Long, long ago, a guru asked his disciples to find out the price of a horse. After inquiring, they found that it would cost them somewhere between fifty to a hundred pagodas. The guru instantly dropped the idea of buying a horse because he couldn’t afford it.

One day, the cow at the ashram didn’t return in the evening. Everyone went around the village in search of the cow. One of the guru’s disciples named Suraj went looking for the cow in the nearby villages.

Three days later, he came back to the ashram. He told his guru that he had found a horse that cost much less than a cow. As the guru inquired more about this, Suraj narrated what he had observed.

While Suraj went in search of the cow, he spotted four or five mares grazing on the banks of a large lake. As he walked farther down the field, he saw well-grown pumpkins hanging down in every direction. They looked so large that one could not even hold them in both arms.

He then checked with a man who came there. The man told Suraj that those were actually a horse’s eggs, and that each egg cost four to five pagodas.

Suraj told his Guru that if they got one of those eggs, they would end up with a high-bred horse. Excited, everyone agreed to this and sent the foolish Suraj with Bhaskar and five pagodas to buy the horse’s egg.

After Suraj and Bhaskar went to get the horse’s egg, other disciples in the ashram started having a discussion with the guru. They wanted to know who would hatch the egg. Everyone explained their commitments in the ashram and wondered who would be entrusted with hatching the egg.

Meanwhile, Suraj and Bhaskar got to to the border of the lake where the pumpkins grew. They walked over to the man who tended the vegetables. He told the duo that the vegetables were quite expensive. They requested the vendor to accept five pagodas for the best egg. The man agreed.

The two of them carefully selected the largest egg and began walking toward the ashram. On their way back, they conversed jovially, teasing each other. The pumpkin suddenly slipped out of their hands, crashing into the branch of a tree. It tumbled down the bushes and broke into pieces. Startled by the crashing pumpkin, a hare jumped and ran away in fear.

Suraj and Bhaskar mistook it for the foal that had hatched from the now broken egg. They chased the hare, which disappeared in the woods. The duo ran through the thorny bushes but to no avail. The hare was nowhere to be seen.

Bruised and battered, Suraj and Bhaskar limped to the ashram. They told their guru that the hare-sized horse ran away before they could catch it. Listening to their wails, the guru wondered how a foal that cost only five pagodas could run so fast. He did not want to think how swift a full-grown horse could dash. Being an old man, he wasn’t sure if he could handle that insane speed, which prompted him to give up on this foolhardy idea altogether.

…now that you’re here

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. Write to her at kalai.muse@gmail.com to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from D. L. Ashliman.