Gulzar loved telling jokes that were not too funny, but his friend Harry thought
that they were hilarious. Harry always laughed so hard that tears rolled down his
One day, Gulzar asked his friend, “Do you want to hear a new joke?”
Harry’s thoughts were far away and he didn’t reply. Again Gulzar asked, “Do you
want to hear my new joke?”
Harry replied sharply, “Tell it to me later. I’m rather busy right now.”
Gulzar was hurt. What could be more important than hearing my new joke? he
thought and shook his head sadly.
Harry continued, “I’m planning to open a restaurant. It will be very hard work.”
Harry became busy with work after that. He organised the kitchen and bought
furniture, plates and bowls, and glasses and cutlery. Harry even made his own
Gulzar sat alone, in their favourite spot, under the shade of a tree. He waited for
Harry to be free so they could spend time together.
The restaurant was a great success. It was filled with customers all day. Harry
continued to work enthusiastically. He chopped vegetables, sliced mangoes and
bananas, and squeezed lemons and oranges all day. He ran backwards and
forwards from the kitchen to the tables. By the time he closed the restaurant each
night, he was exhausted. The next day was just as busy and so was the next.
However, by the end of the second week, Harry was not just tired but also
miserable and ill-tempered. He had become too busy to enjoy himself. That night,
he cried. He felt that everything was going wrong. He was proud of his restaurant,
but it was too much work for one person. And the worst thing was that his best
friend seemed to have drifted away from him. Gulzar was his only real friend.
The next day, Harry was lost in thought when he heard Gulzar say, “Do you need anything?”
“Tell me one of your jokes, Gulzar. I need some cheering up,” Harry said.
Gulzar told a joke and then another. They weren’t funny, but Harry roared with
laughter. The customers started to laugh, too. At the end of a long day, the two
friends sat under the stars and told jokes and stories to each other.
“Would you like to hear my new joke?” asked Gulzar.
“Yes, please,” replied Harry.
Gulzar said with a grin, “I am busy right now. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”
A) Discussion points
1. What is the subject, topic, or theme of the story?
2. Name the two characters in the story.
3. How would you describe Gulzar in your own words?
4. Do you think Harry is a true friend?
5. What qualities does your best friend have?
6. Friendship is the theme of many stories. Do you know the names of friends
in some well-known stories?
B) Fill in the correct form of the verb given in brackets in the present
1. I ____ to open a café. (to plan)
2. My friend ____ to go to college. (to plan)
3. I ____ five oranges for juice every morning. (to squeeze)
4. After finishing his daily run, Harry is always thirsty. He ____ two lemons and ____
them. He adds sugar and water to the juice. (to slice, to squeeze)
5. My sister is making her famous soup. She ____ the onions and the vegetables.
6. My friend ____ the apple in half. (to slice)
7. I ____ an onion thinly to make pakodas. (to slice)
Talk to Me!
Tell me why you’re crying,
Tell me why you’re sad,
Tell me why you’re silent,
Tell me what’s so bad.
Talk to me, I’ll listen,
I’m sometimes lonely too,
Together we can beat it,
Together – me and you.
If you would like to watch stories about friendship from the Panchatantra, click on the link below:
Revised July 2020
Audio courtesy Tara Kriplani: