The pilgrimage

Once there were two neighbours who were friends and, at the same time, rivals. Both of them were very shrewd and miserly. At times they were absolutely, unthinkably undivine.

One day they decided to go on a pilgrimage. So their wives made delicious food for them and they left very early in the morning.

After they had walked for two hours, it was breakfast time. One of them said, "Let us not stop to eat breakfast. It is not necessary."

The other one said, "I agree. Let us keep walking and then stop for lunch instead."

So they continued walking. When lunch time came, one of them said, "I am not hungry. If you want to eat, you can eat. But I am not hungry in the least."

The other one said, "I am not hungry either. Let us walk further until we are tired. Then we can stop and eat."

Both of them were perfect rogues. Each one thought that his own wife had made most delicious food and did not want to share it with the other. Each one thought, "If we walk for some time, then my friend will become tired and fall asleep. Then I will be able to eat my food all by myself. I don't want to share any of it with him."

They walked until it was evening and they were both very tired. After they stopped, each one was waiting for the other to fall asleep. They were waiting and waiting. Finally, both of them fell asleep.

The following morning when they woke up, they saw that their food was crawling with ants. They were so mad at their wives! "We didn't examine the food when they gave it to us. Now we see that there are ants inside the food. When we go home, we will insult them like anything," they said.

Then they said, "Since we are extremely tired, let us take rest here for another few hours." When they woke up a few hours later, they saw that rats were eating their food. They were so disgusted that they immediately went home and insulted and scolded their wives.

Their wives said, "Why didn't you eat the food we gave you during the day?"

Each one told his wife, "I didn't want to share any of your most delicious food with that other rascal. Then it took him so long to fall asleep. In the meantime, I too fell asleep."

Each wife told her husband, "This time when you start on your pilgrimage again, I will give you special food. Since both of you are so greedy and miserly, this time I will give you simple food — a loaf of bread — which you can easily share with your friend. Your friend will be very pleased if you share it. Since both of you are going together, you can at least have this much friendship."

One wife made bread that was very salty and the other made bread with no salt at all. Since their wives had told them that the food was very simple, both the men suddenly became extremely generous. One of them said, "I am sure your wife is a good cook. Let us exchange our food. You give me your food and I will give you my food."

The other one said, "It is an excellent idea."

So they exchanged their food and started eating. O God, the one who got the salty bread became mad and disgusted. He said, "Your wife does not know how to cook!"

The other one also became mad and said, "Your wife also does not know how to cook! There is no salt in this bread. It is tasteless."

The first man said, "My wife is an excellent cook."

The other one said, "Your wife! Then how is it that she forgot to put salt in this bread?"

The first one said, "How is it that your wife put too much salt in her bread?"

Like this they fought and fought. Again their pilgrimage came to an end, and again they went home and insulted their wives.

Each of them said to his wife, "You made horrible food. I was ashamed of your preparation."

Their wives said, "We thought that you were good friends. If you had shared your food with each other, there would have been no problem. One loaf of bread had too much salt and the other had no salt. If you had shared, it would have been most delicious for both of you."

So the wives gave them illumination. The husbands said to each other, "We are fools. We should have put our food together and then eaten."