiot passes the gate therefore he decides that the melon will be the king of this city. His decision is followed and the melon is made the king.
Now, if you enquire the people of this city about the melon being the king, they seem peaceful and satiated. According to them, they can enjoy more in the kingship of melon than any human being.
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