Long time ago, there lived an old man in the village of Nighoj. His name was Nrupal. His children had gone to big cities in search of jobs and his wife had passed away due to an illness. So, he lived alone.
Nrupal had a long beard and was quite proud of it. He believed it made him look more scholarly and respectable. He diligently combed it, washed it, and took care of it as if it were a gift of God.
One day, he was reading a book and came across a line that troubled him a lot. The line said, “Men with long beards are fools”. Nrupal sat in utter disbelief. He read the line aloud several times over, as if it were some prayer. He harbored the futile hope that reading the line again and again will somehow change it for good. However, as one would expect, it read the same every time. Nrupal was incensed and shouted out loud, “How could such a remark be true?! I have a long beard and I certainly ain’t no fool. Gosh, this must be fake!”
Saying so, Nrupal wished that the thought would abandon his mind. But it stuck to him like a leech. However hard he tried to get rid of it, it kept chipping away at his conscience. He finally succumbed to the idea and thought, “But what if the remark is actually true? What if I’m a fool and have been ignorant about it? What if I’m going senile?” His anxiety kept him awake all night.
The next day, after returning home from the farm, Nrupal resolved, “I’m not going to remain a fool. If the statement is indeed true, then I must get rid of this stupid beard once and for all. Now, where is the knife that I kept here?” He said while rummaging around the stuff kept on the table in his room. “Well, never mind. I can’t find my knife, so I guess I have no option but to… burn my beard!”
True to his word, Nrupal grabbed the candle kept upright on the table and set his long beard – his pride – ablaze. The fire quickly crawled up his beard like an excited gecko and ended up reaching his hair. Realizing his folly, Nrupal screamed in pain.
All the neighbors rushed to his hut, only to find Nrupal covered in soot from head to toe. It seemed as if he had been grilled and stripped of his mane in the process, only to leave behind a smooth, black face.
“Arrey deva!” shrieked the village headman’s wife in fright as her hands sprung up to her ears. When asked about what had just transpired, Nrupal started to cough intensely before responding, “I read that men with long beards were fools. I guess I just proved the statement to be true!”
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Ananya both loves to read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Feel free to email her at email@example.com if you would like to know more about her.
Folk tale adopted and abridged from KidsGen.