TENALI Raman got bitten by a snake and lay on his deathbed breathing heavily. Tenali’s servant, seeing his master’s plight, rushed to the King Krishnadeva Raya’s court to inform him about his master’s condition, so that the king may rush the court physician to attend to him. Instead, the King knowing Tenali Raman’s capacity to fool, laughed out aloud, and said, “I known he is playing the fool. Ask Tenali to come to court at once.”
The servant pleaded, “Your Majesty, he is really dying. Please send for the royal physician to attend to him.”
The King replied, “It’s nothing new. He is always telling a new story about his imminent death. I refuse to believe that he is really dying; he has feigned death so many times before too.”
The dejected servant returned home to attend to Tenali Raman. He told Tenali Raman that the king had not taken him seriously and so he had returned without any help. Tenali Raman sobbed, “Nobody believes me even when I tell the truth; they all think I am fooling. Anyway, after I am gone, the king will realise my worth.” After an hour or so Tenali quietly passed away in his sleep.
Meanwhile, the king thought over what the servant had told him and decided to go and see things for himself. When he reached Tenali Raman’s house, he was shocked to see Tenali lying absolutely still with a mischievous smile playing around his lips. He went close to Tenali’s chest to check if he was breathing properly as he felt that Tenali Raman was joking. He was shocked to find that there was indeed no life left in him. He called out to his soldiers to call the physician but by then it was too late. The king began to wail loudly, “Tenali, Tenali, listen to me. Please wake up. Do not leave me. Who will make me laugh now? How will I pass my time without you?”
The priest got ready to prepare for the last rites. The entire court of king gathered at the funeral site for Tenali Raman’s cremation. Even the Rajguru, the head priest, who was jealous of Tenali Raman’s importance in the king’s court, thought to himself, ‘With Tenali gone, with whom will I fight with now?’
The court jester was duly cremated with royal honours as he left the world smiling peacefully to himself. Krishnadeva Raya was seen sobbing silently to himself.