Man with a long name

Folktale from India

A long time ago, there lived two friends in a small village in Andhra Pradesh. They had gone to school together, played together and now worked together in a vegetable farm. One was called Ali and the other Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri. Of course, this contrast in names had always amused the people of the village.

“Why don’t you change your name to something short like your friend’s?” they often asked the man with a long name. However, he refused and insisted that everybody call him by his full name. If that made things difficult for the people in the village, it made things impossible for the man himself.

One cool winter morning, the two friends were out in the farm harvesting tomatoes. All of a sudden a hungry and rather ill-tempered bull entered the farm and charged at Ali. While Ali placed his basket of tomatoes on his head and ran around trying to give the bull a slip, his friend ran to the village to get help. “Help! My friend is in trouble!” shouted Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri..

“What happened? Who is in trouble?” asked the people.

“A bull is after my friend Ali! Please help!”

The people picked up long sticks and big stones and made a dash to the farm. The nasty bull had not given up; he was still after poor Ali. But soon the villagers were able to catch the animal and drag him out of the farm. Ali and his basket of red tomatoes were safe. But that wasn’t the end of the bull or the story.

A week later, the disgruntled bull returned to eat red juicy tomatoes. This time though he charged at Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri..

His friend Ali ran to the village to call for help.

“Help! Please come and help him! The bull is after him!” he yelled in distress.

“Calm down, tell us who is in trouble?” asked the first villager he met on the way. “My friend Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri is in trouble. Please get all the people in the village to come immediately to the farm!” cried Ali.

The villager’s eyes opened wide with understanding. “Oh, you mean Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri is being chased by a bull? I will get all the people and be there in a jiffy!”

Of course, that was quite impossible. The villager took a minute and forty-five seconds to tell the name of the man who was under attack; and it took about the same time for each man to repeat the name to confirm it. This caused so much delay that that the poor Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri was knocked down by the bull and his basket of tomatoes chomped by the hungry animal.

What a price Vallampalli Kothandarama Srinivasa Omkaraeshwara Sooryanarayana Shivaramakrishna Gopala Sastri had to pay for having a really long name!

Published as part of a series titled ‘Folktales of the World (Retold) ’ in Deccan Herald, Student Edition, dt. January 11, 2013

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