Story Telling

 

Once upon a time in a far away land there was a King. He was very interested in listening to stories. The whole day he was busy doing a lot of things for the people. So he would be busy the whole day and by night time he would finish his work and ask others to tell him stories.

You know, the King has so many wise people around him, and they are very good story tellers. Some are good in telling stories about snakes and birds and other animals and some are good at telling stories about lakes and rivers and oceans and hills. There were also other people who tell stories about kings and queens and princes and princesses. Then there are those who have funny stories of buffoons and fools.

But, you know, the king didn’t like these stories. He sent them all away. He couldn’t stand these stories. He wanted to hear a story which he used to hear when he was young, when he was very young baby. Who knows what story the King used to hear when he was young? The King’s mother and father had died a long time and so had many aged people around him. So there was no way of knowing what stupid story the king used to listen to as a baby. Many people tried to tell him various stories. No, No, No. He only wanted to hear that story he used to hear when he was young.

The people went round the kingdom, asking about the story the king used to hear when he was young. Nobody even knew who had been with the King when he was young. Even the King had no idea.

Then one day the King’s men found a very old man who used to be in the King’s palace when the King was a very young prince. They brought him to the palace and asked him whether he knew the story the King used to hear when he was very young. The old man had gone deaf and they had to shout into his ear to ask him the question. It took some time. When he finally heard the question, he started laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing. “O, my children,” he told the King’s men, “when the King was very young he didn’t let anybody tell him anything, not even stories.”

The King’s men were shocked to hear this. They thought that the King had been trying to trick them. They didn’t try to tell him any stories after that. When the time for story telling came they all had a headache or a toothache or a backache and disappeared from the palace. Some people even stopped going near the King after supper.

The King now really wanted to hear the story that he used to hear when he was young. He became sleepless. He lost his appetite. His hair became gray. His eyes sank into deep pits. He didn’t care about the people and one night he ran away from the palace.

He crossed seven mountains and seven rivers and seven deserts and came to a forest. He was so tired that he slept there. He hadn’t eaten anything for days. He slept for a long time. Then it drizzled. He woke up and saw some monkeys around him. They all ran away and climbed the nearby trees. The birds began to talk about him. When he went to the stream to drink water the stream started giggling. The thunder roared at him. The breeze whispered about him to the flowers and the flowers nodded their heads as if they understood. Seeing this, the King smiled. The flowers suddenly stopped nodding their heads and went to sleep. In fact they went to sleep because the sun had set in the west.

Then it was night and it was time for the fireflies to visit the glowworms. The King was sure that they were talking about him that night. The Owl kept hooting “whoooo? whoooo? whooo?” And our King replied “King, King, I am the King” A bat came by and slapped the King on the cheek for saying that and flew away. That whole night the king stayed awake listening to the millions of sounds around him. You know, the forest is full of songs and chattering and snorting and hooting and roaring and babbling at night. It was early morning that the king had some sleep, but he woke up early to listen to the birds. The King was very happy. Here was a story, a very long one a very mysterious one, a very interesting one, a very happy one, a very enchanting one, a very fresh one. Fresh? No, he had heard it somewhere before. He had heard it when he was very young, when he used to wander in the palace garden all by himself after lunch and after supper.

After a few days the King went back to his palace. Now he knew where to go to listen to the best stories. He grew more trees in the garden and invited all the birds and flies and the small animals to come and stay there. The whole day he worked for the people. He was changing their lives. He was making their lives better. It was like telling them a good story. In the evening, with his people, he came to the garden and listened to the story, the story the sunset told him and the wind told him and the evening flies told him. The mosquito too had a story in the form of a song.

Later the King found that even if he goes nowhere and stays in his bed he could hear the story. In fact when he became too old to go out he enjoyed listening to the story he heard when he closed his eyes.

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