Retold from “When the World was Young’, by pioneering anthropologist, Verrier Elwin. It is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India.

This happened a long, long time ago.

Humans had big ears then.

And they would flap in the wind.

The Story of Big Ears [Illustrations by Nitin Vishwakarma]
The Story of Big Ears [Illustrations by Nitin Vishwakarma]

Their ears were so big that they found a use for them.

Sometimes they would lie down upon one ear, using it as a mattress.

Other times they would cover themselves up with the other ear.

The ears were warm and soft blankets.

The ears were very useful. With them, humans could hear really well, stay warm, and even, flap away the flies.

One day, something terrible happened.

God was out hunting and he killed what he thought was an animal.

He heard a scream from the point where he had sent his arrow.

It did not sound like an animal at all.

God rushed to the spot.

He was horrified.

In front of him lay the injured human.

God had mistaken man for an animal.

It was the big ears that had fooled him.

He became very sad.

He had not meant to kill a human being.

He had to do something so that he never made that mistake again.

To make up for his mistake, God cut off the man’s big ears.

He then brought him back to life.

Since then, humans have had small ears.

Now humans cannot hear as well as many animals, and they certainly need blankets to stay warm.

Most of all, they cannot flap a fly away.

267 words | 2 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales