Tales of the Sun; or, Folklore of Southern India | Annotated Tale

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Monkey with the Tom-Tom, The

IN A remote wood there lived a monkey, and one day while he was eating wood-apples, a sharp thorn from the tree ran into the tip of his tail, he tried his best to get it out but could not. So he proceeded to the nearest village, and calling the barber asked him to oblige him by removing the thorn.

               "Friend barber," said the monkey, "a thorn has run into my tail. Kindly remove it and I will reward you."

               The barber took up his razor and began to examine the tail; but as he was cutting out the thorn he cut off the tip of the tail. The monkey was greatly enraged and said:--

               "Friend barber, give me back my tail. If you cannot do that, give me your razor."

               The barber was now in a difficulty, and as he could not replace the tip of the tail he had to give up his razor to the monkey.

               The monkey, went back to the wood with his razor thus trickishly acquired. On the way he met an old woman, who was cutting fuel from a dried-up tree.

               "Grandmother, grandmother," said the monkey, "the tree is very hard. You had better use this sharp razor, and you will cut your fuel easily."

               The poor woman was very pleased, and took the razor from the monkey. In cutting the wood she, of course, blunted the razor, and the monkey seeing his razor thus spoiled, said:--

               "Grandmother, you have spoiled my razor. So you must either give me your fuel or get me a better razor."

               The woman was not able to procure another razor. So she gave the monkey her fuel and returned to her house bearing no load that day.

               The roguish monkey now put the bundle of dry fuel on his head and proceeded to a village to sell it. There he met an old woman seated by the roadside and making puddings. Said the monkey to her:--

               "Grandmother, grandmother, you are making puddings and your fuel is already exhausted. Use mine also and make more cakes."

               The old lady thanked him for his kindness and used his fuel for her puddings. The cunning monkey waited till the last stick of his fuel was burnt up, and then he said to the old woman:--

               "Grandmother, grandmother, return me my fuel or give me all your puddings."

               She was unable to return him the fuel, and so had to give him all her puddings.

               The monkey with the basket of puddings on his head walked and walked till he met a Paraiya [1] coming with a tom-tom towards him.

               "Brother Paraiya," said the monkey, "I have a basketful of puddings to give you. Will you, in return, present me with your tom-tom?"

               The Paraiya gladly agreed, as he was then very hungry, and had nothing with him to eat.

               The monkey now ascended with the tom-tom to the topmost branch of a big tree and there beat his drum most triumphantly, saying in honour of his several tricks:--

               "I lost my tail and got a razor; dum dum." [2]

               "I lost my razor and got a bundle of fuel; dum dum."

               "I lost my fuel and got a basket of puddings; dum dum".

               "I lost my puddings and got a tom-tom; dum dum."

               Thus there are rogues in this innocent world, who live to glory over their wicked tricks.


Compare the story of “The Rat’s Wedding” from the Pañjâb, The Indian Antiquary, Vol. XI., pp, 226ff: where, however, a better moral from the tale is drawn.


[1]: A low caste man; Pariah.

[2]: In response to the sound of the tom-tom.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Monkey with the Tom-Tom, The
Tale Author/Editor: Kingscote, Georgiana
Book Title: Tales of the Sun; or, Folklore of Southern India
Book Author/Editor: Kingscote, Georgiana & Sastri, Pandit Natesa
Publisher: W. H. Allen & Co.
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1890
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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