A long time ago, there lived a king named Badahur, whose relentless talking had become a headache for everyone around him. King Badahur lived in a palace with a beautiful garden. A pond in the garden added to the beauty of the King’s garden. The pond was inhabited by a talkative turtle, who talked even more than the King himself.

His meaningless talk meant that King Badahur failed to command any respect from his subjects. Hazar, his Prime Minister, was also notorious for being a motormouth. After all, the King wanted such people around him. While the King went around the city in his chariot, even beggars mocked him for his relentless talk. While the Prime Minister tried his level best to stop the king from talking more, none of his attempts bore fruit.

On the other hand, the turtle in the pond talked to the parrots, monkeys and birds that lived on the nearby trees, besides the fish that inhabited the pond. All through the day, the turtle would blabber with them till they could no longer put up with his nonsense. Such was his obsession with talking that he would even reveal the fish’s hideouts to the cranes flying by the pond. It made them sitting ducks for the hungry cranes. On another occasion, the turtle told the parrot king, Mirbah, how the monkeys made fun of his colorful tail. This triggered a long confrontation between the monkeys and parrots.

Meanwhile, to escape from the summer heat, King Badahur, along with his courtiers, went to spend a few days in his palace on the slopes of a nearby hill. Unaware of this fact, the turtle continued to live in the pond located in the King’s garden. The hummingbirds residing in the garden wished that the turtle would also go away so that they could live in peace.

Soon, everyone in the palace left for the hills. However, the Prime Minister, Hazar, stayed back for some important work. While taking a walk in the garden, he happened to spot the turtle conversing with the wild ducks swimming in the royal pond. Curious to know what the birds were up to, the turtle asked them where they were headed. The wild ducks replied that they were going back to their nest in the hills.

Bored of living in the same pond for long, the turtle asked the wild ducks if there were any ponds in the hills. The wild ducks replied that there were indeed lakes and rivers in the hills. They even suggested that they could carry the turtle all the way up there by holding the ends of a long pole in their bills. The turtle needed to hold on to the middle of the pole with its mouth. However, the turtle was not to let go of the pole until they reached the hills.

And so it happened. The wild ducks embarked on their journey, with the turtle clinging on to the middle of the pole. Everyone marveled at the astonishing sight of the wild ducks carrying the turtle. To his credit, the turtle kept himself from talking until they made it to the hills. However, all hell broke loose when the wild ducks flew over the King’s palace in the hills and some boys threw stones at the poor birds. The boys were screaming for the ducks to drop the turtle so they could have him for dinner that night. The foolish turtle lost his patience and yelled at the boys. No sooner did he open his mouth to scream than he fell down to the ground. Hazar ran to pick the turtle to save him from those mischievous boys. Alas, it was too late. The turtle was already dead.

Hazar then narrated the turtle’s story to King Badahur. Listening to the poor animal’s story, King Badahur realized that the turtle met his untimely death due to his inability to hold his tongue. The King also realized that he was probably just as talkative as the turtle. He ordered to install a golden statue of the turtle in his palace. The golden turtle was meant to remind him to keep silent whenever necessary. This, in turn, earned him the love and respect of his people.

…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 The Project Gutenberg.