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Raman's New Flute

A story by Asha Nehemiah

This story was originally in our 'Tales of Today' section

Raman's New Flute

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Raman the flute-player lived in a village. He was the best flute-player in the whole village and he played the most wonderful tunes on his flute. The tunes Raman played were so wonderful that the crows would stop cawing and the village dogs would stop barking just so that they could listen to his music. Whenever Raman played a happy tune on his flute, babies would stop crying and even the saddest person in the village would start smiling.

That's why, whenever there was a wedding or a birthday or a festival, Raman would be asked to play his flute.

One day, Raman's flute broke.

"Oh no," said Raman, "my flute is broken. I must make myself a new flute at once. For there are many weddings and birthdays in our village and I will have to play my flute at all of them."

So Raman went looking for a length of bamboo to make a new flute. He searched and searched for a bamboo tree that would have branches of just the right thickness for making a flute. Finally, he found a perfect bamboo tree growing on the bank of a river far away from the village. It was a very quiet and lonely place.

Raman cut a length of bamboo. He took a sharp knife and hollowed out a beautiful new flute for himself.

Next day, Raman played his new flute at a wedding. But though he tried his best, he couldn't play a single happy tune. The sounds made by Raman's new flute were so sad that the bride started sobbing. Next the bridegroom started crying and soon all the wedding guests were in tears.

"Stop, stop!" the wedding guests begged Raman, "Please stop playing your flute. We want to be happy. But the sad songs you are playing are only making us cry!"

"This is too bad," said Raman, "I want to play happy songs but my new flute only seems to make sad music. I will just have to make myself another new flute."

So Raman set off again, looking for a perfect length of bamboo to make himself a new flute. This time he found a tree near the village well. There were many women drawing water from the well. The women were talking and their brass water pots were clanking loudly. It was a very noisy place.

Raman made himself a new flute from a length of bamboo that he cut from the tree near the well.

Soon, it was the ninetieth birthday of the oldest man in the village and Raman was asked to play his flute He tried to play a happy tune, but this time he found that his flute made only loud and angry noises.

"What is the matter, Raman?" asked the oldest man in the village putting his hands over his ears. "Why are you playing such a loud and noisy tune? You used to play such happy songs. But now, your flute sounds more like a hundred people yelling at one another and two hundred brass pots all clanking at the same time!"

Raman felt very sad. He said, "When I used a length of bamboo from a quiet, lonely place, my flute made sad music. When I used a piece of bamboo from a noisy place, my flute makes only loud music. I know what I must do. I must make a new flute from a tree growing in a happy place. Only then can I start playing happy tunes again."

So Raman walked all over the village looking for a tree growing in a happy place. He walked for many hours and for many miles searching. There were no bamboo trees growing in any of the places where people laughed or sang or joked.

Raman was sitting sadly on the steps of the village school wondering what to do when he heard the sound of laughter. Everywhere in the school, children were laughing and talking and playing happily. And there in one corner of the school, stood a bamboo tree.

Raman cut a piece from the tree growing in the school and made a flute from it.

The next morning, Raman had to play his flute in a home where the priest was naming a little baby. The priest was to name the baby, "Hari."

Raman put the flute to his lips. Would his flute make happy music, or sad music or angry music, he wondered. He started playing his flute, and once more, happy tunes came from Raman's flute. In fact, the tunes he played now were happier than any tunes he had ever played before. The baby, whose face had turned purple, because he was crying so much, started gurgling happily when he heard Raman's happy music.

"Ha-ha-hurrah for Raman," said the baby's mother and father, laughing happily, "Ha-ha-ha-hee-hee-he's playing happy tunes again!"

Raman played such a merry tune, that even the priest couldn't stop laughing.

And that's why the priest, who was supposed to name the baby, "Hari", named him "Ha -ha- ha-Hari" instead.


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