One day Akbar wanted to find out how many blind people are there in his kingdom. So, he asked Birbal to find out the number of blinds. Birbal agreed and requested for few days to carry out this activity.
The next day onwards, Birbal stopped attending court and started with his assigned task. He sat in the footpath next to the palace and started polishing people’s shoes. Now Birbal was quite famous in the kingdom, and almost everyone knew him. People were staring at him while passing. Some of them laughed at him, saying he has gone mad.
Once in a while, a passerby would stop and ask Birbal, “Birbal, what are you doing?” Birbal would respond saying, “Sir, I am polishing shoes.” And then make a note in his notepad. Words spread around and it reached Akbar. Now, he was amused knowing that Birbal was polishing shoes.
To verify, the next day, Akbar himself came to the footpath. And sure enough, Birbal was sitting there polishing shoes. Akbar, quite surprised, asked Birbal, “Birbal, what are you doing?”. Birbal stood up, bowed in front of the king, and replied, “Jahapanah, I am polishing shoes.”
Thoroughly amused, Akbar went back to his palace. The next day Birbal presented himself in front of King Akbar and courteously bowed and presented a piece of paper.
Akbar asked, “What is it, Birbal?”.
Birbal said, “Jahapanah, this is the list of blind people in your kingdom.”
Akbar looked at the list and as he glanced through it, he found his own name in it.
Surprised, he asked Birbal, ” Is it a Joke Birbal? Why is my name on the list of blind people?”
Birbal said, “Hujur, like everyone else in this list, you stopped to asked me what I was doing, while you could very well see that I was polishing shoes. This is how only a blind would behave.”
Akbar kept quiet for a moment and then burst out laughing. He was defeated once again by Birbal’s quick wit.