A husband and wife were very kind and devoted to one another. Nevertheless, something used to puzzle the wife. Why did her husband come home late at night? He was a very nice man. Some days he would say he had office work, which was true. On other days he would say he was visiting his friends. That used to create a little bit of unhappy suspicion in the wife’s mind, although he was such a good husband. The wife was constantly arguing with herself as to why he would come home late.
One day the wife said, “Please tell me frankly, why do you have to come home so late? How many friends do you have?”
Her husband said, “Friends? In this lifetime, if one gets even one friend, it is enough.”
She asked, “Then where do you go? Some days you say you work late at your office. On other days you come late without giving any reason. Why, why?”
He said, “I go and visit my acquaintances and others.”
She said, “No, that is not right. You should come back home.”
Eventually the husband said, “All right. In the future I will come back home after finishing my office work.”
Still the wife was not satisfied. She said, “Can you not tell me how many friends you really have?”
He said, “I have only two friends.”
“Only two friends?” she said.
“Yes,” he said.
“What kind of friends are they?” she asked.
The husband replied, “One friend will never allow me to be poverty stricken. He is very rich, and he is very kind to me. If anything happens to me, he will come to my financial rescue. And the other one is a military officer. He will do anything for me. He will even give his life for me.”
The wife said, “Oh, one will give his life and the other will give you money. Let me see those two friends.”
Now real suspicion was entering into the mind and heart of the wife. Insecurity and suspicion were reigning supreme inside her. The husband took her first to the house of the very rich friend. It was true that this friend was very rich and at the same time kind-hearted. The rich friend introduced his wife, and the two wives had a very lovely talk.
The friend’s wife said, “Now that we know each other, you have to come to our home so that we can become very close friends.”
By now it was getting late. The rich friend said to the husband, “Where are you planning to go from here?”
The husband said, “I am going to take my wife to visit my other friend.”
The rich friend said, “Here, take my car. You can return it tomorrow morning.”
So the husband and wife went to visit the military friend. Unfortunately, that friend was involved in playing table tennis with some other friends. He was losing, so he could not pay any attention to his new guests. They stood watching him, but the military friend did not even say hello to the husband.
The wife said to her husband, “This kind of friend you have! He did not even say hello to you when he saw that you were waiting there. I can see how much he cares for you.”
The husband said, “He was losing, so he was not showing his friendship. He was concentrating on his game. Otherwise, he is my real friend.”
The wife said, “Your real friend! He cannot say hello to you, and you believe he is going to give his life for you! I like your rich friend. He was nice to me, and his wife was extremely nice. But this military friend is no good. You said that the first one would give you money if you were in need. I saw that he is kind-hearted. He has given his car for you to use. But I can never believe that this other one would give his life for you.”
The husband said, “Just wait. Let us see who is right and who is wrong. Tomorrow I will go to see my friends. You will accompany me. I will tell a downright lie to my friends, and you have to be very, very serious. If you laugh, it will not work, so you have to be extremely serious.”
The following day, when they went to see the rich friend, the husband said to him, “Can you imagine? Somebody is jealous of me in our office. That worker has said such nasty things about me, and the boss is furious with me. The boss will not even look at me. Previously he was so fond of me. Now my boss has fired me. How am I going to support my wife and myself? I have become destitute overnight.”
The rich friend said, “Do not insult me! Am I not your friend? Do you have to worry? I do not want you to worry. Take this money. You do not have to work for that fellow. I am infinitely richer than your boss. I am giving you money, and you do not have to do any work. Only do not tell your boss that I have given you so much money. Otherwise, like a beggar, he will come to ask me for a loan. So I do not want him to know. But you do not have to go back to work for him. Take your time and look for a better job.”
The wife could not believe her eyes and her ears. The rich man had proven himself to be a real friend.
Then the husband and wife went to the home of the second friend. This time also his friend was playing table tennis. The husband came in very hurriedly, almost panicky, so the friend stopped playing table tennis and said, “What has happened? What is the matter with you?”
The husband told the same story. He said, “Some fellow in my office has said such nasty, bad things about me. My boss is furious, and he has fired me. Now I have no job.”
The military friend said, “No job? Who has spoken ill of you?”
He immediately put down his table tennis paddle and ran into his room where he kept his gun. He said, “I am going to kill him! For somebody to speak ill of my dearest friend is intolerable!”
He took his gun and started running towards the front door.
The husband cried out, “Stop, stop, stop!”
The military friend said, “No, I cannot allow anyone to speak ill of you without punishment. I will punish that rogue. I will absolutely kill him.”
The husband said to his wife, “Look, look at this! Is he not taking a risk? If he kills the fellow, then others will kill him. Did I not say that one friend would give me money if anything happened to me and the other friend is ready to give his life for me? Here is the proof.”
The husband and wife begged the military officer not to take action and then they came back home. Both the husband and wife started laughing and laughing. Then the husband and wife invited the military officer and the rich man to come to their house for dinner. Both friends came to their house, and they had a very charming evening.
Alas, the wife could not keep the secret. It is a woman’s dharma not to be able to keep any secrets. The wife told her husband’s friends what actually happened. She started bursting into laughter while recounting all the events of that evening. The two friends were shocked. Each one was wondering what kind of friend would do such a thing.
At the end of the story, the husband said, “I wanted to show my wife that one of you was ready to give his life for me if I was in danger and the other one would definitely give me money if I found myself in financial difficulty.”
Unfortunately, the two friends did not find the story amusing at all. They became very sad and serious. The rich friend said, “If you can think of fooling us in this way, how can we trust you in the future? Now when you actually need money, I will be unwilling to give it to you.”
The military friend said, “And perhaps when you find yourself in real danger, I will not be able to help you. I do not want you to make a fool of me a second time.”
So the husband’s friendship with the rich friend and the military officer ended because both these friends were very sincere people. They never thought that the husband would fool them.
True, the husband was able to prove to his wife that he had two real friends. But the story has a twist: if you tell lies to your real friends, you can lose them.