The drunkard's promises

There was a woodcutter who was a real drunkard. Since he never brought any money home, his poor wife lived a destitute life. The wife begged the husband to give up drinking, but he wouldn’t listen.

One day the goddess Lakshmi appeared before the drunkard and said, “Look, everybody ridicules you. Nobody appreciates you, whereas your own brother is appreciated by everyone because he is simple, pure and honest. But everybody dislikes you — almost hates you. Why don’t you give up drinking?”

“No, I can’t give it up!” said the man.

“Do you like people to say nasty things about you?” the goddess asked.

“That I don’t like, but how can I give up drinking?” the woodcutter said.

The goddess told him, “You can give it up if you want to.”

“All right,” said the drunkard. “I am ready to give it up if you will bring me free of charge a very large amount of wine.”

“I can do that easily,” said the goddess. “Then will you give up drinking?”

“Certainly!” said the drunkard. “I will take the wine home and it will last for a long time — perhaps a week. Then after that I will give up drinking altogether.”

“Are you sure?” asked the goddess.

“I am sure,” said the man. “For one week only I will drink. After one week I will give it up.”

“Then I will bring the wine,” said the goddess. “But you must drink only for one week and then give up drinking.”

So the goddess brought him a large supply of wine. After one week of drinking at home, the woodcutter went into the woods and continued drinking. The goddess came to him again and scolded him. She said, “You didn’t keep your promise. Still you are drinking.”

The drunkard said, “I am so sorry that I could not keep my promise.”

“Will you make another promise?” asked the goddess.

“Certainly I will make another promise,” the man said. “Now, since you are the presiding deity of this forest, can you make a small pond that has not water but wine? I will stay by the pond and drink and drink. After three nights I will be fed up with drinking. Then I will go home and give it up.”

The goddess said, “Yes, I will do it with my occult power.”

Then the goddess made a pond filled with wine. She told the man, “In three days you have to give up drinking.”

He promised again, “Certainly I will give it up.”

Three days passed, but the man did not leave the pond. His poor wife did not see him for days. The goddess came to him again and said, “What are you doing here? You promised that you would go home after three days and stop drinking. You are not keeping your promise.”

The man said, “Mother, when did you ever hear of a drunkard telling the truth? How can you expect any truth from a drunkard? Only he who has lost his brains can drink like this. Am I not insane? If I were sane, I would not have drunk so much. Since I am insane, how can you expect me to tell the truth? I am extremely grateful to you for the pond. For the rest of my life I will drink this wine.”

The goddess said, “I will take care of you and your drunkard life. If you have to drink, then at least let me take care of you.”

So the man stayed in the forest by the pond and never returned home. Although the woodcutter had been a useless drunkard, his poor wife still missed him because, after all, he was her husband.