Once upon a time, in a small village in West Bengal lived a jolly man named Bhoumik Sen. He was immensely fond of taking long walks in his backyard garden. During one such walk, Sen began coughing vigorously all of a sudden. The coughing continued until a parrot’s feather emerged out of Sen’s mouth. He was baffled at how the feather had made it inside his mouth in the first place.

Looking at the listless look on her husband’s face, Sen’s wife just could not refrain from sharing the news with her neighbors. After all, how could she bear to not let the neighbors in on such a juicy story? She relayed her version of the event to her neighbor. Donning her most surprised voice, Sen’s wife said that her husband had coughed up an entire parrot earlier in the day!

And lo! The rumor kept adding one layer of fantasy after another until it attained its final version, according to which an entire flock of birds had emerged out of Sen’s mouth. When Bhoumik Sen came to know about this, there was no end to his embarrassment. He quickly went over to the pundit, who resided in the outskirts of the village, and asked him for help.

The pundit patiently listened to Sen’s story and, after pondering over it for a while, he instructed Sen to tell the first person he came across that Sholey Baba had passed away. While Sen had no idea as to why the pundit had instructed him to do so, he quietly complied. Soon, the seed of the rumor that Sen had planted, grew into a massive tree as every villager came over to mourn Sholey Baba’s demise. Some said that he was like their brother, while others recalled him as a father figure. People kept pouring in to grieve him. Surprisingly, every person reminisced about Baba in a different way. That was when the pundit finally walked in and revealed to the crying villagers that the Sholey Baba they were mourning was just a fictional character created by the pundit.

Hearing this, the villagers realized their folly. The pundit then explained how this detestable habit of the villagers had cost Sen his reputation. As the gravity of their mistake dawned on them, the villagers pledged to pay no heed to any rumors from that day. They vowed to make sure that no more birds emerged out of any Sen’s mouth.

…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 The Story Circus.