Once upon a time, there lived a poor family comprising a father, mother and three sons named Rohit, Ashok and Ranjith. Rohit and Ashok were tall and plump, and Ranjith was puny, but he was the most intelligent one of the lot.

One day, the family had nothing to eat except share a single apple. Rohit, annoyed by this, said, “I cannot manage with just one apple. I am going to the palace to accept King Gangathar’s challenge.”

The king had given a challenge to prospective grooms for his daughter to find what the seven palace horses eat and give the same to the king. Whoever successfully completed the challenge was promised Princess Indira’s hand in marriage.

Rohit went to the palace and accepted the challenge. But when the horses went to find food, he fell asleep. When he woke up, the horses had already eaten and come back. Thinking that all horses eat grass and water, he went to the king with some grass and a jug of water. The king got angry. He realised that Rohit had failed the challenge and punished him.

Ashok also tried his luck, but like his brother, he also fell asleep and had to face the wrath of the king. Then Ranjith bravely accepted the challenge. He saw the seven horses go out for food and jumped on the back of one. They came to a place where the horses transformed into human beings. They started eating normal food.

When it was time to leave, the seven men turned back to horses and Ranjith took them back to the palace. He presented King Gangathar with the food that the horses-turned-men had eaten. The king was happy and had Princess Indira married to him.

King Gangathar then asked Ranjith to cut the heads of all the horses. Although he was hesitant to do so at first, Ranjith complied. The horses turned into human beings again. They were Indira’s brothers, who had been under a curse. Everyone was happy and the kingdom rejoiced in ecstasy.

R. Sabarish Waran, VI C, Kongu National MHSS, Erode