But once he started talking, there was no stopping him. He bragged to anyone who would listen, about his exploits in countries across the world.
He spoke of many wonderful and heroic feats he had accomplished. "I was an acrobat, a magician, a lion-trainer and even a hunter," he announced in a booming voice.
"I've fought with a tiger, shot an elephant...it's amazing the things I've done," he boasted.
"But friends," and here he lowered his voice for effect, "...it's what I've done in Samarqand that beats everything else."
"What did you do in Samarqand?" asked someone.
The man, who was waiting for that question, immediately launched into a long drawn-out yarn.
"There were two buildings facing each other, each at least 50 feet high. That's five storeys high. They were 10 metres apart from each other," he said. "Guess what I had to do?"
There was pin drop silence in the audience. "You didn't!" exclaimed someone.
"I did indeed," boasted the traveller. "I jumped from the end of one building to the end of the other. It's the highest flying leap ever recorded. Such a large crowd had gathered to watch. Why, people talk about it even now in Samarqand."
"Give us something to talk about too," said the host suddenly. "Why don't you show us how you did it? Try leaping between our house and the one facing us. They're barely five metres apart. Come friends, let's go up to the terrace," he added.
The traveller agreed, "Yes, that would be a good idea. I haven't done a good leap in years" And he started to walk with the others. Then he stopped. "First I have to visit the bathroom, though. May I?" he asked the host. And he sprinted off to the toilet.
Needless to say, that was the last time anyone saw the traveller in those parts again.
The Leap [Folktales for kids]
Retold from the Aesop's Fables by Brishti Bandyopadhyay; Illustration by Shinod AP
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