Storying Happiness


My love for stories started with my nani (maternal grandmother) who had an impressive and varied repertoire up her sleeve. While bed time stories such as the one coming up below  were a staple of all younger days spent with her, anecdotes from her childhood in Bareilly, stories of the independence struggle,her married life in Lucknow and Bombay and scores of other snippets formed large parts of the days I spent with her.

Graduating from the verbal to the written when older and encouraged by a family of readers (nani included), I made lifelong friends with books early on. Like the story narrated, I re-read the favourites often and have been known to buy a couple of copies extra because you know…can’t lose them!

And a step ahead -cinema and radio programmes too are part of the various ways I enjoy storytelling.Radio-well AIR way back, used to enact plays.And recently, it is Nilesh Mishra who I occasionally tune into and enjoy.

So auditory, written, still, moving and telling-stories form a large part of who I am.

Today then, on the International Day of Storytelling, World Sparrow Day and the International Day of Happiness, this tale told to me by nani, about a sparrow, which made for a very happy memory, seemed a good idea to share.

The Sparrow and the Carpenter

A carpenter used to work below a tree in which a sparrow couple had their nest. They were called Gaurva ji and Gauraiyya.

One day, while the husband, Gaurvaji was out collecting food, Gauaiyya was cleaning up her nest and inadvertently the dropping from there fell on the carpenter. The carpenter got very annoyed and despite Gauraiyya’s repeated apologies, refused to calm down. In his anger, he threw a piece of wood at her, which hit her and she fell dead from the tree.

When Gaurva ji returned with the day’s rations, he searched high and low for Gauraiyya, and got increasingly worried when he was unable to. When he found her lifeless under the tree, Gaurva ji became very sad. He asked the carpenter what had happened and upon hearing the tale, he also got very angry with the carpenter.

Sobbing angrily, he stomped off, wanting to teach him a lesson.

He came across a match box who asked him why he was crying. On listening to his story, the matchbox said it would help him and joined him on his way.

A little further, he met four frogs, who in turn were told the story. They too wanted to help.

Thus, Gaurva hitched them to the matchbox and made a cart and rode on…

Some peas on the ground asked…

“Where are you headed Gaurva ji?”

(गौरवा जी गौरवा जी कहाँ चले?)

He replied…

A matchbox and frogs four,

I head towards my home.

A carpenter harmed Gauraiyya,

I want to settle the score.

(The original rhyme in Hindi goes:

चटक मटक की गाड़ी बनाई

मेढक जोते चार

बढ़ई ने गौरैय्या मारी

बदला लेने जाऊँ.)


Prickly thorns further up stopped him to ask where he was going:

A matchbox and frogs four,

I head towards my home.

A carpenter harmed Gauraiyya,

I want to settle the score.


Moved at the tragic story and they became part of Gaurva’s journey too.

Thus supported and prepared, Gaurva reached the carpenter, who tried to flee as he saw their arrival.

Gaurva threw the peas on the ground and the carpenter slipped on them and fell. As he tried again, the thorns were thrown on his path and he got injured with their prickliness. The frogs, in the meantime, jumped up and down on him and added to his woes.

The carpenter pleaded for forgiveness and admitted that he had acted hastily. He carved out a wooden “Gauraiyya” which magically turned real as Gaurva ji held her. Thrilled with this, Gaurva ji accepted his apology and also thanked his new friends, who had come to his aid.

He and the new Gauraiyya lived in their nest and the carpenter, continued working below the same tree, though now calmer, having learnt his lesson.

‘Tolerance, peaceful coexistence and kindness make for a magical, happier world.”


I am told that I listened to this story repeatedly for days on end, yet delighted every time in the चटक मटक rhyme. The concept of hitching frogs to a matchbox and riding off must have appealed even then, my sense of craziness!

And while on crazy, I hail from a family of great spinners of yarns and tall tales and those make for some great, uproarious laughter inducing listening.So stories are part of the old gene pool!Add to that the skill of attracting great narrators and wordsmiths as friends and life is so filled with varied kisse-kahanis and thus much khushi!

Perhaps it’s time I knit some of those yarns into a semblance of stories and share the warmth.

Share yours too?




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