Tales : The colour of the dye

Once there was a man who had acquired a length of white cloth, and he thought he would like to have it dyed some colour. His friends told him, ‘Take it to the street of the dyers. There you can have any colour.’ So, the man took his bundle of cloth and went to the street of the dyers.

The street was lined with large workshops, and there were crowds of people in the street pushing and shoving, many shouting and complaining that the colour of their cloth was not what they had asked for. Far at the end of the street, though, the man found a very small workshop where things seemed more quiet, and he decided to have his cloth dyed there.

While he waited to be served, he watched others presenting lengths of cloth to the dyer. Each time, the dyer would ask, ‘What colour do you want?’ and sometimes they would say, ‘blue,’ or ‘red,’ or perhaps ‘yellow’ or ‘green.’ Then the dyer would take the cloth and put in a tub, take it out, and bring it to the customer – who was always happy. ‘Yes,’ they would say, ‘that is just the shade of blue – or red – or yellow – or green – that I wanted.’

But the man who was waiting noticed something very unusual. The dyer only had one tub! Whatever colour the customer requested, the cloth went in to the same tub, and came out just the shade they wanted!

When at last the man came before the dyer and presented his length of white cloth, the dyer said, as usual, ‘Yes? What colour do you want?’

And the man replied, ‘Brother! Dye my cloth the colour of the dye in your tub!”

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