There once lived a haughty boy. His name was Bunachha. He spoke like an old man.
One day, he went to his mother and said-
‘Mother! Now that I am clever and I can correctly pronounce tough words, I am thinking about going to Calcutta to make good money. Is it okay with you?’
‘Sure. Why not! But do you realize that there are wild rivers on the way?’ she said.
‘Am I a coward! I will go. Send me as soon as possible. I will bring great money and we will build a new house,’ Bunachha replied.
‘Who will you go with?’ the mother asked.
‘Why are you worrying. I have six-seven friends. We will go together.’
As soon as the mother agreed, Bunachha ran out. He went to his friends and spoke-
‘Look, friends! I am leaving for Calcutta. Whoever wants to go, can join me. We are now capable enough to correctly pronounce tough words. What’s the issue? We will earn well and build new houses here after we come back. What say?’
The friends agreed.
The next day, the friends took permission from their respective homes and gathered at the same place. Eight kids were now set to leave.
‘Okay, then! Tomorrow, all of you bring the necessary things and take leave from your home,’ Bunachha ordered. They all agreed and left.
Bunachha carried his belongings, took leave from his mother, and arrived at the designated place early the next morning. Slowly the friends gathered too.
‘Okay, friends. Are we ready to leave?’, Bunachha asked.
‘Okay then, let’s go.’, he said and they left.
On their way, they talked about all kinds of stuff and easily crossed the roads, until they reached a river.
‘See my friends! My mother had warned me of these rivers. So we all have to cross it as a unit. Else the river will take us with it. So…Hold your hands and let’s go!‘ Bunachha ordered.
They successfully crossed.
Immediately, Bunachha said –
‘Wait, now we will count if all eight of us are here.’
He began counting:
‘One, Two, Three…Seven’
‘Where’s one,’ he wondered. Another friend came forward.
‘Should I recount? You may have missed,’ he requested.
‘One, Two, Three, Four…Seven.’
‘You were right! Where’s one? Who is gone? Where did he go?’ he panicked.
All the boys panicked. They restlessly began screaming.
An old man who was bathing in the river nearby heard the noise. He rushed to them and asked –
‘What’s up boys? Who is lost?’
‘Eight of us left home to go abroad. All eight of us were here before we crossed this river, but now we are only seven,’ they explained.
The old man laughed.
‘Silly boys! Stay in line. I will count,’ he said and counted –
‘One, Two…Seven, Eight!’
‘The one who counted forgot to count himself. Silly boys!’ said the old man and went back to his bath. But on his way he thought –
Where might have they come from! Where might they be going! If I could keep them with me, I could make them work for me. This way, I could make some more money.
The old man went back to the boys and asked –
‘Tell me, where did you come from and where are you going?’
‘We came from our home and we are headed for Calcutta. We are going there to make some money to build houses for us here,’ the boys immediately answered.
The old man now was excited. He wanted to take them with him. He could take great advantage of them.
‘See boys – You guys are children as of now. It’s not easy to reach Calcutta. You won’t be able to do it. There’s a lot to do at my house. Why don’t you guys help me, I will pay you. You will become more mature in 2-4 years. By then, you will also have enough money. You can leave then. What say?’ he asked.
The boys looked at each other. They couldn’t give an answer. So they all went to the old man’s house. He fed them well. He didn’t make them work that day.
The next day he assigned them each a work. One had to carry water, one had to bring logs from wood, one had to graze the goats…
On the eighth day, they had to beat rice in a Dhinki (It is a traditional rice mill or husk lever used in Nepal). The old man gave each of them a bundle and said –
‘Boys, go and beat these rice in the dhinki.’
(In Newari it can be interpreted in two ways: either ‘Go beat the rice’ or ‘Throw the dhinki.’ The boys interpret the latter.)
For a while, the boys stared in amazement at the work assigned to them. Bunachha spoke –
‘Why are you guys staring? We have to do whatever grandfather has told us to do. Before he returns, we have to throw this away. Else it won’t be good for us.’
Everyone agreed and worked together to bring the dhinki out. But they were not sure where they were supposed to throw it. Again, the leader Bunachha stepped up –
‘Can’t you see? We will throw it off the cliff of that hill’.
Everyone did as he ordered and threw the dhinki off the cliff. By the time they were home, the old man was back.
‘Did you beat rice in the dhinki?‘ the old man rudely asked Bunachha.
Banuchha interpreted the other meaning.
‘Yes. It was tough. But I threw it out of the cliff,’ he proudly said.
‘What?!’ the old man exploded in rage –
‘Rascals, did I ask you to throw the dhinki? I told you to beat rice. Go, bring it back. Else you may have to starve.’
‘But how can we bring it back? We can’t bring it back from there!’ they said.
The old man felt bad for them.
How will they bring it back from such a height! he thought and told them to work carefully from now on.
One day they went goat-grazing. While the goats browsed the boys played.
At dusk, the weather deteriorated. Black clouds covered the sky. A cold and fierce wind blew. The poor kids brought the scattered goats together at a pati (A roofed resting place). The boys and the goats woefully shivered until the boys couldn’t take it anymore. They collected dry leaves, twigs and started a fire.
The fire, however, scared the goats. They moved away.
‘Why won’t these goats stay by the fire?’, Bunucha said – ‘Friends, we have got to bring them closer to the fire.’
The boys followed his command and forcefully brought the goats near. The goats retaliated and haphazardly jumped around. The further the goats went, the more the boys brought them closer – until they brought them too close. All of them burnt and died!
‘Look how things are! A little while ago they jumped and ran because it was too cold. Now that they are warm, they sleep calm,’ Bunuchha said.
After a while:
‘Now the rain has stopped. Let’s get back home. Let’s wake them up,’ Bunuchha ordered.
The boys made noise and tried to shoo away the goats. But they were dead! They didn’t move.
A frustrated Bunucha said –
‘How long do we wait! How long do we warm them! I am starving! Let us carry one each and leave.’
And so all the boys carried a goat on their back and walked.
The old man was already back home by the time the boys returned. He was astonished to see the boys carry one scorched goat each.
‘What did you do to them? Why did you kill them?’ the old man asked.
‘We didn’t kill them! These poor folks were shivering. It rained crazy and the wind was fierce. We collected dry leaves and started a fire. We allowed them to enjoy the fire too. They were silent once they were warm. But they didn’t seem to want to leave and were reluctant. We forcefully carried one each,’ Baluchha explained. The boys confirmed.
The old man couldn’t utter a word! He was shocked. Dumbfounded. Hopeless!
This tale majorly shows the thought process and activities of young and bold characters. Our main guy, Bunachha, is innocent and haughty. He is in a hurry to mature so he wants to do things that older people do.
Luckily, he has friends who too are bold. But they are more simpleminded and are willing to do whatever Bunachha commands. So this tale can also be looked upon as a tale of leader and followers. The introduction of the old man brings in an opportunist character who is clever and knows how to manipulate others for his own advantage. We do not have a shortage of such people in our society! However, the old man himself suffers, thanks to Bunachha’s haughtiness and the innocence of the boys. This way, it also becomes a tale of innocence and boldness vs cleverness. At the end of it all, innocence and boldness prevail.
A major lesson to be learnt from this tale is this –
While it is great to be brave – watchfulness, humility and wisdom are equally important. Our society is full of opportunistic rogues, and the world is a tough place to be. Mix courage with knowledge and humility and no one can ever hurt you!