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Tales of the Bunchi mouse

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Growing up, I was a fan of bed-time stories. It had become a night-time ritual of sorts at home, and I would refuse to go to bed unless offered a story.

My father lacked an imaginative bent of mind and would tell me old, tried-and-tested tales like ‘The thirsty crow’ and ‘The fox and the grapes’ day in and day out. His tone while narrating would be exactly the same every single day. He would even pause at precisely the same moments as the previous day. Even the number of stones thrown into the water jug by the crow would remain unchanged!

My mother, on the other hand, would cook up fantastic adventure stories, tales of great intrigue, valour and mystery. All with one common thread — they would, without exception, end with a ‘moral of the story’. Often she would invent plot-lines that didn’t entirely fit in with the narrative, just to include a moralistic angle. Sigh! The things parents do to make their kids better human beings.

My absolute favourite bed-time stories were those revolving around Bunchi eli (mouse), a valiant and heroic mouse, the main lead of tales such as ‘ Bunchi eli and the dilemma of who will bell the cat’, and ‘ Bunchi eli and the temple sweets’. Now these tales were narrated by my father, and given his usual lack of imagination, I always assumed he had read these in a magazine.

A few days back, on a whim, I looked up Bunchi eli on the Internet. And nothing came up! No animal, human, giant, tree, ogre, nothing named Bunchi. No leads whatsoever. Could it be that I’d been wrong about my father all these years and he had, in fact, ‘invented’ Bunchi? When I asked him in his later years, he said there was no way he could have come up with the name ‘Bunchi’ by himself. I quite agree with him and have been looking for Bunchi ever since.

I’ve taken to asking friends, relatives and acquaintances if they’ve heard of Bunchi. I’ve also started walking into bookstores and asking the salespersons for Bunchi stories (“Bunchi?”, “Yes, haven’t you heard? Stories of Bunchi the mouse!” To which I’ve been rewarded with responses ranging from “Um… No” to “Of course madam, but we’re out of stock ”).

I’ve had no luck so far. I write this in the hope that someone reading this has heard of Bunchi and will put me and my family out of our misery.

nidhi.srinivasan@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 5:38:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/tales-of-the-bunchi-mouse/article6689642.ece

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