‘A Story and a Song’ is a translated tale from Kannada and included in the collection ‘A Flowering Tree’ by A.K. Ramanujan. .
The world is all about stories and storytelling. Imagine a world which had no stories. Imagine a childhood, in which there was no dadima-ki-kahaniyaan, no Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and that lovely small shoe of hers, imagine a childhood without Phantom, Vikram-Betal, or ghost-stories in the dark, or mythical tales from Ramayana and select stories from Mahabharat (not all!). Imagine growing up without stories and folktales, of the people, by the people, passed from one generation to another. It’s not easy to do so. Stories simply need to be heard and more importantly – told.
Why TOLD? Let me tell you a story!
The Story and the Song
Once upon a time there was a housewife who knew a story and a song, but never told anyone, the story nor sang the song.
The story and the song were beginning to feel suffocated within the woman and one night when the woman was sleeping with her mouth open, both the story and the song escaped. They took the shape of a pair of shoes which parked itself outside the house and a man’s coat and hung itself on a peg.
When the man came home and saw the shoes and the coat, he suspected someone was visiting his wife in his absence and asked her about the person. This led to a fight, which led to the man leaving the house and going to the nearby Monkey-gods temple to sleep.
The lady baffled about the two things, and unhappy, put off the lamp and went off to sleep.
All the lamps of the town, once they were put off, would meet at the Monkey God’s temple and gossip about their homes. On this night, all except one, came late. When the others asked the latecomer the reason of coming late, the flame said that there was a huge quarrel between the couple and thus it got late.
All the flames were curious to know what had led to the quarrel. The flame said, “The lady of the house knew a story and a song, but would never tell anybody about them. When they got suffocated they came out of her and took the shape of a pair of shoes and a coat and made themselves visible. The man got suspicious and questioned her about them and obviously the woman doesn’t know about it. The story and the song took their revenge, and the woman doesn’t even know about it.”
The man sleeping in the temple heard about it and his suspicions were cleared. In the morning he went back home and asked his wife about the story and the song, but the woman had forgotten about it and asked, “What story and what song?”
The moral of the story is that stories have to be told, and if you don’t, they take revenge. Just as a lamp is never put off, so a story should never be put off. If you put off the lamp, it will go to the temple and gossip and if you put off a story, it will take revenge!