Once upon a time, in a village, there was a mother-in-law who had three daughters-in-law. The daughters-in-law were always quarreling with each other. This was especially so whenever relatives visited their house. They would fight over the issue of who got to serve the guests. The mother-in-law would frequently reprimand her daughters-in-law by saying, “You should not be fighting in public.” Even then, the daughters-in-law continued to engage in petty quarreling. Finally, the vexed mother-in-law unable to bear it any longer came up with a solution by dividing the chores among the daughters-in-law.
As part of the arrangement, it was the first daughter-in-law’s job to set the plates and serve drinking water. The second daughter-in-law was assigned the job of serving the food. And finally, the third daughter-in-law’s duty was to clear the plates and tidy up the place after a meal.
The division of chores seemed to work well and the daughters-in-law were not quarreling with each other anymore. The mother-in-law was pleased to see that she had solved the problem.
One day, the family had to host some relatives for a meal. The mother-in-law called her daughters-in-law and told them to do their respective duties “quickly”. The daughters-in-law agreed and began to perform their duties immediately.
No sooner had the guests sat down for their meal, the first daughter-in-law quickly arranged the plates and served them drinking water. The relatives were happy to see that the host was so hospitable. Following this, the second daughter-in-law served food to the guests in a jiffy. The relatives were thrilled to see such efficient service. However, even before they could start relishing their meal, the third daughter-in-law quickly removed their plates which still had food on them and tossed the dishes away.
The mother-in-law, who was flabbergasted at this incident, asked them, “What have you done? Why did you clear the guests’ plates even before they could finish their meal?”
The daughters-in-law replied in unison by saying, “What’s there to wonder? We did as you told and finished all our respective duties “quickly!”