‘What is this thing called jeans, Birbal?’ Akbar asked his loyal minister, now his heaven-mate, when the latter called on him that evening. Even there, the emperor hadn’t been able to find a better search engine than Birbal and often googled him to decode the sound bytes that found their way into the place despite tight information control by the authorities.
“I heard it is a libas (piece of clothing), somewhat like the tang pajama, Aalampanah!” Birbal replied. What? Akbar thought. It beat his simple mind that a pajama could be in the eye of a storm.
“Is there anything special about it?”
“I am told, Jahanpanah, that it’s a popular leg-wear on earth these days.”
“Popular pajama? What are you talking about, Birbal? Doesn’t it sound weird?”
“It does, Jahanpanah. But they say it’s comfortable to wear and easy to maintain, your highness.”
“Why, I thought all pajamas were so. What is a pajama worth if it’s not comfortable? I think, there must be more to it than what you’ve told me.”
“Huzoor, both men and women can wear it”, said Birbal.
“What’s new in that? In my time too both men and women wore tang pajamas. And don’t they wear it here? Tell me, why is it creating such furore that news about it has trickled all the way to this place?”
“Huzoor, they have banned girls from wearing it in some places of learning.”
“They say it encourages eve-teasing, Aalampanah!”
“What is that?”
Birbal didn’t want to trouble the old emperor with bad news, so he said, “Jahanpanah, it’s a bird — a troublesome predator, which, they say, comes out only when girls go about the town sporting jeans.”
“Oh, then why don’t they hunt it down? That gives me an idea, Birbal. Do me a favour. Talk to authorities about introducing jeans asleg-wear for the womenfolk here. That way, when they venture out, we will have a great time hunting this bird. Oh, how I miss my favourite sport!”
Birbal was in a bind. He became silent and pressed the quick-think button in his brain.
“What are you thinking, Birbal?”
“I am sorry Alampanah, but it will not work here. The climate of heaven does not suit this bird.”
“Oh, how I miss the climate of Hindustan,” said the Badshah with a sigh and dismissed the meeting.