Once upon a time, when listening to the songs sung by village women and looking at traditional dances used to be the only sources of entertainment, there lived a maiden by the name of Mangala. Many women in her village were well versed in a lot of folk songs. These songs were usually sung at important events like anniversaries and birthdays. However, unlike these women, Mangala did not know a single song.

In her desperation to memorize at least one sing, Mangala approached her neighbor. She asked the lady next door to teach her a song. However, busy with her household chores, the woman asked Mangala to go buy a song instead. As innocent as she was, Mangala did not know that the neighbor had just said this to get rid of her.

She wasted no time in rushing to the market to “buy a song”. She went around asking the local shopkeepers whether they would sell her a song, but they kept shooing her for her absurd request. Although disheartened, Mangala had no intention whatsoever of giving up. She now found herself in front of the last shop in the market.

It was a painting shop. The owner had gone out of the village on an errand. He had entrusted the shop to a young man, who had been instructed to make money any way he could. The young man had been observing Mangala for a while, listening to her odd request at every shop in sight. He decided to milk some money from her, agreeing to fulfill her request. However, even the young man knew no songs. Looking around for inspiration, he spotted a painting in the shop. It depicted a mouse digging, a snake slithering, a rabbit looking wide-eyed at something, and a deer galloping. Taking inspiration from this painting, the young man instantly came up with a song: Digging kharr kharr, creeping sarr sarr, looking tagar magar, jumping alang falang.

This impressed Mangala a lot and she “bought” the song from the young man. One her way back home, she decided that she would perform the song at the village chief’s housewarming event the following day. Worried that she might forget the lyrics of the song, Mangala sat down to practise each line of the song. Meanwhile, a trio of burglars showed up at her house. Their names were Sonu, Golu, and Molu.

The burglars began digging into the back wall of the house. While doing so, Sonu heard Mangala say, “Digging kharr kharr.” Bewildered for a while, he thought that Mangala could hear them. In order to confirm his suspicion, he jumped inside the house and started creeping toward the living room. Just then, Mangala began reciting the second line, “Creeping sarr sarr.” Scared out of his wits, Sonu rushed back out and told his fellow burglars that they needed to abort the plan. He added that the girl in the house could hear them and that they would be caught in no time. Golu and Molu, however, did not seem willing to believe this.

Curious, Golu peered into the hole they had dug. Just then, he heard Mangala saying, “Looking tagar magar.” Golu too was shocked. Molu was still incredulous, though. The next moment, he threw himself into the house through the hole. However, to his utter disbelief, Mangala began singing in the loudest voice possible, “Jumping alang falang.” The three men were left shell-shocked, staring at each other. They had no choice but to make a run for it. Soon the story spread throughout the village and Mangala became renowned for her exceptional ‘observation’ skills.

…now that you’re here

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Ananya Susarla, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Ananya loves to both read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at ananyasusarla2915@gmail.com if you would like to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from TheStoryCircus.