Michael Blackburn's ART ZERO


Many years ago I had a meal with some Sikhs, and the old man of the group told us this story.

A young man wanted to marry a girl from his village, so he went to see her father. He agreed to the marriage provided the suitor fulfilled one condition. This was to arrange a feast for thirty people, at which each person would have one whole lamb to eat. The young man reluctantly agreed, but went away feeling he would fail. For many days and nights he agonised, without coming up with a solution. Finally he asked the old man of the village, who pondered some time and then told him what to do. Invite your thirty guests, he said, and slaughter and cook your thirty lambs. Then serve up your first lamb among all your guests. When they have finished let them rest and talk awhile. Then serve them the next lamb. Do this until all the lambs are eaten. In this way everyone will have eaten a whole lamb by the end of the day.

And that is what he did. The thirty guests arrived and thirty lambs were eaten. The condition fulfilled, the young man was able to marry his bride.

After we heard this story we carried on drinking. I have not yet found the moral of the tale to be of much practical use.